The Best Of 1994-2004 – Glastonbury Anthems [Dvd]

Label: Emi

Like F.A Cup Finals, Monkees, Beatles and great American disasters, everyone has their favourite don’t they? For me Glastonbury peaked on the new pyramid stage when 11th-hour Stone Roses replacements, Pulp literally defined the feeling of the moment (and their career) with the freshly ground ‘Sorted For E’s And Wizz’. That was 1995, and nearly ten bloody years ago and I can still remember to this day the people I was with, the things I was eating, the things I’d been doing the previous week, the things I was wearing, the things everyone else was wearing, the quality of the recreational pursuits I was absorbing and even the look on everyone else’s faces when I tried to describe the event back home. The collective spirit of the event grabs a hat, a coat, a pair of glasses, a false nose and some make up and like Well’s invisible man is made damned near incarnate, forever dipping into your failing memory banks and forever tweaking you on the nose. Whether it’s the bands, the mud, the tents, the E’s, the rain, the sun, the naked girls, the last minute replacements, the dodgy loos, the dodgy geezers or the endless procession of fire eating dwarfs – there’s simply no escaping a good Glastonbury. Ever.

And this is why the Glastonbury Anthems DVD is something of a disappointment; it promises so much, and delivers so little. For one of the biggest, most exciting and memorable events in the musical calendar – and spanning four whole decades – you’d have thought the compilers could have gone a much further than the frankly impoverished series of ‘Extras’ available on the disc. Glastonbury by air, anyone? Who hasn’t seen Glastonbury by air? I spent much of those three days in June 1995 at that coordinate and so did most other folks around me. A photo gallery? An interview with Michael Eavis? Some old news reel from the original festival? What could have been so much, achieves so little. Would a sensitive and well-crafted documentary have been too much to ask? Interviews with the people who were there? The clowns, the dealers, the punters? No, it wouldn’t have been. The emphasis has instead been placed on the bands. And when was the last time anybody went to Glastonbury to hear the bands?

Allegedly compiled by via a poll on Glastonbury’s official website – but no doubt curtailed by the refusal of permissions from certain quarters – it’s not a bad collection by any means. Ash shine, Robbie gives, the Manics transcend, Macca thrives and the Jaxx deliver and it’s really only Faithless’s appearance on the disc that seems in any way misleading. My only other gripe is with the less than clear-cut title. Is ‘Scooby Snacks’ an anthem? Is Elatica’s ‘Connection’ an anthem? Even Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ – there’s memorable, head-swaying elements to it perhaps – but it takes quite an imagination to have Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Matinee’ out run Pulp’s ‘Common People’ to a place on the disc (although I do seem to recall there were broadcast problems during the performance on the night).

Truth is though, any tracklisting is going to disappoint as many people as it thrills and this is no exception. Somewhat casually compiled, clumsily executed and cheaply packaged, the disc’s attention to detail is at least commensurate with the events itself. My own hunch though, is that ‘Anthems’ is just testing the market in the same way the Later… with Jools Holland series tested the Beeb’s own. With any luck, though we might see a much tighter and sensitively compiled series to follow in the not so distant future.

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Release: Glastonbury Anthems [Dvd] - The Best Of 1994-2004
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Released: 24 March 2005