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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Rock > Punk > New Wave > Comedy > Gospel > Soul > Biography > Showtunes > Classical > Country > DEVO: The Men Who Make The Music/Butch DEVO & The Sundance Gig (1978, 1996/MVD Visual DVD)/Elvis: That's The Way It Is (2000 Special Edition w/DVD) + Viva Las Vegas (1963/MGM/Warner DigiBook Blu-ray E

DEVO: The Men Who Make The Music/Butch DEVO & The Sundance Gig (1978, 1996/MVD Visual DVD)/Elvis: That's The Way It Is (2000 Special Edition w/DVD) + Viva Las Vegas (1963/MGM/Warner DigiBook Blu-ray Editions)/Six By Sondheim (2014/HBO/Warner Archive DVD)/Stravinsky In Hollywood (2014/C Major DVD)/ZZ Top: Live At Montreux 2013 (Eagle Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: Six By Sondheim is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are some new and very interesting music releases for you to consider...

MVD Visual continues issuing work by DEVO, continuing with a double feature in DEVO: The Men Who Make The Music (1978) which combines their early music videos with live concert footage and Butch DEVO & The Sundance Gig (1988) on this new single DVD. The shows are fun and more of the history of one of America's greatest bands and one still far ahead of its time. The interaction with each other and when live, their audiences, shows a group serious about their music, fun and having something to say. Two members are sadly no longer with us, but their work and the music remains and fans should be happy with this double feature release.

A 1996 Sundance Film Festival show is included as an extra, making for a third program in all, but we get a few clips of other MVD/DEVO releases as well that we have reviewed elsewhere on this site.

Denis Saunders' Elvis: That's The Way It Is (2000 Special Edition) is the second version of the first of two concert films MGM released (the other being Elvis On Tour (1972; see link in a few paragraphs for more) to capture The King in his late prime. While that one was a multi-screen presentation like Woodstock (1970) originating in Techniscope, this film (shot by the legendary Lucien Ballard) was shot in 35mm Panavision and remains some of the greatest, most important, sharpest, clearest, richest footage of Elvis ever filmed.

Updated with multi-channel sound from the original soundmaster (more below), it is finally arriving on Blu-ray and it is a winner. When you see the real man in action and at his best, you start to quickly forget the lies, rumors, pop trivialization and silly side of his legend and see why so many people loved him and still do. To this day, he remains one of the most successful music acts of all time (even turning out tons of profits decades after his passing) and if anything this new Blu-ray should only help that situation.

Included also are some moments that were censored so the original family-friendlier version could make it to big screens worldwide. Though the DigiBook lists the songs in both versions of the film, closed captions tell us most of the titles when turned on, so you do not have to be a scholar or guess as we hear the classic hits (Hound Dog, That's All Right, Suspicious Minds, Don't Be Cruel) and some interesting covers (You've Lost That Loving Feeling, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, a rehearsal of Bridge Over Troubled Waters) along with audience interactions that are often a riot. He also kisses tons of women, something for may reasons you would not see today.

Well done in both versions,though I favor the new one a bit, see both in this solid new set.

Extras include a DVD of the original 1970 version in lossy Dolby Digital Mono (it was 4-track magnetic stereo in its best presentations, but not t4.0 here for some reason) of the film with the older cut and less music, both discs have outtakes from the film, but the Blu-ray edition adds the Original Theatrical Trailer, older featurette on the restoration of the film called Patch It Up (after an Elvis hit) and has a 40-page DigiBook Blu-ray case whose booklet includes high quality paper that has new text and rare photos & stills.

George Sidney's Viva Las Vegas (1963) is the same disc and transfer we covered twice before, once in the obsolete HD-DVD format, then on Blu-ray at this link:


It the same great picture and sound transfer with the same menus and same extras, but now, Warner has also added a 40-page DigiBook Blu-ray case whose booklet includes high quality paper that has new text and rare photos & stills. The upgrade is worth it if you do not have the Blu-ray.

James Lapine's Six By Sondheim (2014) is a clever way to do a biographical documentary on the immensely successful Stephen Sondheim by looking at six of his classic compositions to chart his career, public and private life. A friend of the man himself, Lapine has a wealth of questions, great interview moments, classic footage and original music and more in a very tight 86 minutes that could and should have been longer. The performances by the biggest names in entertainment history peak for themselves.

Something's Coming (from West Side Story), Opening Doors (from Merrily We Roll Along), Send In The Clowns (from A Little Night Music), I'm Still Here (from Follies), Being Alive (from Company) and Sunday (from Sunday In The Park With George) are the six songs, but they are used as markers to get into all of his works. It becomes a character study of the man, the arts, New York City, Musicals and Broadway. Originally shown on HBO, this is actually being issued as an online-only Warner Archive DVD, so you will not find it in stores. It is a fine work and also a great intro to understanding Sondheim's work, though we've also covered at last 3 Blu-rays of his work elsewhere on this site. This is worthy of all of them.

There are sadly no extras.

Marco Capalbo's Stravinsky In Hollywood (2014) is another fine new documentary about a great music figure, telling us all about Igor Stravinsky, but specifically how being brought to Hollywood changed his life and likely saved it, plus gave him new creative avenues. Already well known internationally as one of the most important composers of classical music, Walt Disney turned out to be a fan and was determined to land the legend for his abstract, innovative new animated feature meant to continue his winning ways in the format (and stay as ahead of the Fleischer Brothers as possible). That project would be Fantasia (1940, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and though his work had been altered, the film was a hit and furthered Stravinsky's reputation just the same.

He kept trying to connect to other feature film projects and we see clips of films his music was intended for, but these collaborations kept falling through, but this still led to some very important work and this 53-minutes work shows the rest. Here to, I wish this were longer, but it has more than enough things that many are not aware of and both film and music fans will really appreciate it.

A multi-lingual booklet on the film is the only extra.

ZZ Top: Live At Montreux 2013 is the fourth concert and third disc of shows we have covered of the band over the years and this one lands somewhere between the 1980/2005 Double Down DVD set and the even better presentation on the Live In Texas Blu-ray. This is the most recent of the shows running over an hour and 17 tracks including hits like Tush, Legs and Sharp Dressed Man. To their credit, they have never sold their audience out and still have what it takes, so fans will be happy and non-fans impressed they are as good as they were in their 1980s commercial heyday, even if they skip the movie theme songs.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the show with informative text, while the disc adds two interview featurettes.

Half of the releases here are Blu-ray, with the Elvis films both shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision (both here in 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers), processed in MetroColor, but Viva is the real stunner once again with its color, detail, depth and great print, while Way has some rough spots, has some limits in its presentation and could use a few upgrades here and there 14 years after its restoration. The anamorphically enhanced DVD of the original 1970 cut of the film in its theatrical release is very soft and hard to watch, including with its lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono. It should have its own Blu-ray, but likely needs even more work.

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Top can have more clarity that the Elvis concert footage 43 years before, yet it has detail issues from its HD-shoot and is not necessarily as naturalist in total. Still, color is not bad.

The 1.33 X 1 image on both DEVO programs are on the weak side with aliasing errors and other detail issues, but color is not awful and many of the videos were shot on film. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Sondheim and Stravinsky fare better despite their variety of film and video sources, as expected from documentaries covering such long, prominent careers.

All three Blu-rays offer lossless sound, with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Vegas a repeat of the smart upgrade from the previous HD editions, while Top and Way offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes. Top is always using all the speakers being an all live show throughout, but I thought it could have been a bit better, while Way (the back of the DigiBook fails to say it has DTS MA!!!) is mixed off of the original 16-track magnetic soundmaster which sounds great in the concerts as well as the rehearsals. You can see why a 24K Gold CD and vinyl reissues occurred when this was issued in theaters back in 2000, where film prints had Dolby Digital, DTS and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS). The only thing is non music moments often go to mono or simple stereo.

The three DVDs have three different soundtracks, with DEVO being sometimes rough, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Sondheim offering lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 (ranging from mono sound to music with range where applicable) and Stravinsky offering PCM 2.0 Stereo. They are on par with each other, but none are smoothly consistent due to the age of older audio elements.

To order Six By Sondheim, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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