Popol Ace - "Silently Loud" (Universal 240 min.)
This double DVD is the first ever from a Norwegian progressive rock group, and I doubt if there ever will come any better than this. The first DVD in the set is from Popol Ace's reunion concert at the 23rd of January 2003 at Rockefeller in Oslo where they performed together with an orchestra (Kringkastingsorkesteret). The main selection of songs is from "Stolen from Time", but we're also getting goodies like "All We Have is the Past", "For Eternity", "Hunchback", "Dark Nights" and "Queen of All Queens" from the two first albums. Pete Knutsen has nicely arranged all the songs for the orchestra. Personally I think "Dark Nights" and not at least " Jester" is the ones that has benefited most from this treatment compared to the original studio versions. Other highlights include "Bury Me Dead", "Today Another Day" and "Sleepwalker". And the melody of "Between You and Me" shines much brighter in this orchestral version than on the original. As a bonus you're also getting clips from the rehearsals, some shots from backstage right before the concert started, and interesting interviews with Teigen, Knutsen, Methi and Andreassen. The second DVD is taken entirely up by archival footage from the 70's. It starts with a concert in studio from 1976 where the band performs the whole of "Stolen from Time" with the exception of "Mr. Bigalow". Looking at Teigen here and his costumes during "Jester" and "Suicide" reveals a clear fascination and inspiration from what Peter Gabriel did in Genesis (Teigen later actually auditioned for Genesis after Gabriel left). Watching this sequence only makes me more sure that "Stolen from Time" is the band's finest album. The material is as good and solid as it can be. Next out is some black and white footage from the band's performance at the Ragnarock Festival in the summer of 1974. Here they perform "Queen of All Queens", "Political Man" (that never appeared on any of their albums), and "Leavin' Chicago". A funny and energetic performance that shows the band in very basic rock-mood, although not very representative for their progressive side. Then we're in for yet another black and white shot, this time from the TV program "Flimra" from 1975 where they mime to "Suicide". This is actually one of my favourite clips here, even if they just mime. The rest of the DVD is made up of the videos for "Leavin' Chicago" (1972), "Queen of All Queens" and "Music Box" (both from 1973). The latter one shows the band in Rosenborg studio during the recording of "Quiché Maya". The technical quality of both the picture and sound on these clips is close to perfect considering the age of the footage. There's also a very nice commentary track with Teigen and Andreassen where they comes with lots of interesting comments, stories and trivia. The hidden bonus track at the end shows the band in the Norwegian finale for the Eurovision Song Contest from 1976, where they perform together with Gudny Aspaas from Ruphus and guitarist Terje Rypdal on his song "Voodoo". Included in the package is also a booklet with full biography of the band, pictures and lyrics to all the songs. "Silently Loud" is a beautiful DVD that just has further strengthened my respect for this great band.