'Later' Sets Giants Loose On DVD

In a music TV world seemingly dominated by "reality" talent shows, the British program "Later ... With Jools Holland" is an anachronism.

In a music TV world seemingly dominated by "reality" talent shows, the British program "Later ... With Jools Holland" is an anachronism. The acclaimed live-music show, produced by U.K. public broadcaster the BBC, features nothing but musicians playing live to an audience, in a show presented by a fellow artist. The show's sole purpose is to focus on the creativity and musicianship of the artists.

"Later" is back for its 22nd six-week run in October on BBC2 in the U.K. -- and on a number of channels around the world. Next month will also see the release of the third DVD to be extracted from the show.

"The great thing about the BBC is that they have built this massive archive of performances from the show, and we are able to pick songs from old shows, such as the Kinks in 1993 or Bo Diddley in 1996," says the show's presenter Jools Holland, himself a pianist/bandleader and former member of British pop act Squeeze.

The DVD "Giants," to be released Oct. 20 in the U.K. by Warner Music Vision, features such acts as Paul McCartney, R.E.M., Tom Jones, Solomon Burke, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, Al Green, Patti Smith, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, among others.

All taken from the show's extensive archives, the BBC has previously released two themed DVDs, one on heavy metal ("Later ... Rocks") and another to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show, "10 Years Later..."

The content of the DVDs reflects the diversity of the acts that perform on the show and also draws upon the special programs Holland presents for the BBC, including his renowned New Year's Eve "Hootenannies," where he appears with a string of guest artists and fronts his own "big band."

Holland says he is "really fond of these DVDs, where you actually see the guys playing, like this old stuff from the '40s or '50s. It is great when you see them play. There's so much you can learn from their performances."

The one-hour show owes a lot to the personality of the presenter. Artists, usually between five and seven acts, all gather at the same time in a BBC Television Center studio in London to record each new show. Holland successively presents the acts that play one after the other. There are usually two interview breaks, but the show is mostly about the music. In several cases, Holland himself sits behind the piano and joins in with the acts performing. The show is typically recorded in the evening and broadcast two days later with minimal editing.

"What makes this show unique is that artists feel comfortable," Holland says. "They feel at home. That is why we get people whom you would probably not see on TV otherwise. And for me, I get a great view from the end of my piano."

The new season will feature performances from R.E.M., Buddy Guy, Jane's Addiction, the Coral, Beyonce Knowles, Annie Lennox, Oumou Sangare and Justin Timberlake, among others.