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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Vocal > Pop > Soul > Classical > Opera > History > Documentary > Comedy > Drama > Record Industry > Brit > The BareRoot featuring Carol Hatchett: Live Wire (2016/Hatchett EP CD)/The Beggar's Opera (1983/Roger Daltrey/ArtHaus)/Hercules (2014/Haendel/BelAir)/Les Pecheurs De Perles (2013 aka The Pearl Fishers

The BareRoot featuring Carol Hatchett: Live Wire (2016/Hatchett EP CD)/The Beggar's Opera (1983/Roger Daltrey/ArtHaus)/Hercules (2014/Haendel/BelAir)/Les Pecheurs De Perles (2013 aka The Pearl Fishers/Bizet/C Major/Unitel Classica)/Music Of The 20th Century with Sir Simon Rattle (1997/ArtHaus box set/all Naxos Blu-rays)/Kill Your Friends (2015/Well Go Blu-ray)/Vinyl: The Complete First Season (2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)

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

Here's our next diverse set of new music releases...

The BareRoot featuring Carol Hatchett: Live Wire (2016) is the EP follow-up to last year's Born To Love EP we covered at this link...


The songs this time include:

    1) I Need Your Love [5:52]
    2) Live Wire [6:09]
    3) Forever You And Me [6:24]
    4) Reach For The Light [5:20]
    5) Jokes On You [4:50]

Though it's one track less, I like this collection better for its energy, integration and memorability, with a sense of joy that picks up from track to track more so than in the previous set. These tracks are more likely to be picked up for play and are definitely worth a good listen. There are no extras.

Live Wire rolls outs nationally on June 15, 2016 at a SRP of $4.99 and will be available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon.com as well as http://thebarerootmusic.com/live-wire.

The Beggar's Opera (1983) is a TV version of the John Gay opera made especially for TV (the BBC) with no less than Roger Daltrey (re-conjuring his classical appeal in Lisztomania and Tommy, minus the Glam Rock side here) playing a thief, et al, with a supporting cast that includes Bob Hoskins, Stratford Johns, Carol Hall and Patricia Routledge. A bit deconstructive and post-modern, it is not a bad piece and I had not seen it in eons. I have to admit only so much of it stuck with me, but it is worth revisiting and for more than just the cast. This was an ambitious project and at 135 minutes, does a decent job of its humorous bit to entertain and show an earlier time. Some parts never worked for me, but nice it was never lost.

George Friedrich Haendel's Hercules (2014) is a long 190 minutes piece on the mythological hero and mythology in general, not bad, but really pushing it at that length stage-directed by Luc Bondy who goes all the way in bringing this to life with the Opera National de Paris. Consistent with what I know about the title character, this is deconstructionist, yet elaborate enough for 3+ hours, but I simply not for everyone. Singing is a plus, but you'd better be very awake for this one. Still, I was curious about it and am glad I saw this take just the same.

Georges Bizet's Les Pecheurs De Perles (2013 aka The Pearl Fishers) is finally a work from the legend other than Carmen to cover, telling the story of two of the title characters, Nadir (Dmitry Korchak) and Zurga (Dario Solari), both falling for the young, beautiful Leila (Patrizia Ciofi) who intends to stay a virgin. Things will change quickly for all. This runs a reasonable 118 minutes and is the better of the two operas here, if still with some off moments. Fabio Sparvoli staged this with the Teatro di San Carlo and conductor Gabriele Ferro. It also makes for good alternative opera viewing, which is why I wanted to see it, so you might want to catch it for that reason alone.

Music Of The 20th Century with Sir Simon Rattle (1997) is the big new box set we got to enjoy with all six amazing episodes hosted and written by Rattle, a great conductor whom we've had the honor and privilege of covering over the years. Turns out he is an amazing music and history scholar, covering as much music as he can in six hours. He skips the expected genres of pop, soul, rap, hip-hop, rock, country & western, disco, movie music and the like as expected, then manages to chart when 20th Century music began. This brings us to Vienna in 1900, which turns out to be highly conservative, yet becomes this epicenter of where the music of that century beings.

From there, he does a stunning job of detail, meaning, origins and just builds and builds and builds from there. I has seen some of this back in the day, but nothing like really being able to sit and see it again uninterrupted. It not only holds up, but has appreciated in value immensely, so having this upscaled to a high definition format (Blu-rays hold up much better than DVDs) would have been unthinkable at the time. Cheers to Naxos and ArtHaus for the best possible presentation of this must-see series. Wish he did some kind of sequel.

Owen Harris' Kill Your Friends (2015) happens to take place the year Rattle did his documentary mini-series, but is the first of our two programs (the last two in this review) and stars the underrated Nicholas Hoult as Steven Stelfox, a record company employee with a love of illegal drugs during the BritPop cycle in the U.K. (including Pulp, Blur and even Oasis) doing what he can to get ahead within the business and find the next hit act. James Corden (now popular for singing and driving) is his drugged-up co-worker and that just begins the list of eccentrics and oddballs he deals with.

Steven does voiceovers throughout and that not only works, it enhances the film, which gets as effectively devious as Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). even when Hoult reminds one of Tom Cruise more than maybe he should. In all this, the script has a few misses and a few obvious moments, but this worked better than I expected. The humor is British at times, but not confusingly so, plus I expect we'll see more of the supporting cast down the line in other projects. The story has guts and is definitely worth a look, even if it gets over the top in the end.

Vinyl: The Complete First Season (2016) has a similar set-up, with Bobby Carnivale really good here as record company owner Richie Finestra in over his head with drugs, financial troubles and worse. It is 1973 and he is trying to make things work, including with his staff (Ray Romano is surprisingly good as a longtime co-worker/friend) among older friends he might throw under the bus, a coffee gal (the always-great Juno Temple) as a gal who wants to be in A&R (artist development), a young A&R guy (Jack Quaid) trying to keep his job with more of an ear for music than any of the executives think, a new band representing the new Punk Rock movement with a lead singer (James Jagger) trying to keep it together and subplots including Finestra's wife (Olivia Wilde) ready to give up on their marriage.

The idea is that all these crisis happen in New York City during a 6-month period where three of the most important music genes ever established are founded: Punk Rock, Disco and DJing/Hip Hop. The teleplays take place in a somewhat fictionalized variant of that world, so it is not trying to be a docudrama. To the credit of the makers (co-producer Martin Scorsese directed the pilot telefilm episode, other take over including the very capable Mark Romanek), it does capture the look and feel of the era with often uncanny accuracy. That's good, because it helps get one through many points that are flat or predictable. I enjoyed the portrayal of stars of the past and time, but some subplots don't work as well as others, though the classic hits of the time chosen are a big plus.

Still, I was a bit disappointed, including with Mick Jagger on as co-producer. There was a series of articles in vein about the show during its original broadcasts that criticized the show by saying what 'it got wrong this week' which misses the point. It does not have to be docudrama to work, just make truthful points and say something about what happened. Maybe the next season will pick up, but we get and amazing set of great moments mix with ones that don't capture the energy of the time. In all this, you should still watch it once for all the good parts to see for yourself.

The Beggar's Opera and Rattle are both originally recorded on PAL analog video at 1.33 X 1, upscaled and bookended in a 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image frame has some flaws from the analog videotape including video noise, video banding and PAL cross color, but the Rattle discs hold up and look better throughout while The Beggar's Opera is softer throughout than we would have liked. Part of this is the style of the way this is shot, but it is still very weak and maybe a new transfer should be considered.

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 High Definition image transfers on Hercules and Perles tie for second place, with some motion blur, but also good color in playback that has been the case in new Classical releases.

The best performers are both HD shoots, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Kill and 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Vinyl, doing surprisingly fine jobs of capturing the look and feel of their respective eras with solid editing, color and consistent form that keep you watching. The images are still HD, but more stable than most HD shoots we've seen lately.

The PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo on the Wire EP is a fine, smooth recording I like a bit better than the previous Born To Love EP with the final mix a bit tighter. The PCM 2.0 Mono on The Beggar's Opera is weaker than expected, adding to the feeling that the upscaled source is second generation. The PCM 2.0 Stereo on Rattle is a mix of talk and music, but is better than The Beggar's Opera, if obviously not as dynamic as the Wire EP.

The Hercules and Perles Blu-rays have PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks, but both cannot complete with their superior DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that have fine soundfields throughout. Kill and Vinyl also have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that offer great hit records of their eras, but they never quiet excel like I hoped they would. Still, both of those mixes work very well.

The Wire EP has no extras, but the four Naxos classical releases include multi-lingual booklets on each respective release, though Rattle is over 200 pages and is practically a full book, one of the best and definitely the thickest we've run into in years. Bonus music tracks and a taped Rattle concert are also included. Kill and Vinyl add good if too short Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes, Kill also has an Original Theatrical Trailer, then Vinyl also adds Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-rays add Inside The Episode clips and audio commentary tracks on select episodes.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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