• Guitar Wolf - Red Idol (Narnack Records) DVD Review

    Released by: Narnack Records
    Released on: October 21st, 2003.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Seiji (Guitar Wolf), Billy (Bass Wolf), Toru (Drum Wolf)
    Year: 2002
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    Guitar Wolf - Red Idol - Movie Review:

    The cover of this DVD shows Seiji (guitar player and lead vocalist of one of the the greatest bands in the world, Guitar Wolf), flying through the air, upside down, almost falling off of his motorcycle. It suits the band, and this DVD release, perfectly.

    Red Idol is a compilation of promotional music videos and live footage from throughout Guitar Wolf's career from their independent label days to their albums released stateside via Matador right up to the (then) present day of 2002. It was then that they got their domestic distribution deal through Narnack Records. Those folks were good enough to release not only the bands then most recent album, U.F.O. Romantics, but also this DVD, rescuing North American fans from having to import the stuff from Japan at silly prices.

    Red Idol is basically sixty-nine minutes of adrenaline infused, pure, unadulterated rock and roll. No frills. Just stripped down, noisy, fast, ass kicking rock and roll. Can these guys play? Well, maybe they're not the most technically proficient band in the world, they rarely use more than a few chords in their music, and they're sloppy as hell, but it doesn't matter. The energy level in this band is so high it's through the roof.

    As far as the music videos go, here's what is on the disc: God Speed You, Sky*Star*Jet, U.F.O. Romantics, Summertime Blues, Murder By Rock, and I Love You, OK (quite possibly the best power ballad ever written in the history of rock and roll).

    The live footage includes: Jet Generation, All Through The Night Buttobase!!, and Refrigerator Zero taken from the bands blistering performance at the Hibiya Yagai Ongakudo festival from September 11, 1999 on their Murder By Rock Tour. In addition, there are two songs from the more recent Fireball Tour, recorded May 19, 2002 at Shibuya On Air East - U.F.O. Romantics and Lightning's Melody.

    I was lucky enough to see the band on a rare North American tour, opening for the Cramps years back in Toronto. Having never heard them before, I had no idea what to expect and was pretty amazed at just how loud these guys were. These three strange Japanese men with greased up hair all decked out in black leather from head to toe were screaming about jets and aliens and alcohol in very broken English and totally giving 110%.

    This DVD does a pretty nice job of bringing their brand of self-proclaimed "Jet Rock" to the home. This is a much safer way to view them in your abode, where it's not quite possible for Seiji to jump off of anything or for Billy and Toru to break stuff at the end of the set. But by the time you finish listening to it all, you might just feel like jumping around and breaking stuff yourself.

    Timed (coincidently?) to hit the street at roughly the same time as the Synapse release of the band's feature film, Wild Zero (the trailer is included on this DVD as well), 2003 shaped up to be a good year for fans of the band. And speaking of fans, some more high profile ones are given the chance to speak about the band in the "Jet Friends' Message" segments which are interspersed with the videos and performances on the DVD.

    Eric Friedl (Goner Records – the label that their early stuff was released on), Greg Lowry (Zodiac Killers), Onoching (Jet Boys), Manfred Jones (The Woggles), Boogie Boy Ikuto, Tim Kerr, John Spencer and Russell Simins (John Spencer Blues Explosion), Michael Lucas (The Phantom Surfers), and Enocky (of Jackie And The Cedrics) all give their thoughts on how Guitar Wolf has affected them - be it a story about how they wrecked another band's gear, drank too much and did something stupid, or just plain kicked ass on stage. And while a lot of times this type of material is congratulatory tripe, here it comes across as sincere and legit.

    So sit back, turn up the speakers, drink as much as you can as fast as you can then ride around on your motorcycle, then grease the fuck out of your hair say the word 'JET' a lot and dig into Red Idol. If you're a Guitar Wolf fan you know it's your duty and if you're not a Guitar Wolf fan, well, you should be and this DVD is a great way to change your mind.

    Guitar Wolf - Red Idol - DVD Review:

    Well, the video quality on this release is a mixed bag. Some of the studio shot videos look perfect without and compression or defects at all, while the I Love You OK video has some bad compression artifacts that pop up in the darker spots on the image. The live footage is shot in such a way that the camera shakes and moves around a lot, which goes a long way to capturing the feel of the band, but makes it dizzying in a few spots. The overall image clarity is pretty solid though and for the most part it all looks pretty good, those few minor complains aside.

    The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, and as the warning on the back of the keepcase (and a few of their records) states: NOISE IS INTENTIONAL, NOT DEFECT OF THE TAPE (SIC)! Guitar Wolf are loud. The levels on their recordings are always way in the red and totally off the meter. If Spinal Tap turned it up to 11, Guitar Wolf turns it up to 22. Plenty of noise, feedback and distortion are all through the performances and the videos and that's exactly the way it should be. The interview footage, on the other hand, is clean and clear enough for shot on video material and doesn't produce any audible defects worth noting at all.

    Aside from a great little booklet and scene selection, the disc is barebones, save for a setup screen accessible off the menu that allows you to choose subtitles for certain parts of the presentation if you like.

    Guitar Wolf - Red Idol - The Final Word:

    If you're a Guitar Wolf fan and you don't already own this release, go get it. Now. North American fans had been waiting on a domestic release of this one since it was put out in Japan a year prior and Narnack brought it to us at a reasonable price which makes up for the lack of extras here.