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Case Number 21601: Small Claims Court

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One Night Only: The A.I.M.S. Gala

MVD Visual // 1988 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // June 21st, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Victor Valdivia assembled an all-star band of brilliant musicians to play his favorite songs. Unfortunately, they're all Raffi songs.

The Charge

An all-star evening of music

The Case

Yes, that's technically true, but so very misleading. There are plenty of musical all-stars here, but you won't actually get to hear most of them doing their songs. Instead, they come together to cover old rock 'n' roll standards, which is sort of like putting together a cast of sterling A-list actors and then having them do readings of Dr. Seuss books. Given that the concert clocks in at a meager 71 minutes, you'll be sorely disappointed at just how little of the all-stars you actually get to hear.

The A.I.M.S. (Ambitions, Ideas, Motivation, Success) Concert was filmed Feb. 20, 1988, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Bill Wyman, then bassist for the Rolling Stones, assembled an all-star band that included Stones guitarist Ron Wood, drummers Phil Collins and Kenney Jones, singers and guitarists Eddy Grant, Chris Rea, Elvis Costello, and Chrissie Hynde (of the Pretenders), and singers Ian Dury and Terence Trent D'Arby. Here is the set list:

Elvis Costello & Chrissie Hynde:
• "There's A Place"
• "Windows of the World"
• "Days"

Chris Rea:
• "Nothing's Happening"
• "By the Sea"
• "Steel River"
• "It's All Gone"
• "September Blue"

The All Star Band:
• "Tallahassee Lassie"
• "Baby Come Back"
• "Lucille"
• "Baby Please Don't Go"
• "Johnny B. Goode"
• "It's All Over Now"
• "Honky Tonk Women"

The set list tells the story: unless you're a big Elvis Costello or Chris Rea fan, this is hardly a must-see concert. Even then, Costello and Hynde fans will not be overwhelmed by the three acoustic covers they perform, since the two freely admit that they did not have much time to rehearse (and, at certain points, it shows). Rea, a big star in England at the time, gets a staggering five songs, and while his pleasant Adult Alternative pop is not painful to listen to, it also isn't particularly earth-shattering either. Mostly, you'll wonder why he gets such a huge chunk of time to perform when there are much bigger and acclaimed stars on the bill.

As for those acclaimed stars, they're reduced to serving as sidemen in the all-star band that plays some amusing but fairly ramshackle versions of old '50s and '60s rockers. Ian Dury sings some enthusiastic but sloppy vocals, Ron Wood and Eddy Grant get some good guitar solos here and there, and Terence Trent D'arby, then a megastar in England, deigns to come out (to thunderous applause) to sing some half-hearted background vocals on the last two songs. Of course, these songs are so sturdy that it's impossible to really screw them up, especially with a crew of skilled musicians like these, but given that this entire segment is only slightly longer than the set that Chris Rea gets all by himself, what's the point? Why bother putting together an all-star gala that barely lasts more than an hour and doesn't even allow the all-stars to do their own songs? If you were hoping to at least get to hear some stellar new versions of "In the Air Tonight," "Brass In Pocket," or even "Electric Avenue," you're out of luck.

Technically, at least, the DVD is impressive. The DTS and Dolby surround mixes are spectacularly loud and clear, so much so that you'll even hear the hum of the amps in between songs. The full-screen transfer is decent. The show was shot on videotape and while it looks a bit hazy and washed-out at times, the tape has aged reasonably well. The sole extra is adequate. "Access All Areas" (45:49) begins with an introduction by Wyman, who put together the concert. He explains that it was intended to introduce new unsigned bands from England, five of whom opened the concert. You can see songs from each of the bands, none of which are particularly notable. The featurette also includes some dull footage of the musicians setting up their gear, some raunchy jokes from the concert's host, comedian Jim Davidson, and a tedious musical comedy routine by Bad News, a Spinal Tap-type heavy metal band consisting of cast members from the British sketch comedy series The Young Ones.

In the end, there's little reason to go out of your way for this disc. The performances aren't very interesting and the decision to emphasize Rea at the expense of some real significant stars is simply inexplicable. Don't be fooled by the impressive gallery of stars on the front cover—you'll hardly get to see and hear most of them. Unless you're a hardcore Stones or Costello completist, feel free to pass this by.

The Verdict

Guilty of being a forgettable concert.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: MVD Visual
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• French
• German
• Portuguese
• Spanish
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette


• Bill Wyman

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