ABBA Essential Albums Gold/The Doors:
Total Rock Review/The Eagles:
Desperado – Essential Albums (Vision Films/Umbrella PAL Region Free/Zero
DVDs)/I Am: SMTown Live Worldwide Tour
In Madison Square Garden
(2012/CJ Entertainment DVDs)/Lemon (2012/Cinema
Libre DVD)/YesSongs (1972/Umbrella
PAL Region Free/Zero DVD)
Picture: C/C/C/C+/C+/C+ Sound: C (Lemon & SM Town:
C+) Extras: D/D/D/C+/B-/D Main Programs: C/C/C/C+/B/B
PLEASE NOTE: The ABBA, Doors, Eagles and Yes PAL DVD imports here is Region Free
imports, will play on all machines worldwide and can be ordered from our
friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of
Now for a
mix of music and performance titles that ranges from great to problematic.
comes three new music titles from Vision Films (not to be confused with Eagle
Vision) that cover classic albums (imitating the Classic Albums series), tell us that these are ‘ultimate reviews’
(not to be confused with the Under
Review series) and in the three titles we looked at, seem to just want to
be derivative take-offs (and/or worse) of better series and documentary
programs that have come before.
samples include ABBA Essential Albums
Gold also calling itself The Gold
Singles, but not to be confused with Universal Music’s actual ABBA Gold DVD Music Videos
collection. The suggestion that only the
band’s hits set allowed them to be remembered today and not the worldwide sales
records of their albums and singles is very, very wrong. The
Doors: Total Rock Review is more general and covers some of the ground
about the band, but since the band has spent decades doing this better, this
also falls flat. Then we get The Eagles: Desperado – Essential Albums
which could have been very thorough about that early album by one of the
biggest U.S. Rock bands ever, but also drops the ball.
problem is that these are so derivative, cynical and endlessly imitative of
better landmark music documentaries that they are just thrown together and never
really go anywhere we have not been before.
An on camera host is almost funny, while some of the interviewees are
not bad, but many are random musicians who had nothing to do with the music
acts covered simply offering their opinion and we’re not even involved in
making the music top begin with.
get a mix of clips that range from analog video to more than a few clips that
are so poor, they literally look like they were downloaded off of You
Tube. The result is the worst music
series I have ever seen. Vision did
offer Led Zeppelin: Dazed & Confused
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) but that was made much better and is not part
of this series. Vision is simply a
low-rent exploitation unit with little to offer, could care less and is just
throwing product on the market. It is
ultimately boring and there are not even any extras. Very, very disappointing.
is a four-DVD set called I Am: SMTown
Live Worldwide Tour In Madison Square Garden (2012) which is an extended
look at K-Pop (Korean Pop) and the many acts that make it up which is 32
according to the case. On the one hand,
they are no more or less talented than the U.S. or Japanese variants of the
same thing, but also do no more or less than everything we have seen in this
bad era of lame pop that tries to feign street-tough “cred” and is more
interesting for the young people here than their work. Being that they often sing in English, why
are there are no crossover hits? Is part
of the U.S.
prefabricating process monopolizing the market with “local talent only” which
is really about a sort of nationalist intent?
include the final concert over DVDs 3 & 4, while DVD 2 adds four behind the
scenes featurettes, a trailer, two teasers, Music Video and Making Of
featurette. You had better be a fan of
this kind of music to endure this set.
To find something
much more authentic and really street, we can stay in New York City for the Laura Brownson/Beth
Levison documentary Lemon (2012)
which is about the poet and stage performer Lemon Andersen. On the one hand, his tough life has landed
him up in trouble with the law, but he is very talented and already has a Tony
Awards under his belt when his career suddenly halts. Can he come back? Can he find a new venue and new show to
deliver what he is so good at doing?
This is a
very honest, blunt look at his life, its ups and downs, his pain, his bravery,
his family and what he had to go through to survive. Besides getting to know him, we see him
working with a local Public Theater to get a new show together and that the
support for the arts in a city as great as New York City is not as wide and deep as one
would hope it to be, though opportunity still exists.
see this young man struggle with his life, his past and the sad epitome of what
it is like to try and do something when you have almost no support and those
who could support you more or have a better idea of how to do not. His knack for writing is amazing and he does
poetry on a higher level (he first broke through with the Def Poetry Jam) and as I watched, for every talented person like
himself who has a hard time making it, I wondered about the hundreds we never
even hear from, failed even by lame (and often rigged) TV ‘talent’ shows or how
that and You Tube are poor substitutes for talent agents who know what they are
doing and companies (record labels, movie studios, TV networks, etc.) hardly
going out of their way to find new talent.
It is costing the country art and identity, not to mention big money,
but we also see that lack of artistic community here, making Lemon a biography with more of a story
you are not into urban poetry or urban arts, this is a must-see work and will
make anyone who sees it think. Extras
include Outtakes, Additional Performances by Lemon and Deleted Scenes.
we have one of the great Rock Concert films.
Though it only runs 72 minutes, Peter Neal’s YesSongs (1972) captures the great Progressive Rock band Yes in
their early prime with a classic line=up that includes lead singer Jon
Anderson, Bassist Chris Squire, Keyboardist Rick Wakeman, Guitarist Steve Howe
and Drummer Alan White at a time when they were just really getting started.
include I’ve Seen All Good People, The Clap, And You & I, Close To The
Edge, Wakeman excerpting his ‘6 Wives
Of Henry VIII’, Roundabout, Yours Is No Disgrace and pieces of the
instrumental for Starship Troopers in
the end credits. Sadly, there are no
extras, but seeing the band in its early prime shows that Progressive Rock is
not just the new “Prog Rock” stereotype but a certain peak of the Rock genre
that remains its most underrated moment and yes, its greatest band!`
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all six DVDs are a mixed bag, with
the ABBA, Doors and Eagles discs looking often awful from the bad video footage to the
newly taped interviews sadly being the best by default, but you’ll also find
aliasing errors about and bad editing to go with the usually poor overall
presentations. I Am has some fancy video editing and images that are either turned
into bad black and white, are purposely bad video clips, video shot by the
subjects badly, the frame cut into frames and other style choices that
undermine the presentation. The concerts
look best, but can be dark and all four DVDs offer motion blur, but that is
better than the other DVDs. Lemon is also on par with I Am in its motion blur and location
footage of NYC, but its stage moments actually look and play a bit better.
Finally we have YesSongs
which was shot on 16mm color film and this upgrade takes that 1.33 X 1 frame
and sticks it in the middle of the 1.78 X 1 frame like the Blu-ray would. The film is in good shape and the fact that
it looks as good as or better than these other DVDs with much of their footage
shot 40 years later says something. Hope
we catch up to the Blu-ray version later as there is more detail on that film
than this DVD is delivering.
Dolby Digital 5.1 on YesSongs should
be as good as anything on this list, but the sound source is warped and limited
throughout despite the case’s claim of it being restored. That is a disappointment, meaning the poor,
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the ABBA, Doors and Eagles discs are on the same level.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Lemon is
actually better with limited location audio issues and good sound editing. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on I Am which is a mix of Korean and some
English on par with Lemon, but the
concerts should sound better. They do
the best sound on the set, yet there is something limited about the soundfield
and until we hear a lossless version, I bet part of the problem is the lossy
Dolby. Still, this music is only so
dynamic to begin with (it is supposed to sound simple and limited) and the mix
here is more towards the front speakers than I would have liked, no matter the
location of the acts on stage.
As noted above, you can order the import versions of the ABBA, Doors, Eagles and Yes PAL DVDs reviewed above exclusively
from Umbrella at:
- Nicholas Sheffo