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A fun but incomplete flashback to a cross-cultural party in the middle of nowhere

Various Artists - '83 US Festival Days 1-3
DVD Review

(MVD Visual)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
December 5, 2013
83 US Festival

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Long before Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and the like, the US Festival was picking up where Woodstock left off, taking major and burgeoning bands from all across the globe and putting them in the middle of a remote field near Devore, California. After being bootlegged for ages, the second edition of "Unite Us In Song" finally earns a remastered DVD transfer (albeit condensed into a mere handful of highlights), accompanied by new interviews with event founder Steve Wozniak (formerly of Apple Computer) and other period notables (mainly MTV's Mark Goodman).

The day one segment focuses on cutting edge acts of the time, ranging from an almost famous INXS blasting out "The One Thing" to the red hot Stray Cats blazing through "Rock This Town" and punk pioneers The Clash charging through "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" (in what turned out to be Mick Jones' last performance with the band). Day two takes a decidedly different tone with heavy metal men like Judas Priest and Scorpions pummeling through two tunes apiece, while the less influential Triumph somehow managed to score three songs in the track list. Strangely enough, that latter act also appears on the third day's retrospective (even after only playing on the second day), leaving room for just two tracks from the developing U2 or the mesmerizing Stevie Nicks.

Another odd decision is the occasional insertion of interview snippets over performances with the biggest grievance popping up midway through during U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." And for those looking for a complete souvenir of the experience, appearances by David Bowie, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, The Pretenders and many others never make it to this edition. Of course, some footage of is still better than none at all, and while the presentation isn't perfect, it still serves as a colorful snapshot from the time period that may have even subconsciously laid the blueprint for Live Aid and the many modern day mega-fests that followed in its footsteps.

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