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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Country > TV Variety Show > Standards > Showtunes > Jazz > Pop > Music Video > Industry > History > Alabama & Friends At The Ryman (2014/Eagle DVD)/The Best Of The Danny Kaye Show (1963 - 1966/MVD Visual DVD)/Money For Nothing: A History Of The Music Video (2014/Virgil DVD)/The Story Of Mudhoney: I'

Alabama & Friends At The Ryman (2014/Eagle DVD)/The Best Of The Danny Kaye Show (1963 - 1966/MVD Visual DVD)/Money For Nothing: A History Of The Music Video (2014/Virgil DVD)/The Story Of Mudhoney: I'm Now (2012/MVD Visual DVD)/Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon (2013/Radius-TWC/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)


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



These latest music titles offer something for almost everyone...



Alabama & Friends At The Ryman (2014) is remarkably the first time we have really covered anything from the immensely successful Country band that remains one of the last great bands in the genre and one of the biggest bands of its time. Only Garth Brooks would next see such crossover success and this recent show brings together the band still in prime form with the best of the new generation of Country artists like Jason Aldean, Jamey Johnson, The Eli Young Band, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and the great Tricia Yearwood. I have to confess that I did not remember the songs by title, but as soon as I heard them, I knew them, then through the 17 solid performances was reminded of just how huge they were... and still are.


No Country band has challenged their critical or commercial success, while any band in any genre would do anything to have half of their success and longevity. All in all, this is one of the most interesting music surprises of the year.


Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the show including informative text, while the DVD adds seven Behind The Scenes featurettes including the guest artists talking about the legacy of Alabama.



The Best Of The Danny Kaye Show (1963 - 1966) samples episode of the big comedy movie star's variety show. Kaye might be remembered for the VistaVision extravaganza White Christmas, but that was only the beginning of his reign as one of the top box office stars of this time. That includes many musicals, so it is no surprise that his variety show would be filled with music and comedy. The six episodes here, with select songs, include:


Jackie Cooper (9/25/63 w/Consider Yourself)

Gene Kelly (10/23/63 w/Michele Lee; Side By Side, You'll Never Get Away)

Art Carney (1/22/64 w/Do You Ever Think Of Me)

Harry Belefonte (9/15/65 w/Who Wil Buy?, Raindrops, Walk On)

Liza Minnelli (1/5/66 w/Alan Young; Pennies From Heaven, Maybe This Time)

Ella Fitzgerald (10/5/66 w/It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing, Body & Soul, Buddy Green sings the Theme from Charade and Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66 sing Going Out Of My Head)


The first three shows in black and white have the older style of the show with more laidback, pre-Rock style singing, but the latter three pick up things in the arrangements and energy department. Not every song is great or every skit, though he does have Harvey Korman. It is a solid sample of the range variety shows had, even if everything did not work, but more does in these shows than not, so they are definitely worth a look showing how much music changed in the decade.


There are no extras.



Jamin Bricker's Money For Nothing: A History Of The Music Video (2014) is based on the book is based on the book of nearly the same name, looking at the forerunners of Music Video, how the British were ahead of the U.S. labels bringing on a new British Invasion when MTV debuted, the rise of videos, how the Michael Jackson successes led to overproduced epic videos that then led to an implosion of the artform, MTV itself and how Videos have changed and survived since. Running 78 minutes, it has a generous sampling of clips over the last 60 years (including forerunners before TV even arrived), but misses some major clips, artists (like Adam Ant), has some erroneous information and worst of all, had bad slap-dash editing that does not help it. The other big problem is that it has this bizarre, cynical take as if all the videomakers were thinking the same things making their clips as if to be playing some shallow game.


That is a huge disservice to Videos as an artform, as well as the many artists (singers, directors, choreographers, etc.) who were trying to do something fun, smart, memorable and did better work than they are often being given credit for here. There could have been more exposition (this looks like it was prefabricated as cable TV filler when it did not have to) here and a longer program, yet in al this, it is still worth seeing for what is shown and does work. I just hope the actual book is better, because a few books on the subject (rare as they are) have not been so great.


There are no extras.



Ryan Short & Adam Pease tell the story of one of the most influential band of recent years in I'm Now: The Story Of Mudhoney (2012), a very interesting 102 minutes about the band that many consider the first Grunge Rock band and when you hear them, a definite influence on the likes of Nirvana. Still playing together, we get the rather untold story of how this band was formed, had some success, but somehow did not have the commercial and wide-ranging mass success of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the like despite still being very popular with very loyal fans throughout.


Like all the better such documentary looks at major music acts, it also becomes a look at the industry itself, for better and worse, with this one showing the last great moment for Rock Bands in what is still the Rock Era. It is a must-see for anyone serious about music and who knows, maybe they'll have a new surprise hit yet... if they even care to.


Extras include a Video for the title of the film and more concert footage from Europe, Japan and Brazil.



Actor/comedian Mike Myers takes on documentary filmmaking for Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon (2013), a really thorough biography about the super-manager best known for putting Alice Cooper on the map after brief work with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and (as he jokes) even Pink Floyd (for 9 days). Turns out that was only the beginning of his success in and outside of show business as film clips, video clips, stills and new interviews with some big names (like Michael Douglas) tell us a really amazing story of a very accomplished man. We have seen Gordon talk about his work and his clients in other releases, but it is his turn and this is very engrossing.


Running a bit short at 85 minutes, it still packs a ton of information, humor, facts and great moments in what he did to be innovative, groundbreaking and personally how he changed lives for the better and even permanently affected what we see, hear and enjoy to this day. Even I was surprised by some of what I learned here and strongly recommend this one.


Trailers for other Radius releases are the only extra, all before the main program starts.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Supermensch may have its share of old analog video, even in black and white, but it also has some higher quality film clips, reenactments and new HD interview footage that ranks as the best performer here despite its limits. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Alabama, Money and Mudhoney follow behind, but Mudhoney purposely degrades its image too often and add the shaky camerawork and it is the weakest of the three, tying the 1.33 X 1 image on Kaye (the first disc has black and white episodes, the second in color that are not always as rich as it ought to be) as the weakest performer on the list.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Supermensch includes many talking heads, but also some good music, yet the regular DTS 5.1 on Alabama ties it for best audio performer on this list. A well recorded show, fans will be happy with it. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Money just spreads the sound around, so don't expect multi-channel music, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Kaye is the weakest here. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Mudhoney is not bad and can more than compete with the 5.1 on Money.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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