Ian Gillan
Highway Star - A Journey In Rock

First Impressions

This is a fabulous offering for any Ian Gillan fan; think of it as like a two hour plus South Bank show special on the man and his musical career (without the commercials!), and just set yourself an evening aside to go through it from start to finish.

The interview filming is top notch - well lit, sympathetic but honest chat, a couple of nice props - so much better than the trendy crap most TV documentary shows give us these days - just let the people tell it like it is without some producer trying desperately to make a reputation. It's well cut too, and the story is engrossing, with a much broader appeal than just DP fans I would suggest. Some of the interviews are done indoors, at other times IG is filmed on location telling part of the story, and while there is some (rather American) voice over as well to advance the saga it's not enough to grate.

There is perhaps a (to my mind short-sighted) over-reliance on grainy close ups of albums sleeves to move the story along at times, which smacks of short-sighted budget constraints and lets the other footage down (we'll fly to Montreux to film IG talking but can't afford a couple of decent stills!). Proper archive footage would have given the project added impact, but this would have been very costly, fans just grumble at seeing short clips, and it would not have added that much to what the producers were trying to do here. For example when the talk does turn to an oldie, the clips are recent ones, but they are well shot and it certainly didn't detract from my viewing experience.

So it you want complete rare clips, the archive series is on a roll. Savor this instead for what it does. It's very depressing to think that twenty years ago British TV would have been putting this sort of programme together, whereas these days we have to let producers struggle to do it off their own bat and face the vaguaries of the market instead, but full marks for Craig Hooper and his team for doing it. It's easily the best programme on anyone from the group since the BBC's Rock Family Trees one. Nice menus on the whole and easy to navigate too (compare and contrast to the cheap rubbish on the Rainbow Texas DVD). The only thing that really lets the release down (aside from the rather spartan booklet which doesn't quite know what it should be there for) is the uninspiring cover artwork which just makes it look like any of those other semi-bootleg "in depth review" type products already out there; the DVD itself deserved an awful lot better.

Yes there is a second disc chock full of goodies, but frankly DVD 1 alone is well worth the purchase price, so delve into DVD 2 at your leisure.

Simon Robinson

Ian Gillan 'Highway Star - A Journey In Rock', can be pre-ordered from dpas mail order

DVD Review

This documentary is a close and highly detailed look through Ian's back pages as it were, and is told in a series of interviews in which Ian Gillan himself is refreshingly honest. Many people associated with Ian Gillan over the years - such as Tim Rice, George Best, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Colin Towns, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Don Airey and Roger Glover all give incredibly interesting, entertaining, and insightful interviews about the man. We even have footage of Ian's mum, bless her.

For many people the vintage footage and of course the images will be the real pull here, and this is where the production works so well. Craig Hooper, the man behind the film, has done an amazing job on the research. In fact I would go as far as to say it is one of the best researched documentaries I have ever seen. There are images and newsreel footage that I had either forgotten about, or in some cases hadn't even seen before, so for Ian Gillan fans this double DVD will be an absolute treat.

At almost two and a half hours the main feature also represents value for money, and with the second disc clocking in at around one hour and forty five minutes there is more than enough for any self respecting Ian Gillan fan to get to grips with. End Of Tour Blues is a fascinating look behind the scenes of a recent Deep Purple tour. There are some great performances captured here, and some amusing backstage moments, along with Ian's philosophy on performing and touring.

One thing I found quite amazing is that despite Ian's place in the heirarchy of rock he is an extremely down to earth and friendly guy. I personally have experienced Ian Gillan signing autographs for hours on end. It is this accessibility which has made him the much loved and respected musician and artist that he is today. Unlike many rock stars Ian has never forgotten the fans that have put him where he is, and that counts a lot as far as the fans are concerned

Don't run away with the idea that this DVD is an Ian Gillan love fest however. This is no whitewash. All the relevant questions are asked and answered with an unswerving honesty. Yep; even the sometimes thorny questions concerning the Gillan band and Ian's relationship with Ritchie Blackmore.

There are some interesting clips from more recent tours that you won't have seen before, and a large amount of backstage and off the cuff footage as well. My favourite clip is that of Ian Gilan and Luciano Pavarotti standing toe to toe singing Nessun Dorma. Bearing in mind that particular song is Pavarotti's calling card or theme tune, Gillan who comes off extremely well here and Pavarotti who gives him a glowing tribute.

Craig Hooper and his crew have to be congratulated for producing a balanced and hugely entertaining film."

Jon Kirkman


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2007 DPAS/Darker Than Blue.
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