For modern pop fans, seeing is believing Videos: Giving sight, as well as sound, these packages add extra enjoyment.

December 17, 1996|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

Unlike well-behaved children, recorded music was traditionally heard but not seen. Thanks to MTV, however, modern pop fans would just as soon watch as listen to their favorite songs (at least when "Singled Out" isn't on, anyway).

No wonder, then, music videos are an increasingly important piece of the record industry pie. But unlike the stuff you see on MTV, much of what turns up on commercially released music videos are concert performances and documentaries, something that makes music video an excellent option come Christmas time.

For instance, if you wanted to make your favorite Beatles fan indebted for life, consider giving "The Beatles Anthology" (Capitol 5523). Of course, given the eight-tape set's price, your friend won't be the only one facing debt, but it's well worth the money. Not only does this documentary offer twice as much footage as the version aired on ABC, but it includes full versions of the promotional films the band made back in the days before anyone had even thought of MTV.

Don't despair, though, if your music-loving pals always preferred the Stones to the Beatles, because there's a video for them, as well. "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus" (Abkco 1003) was originally filmed for broadcast on the BBC in December 1968. But after the Beeb declined to air it, the show languished in the vaults for nearly 30 years.

Besides the expected footage of the Brian Jones-era Stones, there are eye-catching performances by Jethro Tull, an all-star pick-up group called the Dirty Mac (which features both Eric Clapton and John Lennon), and probably the best rendition of the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" available. A real plum for the historically inclined.

Just as instructive, although in a totally different way, is "Blood Brothers" (Columbia 50139), a documentary on the reunion of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. This 90-minute film starts at the beginning, when the E Streeters arrive at the Hit Factory recording studios, and follows the band and its boss as they work up, perform and record material for Springsteen's "Greatest Hits" album.

The package also includes the videos for "Murder Incorporated" and "Secret Garden." But the real draw for Springsteenophiles will be the five-song bonus CD, which offers a live version of "Murder Incorporated" and alternate renditions of "Blood Brothers" and "Secret Garden."

Bonus CDs are becoming quite the popular gimmick these days. "Enlarged to Show Detail" (PolyGram 44004 39253), a compilation of videos by the fabulously funky 311, also includes a bonus disc, in this case offering four demo recordings unavailable on album.

But not every act feels the need to pad out the package with bonuses. Van Halen's "Video Hits" (Warner Bros. 38428) offers exactly what the title promises -- hit video after hit video. It's not an exact duplication of the band's "Best of, Vol. 1," though, as it includes some songs not featured on the album (though not, disappointingly, the banned-by-MTV clip for "Pretty Woman").

There's a similar hit-driven sensibility to the Shania Twain collection, "The Complete 'Woman In Me' Video Collection" (PolyGram 44004 50893). All the big hits from her "Woman In Me" album are here, as well as a new version of "God Bless the Child."

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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