The Doors – Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story Of L.A. Woman
(Eagle Blu-ray)/From Straight To
Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper & L.A.’s
Lunatic Fringe (Chrome Dreams/MVD DVD)/Memphis
(2012/Musical/Shout! Factory Blu-ray)/The
Other F Word (Oscilloscope DVD/all 2011 – 2012)
B-/C/B-/C+ Sound: B-/C+/B/C+ Extras: C+/C/C+/B Main Programs: B-/B+/B-/B
Rock music mean today? To some, it is a
dead genre and only good for nostalgia, with others laughing at the mere
mention of “Rock N Roll” for numerous reasons, yet Rap/Hip Hop peaked in 2000
and no new genre has merged in the 21st Century yet. In addition, Rock was so massively successful
that the ground it broke may be familiar, yet some artists took it into
directions that have yet to be really explored and our four Rock releases here
today show us the great extent that is true.
you think of Jim Morrison, people still talk about him and he was one of the
genre’s earliest landmark stars. The Doors – Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story Of
L.A. Woman examines the end of Morrison, his band and the key album they
made that was a departure from their previous releases as well as the one that
turned out to be their last. Like Led
Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door
(1979), you can hear the band sounding gruffer than ever throwing out most pop
sensibilities and coming up with a darker work than before. It was the end of the bands in both cases and
both were big commercial and critical successes.
making-of program runs about an hour but is not an installment of the Classic
Albums series (which already featured debut album of The Doors (reviewed on DVD elsewhere on this site) as their seminal
work and they only cover one artist’s album for the whole series) nor is this
an installment of the Under Review
series (which does albums as well as documentaries on periods of artists) but
has been undertaken by the remaining band members and is as good a documentary
on their work as the many we have seen to date.
is less talky and more informative than usual, more of the key people involved
are interviewed than before and the result is one of the most organized,
professional presentations of their work to date. It also shows (unlike the older programs form
the VHS era) how well this music has endured and offers great detail on each
song on the album including comments from the mixing board. It also suggests the band had more good
albums in them if Morrison had survived and rightly so.
include a new track “She Smells So Nice”
with a photo montage and 35 minutes of footage not shown on TV or apparently
anywhere else. You can read more about
our coverage of Blu-ray and DVD releases on the band starting at this link:
person who did manage to make many more albums and become as important as
anyone in Rock music was Frank Zappa.
One of those innovators most still have not caught up with, From Straight To Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheart,
Alice Cooper & L.A.’s Lunatic Fringe picks up where Chrome Dreams
program on his founding of The Mothers Of Invention left off with a little
overlap as Zappa and business partner Herb Cohen formed record labels to
increase creative control of their music and the work they were doing with
signed acts against the grain of a record business that was more business than
it should have been and before Rock further exploded as a big money genre.
with MGM/Verve (the same company Andy Warhol had worked with to launch The Velvet Underground & Nico);
Zappa started the Bizarre label and found acts that would fit it, then (for
reasons best left to this amazing 2½ Hour documentary) started the Straight
imprint. All the albums were unique,
most eventually critical successes (even if they were not at first) and only
lasted a few years as new distributor Warner Bros. took over one of their acts
and made them into a huge early 1970s Rock sensation: Alice Cooper!
not say much more as I do not want to ruin any more surprises, but this is
another great surprise from the Chrome Dreams/MVD-released series and is
especially a must-see for anyone serious about music, music industry or entertainment
industry overall. Extras include text on
the contributors, a brief featurette on how a cappella The Persuasions moved on
to great success in the 1970s and a piece on the troubles of signed act The
on our extensive Zappa coverage, start with this link:
back, the new Broadway Musical Memphis,
which won the Tony for Best Musical, has surprising surfaced on Blu-ray and is
yet another musical like Grease, Smokey Joe’s Café and especially Hairspray that brings us back to the
early years of Rock Music and the social change that it brought, including (save
Grease) a reminder of what was
gained and then (implied) rolled back starting in the 1980s and what could not
be rolled back at all.
Calhoun (Chad Kimball) loves Rock Music, but at the time, it was also known as
“Race Music” or “Colored Music” but that does not stop him from loving it,
wanting it and is determined to make a name for himself on it. This takes a turn for the better when he
starts popularizing it and really heats up when he meets a singer named Felicia
Farrell (Montego Glover) who has a golden voice and falls in love with
her. However, since she is African
American in a racist Southern city and he is white, they have to be careful of
what is a forbidden love in its time.
by Joe DiPietro (from his book) and David Bryan (the longtime keyboardist of
the Pop and sometimes Rock band Bon Jovi with a work to rival any of their
achievements as a band) with orchestrations by Bryan and Daryl Waters is good
and sometimes powerful, but this gets off to a rough start and some of the songs
are not that good. Eventually though,
especially when Glover arrives, synergy kicks in and it becomes its own strong
work. However, I found many parts
predictable, though some of that is sadly because of hate and racism that
needed to be honestly portrayed that the makers had to include no matter how
ugly. Yet, some of the other moments
were too similar to Hairspray
(songs, dancing, timed moments) and it could even be argued that this is a
variant of the John Waters’ inspired hit whitewashed of any gay context and
that would hold a valid degree of validity, but to explain would require a
separate essay and should not take away from what does work here.
nice to see African American singers and dancers in modern times performing
(even Gospel music) without being from a Tyler Perry stage musical or one of
his many imitators, so I liked that too.
Chemistry from this original cast puts this version over the top, so if
you like this kind of musical, you should get this Blu-ray ASAP. Extras include a featurette: Behind
The Scenes: How Memphis Was Captured.
not least is another surprise, Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’ The Other F Word (2011), a documentary about a new side of Punk
Rock… the male lead singers becoming parents and how most of them are simply
not prepared. The lifestyle is about
staying young and subversive, being rowdy and destructive and not being part of
society. However, having children
changes everything and we see the changes that happen and how they affect all
the singers are not prepared at all, including most who have had bad parent
experiences, others who have had awful sexual abuse and others who have major
emotional and psychological troubles that only now they are finally dealing
with middle age! Making things worse is
that most of them start having children as the record business collapses. Suddenly, their records are not selling and
when they are smaller-yet-popular bands, that means hundreds of days a year touring
Away from home and therefore they are not able to bed there not unlike their
parents in many cases.
result is a study of the artists, the industry in flux, the Punk genre and how
part of their held-over revolution is over.
Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers offers some great insight as usual, the
underrated Art Alexakis of Everclear is especially honest and heartbreaking in
telling his side of things, Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO is on the cutting edge of
what is going on as always, Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 is as natural a comic as
ever (very talented guy), Tim McIlrath of Rise Again and we especially follow
the odyssey of Jim Lindberg of Pennywise on how being an aging Rocker is a
challenge, though even more people were kind enough to be interviewed.
be very brutal and painful to watch, but it can also show how great the people
in Punk Music have always been, even if they do not think of themselves as such
and how the anti-social effect lingers for better and for worse. We see many music documentaries year and year
out, but they balance music with the music makers. This is more personal as these artists and
people really open up in bold and brave ways to show and tell their situations
and how it affects them all. When all is
said and done, this will go down as one of the most important documents on Punk
Music ever made, but also how good people are left a bit behind by changes when
they have not figured out a business model or had advanced support or advanced
thinking on the future, a story that goes beyond any genre of music. Cheers to Oscilloscope for picking up this
include Outtakes, Acoustic music performances by Alexakis and McIlrath
(separately), post-screening Q&A at the SXSW Film Festival premiere, two
Music Videos, the Original Theatrical Trailer and feature length audio
commentary by Lindberg, Alexakis, Director Nevins and Producer Cristan Reilly.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-rays are the best here as
expected, but Doors has new HD
footage and good film footage mixed in with analog NTSC and even PAL video,
some film badly transferred to analog video and other issues typical of
documentary productions that hold it back, yet are par for the course on the
image mix you get from such documentary programs. Memphis is all
HD, but sometimes Video Black is weak and it has other minor detail issues you
get from such an HD shoot. Otherwise,
color range is often really nice and editing helps.
X 1 on the Zappa DVD has the same
variant image issues as Doors, but this
was softer than I am used to seeing from the Chrome Dreams series overall and
that disappoints a bit. Good thing the
program is so strong. The anamorphically
enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Word is
also a mix of such footage, but most of the footage is newer digital video and
what looks like HD of some kind.
Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but Memphis
is the champ here with a nice soundstage throughout and only a few moments
where dialogue could have been clearer.
Too bad there are no subtitles, which is odd for a musical. Doors
is a mix of new simple stereo interviews, old monophonic interviews, variant
audio in between and nice applications of the 5.1 remixes of their hits that
debuted years ago on the nearly defunct DVD-Audio format we have covered
before. You can really appreciate the
music made when you can hear it this well and the audio is as good as any Doors
video release to date.
Dolby Digital 5.1 on Word is a bit
better than the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but save some of the music,
this is a mostly simple stereo soundtrack.
The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is obviously not the best audio a Zappa title has ever had, but it is
still professionally done and the first time many people will hear some of the
key music by other artists Zappa
backed that is not in print.
and sounding better than all of them is the Blu-ray for Hairspray, a big budget film version of that hit stage musical and
one you can now compare to Memphis at
home shot by shot. Read more about it at
- Nicholas Sheffo