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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Rock > Pop > Folk > Punk > Glam > Counterculture > Biography > Politics > History > Concer > Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Fifty By Four: Half A Century Of CSN&Y (2014/Chrome Dreams/MVD DVD)/Joni Mitchell: Woman Of Heart & Mind/Painting With Words & Music (2003/1998/Eagle SD Blu-ray)/Leslie P

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Fifty By Four: Half A Century Of CSN&Y (2014/Chrome Dreams/MVD DVD)/Joni Mitchell: Woman Of Heart & Mind/Painting With Words & Music (2003/1998/Eagle SD Blu-ray)/Leslie Pintchik: In The Nature Of Things (2013/Pinch Hard CD)/Lou Reed: Classic Albums: Transformer (2001)/Live At Montreux 2000 (Eagle SD Blu-ray)/The Phantom Of The Paradise (1974/Fox/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Punk In Africa (2013/MVD Visual DVD)/The Who - Sensation: The Story Of Tommy (2013/Eagle Blu-ray)

Picture: C+/C+/X/B- & C+/B-/C/B Sound: C+/B- & C+/B/B- & B/B/C/B Extras: C-/C/C-/C/B/C/C+ Main Program: B/B/B-/B/C+/C+/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Phantom Of The Paradise Import Region B Blu-ray can only play on players capable of that version of the format, is only available from Arrow U.K. and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a nice slate of new music releases...

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Fifty By Four: Half A Century Of CSN&Y is the latest, elongated, highly welcome music history release from Chrome Dreams in the U.K., thoroughly tracing the rise, fall and reunions of the quartet over many decades, starting with their work before becoming a hot hit band. Neil Young and Stephen Stills who were so highly competitive in Buffalo Springfield that it broke the band, which is all the more surprising they would ever land up in anything of any kind ever again. The formation of the original four works, soon coincides with some historic political moments and puts them on the map forever.

Young eventually goers solo and that is not as addressed as the solo and duo projects between and of the rest of the members, but something had to be rolled back despite how much is squeezed into over two impressive hours. Rare side projects, behind the scenes conflicts (Atlantic trying to keep them together, Stills & Young in a physical altercation while recording Our House) and other personal moments that also show us how vibrant the music business used to be makes this yet another ace installment of this series' ability to bring massive amounts of highlights and information into focus. Serious music fans should jot it down as another must-see from this series.

The only extra is Joe Vitale: The American Dream Sessions, but you can read more about the quartet all over our site, including remasters of their 1969 debut album and Daylight Again album at this link:


Nash had been dating Joni Mitchell early on and we even see him in Joni Mitchell: Woman Of Heart & Mind (2003)/Painting With Words & Music (1998), a double feature that are the first of two upgraded reissues of previously issued and reviewed DVD music releases from Eagle Vision, but they are now here in a double feature from their SD Blu-ray series. Here is our coverage of the separate Woman Of Heart & Mind DVD:


We missed the terrific Painting With Words & Music concert where Nash in in the audience as she sings some of her most famous songs (Woodstock, Big Yellow Taxi) and is more than formidable in taking on other classics like Marvin Gaye's Theme From Trouble Man and Why Do Fools Fall In Love? among the 18 songs performed and Nash has a nice surprise for her as well.

Interview outtakes repeat from the Kind program, but that is the only extra here.

Leslie Pintchik: In The Nature Of Things (2013) has the underrated composer & pianist back with more Jazz music she has written herself for the most part (she has written many seamlessly smooth compositions), we get an all-instrumental album and the nine tracks (including Lerner & Loewe's I've Grow Accustomed To Her Face from My Fair Lady) are more pleasant, first rate real music that is musical from an artist I have enjoyed very much over the years and deserves much more attention than she gets.

Like Joe Jackson's album Will Power, it's unusually pure, laid back nature is a totally unexpected turn by someone who is all about the music. This album is as solid, well recorded, warm and worth your time. Pintchik has an essay in the booklet included as its only extra.

Lou Reed: Classic Albums: Transformer (2001)/Live At Montreux 2000 is the other reissue of separately released DVDs, upgraded by Eagle Vision from their SD Blu-ray series. This time, we reviewed both before. Here are the links:

Lou Reed: Classic Albums: Transformer


Lou Reed: Live At Montreux 2000


Extras are the same where applicable and this is just arriving after his sad passing. Both programs are underseen and this is a great way to catch up. We also recommend the Pure Audio audio-only Blu-ray of The Velvet Underground & Nico as the album has never sounded so good, is noted in the Transformer program, outdoes the out-of-print Mobile Fidelity Gold CD for playback performance (especially on its PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks) and is half the cost of the 2-channel-only Japanese import Super Audio CD.

Brian De Palma's The Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) had the famous director still in experimental mode before his series of thrillers (starting with the underrated Sisters (1973) began that long, often effective run) when he decided to take on the Glam Rock culture, Musicals and the influence of The Who's original Rock Opera Tommy (see below) joining a cycle of films criticizing the gaudiness, greed and dark side of Rock stardom and the record industry in this mixed cult classic that does get more interesting with age.

A tribute to the classic horror tale Phantom Of The Opera (several of the films are addressed here) has references to other horror tales (Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Dorian Gray, Faust, Hitchcock) with William Finley as the title character, who wants the woman he loves (Jessica Harper as Phoenix) to sing his music, even if it mans cutting a dark deal with Swan (music Legend Paul Williams), the head of the aptly named Death Records. Swan will put Winslow (Finley) through hell just to have his better life and not care, never dreaming he might survive and come back for revenge.

Ahead of Ken Russell's takes on the subject, as well as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and (ending the cycle) the ill-fated Bee Gees/Peter Frampton re-imagining of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the film does not always work, but has its share of good moments and you can see why it has managed to hold onto a serious core following. Fox made the film and has yet to issue it in the U.S. in any way, but Arrow U.K. has issued a Region B Import Blu-ray with expanded extras like never before and especially with Williams amazing return in the business and personal story of survival (see the documentary Paul Williams: Still Alive reviewed elsewhere on this site) is bound to continue to spark new curiosity interest. It is also an atypical De Palma film, a filmmaker still best known for thrillers and the occasional gangster film.

Extras on this extensive Blu-ray include an optional Steelbook edition you can order while supplies last as they are a limited edition, the regular case offers a reversible cover and all versions otherwise include another nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text, stills and an essay by Ari Kahan (go to http://swanarchives.org/ for more information), an additional rare stills archive of images by Randy Black, Radio Spots, Original Theatrical Trailers, The Swan Song Fiasco featurette about how post-production played havoc with the film, Making Of featurette Paradise Regained (50 minutes), archival interview with Costume Designer Rosanna Norton, Finley on the Phantom Doll, Paradise Lost & Found cutting room floor bloopers & alternative takes, Guillermo del Toro's interview with Paul Williams (72 minutes!) and an Isolated Music & Effects Track.

For more on the similar film by Ken Russell that followed, try these links...

Ken Russell's Tommy U.S. Blu-ray


Australian Blu-ray


Ken Russell's Lisztomania DVD


Keith Jones and Deon Maas co-directed Punk In Africa (2013), whose title is not as simple as it seems. Despite Apartheid and other issues the country had, Punk Rock managed to rise out of Johannesburg in the late 1970s like anywhere else, but the band's may not have been heard as much outside of their home country. Still, bands like Wild Youth, Suck, KOOS, Safari Suits, Fuzigish, Evicted, 340ml, The Genuines, LYT, Freak, Jagwa Music, Panzer, Power Age and so many others formed a much larger and vital scene than has been discussed, but this documentary does a decent job introducing novices to it.

83 minutes does not seem like enough to cover it all and maybe it is not, but this is a good place to start and when you add the vintage footage, this is definitely worth a look. In their stands against Apartheid and other political injustice, these bands helped the caused before the anti-Sun City album, other protests and should get their share of credit for standing up against the bad side of their country.

Bonus music performances by the bands covered are the only extras.

Last and not least is The Who - Sensation: The Story Of Tommy (2013), the kind of terrific documentary many expected would be on this recent Super Deluxe Edition CD/audio Blu-ray box set we reviewed at this link:


Martin R. Smith directed this fine look at the band itself, its amazing early successes, the trouble it was having finding a full-fledged identity and how going all out on the double album that became the world's first full-length Rock Opera (forerunners are rightly discussed early on), the band was either going to make this work or break up. Thanks to Pete Townshend being as brutally honest about the horrors of his own life, they created a masterpiece and one of the most important albums ever made.

The new interviews are great and when you add vintage stills, classic songs, vintage film clips, vintage video clips and how thorough this is from the making of the album, to its reception, to the rise of the band to later feature film and stage musical versions of the album (they even miss a few versions), this is as much a must-see as anything on the list.

The only bonus is a nice one, the band's 1969 appearance playing much of Tommy on the classic music TV show Beat Club. To read more about the best way to hear the original album, try this link to my coverage of the 5.1 multi-channel Super Audio CD (aka SA-CD)/CD Set (compatible with all CD players) at this link:


Our Blu-rays are an odd mix this time, with the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Phantom the one that should be the best performer, but the transfer is a little odd versus what the film should look like. Director of Photography Larry Pizer (Isadora, Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare) created a great look to this film that owes as much to music films of the time as Glam, Carnaby Street and Science Fiction as pop culture of the time and this means clarity and a colorful look that is otherworldly.

This U.S./British look by way of Kubrick and Bowie works well here, but the actual transfer of what looks like a fine film print is a shade or two too dark depending on the scene. Yes, it looks better than the U.S. DVD, but you can see from that old disc that some of the darkness is too dark, covers up detail and depth intended and despite some warm colors and the Video Red is a it off as if the standard was older HD than film.

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Sensation Blu-ray is actually better, with more consistent image reproduction and clips that may even show the age of the materials used, still looking good. The same on the SD Blu-rays is not quite as good, but they and the 1080i-upscaled 1.33 X 1 concerts have less artifacts than previous SD Blu releases from Eagle, which is a nice plus. The Reed Classic Albums upscale is the best of the four.

As for the DVDs, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Africa is the roughest presentation here, partly due to the materials used, but it is also a rough shoot so expect that kind of presentation. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image in CSN&Y fares much better with its archive footage usually in fine shape.

Sound is better across these releases including some very nice PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo on the Leslie CD, though not multi-channel (she has released material like that before, so see her other releases elsewhere on this site) this is a fine transfer of a very professional recording, matching the best presentations on this list including the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the Reed Montreux show (nice upgrade soundwise!), Sensation and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 4.0 lossless mix on Phantom from its original 4-track magnetic stereo 35mm prints and soundmaster.

The Reed Transformers PCM 2.0 Stereo-only sound may not be as good, but like the PCM 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the Mitchell Blu which are also not as strong, still outdo the audio on their DVD counterparts. That leaves lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on CSN&Y sounding good for the format and the same on Africa sounding the roughest and weakest of al the entries on this list.

You can order The Phantom Of The Paradise and other great expanded releases from Arrow U.K. with extras that will never be issued anywhere else at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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