The Beatles "A Hard Day's Night" returns
on Region 1 DVD. (See left.) Order it now!
NOW AVAILABLE IN THE U.K.:
Region 2 fans in the UK can also order it
from Amazon.co.uk. (See at right.) Get it today!
THE BEE GEES -- THIS IS WHERE I CAME IN (EAGLE VISION) and THE BEE GEES -- LIVE BY REQUEST (IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT): In America, the Bee Gees are the musical equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield, a fate they really don't deserve. Their success with disco music may have made them household words and filthy rich, but their earlier body of music, beginning with their first hit, "New York Mining Disaster," has a richness that approach none other than the Beatles. These two DVDs present two elements of the group. The first is a lengthy biography of the group that includes plenty of old footage and music along with recent interviews and music from their latest album of the same name. "Live By Request" is a 2001 concert originally broadcast live on cable's A&E Network. What you saw on the original broadcast is what you get here, including live versions of songs from their most recent album, plus some overly fawning intros by Mark McEwen. It's great, however, to hear the group in a live setting, an occurance that's become less frequent as years go on. We had the chance to see the group live on its "One" tour several years ago. We went into the show with low expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. While their more recent albums haven't had the success in the U.S. they have had in Europe, their work still is nothing but classy. These two discs prove that without a shadow of a doubt. (May, 2002)
THE CHIEFTAINS -- AN IRISH EVENING: The Chieftains have been around for many years and have an incredible enthusiasm that shines through their music. The concert, recorded in 1991 at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, features guest stars Nanci Griffith and Roger Daltrey, whose rendition of "Behind Blue Eyes" sounds terribly out of place, but little can dampen the Chieftains, who also also backed by dancer Jean Butler (who later went on to star with Michael Flatley in "Riverdance.") The Chieftains are one of the greatest musical gifts we have. If you're a fan, you'll love this intimate gathering that has the joy everpresent in the Chieftains music. (May, 2002)
THE PRISONER COMPLETE SET (10 discs/A&E): Over 30 years after its first broadcast, "The Prisoner" still holds fans enthralled. The series lasted only 18 episodes, but those episodes have been analyzed and picked apart by "Prisoner" devotees (your reviewer being one of them) ever since. (And there's a Beatle connection here: The final episode included short excerpts of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love.") This 10 disc set contains the entire series, "The Alternate Chimes of Big Ben," plus some previously unseen footage taken during shooting and interviews with the series' production manager, (and not, unfortunately, with star Patrick McGoohan), and an overview, "The Prisoner Video Companion." The DVD also contains alternate footage from the show's opening, rare pictures and trivia. The original episodes of the series look tremendous on DVD with brilliant color. The only missing element that we would have loved to have seen was a rare Canadian TV interview with McGoohan in which he discussed the show. But otherwise, everything you'd ever want about the show is here. If you're a fan of "The Prisoner," you'll want this. (Also available in five separate two-disc sets: Set 1, set 2, set 3, set 4, set 5. Taken together, the five are the same as the Complete Set, but without the set's box.) (May, 2002)
THE WHO LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 1970 (IMAGE) and THE WHO & SPECIAL GUESTS -- LIVE AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL (2 disc set/MCY): It's nice to see Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle performing again at the Royal Albert Hall show, recorded in November, 2000. The trio, augmented by John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards and Zak Starkey, Ringo's son, who's superb on drums, run through an assortment of songs from as early as "My Generation" to later songs such as "You Better You Bet." The special guests include Eddie Vedder, Noel Gallagher, Bryan Adams and Paul Weller. Still, even the special guests can't transform this from an ordinary show, especially when you compare it to the Isle of Wight disc (pictured at left). This disc has Keith Moon and the 'oo performing an outstanding set, including all of "Tommy" live in what appears to be very very late in the evening. Still, Pete and the band (with Roger in full fringe splendor) rock it up. Classic Who and well worth getting. (April, 2002)
JOHN LENNON "SWEET TORONTO": This DVD is one of several taken basically from the same film, all recorded at the Toronto Peace Festival in 1969 (others includes discs by Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley). The Lennon disc is the video of the live Plastic Ono Band concert released on the "Live Peace in Toronto" album, plus some added single songs from the other artists named above. The sound is in 5.1 Dolby Digital. The mix is slightly different from the "Live Peace" release. It's one of the few chances to see and hear John in concert. The DVD also includes a recent interview with Yoko Ono. A must. (Feb. 2002)
"DAYDREAM BELIEVERS: THE MONKEES STORY" (New Concorde): "Daydream Believers: The Monkees' Story" TV movie is a somewhat authorized version of how the Monkees made it. It includes the Monkees' original music (some of it in gorgeous 5.1 mixes), but no real Monkees. It fictionalizes some of the participants and includes the usual percentage of tacky TV dialogue TV movies are known for. But what sets the DVD apart and makes it a good purchase for fans of the Monkees is the extras: full-length separate audio commentaries through the movie by Micky, Davy and Peter, plus video interviews with each, and an additional audio commentary by director Neill Fearnley. The movie doesn't reveal any bombshells that the group's fans won't already know. The audio commentaries are most interesting. In one scene, where Peter and Davy get into a fight, both of the guys say the fight didn't happen the way the movie shows it, but both give decidedly different versions of the incident! It's great to hear the group members discuss the Monkees at such length. Too bad no one could persuade Mike to join in, though.(Feb. 2002)
BEATLES STORY: LIFETIME BIOGRAPHY and "BEATLES BIG BEAT BOX" (WATERFALL) : "The Beatles Story: Lifetime Biography" is a well-done biography of the group that, ironically, aired in the U.S. on A&E, not Lifetime. Since it's unauthorized, it treads a narrow path to avoid copyright problems (and does so rather well). It features no original Beatle music, but interviews with several Beatle associates, including Mersey Beat editor Bill Harry and members of the Swingin' Blue Jeans. Most of the footage of the Beatles is old newsreel footage. There's also has some nice footage of Liverpool, too. The biography itself has some interesting stories. A nice pickup. On the other hand, "Beatles Big Beat Box" is horrible. Recycled news footage you've seen dozens of times before, much centered around the Beatles' Hollywood Bowl show, but all tinted in different colors, rather than being left in black and white. (Probably to mask the horrible quality of the footage included.) The clips include a woman telling a photographer there would be no movie footage shot inside the Bowl. (Funny how some was anyway.) The second disc in the set is a CD that includes some Beatle covers, plus some non-Beatle songs, including one titled "In Spite of All the Danger" which ISN'T the same song on the Anthology or anything close, just a complete fabrication.
PAUL McCARTNEY AND FRIENDS -- THE CONCERT FOR NEW YORK (SONY): This concert is fantastic. From the Goo Goo Dolls, to the Who (with Zak Starkey on drums), to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (whose performance of "Salt of the Earth" may have been the most appropriate one of the night), and even to Adam Sandler, whose Operaman skit had us rolling on the floor.The ongoing tributes to the police, fire and emergency workers of New York City made our eyes water several times. The two-disc set contains over 5 hours of music and tributes. Our only criticism, though, is why isn't ALL the music here? For example, two of Paul's songs (the ones from "Driving Rain") were cut, as was Macy Gray's great Beatle cover. But you must get this disc. Not just because Paul's on it, but because all the proceeds go to N.Y.'s Robin Hood Foundation. A great show for a great cause. Buy it!
PAUL McCARTNEY -- WINGSPAN: If you're looking for a history of Wings, "Wingspan" isn't it. What Paul calls "Wingspan" is really "Paul and Linda: A Love Story." Certainly, it's an enjoyable disc, with some great music. It's hard to believe, though, that daughter Mary, who interviews Paul through the film (nice job if you can get it!), was hearing some of Dad's stories for the first time as her reaction would lead you to believe. The DVD has some nice unreleased extra footage. "Wingspan" is, in reality, a vanity project for Paul. It's pleasant to watch and it's interesting to hear Paul discuss some subjects, including his pot bust in Japan. But just don't expect a history of Wings. This isn't the place you'll find it. (February, 2002)
PAUL McCARTNEY AND FRIENDS: PETA CONCERT FOR PARTY ANIMALS (2000) (Image): Paul McCartney, with a little help from some friends, pays tribute to his late wife, Linda, and the animal rights organization PETA, on this disc. Paul's performance features six songs from "Run Devil Run." Compared to the Cavern show, this performance seems to have a little less spark. Paul also introduces the winner of the first Linda McCartney Humanitarian Award. Also on the bill: Chrissie Hynde, Sarah McLachlan, The B-52s, Ellen DeGeneres and Margaret Cho. While the concert footage is, at the least, fun, some of the DVD extras aren't: not one, but six graphic animal cruelty videos, including one introduced by Stella McCartney. PETA's use of over-the-top methods to get their point across isn't new. Was that many graphic videos really necessary? The other extras are less offensive: a compilation of PETA celebrity public service annoucements, including one by Linda McCartney, and a music video. The Cavern DVD (reviewed elsewhere on this page) has more Macca music and none of the propaganda. We'd recommend this one for completists only. (January, 2002)
EVEREST (Miramax): A beautiful movie made even more enjoyable by the music of George Harrison, which is featured in instrumental versions extensively through the film and with George himself (on the soundtrack) in a live version of "Here Comes the Sun" from the "Live in Japan" album at the end. The film shows the bitter struggles of a group of climbers to conquer Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain. Originally shown in IMAX theaters, it loses a bit of its majesty on the small screen, but the emotion of the story is still evident. The photography is gorgeous and features sweeping panaramas of the mountain. And the spirituality of the George Harrison music lifts it even more. (Nov. 2001)
AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO BRIAN WILSON (Image): If you saw this show when it was broadcast on TNT, you know what to expect: It's a star-studded gathering featuring talents including David Crosby, Elton John, Ricky Martin, Jimmy Webb, Sir George Martin and Aimee Mann, plus a special reunion of Wilson Phillips, which includes Brian's two daughters. The music is, of course, great. I just have one reservation, though: As much as I love the music of Brian Wilson, it's still disconcerting to see him react to public settings. For a guy whose music has brought such peace to his fans, it's not fair that he appears, at least on the surface, to have a difficult time enjoying gatherings like this tribute. And knowing Brian's tortured past, you'd think that those paying tribute could refrain from using the G (genius) word to introduce him. It's hard to go wrong with this disc, especially since it features four songs by Brian and bonus interviews with Brian and several of those involved with the show. I just hope Brian was comforted by the warmth of the feelings of his family and friends who participated. It's a warmth he certainly deserves for all the good vibes he's spread to the rest of us. (Nov. 2001)
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: ZOOM TOUR LIVE FEATURING JEFF LYNNE (Image): Those who were anticipating ELO's "Zoom" had to be deeply disappointed when it was cancelled. This DVD helps ease the pain a little with a performance recorded at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. Lynne and the group, including original member Richard Tandy, do several songs from the new album and plenty of oldies, including "Telephone Line," "Turn To Stone," "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle," "Evil Woman," "Showdown," "Strange Magic" and "Roll Over Beethoven." The music looks and sounds tremendous. In addition, the disc features a bonus interview with Lynne. (Nov. 2001)
THE BEST OF RINGO STARR & HIS ALL-STARR BAND SO FAR ... (Image): This DVD features an assortment of performances from the first four All-Starr Band tours. Performances are shown in chronological order from concerts at the Greek Theater in L.A. (1989), Montreaux Jazz Festival (1992), Empire Theater, Liverpool (1992), Japan (1995) and Pine Knob, Mich. (1997). The All-Starr Band concept wouldn't have worked as well as it did if it hadn't been for Ringo's sense of fun. Looking at the performances, it's amusing to see which songs besides Ringo's get the most attention from the audience: the radio staples like "Rocky Mountain Way," "The Weight," "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" were among those we recall getting huge responses. Those are here, along with Ringo's songs. The DVD includes a bonus second version of "Yellow Submarine," along with an introduction by Sir Paul McCartney. Video quality is better on the more recent clips, but is good all the way through. Sound is 5.1 Dolby and DTS. Fun and worth having. (Nov. 2001)
THE MONKEES: OUR FAVORITES EPISODES and THE MONKEES: VOLS. 1 AND 2 (Rhino): Are their favorite episodes yours, too? Not likely. Mike's, interestingly enough, is "Fairy Tale," where he has a starring role ... as a princess in drag. But Davy's is "Hitting the High Seas," in which Mike hardly appears at all. (Hmmm....) Micky's is the psychedelic "The Frodis Caper," with the great music vid, "Zor and Zam." Peter's, "Man vs. Machine," with comic Stan Freburg, is the most fun of all. The disc has plentiful scene locaters, including pointers to all the songs, something the second disc, "Vols. 1 and 2," doesn't, but should. "Vol. 1 and 2', however, concentrates more on the early years of the series: "Here Come the Monkees," "The Picture Frame," "Alias Micky Dolenz" and "Hillbilly Honeymoon." Note that the "Vols. 1 and 2" titles does not correspond to the previously released "Vol. 1" and "Vol. 2" videotape versions (the episodes are different). If you like the Monkees, though, you'll want these. Neither of these have a great collection of representative episodes from the show, though "Vols. 1 and 2" is a better overall look at the show than "My Favorite Episodes."
PAUL McCARTNEY -- LIVE AT THE CAVERN CLUB (Image Entertainment): What better place could Paul McCartney have picked to promo his "Run Devil Run" album than the Cavern in Liverpool. After all, it was the place where the Beatles got their start. Paul hadn't played there in years, so it would grab headlines all over the world. The show, however, turned out to be more than a photo op; it ranks as one of the best shows Paul has ever done. After making the rounds on TV, it's now out on DVD. So what if the set and performance seemed a bit rigid and lacking of spontaniety? This is the music Paul grew up with and it shows in his exuberance. The full show is here, minus the intro heard on the Internet, and including the unnamed (we won't, anyway) audience member whose request for "Satisfaction" got a polite response of "f--- off" from Sir Paul. Plus the 85-minute DVD includes videos of "No Other Baby" (perhaps THE standout song on RDR) and "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man," a promo, interview and biographies. The picture is anamorphic widescreen (in other words, not true letterboxed) with Dolby digital or DTS 5.1 sound. The Cavern Club show was Paul as he was meant to perform. This disc is a must. (Note: An NTSC (U.S./Japan) VHS release is also available. (June 2001)
Region 2 DVD for Europe, Japan and the Middle East only: "PAUL McCARTNEY -- LIVE AT THE CAVERN" for Region 2 (Europe, Middle East, Japan only)
PAL video (for Europe): "PAUL McCARTNEY -- LIVE AT THE CAVERN"
PAUL McCARTNEY: IN THE WORLD TONIGHT (Rhino): The DVD edition adds no length to this well edited documentary of the making of "Flaming Pie." It does, however, arrange the many events shown on the disc in chapters and headings, so that all the various People (including Linda, Ringo, son James, Geoff Baker), Projects and Events (Knighthood, Liverpool Oratorio, Standing Stone, Tropic Island Home), Memories (Lost Beatles photos, mellotron, Forthlin Road) and Music ("Flaming Pie" songs, "Coming Up", "When I'm 64") are available at a click. For Macca fans, this is a nice look at "Flaming Pie." For Beatle fans, there's enough Beatle content to make this worthwhile. A very enjoyable disc that, even if you own the video, you'd be glad to have. (June 2001)
WONDERWALL (LET YOUR MIND WANDER) (Rhino): This psychedelic-filled '60s movie has a Beatle connection: George Harrison wrote the soundtrack. The DVD features the re-edited director's cut of the film, a video of George's song with the Remo Four, "In the First Place" (the song is also included in the newly re-edited film's introduction and the trailer, also included), the text of a John Lennon poem, a video of the song "Fishing" featuring Eric Clapton on guitar, a film outtake (the original intro without "In the First Place"), a short called "Reflections on Love" that includes a rare clip of the Beatles, plus art and designs by the Fool, who designed the wall of the Beatles' shortlived Apple Boutique. Sound is Dolby digital 5.1. The film is well steeped (smoked) in the '60s. To put it simply, it's quite a trip.(June 2001)
HULLABALOO (Vols. 5-8) (MPI) and MUSIC SCENE: THE BEST OF 1969-1970, VOL. 2: Music shows on TV in the '60s were a thorn in the medium's side. TV execs didn't know just how to handle them, but they knew the youth market since the rise of the Beatles was big -- and lucrative. "Music Scene" and "Hullabaloo" were two examples of shows that showed TV's ineptitude. NBC's "Hullabaloo" was one of the two biggest shows during the '60s music explosion. (The other was ABC's "Shindig.") NBC made sure it was a show that would appeal to both kids and adults, stocking it with lots of TV stars (David McCallum, Soupy Sales, Michael Landon) among its music stars. It's music lineup, as seen on this DVD, isn't bad: the Rolling Stones, the Everly Brothers, the Kingsmen, the Lovin' Spoonful, The Shangri-Las, the Animals, the Young Rascals, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Peter & Gordon and the Remains, to name some. What brought the quality down was the goofy skits and corny sets the show would put the hosts and music in. This disc has 4 1/2 hours of complete shows and additional bonus clips, all in B/W. (The show was seen in color, some of which is on the "Hullabaloo" (Vols. 1-4)" DVD, but the shows on Vols. 5-8 are transferred from kinescopes.) The kinescopes aren't perfect, but the many of the clips are priceless. No Beatle clips, but there are several Beatle covers. "Hullabaloo" also had a London segment introduced by Brian Epstein (when did he ever find the time?) and several of those clips are featured here. Watching "Music Scene" gives one the impression that the show's bookers were after anything they could get to see what would stick. Good choices such as Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin, James Brown, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Cash, Groucho Marx and Pete Seeger were balanced by the other end of the spectrum: Neil Diamond, Della Reese, Frankie Laine and the Cowsills. The disc has four complete shows (including the last show aired), plus bonus clips and show promos done by the Rolling Stones. As with the first disc, the music clips featured are, at times, quite eclectic. For any DVD that ranges from James Brown to Tony Bennett, that would appear to be the best description. (June 2001)
THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP: "THE GHOST GOES GEAR" (Anchor Bay): This DVD has shown up in local stories without much fanfare, but it's an exciting find for British Invasion music buffs. This 1967 film was one of many feature films concocted for music groups in the '60s. It features the band (including a young Stevie Winwood) in a light romp involving a haunted castle. The color film includes six SD songs, plus appearances by Dave Berry, the M6, the St. Louis Union, the Lorne Gibson Trio and Acker Bilk. The DVD (it's also on video) was mastered from the only uncut print known to exist. The DVD includes audio commentary by Spencer Davis and Beatlefest regular Martin Lewis. It's not another "A Hard Day's Night" (but then, few films were), but just having this rarity widely available is exciting enough. (Now, where's "Ferry Cross the Mersey" and "Having a Wild Weekend"?) (June 2001)
"THE SOPRANOS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON" (4 pack) (HB0): There is no better TV show at the moment than "The Sopranos." The writing is outstanding, full of creativity and wit. The actors are first-rate. The producers have even extended the brilliance of the series to two soundtracks (see links below) that use a wonderfully eclectic mix of music, including Bob Dylan (who performs a cover of a Dean Martin song he did exclusively for the show), Keith Richards, Wyclef Jean, the Eurythmics, Ben E. King and Frank Sinatra, Another reason "The Sopranos" is so good is where it debuted in America: on cable TV. "The Sopranos" could never have been done on American commercial TV. (Interestingly, it was originally developed, then rejected, by the Fox TV network.) On the DVD version, each episode is in widescreen format, giving each episode the aura of a movie. The DVD version also comes with extras: some featurettes and an interview with "Sopranos" creator David Crane conducted by fellow director Peter Bogdanovich and a DVD-ROM section that includes web links to HBO's official site. The 13 episodes will suck you in and won't let you go. And they'll make you long for the second season (which is coming out shortly on DVD in Europe, but later in the year in the U.S.)
For Europe, Japan and the Middle East only: Region 2 version: "THE SOPRANOS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON" (4 pack) for Region 2 (Europe, Middle East, Japan only) from Amazon.co.uk
For Europe, Japan and the Middle East only: Region 2 version: "THE SOPRANOS: SERIES 2, VOLS. 1-3" for Region 2 (Europe, Middle East, Japan only) (to be released May 21)
For Europe, Japan and the Middle East only: Region 2 version: "THE SOPRANOS: SERIES 2, VOLS. 4-6" for Region 2 (Europe, Middle East, Japan only) (to be released June 25)
(Note: Region 2 DVDs can not be used in the U.S. unless you have a region-free player.) (May 2001)
Soundtrack #1: The Sopranos: Music From The HBO Original Series Soundtrack (from Amazon.com) or from Amazon.co.uk: Includes Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Them, Nick Lowe, Los Lobos, Bo Diddley, Cream, Wyclef Jean, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, R.L Burnside, the Eurythmics, plus the show's knockout theme, "Woke Up This Morning (Chosen Mix)" by A3.
Soundtrack #2: The Sopranos - Peppers and Eggs: Music from the HBO Series: Soundtrack (2 CDs) from Amazon.com or from Amazon.co.uk: Includes Frank Sinatra, R.L. Burnside, The Rolling Stones, Nils Lofgrin, Cake, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, Vue, Cecilia Bartoli, the Pretenders, Van Morrison, Dominic Chianese (who plays Uncle Junior in the series), Ben E. King, Madreblu, Kasey Chambers, Pigeonhed and an electronic duet combining The Police and Henry Mancini.
THE BEACH BOYS: ENDLESS HARMONY (Capitol) and THE BEACH BOYS: THE LOST CONCERT (Image): Despite what the box says, "Endless Harmony" is not the first time the Beach Boys have told their own story, only the latest -- and, admittedly, the better -- version. (The previous version, "The Beach Boys: An American Band," is available on DVD.) It's full of old clips (many used in the earlier doc), but lots of newer stuff, including some of the last clips of Carl Wilson. What really makes this DVD a must purchase, however, is the bonus clips: seven bonus DVD 5.1 surround sound audio mixes and five bonus video clips. The 5.1 mixes are gorgeous. "The Lost Concert" is a '64 vintage set videotaped in a television studio. It's a great look at the vintage Beach Boys, complete with screaming girls, great harmonies and Mike Love's cheerleading. (Yeah, we know the general feeling about Mike, but face it: His lead singer persona was an integral part of the Beach Boys formula back then. He was a great P.R. man onstage back then. That's not a criticism, either. ) A couple of clips from "The Lost Concert" are included in the bonus video clips on "Endless Summer," but Beach Boys fans really need to have the whole show in their archives. Also available: THE BEACH BOYS: THE MAKING OF STARS AND STRIPES,' a video documentary of the making of the group's attempted country "crossover" album that sank like a stone. The video works better, though one still has to wonder what they were thinking. The video does include one clip not on the album, the late Tammy Wynette singing "In My Room," one tune that actually worked nicely. (April, 2001)
CANDY (Anchor Bay) (limited edition tin) and CANDY (regular edition) and SEXTETTE (Rhino): What is it about Ringo Starr and bad movies? Both of these films feature Ringo and a host of big name stars in two of the worst films of all time. "Candy" features Ringo along with (a very thin) Marlon Brando, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, Richard Burton and the quite gorgeous Ewa Aulin, who was nominated for a Golden Globe award for this film as Most Promising Newcomer, an honor that certainly helped her career! Both DVD versions of "Candy" include several extras: the theatrical trailer, radio spots, a stills gallery and talent bios. "Sextette" features Mae West in her last film, still acting as the sexy bombshell she played in the '40s. However, Mae was about 40 years older than that here! This cast includes Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, (the future James Bond) Timothy Dalton, Dom DeLuise (who does a campy cover of the Beatles' "Honey Pie"), George Raft, Walter Pidgeon, Tony Curtis, George Hamilton and Regis Philbin. In "Candy", Ringo plays a Mexican gardener, while in "Sextette", he plays Mae's fourth husband. Both films are good for laughs. (Note: "Candy is also available in a limited edition tin that includes a set of collector's cards.) (March, 2001)
MUSIC SCENE: THE BEST OF, 1969-70 (MPI): It's easy to see why this show didn't last very long: it was quite an eclectic show. The guests represented a wide range of music, from James Brown to Johnny Cash to Della Reese to the Everlys, CSN&Y and Sly and the Family Stone. David Steinberg was host, and members of the comedy group the Committee were featured in introductory sketches that seem quite out of place. The show was almost a continual advertisement for Billboard magazine, relying heavily on Billboard chart positions in determining the acts it presented, and Steinberg mentions that data in his introductions. Still, there are some great clips. CSN&Y do a great live version of "Down By the River." One of our faves, Jerry Lee Lewis has a couple of clips, too. There are no Beatle clips, but one of the bonus clips features Mary Hopkin doing a cover of "In My Life." One of the nice things about DVDs is that you can go to individual clips and that works in favor of this disc. Let's just call it interesting. (Note: A Volume 2 is also available.) (March, 2001)
HEAD (Rhino): The description on the box calls it A Hard Days Night on acid, but thats a bit simplistic. This is the Monkees trying to bash their teenybopper image and doing quite a nice job of it. When first released, it was critically bashed, but time has given it a veil of pure genius. Theres plenty of good music, including a couple of stunning songs the opener, Porpoise Song, and Mike Nesmiths masterpiece Circle Sky. The picture, newly remastered in full frame format, looks great. The sound is in mono, as is the original film. Bonus footage included is 8 minutes of trailers for the film. The animated menus allow you to go to each song in the film and see all the celebrity cameos, among them Jack Nicholson, who was co-writer of the film. This is a movie for both film buffs and music fans. There are plenty of movies that are a capsule of the 60s, but this movie is one of the better ones. (March, 2001)
WOODSTOCK (Warner Bros.): This DVD should have been something really special, befitting the significance the event itself and the movie (which had quite an impact when it was released) had. But theres no behind-the-scenes documentary and no alternative commentary that would have made a lot of sense here. It is presented in widescreen (the way the original theatrical film was) and the soundtrack is in 5.1 Dolby digital. There are 40 minutes of additional scenes, but for the most part, but outside of the new scenes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin (too bad there wasnt a lot more her scene is electrifying), the additions arent all that exciting. On the plus side, this disc is cheaper than most and the double sided DVD is over 3.5 hours long. Some of the scenes expose a particular naiveté that would become more apparent at Altamont (see Gimme Shelter below), but Woodstock was the Summer of Love in full bloom. Its a nice trip, to use an old phrase (March, 2001)
THE RUTLES (Rhino): The DVD version of this great Beatle spoof features deleted scenes (including the alternate UK Brian Thigh interview), a section in which you can play the songs by themselves, animated menu, plus a couple of hidden surprises as "Easter eggs." Those who have enjoyed it before will find some of the scenes look different (some scenes have been cropped a bit differently). George Harrison, shown originally as a reporter in one scene, now pops up as an interviewer in another. Eric Idle provides an alternate narration giving insights about the film that are a bit on the dry side. (Where's Neil Innes, anyway?) Still, the film looks great, the sound is good (it's said to be 5.1, though it's not the wonderful sound that's on the "Yellow Submarine" disc). Also available from CD Now. (March, 2001)
GIMME SHELTER (Criterion Collection): Criterion is well known among film fans for their care in bringing out digital versions of films. "Gimme Shelter" is no exception. Besides a newly restored digital transfer of the film, the disc includes Dolby digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound mixes, outtakes from the Stones' 1969 Madison Square Garden concert, plus backstage footage, audio commentary by the filmmakers, excerpts from a San Francisco radio broadcast the day after the show that features interviews with several of the principals seen in the film, a 44-page booklet plus theatrical trailers. The extras enable you to examine the film and the Altamont concert from the perspective of a Stones fan or a film fan - or even examine the sociological disaster Altamont was. This is one of our favorite discs, not just because of the features alone, but because of the tremendous study this disc allows you to make of the concert. Outstanding and highly recommended. Also available from CD Now (March, 2001)
YELLOW SUBMARINE: If you don't have this one already, what are you waiting for? This one is darned near close to perfect: Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes (available with the movie audio or separately without it), widescreen format, remastered film, plus extras including interviews with cast and production crew, the (now dated) short "Mod Odyssey" on the making of the film, storyboard drawings, photos, audio commentary and movie trailer. DVD fans will love it just for all the extras alone. The movie hardly needs the help, but this is one fantastic disc. A must. (March, 2001)
For Europe, Japan and the Middle East only: Region 2 version from Amazon.co.uk
MUSIC FOR MONTSERRAT LIVE (Image): A great lineup makes this a really enjoyable disc. Sir George Martin, who was the driving force behind the concert, introduces a stellar lineup: Arrow, Carl Perkins (in one of his last live performances too bad there's only one song), Jimmy Buffett, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Paul McCartney, who opens with "Yesterday," does a gorgeous runthrough of the "Abbey Road" medley, then "Hey Jude" and the finale, "Kansas City." The picture is sharp and stunning. There are DTS 5.1 mixes as well as Dolby digital. Lots of fun. (March, 2001)
For Europe, Japan and the Middle East only: Region 2 version from Amazon.co.uk