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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Documentary > Biography > History > Pop > Rock > Korea > Urban > Poetry > Concert > Progressive Rock > 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 Ga

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 the review.



Now for a mix of music and performance titles that ranges from great to problematic.



First 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.


Our three 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.


The main 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.


Then we 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.



Next up 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?


Extras 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.


We also 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 to tell.


Even if 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.



Finally 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.


Songs 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!`



The 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.


The lossy 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, inconsistent, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the ABBA, Doors and Eagles discs are on the same level.  The lossy 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 not.


They have 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


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