Family time: Music
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Monday, October 19, 2009
10/19/09 at 7:35 AM
Thirty years ago, The Who's Pete Townshend gave a stark solo gig at the Amnesty International Secret Policeman's Ball benefit show in London.
It sowed a seed for events like Live Aid or Farm Aid — and a new generation of humanitarian awareness through music.
"The Secret Policeman Rocks!" DVD celebrates the 30th anniversary of that historic first show and pulls together the best performances from those Secret Policeman's Balls and rock performances given for Amnesty International through the years.
The video is sometimes grainy and soft. There are pops and hisses from the archaic recording equipment.
The production quality is humble but the cause isn't, and this DVD brings together the best of three decades.
The classic John Lennon tune "Imagine" is laid bare in an acoustic duet, sans vocals, by guitar legends Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Chet Atkins. "On the Turning Away" performed by David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) is profound.
Pete Townshend's acoustic version of the Who hit "Pinball Wizard" captivates. Townshend's voice is strikingly clarion, a stark contrast to the original.
There's something here for everyone who loves live music: Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Sting, Bob Geldof and more.
"The Secret Policeman Rocks!" also includes an 80-minute featurette with rare archival footage of Sting, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Bob Geldof, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Jackson Browne, Joan Armatrading, Bryan Adams, Tracy Chapman and supporters from the acting realm: Robert DeNiro, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Bacon, Pam Grier, Christopher Reeve, Elliott Gould and Richard Belzer.
Said U2 frontman and world-renowned activist Bono, "I Saw the Secret Policeman's Ball and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed."
The Secret Policeman Rocks!
Available at: local and online retailers,
Release date: Sept. 29 from Shout Factory
Rating: 95 (out of 100)
Watch: “Imagine,” Mark Knopfler and
Chet Atkins; “Message in a Bottle,”
Sting; “Pinball Wizard,” Pete Townshend;
“In the Air Tonight,” Phil Collins;
“Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers,” Eric
Clapton and Jeff Beck.
"The Secret Policeman Rocks!" Amnesty International best of live rock performances. DVD from Shout Factory. Courtesy Shout Factory 2009.