When most people think of Ian Gillan, they often associate him with his long and storied relationship with Deep Purple. However, the singer also had a very successful run with his own band Gillan in the late 70's and early 80's. Starting out in a more jazz-rock direction as The Ian Gillan Band before returning to heavy rock as Gillan, the band had a string of solid albums and hit singles, especially in Europe, and this DVD chronicles the classic Gillan line-up of Ian on vocals, Bernie Torme on guitar, John McCoy on bass, Colin Towns on keyboards, and Mick Underwood on drums. Featuring a blistering five song set recorded for television in 1980, as well as some archival footage with an earlier incarnation of the band, and interviews with the band (minus Ian himself), the DVD is well stocked for the Gillan fan.
Ian's trademark vocal screams are in fine form on the Edinburgh set, leading off with the scorching "Unchain Your Brain" and ending with the hard rocking "No Easy Way". Guitarist Torme is one wild player, as he combines punk energy with blazing, whammy bar theatrics, even on occasion getting into spirited exchanges with keyboard player Towns, himself a damn fine player. The interview with the band is very telling, as it tells the story of a band that saw some success, but eventually imploded due to the members basically not getting paid. My guess is this is why Ian chose not to take part in the DVD. Regardless, the fate of the band was destined to fall apart as Gillan was set to join Black Sabbath and after that a reunited Deep Purple. It's obvious that the former bandmates are still bitter at getting the shaft from Ian, even after all these years.
The main set is pretty good quality overall, but the archival footage is just that, pretty rough in both sound and picture quality, looking like perhaps coming from a second or third generation source, but it shows a band that was not lacking in power and energy, as they especially rip through "Sleeping On the Job". There's even a clip of a new band involving Torme, McCoy, and drummer Robin Guy, called GMT, that's very similar to Torme's solo material, which is basically guitar driven hard rock. Based on this song, ("Cannonball") I'd like to hear more from this trio.
After watching this DVD, you begin to get a sense of just how close this band came to becoming huge. Thankfully, Gillan left behind a vast discography and plenty of archival material. Add Live Edinburgh 1980 to that stack.
1) Unchain Your Brain
3) If You Believe Me
4) Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.)
5) No Easy Way
7) Smoke on the Water-bonus
8) Sleeping on the Job-bonus
9) Cannonball-bonus, new song from McCoy, Torme, and Robin Guy
10) Interviews with John McCoy, Bernie Torme, Colin Towns, and Mick Underwood
11) History of Gillan by Joe Geesin