The latest in music DVDs -- Our critics look at new releases from Franz Ferdinand, Johnny Cash, New York Dolls, and John Lennon

The latest in music DVDs

FRANZ FERDINAND (Domino) In 2004, the best-dressed band in rock embarked on a world tour in support of their self- titled debut. Two discs include 14 of those shows (including a tiny secret one in their native Glasgow, complete with an outside acoustic set for those who couldn’t get in) and two full concerts. Their onstage intensity is unassailable, but if you want debauchery, be warned: Franz seem as balanced as the postshow red wine they favor for backstage high jinks. COOL CURIO A one-hour doc on the making of this doc steals the show. B

NEW YORK DOLLS: ALL DOLLED UP (Music Video Distributors) Culled from some 40 hours of early-’70s footage shot by Bob Gruen and Nadya Beck, this revealing cinema vérité film captures the Dolls’ dynamic. Their rowdy live shows and rowdier offstage lifestyle make it clear they really did midwife punk. Yet it’s the unexpectedly poignant moments — like seeing Johnny Thunders’ mom and sis wish him bon voyage before a tour — that get you. COOL CURIO Documentation of the Dolls’ only performance in full-on drag at New York’s Club 82. A

JOHNNY CASH: LIVE FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS (New West) Viewers who can’t shake the image of Joaquin Phoenix’s teeth-gnashing Man in Black in Walk the Line might be surprised by the benign Johnny in this 50-minute taping from a 1987 gig. The baritone is as clear and well-deep as ever, but his asides are hardly of the pills-and-latent-rage variety; here, he matches easygoing anecdotes with live versions of classics like ”Ring of Fire.” COOL CURIO Pretty much every one of J.C.’s Kris Kristofferson stories is a keeper. A-

IMAGINE: JOHN LENNON (Warner Bros.) Conveniently released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, this 1988 documentary feels like a bland CliffsNotes version of the ex-Beatle’s life. The by-the-numbers narrative is redeemed, however, by amazing live and home-video footage, which fleshes out Lennon’s feisty, contradictory personality. COOL CURIO The best bits are a hilariously dated interview with a clueless BBC Radio reporter and a shaggy acoustic 1971 performance of ”Imagine.” B-

Franz Ferdinand
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