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David Bowie—Rare and Unseen DVD (MVD Visual/Wienerworld Presentations)

The Sacred Triangle: Bowie, Iggy & Lou 1971-1973 DVD (Sexy Intellectual Productions)

The Imperial DogsLive! In Long Beach DVD (ID Music)

Phil ManzaneraThe Music 1972-2008 CD/DVD (Expression Records)

Although glam rock did have a few exponents in America—Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls and the gloriously failed Jobriath, most notably—it was mostly an English phenomenon. From 1971 to 1974, glam (or glitter, as it was called then) presaged U.K. punk with its catchy, hard guitar-oriented sound, Music Hall camp, and gender-confusing aesthetic. Los Angeles had a healthy scene, but, other than the shock rock-leavening Alice Cooper, its flamboyant practitioners were generally too much for heartland U.S. audiences to handle. (Some refer to the ’80s American hair-metal bands as glam; “neo-glam” is a more fitting term for Poison, et al.)

T. Rex’s Marc Bolan is, arguably, the glitzy era’s flashpoint, but today it’s his friend and chief rival, David Bowie, who’s most cited as glam rock’s king—or queen, if you will. Built around a 1976 interview with stiff TV host Russell Harty, Rare and Unseen finds Bowie in full Thin White Duke mode circa filming for The Man Who Fell to Earth, and cuts between those segments and a far more lucid late 1990s chat, a 1974 backstage interview, and other scraps. The editing is abysmal and, apparently unable to clear the original recordings for use, the makers opted to hire an embarrassing Bowie impersonator for the soundtrack. Beware.

The Sacred Triangle: Bowie, Iggy & Lou 1971-1973 also suffers from moments of inept editing but still manages to remain compelling. Via interviews with David’s ex-wife Angie Bowie, Andy Warhol assistant Billy Name, MainMan Management’s Leee Black Childers, and others, the 107-minute documentary explains how the paths of Bowie, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop intertwined to reinvigorate the artistic and commercial careers of all three. While floundering as a seeming one-hit wonder in the wake 1969’s “Space Oddity,” Bowie was introduced to Reed’s work with the Velvet Underground and to Pop’s band, the Stooges, and appropriated much from both for his Ziggy Stardust rebirth (Bowie songs like “Queen Bitch” plainly reference the Velvets, and it’s no coincidence that the first name of his adopted, outrageous persona rhymes with that of a certain Detroit singer). Bowie repaid his debts in earnest, though, talking up both and bringing them into the glitter scene they inspired by producing Reed’s 1972 breakthrough, Transformer, and remixing the Stooges 1973 LP, Raw Power; eventually Bowie helping revivify Pop’s career again when the ex-Stooge was wallowing in L.A. (An extra, “The Nico Connection,” lays out the subjects’ links to the late chanteuse.)

L.A. was also home to the proto-punk-by-way-of-glam Imperial Dogs, known to footnote followers as the originators of Blue Oyster Cult’s “This Ain’t the Summer of Love.” Shot in a college gym, Live! In Long Beach displays the Dogs’ reputation as uncompromising outlaws as they rage through choice covers (VU’s “Waiting for the Man,” Mott the Hoople’s “Rock and Roll Queen”) and toxic originals (“Loud, Hard & Fast,” “Amphetamine Superman”). An intriguing document of a forgotten, transitional band, this once-lost black and white video is worth it just for bassist Tim Hilger’s furry pants and the audience baiting of Iggy-enthralled front man and future journalist Don Waller.

Phil Manzanera, the guitar genius of art-glam titans Roxy Music, has been active both as a producer and player outside that beloved band. The two-CD/one-DVD career retrospective The Music 1972-2008 is highlighted by his work with the Bryan Ferry-led outfit (cuts from the landmarks Stranded and Country Life, as well as ’80’s gems Flesh & Blood and Avalon) and with his erstwhile Roxy bandmate Brian Eno. Proggy instrumentals from Manzanera’s worthy 1975 solo outing, Diamond Head (also rereleased on Expression), and 801, his subsequent project with Eno, have their moments, but by early ’00s albums like Vozero and 50 Minutes Later things droop into the kind of vacuous, moderne Euro-pop used to sell expensive cologne. The DVD promises a documentary titled “Revolution to Roxy” and live footage but—grrr!—just won’t spin in the Roll HQ deck.—Peter Aaron

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