Gillan - The Glory Years (DVD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Hard Rock
14 songs (60'00)
Release year: 2008
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Reviewed by Marty
Besides fronting one of the most influential rock bands in existence, Deep Purple front man Ian Gillan had a brief yet very successful run with his own band back in the late 70's to early 80's simply entitled Gillan. After walking away from Deep Purple back in 1973, Ian Gillan swore off ever performing live again and put all his efforts into his business ventures that included a studio, a luxury hotel and even a motorbike company. After being coaxed by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover to fill in for Ronnie James Dio for a performance of Roger's Butterfly Ball back in 1975, Ian got the itch to perform again. With his own personal studio at his disposal, he had the tools to work on new music without any outside label pressures. The first three releases as The Ian Gillan Band were more jazzy rock and experimental in nature but after being enthused by the attitude of the punk music of the late 70's, Ian formed a new band simply entitled Gillan that signalled a triumphant return to his hard rocking roots. By 1979, The band consisted of Ian on vocals, Bernie Torme on guitar, John McCoy on bass, Colin Towns on keyboards and Mick Underwood on drums. This line-up was to produce three very successful albums including their debut, Glory Road and Future Shock. Riding the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), Gillan was a a top selling band and a major concert attraction, doing many successful European tours as well as massive outdoor festivals despite making very few waves in the North American music scene. For a hard rock/heavy metal band during the years 1979-1981, they were at the top of their game. In 1982 guitarist Bernie Torme was replaced by Jannick Gers (Iron Maiden) who had just finished a stint in White Spirit. That line-up lasted for two more albums before they called it a day.

This particular DVD contains a live performance of Gillan filmed at Oxford University, England in Feb, 1981 as part of a UK television show entitled Rock Goes To College as well as some television appearances. It features the classic line-up for the Glory Road and Future Shock albums and is a great look at this very underrated band back in the heydays of the NWOBHM. The live concert section of the DVD contains 8 songs, a couple from Glory Road, a couple fo newer tracks at the time as well as others including a couple of re-worked tracks from the Ian Gillan Band albums. This band really smokes in a live setting and was of the reasons they were a top concert draw. Unchain Your Brain kicks serious ass and the very psychedelic Mr Universe sounds much better live than the studio version. Other tracks include No Easy Way, Trouble (the Elvis classic), Mutually Assured Destruction, On The Rocks, Vengeance and New Orleans. Mini solo segments allow each band member to show off a bit and of particular note is guitarist Bernie Torme's pre-glam rock era outfit with his tossed blond hair, silk scarves, make-up and wearing one black boot and one white boot.

The bonus features include "performances" (i.e. lip synching) on German television as well as numerous BBC appearances including Top Of The Pops performances of Trouble, New Orleans, and No Laughing In Heaven. A few of these are almost laughable as the band is about to crack up at any second in trying to keep a straight face while lip-synching the song. Ian Gillan swinging a mic stand while his vocals continue on one track is a dead giveaway. But all bands did that at the time, except Iron Maiden who refused to go onstage at Top Of The Pops unless they could play Running Free live back in 1980. A rather "unique" moment is seen with the Top Of The Pops appearance for the track Mutually Assured Destruction when it appeared the band had been suddenly reduced to a quartet. Bassist John McCoy plays a double neck guitar and seems to be handling not only the bass, but the guitar lines as well for the obviously absent Bernie Torme, who refused to make the trip to do the show. He was subsequently booted from the band.

All things considered, the live concert section of this release is worth getting if you're a fan of Ian's work during this era of his career. This was just prior to his bizarre stint in Black Sabbath for the Born Again album and just a couple of years before the Deep Purple reunion in 1984. Gillan was a poor man's version of Deep Purple that rocked just as hard yet had a more street-wise sense to it. Whereas Deep Purple's music was more rooted in classical music influences, Gillan was an in-your-face blues based kick ass hard rock band. This music from Ian's seemingly long forgotten stint outside Deep Purple is timeless and still sounds great today. A great starting place would be the Glory Road album and for a taste of what they were like in alive setting, this DVD The Glory Years pretty much sums it all up.

Killing Songs :
Unchain Your Brain, Mr. Universe and Mutually Assured Destruction
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