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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Music > Rock > Heavy Metal > Hard Rock > Reggae > Politics > Industry > Concert > Last Days Here (2011/Sundance/MPI DVD)/Marley (2012/Magnolia Blu-ray)/Slipknot {sic}nesses Live At Download 2009 (Eagle Blu-ray)

Last Days Here (2011/Sundance/MPI DVD)/Marley (2012/Magnolia Blu-ray)/Slipknot {sic}nesses Live At Download 2009 (Eagle Blu-ray)

 

Picture: C/B-/B-     Sound: C+/B-/B     Extras: C/B-/C+     Main Programs: C/B+/C+

 

 

The various movements to find music that was against the mainstream or what was standard exploded in the 1960s after a brief period in the 1950s when Rock first arrived.  Some thought it was just a fad, but they were wrong.  The following releases show the results 60 years later and counting…

 

 

The Don Arcott/Damien Fenton documentary Last Days Here (2011) tells the story of what happened to a band from the early half of the 1970s called Pentagram that failed to catch on, why, how they became a cult item and is there can there be a comeback?

 

In 1974, they signed a contract with Columbia Records and were recording what would have likely been a major debut, but their ever unpredictable lead singer Bobby Liebling.  The band still continued, but recorded little and never found widespread fame or fortune, while Liebling continued to drive away band members creating a major overturn to rival any band around.  We join him in his later years, a survivor of drinking, drugs and other excesses, living at home with his parents, possibly never to cut a record again.

 

However, some fans (including some who are able to get a record cut) are interested in seeing if they can get him back in the studio and that is the story we learn about here.  Even I had heard of the band (their name a favorite by default of the Far Religious Right and their need to attack the Rock genre, which they would have had a greater victory over if it had not started imploding in the late 1980s) but could not name (let alone understand) one of their songs if it was a big jackpot game show question.

 

Though we learn about the band, we learn more than we need to about Liebling and this work spends too much time on him, wallowing in his misery and not making him look good.  No, he has issues and is not going to come across very well to more than his diehard fans, but this does a bit of a disservice to him and makes this a sometimes trying piece to sit through.  So it is slightly exploitive and for serious fans of music and this part of the Rock genre only.

 

Extras include a trailer and deleted scenes.

 

 

While Heavy Metal and Hard Rock were rising in the U.S., Reggae was becoming a worldwide phenomenon everywhere but in the 1970s, but its top star (even over Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh and Johnny Nash) was Bob Marley and Kevin MacDonald’s documentary Marley (2012) is a stunning look at the much-beloved and much-documented legend that is as epic, thorough and the equal to Scorsese’s look at George Harrison, Living In A Material World (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) that brings new light to a great music artist who moved beyond just commercial and critical music success.

 

Running a too-short 2.5 hours, this documentary starts with his music, then at the beginning with his usually absent father and mother.  Though a long series of interviews, rare film and video clips, rare stills and much more, we find out about his life, what motivated him and how he moved from being a brief solo artist, to forming The Wailers to becoming his own groundbreaking music force to worldwide success before illness cut his life very short.

 

They have managed to license a ton of key songs, given us a secret history of the rise of the music business in Jamaica, how the genre rose up, the politics that joined it and how popular Marley himself became in the Third World and beyond.  More relevant than ever, his music and legacy are still underrated, influential and this is a very important work in understanding all of that.  Even if you are not a fan of his or his music, this is a stunning work that will impress you.

 

Hard to believe this is only the second big Reggae release on Blu-ray (Rockers, reviewed elsewhere on this site, is the other as we wait for The Harder They Come to get the same treatment), but it is terrific, better than even the positive reviews had me believe and is a must-see for any serious music fan.

 

Extras include a Theatrical Trailer, Photo Gallery, feature length audio commentary with MacDonald and Marley’s son Ziggy, Listening to “I’m Loose”, Around The World featurette and two interview segments: Extended Interview with Bunny Wailer and Children’s Memories: Additional Interviews with Ziggy, Stephen Marley and Cedella Marley.

 

 

There are also a nice number of concert clips in the above releases, but our final title is an all-out concert.  Slipknot {sic}nesses Live At Download 2009 has an 18-song show that is loud, consistent and true to the band,  I am no fan, but they can out on a show, a very LOUD show and this has to be as loud as any of them.

 

Unfortunately, they take their time at times going form one song to the next and if you are not a fan, this will not help you sit through this one, but fans will like it and they have a big fan base.  However, they only offer so much new versus their many forerunners in Rock and even the most interesting songs and performance moments are only so memorable throughout, so this is definitely a fans-only affair.

 

Extras include four music video, a making of their clip of “Snuff” and a full-length documentary entitled Audible Visions of {sic}nesses, plus a very illustrated booklet with a little bit of text is also included in side the case.

 

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Days has more soft footage overall than expected, including older stock footage that we expected to be soft due to their age and the nature of the band, but much of the newer HD (or semi-HD?) footage also tends to be soft, so only expect so much in playback.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Marley has some analog video, more than its share of decent vintage 16mm film and new HD footage (mostly interviews) that are a little uneven as expected, but well edited together and plays back as well as can be expected overall.  The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Slipknot is styled down at times, has some motion blur and has purposely mixed editing that makes it a good but not great shoot overall.  Of course, some of the video noise is intended, but that eventually wears thin too.

 

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Days is really pushing mostly simple stereo sound including vintage monophonic sound and location audio issues that expanded do not make the best soundfield, while some sound is stuck in the center channel.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the Blu-rays fare better, but some of the Marley audio is older stereo or monophonic, but it is best with the music and interviews are usually well recorded.  The Slipknot DTS-MA is joined by a PCM 2.0 Stereo track that is good, but no match for the 5.1 mix, which is loud, consistent and is likely the best sonic representation of the band anywhere (outside of the highest-quality vinyl) so audiophiles who like them will want this Blu-ray for the sound alone.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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