Among the benefits of buying into the music biz is the opportunity to revisit classic moments in musical history that might have otherwise been lost forever.
This year, there was no shortage of offerings released or published -- books, DVDs, and straight-up music -- that brought us back to crucial occasions that contributed to the breadth and depth of rock 'n' roll's indelible legacy. That said, consider these crucial acquisitions filmed in the past and released in 2014 as mustn't-miss moments in musical history.
7. Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson - Thick as a Brick, Live in Iceland (Eagle Vision) and Jethro Tull War Child (Chrysalis)
Face it, Ian Anderson is Jethro Tull, if not in name then certainly in delivery. Here are two of the band's classics, each resurfacing in different configurations.
Anderson's remake of Thick as a Brick remains true to the original, regardless of the fact that he nails it under his own name with a hired band of stringers. War Child, meanwhile, has been expanded into box-set proportions, four discs offering remixes and unreleased recordings.
6. Big Star Live in Memphis (Omnivore)
This audio and video companion set documents a 1993 performance in Big Star's town of origin, Memphis, Tennessee.
Considered by most to be the definitive power-pop outfit, the original band splintered early on and later was revived with the help of the Posies' Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer. An essential recording, Live in Memphis makes a perfect companion piece to the band's two seminal efforts, # 1 Record and Radio City, both of which were reissued earlier this year.
5. Genesis - Three Sides Live (Eagle Vision)
Peter Gabriel had already departed by the time the three remaining members of Genesis recorded this live album. Regardless, now that it's on Blu-Ray, it makes for an apt summation of its strengths at that point, boasting the material that helped ensure the band's big breakthrough. Notably, Phil Collins had yet to cash in on the band's commercial credence, reason alone to give this concert the scrutiny it deserves.
4. Queen - Live at the Rainbow (Eagle Vision) and Queen Forever (Hollywood Records)
Call it glam rock, art rock, or merely a guilty pleasure -- Queen was truly a force of nature. The two concerts, recorded live at London's Rainbow in 1974, show the group making a mighty noise -- full of confidence, bluster, bravado, and the undeniable drama that elevated it to the pantheon of true rock gods.
Meanwhile, a two-disc box set revisits the best of the band, courtesy of both hits and lesser-known tracks, Thankfully, there's no reprise of "We Are the Champions," but a heretofore unreleased collaboration with Michael Jackson provides a cool little curio.
3. Bob Marley - Uprising Live! (Eagle Vision)
Not classic rock, but definitely a classic, 2014 also showcased some revived Bob Marley.
The fact that this DVD captures Marley on his final tour a mere year before he succumbed to cancer adds both poignancy and purpose to it. Bob's as charismatic as ever, and with songs that represent the very best of his enduring catalog, this is both a must-have acquisition for devotees and a stirring introduction for anyone who is less a fan.
2. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young - CSNY 1974 (Rhino)
For the past 45 years, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young have, both individually and collectively, represented the singer/songwriter ideal, and one of the last lingering examples of 1960s hippie optimism. Here's proof of all that: They released a stunning box set boasting 40 songs, eight videos, and an expansive booklet of text and photos, all culled from the quartet's highly touted 1974 tour.
Far more than a dusty memento, it maintains a high bar even now. Amid this assortment of familiar band standards, solo standouts, and songs that have never officially seen the light of day, CSNY 1974 shows a group operating in its prime. The reasons for acquisition are obvious, but in essence, it's the history, harmonies, and essential unreleased material that make CSNY 1974 the Holy Grail for both obsessive collectors and everyday enthusiasts.
1. Rolling Stones - From the Vault, Hampton Coliseum (Live 1981) and L.A. Forum (Live in 1975) (Eagle Vision/Universal)
Like last year's Sweet Summer Sun - Hyde Park Live, which revisited the Stones' return to the landmark event that helped highlight the victory lap billed as their 50th anniversary tour. That and the Hampton Coliseum concert, captured on Blu-Ray, present the band at critical junctures earlier on. These are also proof-positive that the band's live show hasn't changed much over the years, a sign of stability in an ever-uncertain world.
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