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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Grunge > Documentary > Music > Biography > Industry > Nirvana (2002 hits set/DGC/Geffen Records/Universal Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc)/Van Morrison: Another Glorious Decade Under Review 1977 - 1987 (2015/Chrome Dreams/MVD DVD)

Nirvana (2002 hits set/DGC/Geffen Records/Universal Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc)/Van Morrison: Another Glorious Decade Under Review 1977 - 1987 (2015/Chrome Dreams/MVD DVD)

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

Now for a pair of new music releases for big music fans...

Only previously available on CD, Nirvana, a 2002 hits set of the great Grunge Rock band has finally been issued not only on vinyl, but as part of Universal Music's underrated Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc series that has full albums in three audio formats on one disc that is far superior to CD versions and most other versions (yes, including many vinyl editions). The tracks start with their last recording ever, including...

  1. You Know You're Right

  2. About A Girl

  3. Been A Son

  4. Sliver

  5. Smells Like Teen Spirit

  6. Come As You Are

  7. Lithium

  8. In Bloom

  9. Heart-Shaped Box

  10. Pennyroyal Tea

  11. Rape Me

  12. Dumb

  13. All Apologies

  14. The Man Who Sold The World

Most of the selections are from the Nevermind and In Utero albums, previously issued on Blu-ray audio, with the last two from their amazing MTV Unplugged performance. Sometimes bashed at the time, the songs are not only remarkable, they have only appreciated in importance, value and even proved to be prophetic in dealing with the issues addressed. Kurt Cobain was an amazing artist and man who died too soon (we'll leave it at that for this review) and led a band that became one of the most important of all time.

I always liked them, but hearing these songs here in such high fidelity reveals new empathy in Cobain's singing, Krist Novoselic remains one of the most underrated bassist around and even before moving on to another band, Dave Grohl is one of the greatest drummers of all time. This was a trio with chemistry immediately and they only got better the more they worked together. One cannot help but listen to these selections without a sense of loss, but they also prove that the Rock genre was as vital as anything when these songs were cut and though the genre has taken a beating, is as important a source of music as ever. If Cobain had survived, I believe we would not hear about Rock in the past tense as much.

Smells Like Teen Spirit remains the great anthem and their big international hit, but bold masterworks like Rape Me, Lithium, Dumb, plus the irony of Cobain singing Bowie's Man Who Sold The World are as powerful as they ever were and then some. They are alone reasons to revisit these songs, especially when you can hear them sounding this amazing.

The only extra is a solid, illustrated paper foldout with classic liner notes by David Fricke and other tech information. See more about the impressive sonics on this disc below.

Van Morrison: Another Glorious Decade Under Review 1977 - 1987 (2015) is the latest installment in the massive Chrome Dreams series of rich music documentaries MVD Visual has been distributing since day one, leaving hardly any stone unturned in telling us the thorough story of whom and whatever music subject they take on. This time, it is the fall, return and no necessarily back-to-form second round of albums from the famous singer from Them who found huge solo success with hits like Moondance.

The program, with some very smart music fans, scholars, lovers and people who worked with the artist talks about a new era of Van Morrison's work and how his persistent abrasiveness usually ruined any possibilities of commercial success. At first, the work is in line with his early best including a surprise appearance at The Band's last concert filmed by Martin Scorsese as The Last Waltz (1978), then he hit the 1980s and like most of the great artists of the 1960s and 1970s, he ran out of gas and things to say. In this case, it was explorations of tangential spirituality that made for not so great music, but releases some fans and critics loved. I disagree. His output becomes muddled, he becomes cut away from the madness of the Reagan/Thatcher Era and was never in form again. You can see this one for yourself, but it is really a highly-detailed for-fans-only affair and one of my least favorite from the dozens of Under Review releases. It runs just over 90 minutes.

Extras include text Contributor Bios and at about 17 minutes long, the featurette Van Morrison & The Music Press.

Nirvana has only its menu image and no motion video, though some have argued there's room on these discs for video (Music Videos?), while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Morrison is just fine for DVD with new HD-recorded interviews, stills and mix of archival film and video footage that looks good for the format.

Sound is where the Nirvana Pure Audio Blu-ray shines, offering lossless 96 kHz/24 bits 2.0 Stereo versions of the entire set in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio), Dolby TrueHD and PCM, but it is the DTS tracks (as has been the case in this series) that offers the best clarity, fidelity and detail. Still, you get all three to compare and the PCM is here when you don't have a decoder for the other formats. Though some audiophiles would have liked 5.1 mixes, you would be surprised how great the 2.0 Stereo can actually sound, pretty impressive in all cases though there is some controversy on the Nevermind tracks (5 through 10 here) that originally appeared on the Blu-ray Pure Audio version of that album that they did not sound quite right.

The vocals might be a little buried in the instruments more than the rest of the tracks, but it is hard to say if that is the way the album was mixed or something no one has figured out. Instead, I thought it would be best to compare to 2.0 Stereo audiophile discs of the same genre from about the same time. When I listen to these tracks against the limited edition Super Audio CDs (aka SA-CDs with their ultra high definition DSD (Direct Stream Digital) sound) of Death Cab For Cutie's Transatlanticism (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and Mobile Fidelity's release of another Geffen Records classic: Weezer's debut, The Blue Album, they compare very well. The Cutie album has its clarity and is not as layered, but the Weezer album is much like the Nevermind tracks sounding more bass-rich and sometimes taking some of the vocal space as apparently intended by producer Ric Ocasek. Any complaints about clarity are limited at best as this is Rock Music! More on this in the near future.

Other Universal Blu-ray Pure Audio 2.0 Stereo only album like Tears For Fears' The Hurting and The Velvet Underground & Nico, the best those albums have ever sounded, show how good and strong stereo-only release in this series can be... even as compared to similar SA-CDs, so we look forward to more gems, 5.1 or not.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Morrison is fine with mostly talking, but the always-original music also holds up well enough considering the aged codec.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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