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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Violent Femmes: Permanent Record:Live & Otherwise
Violent Femmes: Permanent Record:Live & Otherwise
Rhino // Unrated // July 12, 2005
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted August 20, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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I hate the term "one hit wonder."

So many people without a true appreciation for music tend to use the term to label a band that only made it to MTV once – as if the former music channel was the end-all be-all of quality. So many excellent artists have been labeled in such a way – The Cardigans, Jill Sobule and the Verve all made VH-1's list of the greatest one-hit wonders despite having great bodies of work.

So it is we come upon Violent Femmes, a band so many people are willing to write off as "one hit wonders" despite not only a series of good-to-excellent albums, but also a second song ("American Music") that made a pretty good-sized splash.

Permanent Record is a Rhino DVD release celebrating the band's original lineup; drummer Victor DeLorenzo left after the release of 1993's greatest hits album Add It Up. Shot at the Boat House in Norfolk, Va., the live concert DVD shows the Femmes at its skewed best.

The short-ish concert (wrapping up in about 50 minutes) includes the following songs:

Look Like That
Out the Window
Fat
Blister in the Sun*
Prove My Love
Country Death Song*
Old Mother Reagan
Confessions
Girl Trouble
Add It Up*
Kiss Off*
Good Feeling
More Money Tonight

Oddly enough, there is little connection between this DVD and the CD by the same name; only four tracks (those above with an asterisk) appear in both places, with one, Country Death Song, appearing in a live format on the DVD from a different show.

Aside from a questionable set list (no "American Music"?) and despite difficult conditions (according to bassist Brian Ritchie, a thermometer on stage read 130 degrees during the set!), it is a strong show. Lead singer and guitarist Gordon Gano is in fine form; much like a younger David Byrne, he's not the person to judge based on singing ability, but rather energy level. He, Ritchie and DeLorenzo all seem to be on top of their games here.

The DVD

Video:

The full-screen presentation of the concert looks incredibly saturated, with a significant amount of light noise. The camera shakes at several parts, jittering the picture as well.

Audio:

The 2.0 track was likely the top of technology at the time, so it's hard to blast Permanent Record for falling short of the sonic quality set in more recent concert DVDs. The sound is clear, if flat and without much low-end.

Extras:

Seven music videos are included, each confirming the Femmes reputation as strange, punk-folk troubadours. The video and audio quality are acceptable for the extras, though there are some flaws displayed ("Gone Daddy Gone," for instance, sees some frame-scrolling).

Videos included here are:

Gone Daddy Gone/I Just Want to Make Love to You
Children of the Revolution
I Held Her in My Arms
American Music
Used to Be
Breakin' Up
Machine

There's also footage of a "rare street performance" of "Kiss Off." The videos are presented in either 5.1 or 2.0 sound, with the major difference between the two being subwoofer use in the former.

Final Thoughts:

Permanent Record does not make for a great compilation (dig up the CD Add It Up for that) and the concert, while a fine performance, does not have the technical specs, the length or the set list to warrant a purchase. Unless you're a Femmes completist, this is no more than a solid rental.

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