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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Concerts > Biography > Art > Artist > Music > Rock > British Invasion > History > Pop > New Wave > The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (2016/Apple Corps/Universal Music Blu-ray set)/The Human League: A Very British Synthesizer Group (2016 compilation/Universal Music CD Set)/Jennifer

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (2016/Apple Corps/Universal Music Blu-ray set)/The Human League: A Very British Synthesizer Group (2016 compilation/Universal Music CD Set)/Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again (2016/Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay DVD)/Morphine: Journey Of Dreams (2016/MVD Visual DVD)/New Orleans: Music In Exile (2013/MVD Visual Blu-ray)/We Are Twisted F***ing Sister (2016/Music Box Films Blu-ray)

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

Here's a strong set of new music releases for your consideration...

Ron Howard's The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (2016) might seem like a documentary that would be repetitive with so much already said and done on the band and though I cannot say it is the 'story' I did not know, I can say it shows a few rare sides and clips with some fresh perspective on how touring helped them eventually hurt them, then its end caused them to be more creatively prolific than they already had been, which says something. Like the Anthology years ago and the recent 1+ Blu-ray set (reviewed elsewhere on this site), new and nicely restored footage helps give us new insight on the phenomenon the band was, is and always will be.

Universal Music/Apple have issued this fine new Blu-ray set that offers the theatrically released program (but not the restored Shea Stadium concert in its entirety, so you know), plus a great disc of extras that give all another privileged visit/revisit to Beatlemania and how groundbreaking and shocking it all really was. They were remarkably far from the only music innovators at the time, but dominantly and inspirationally so to the point that there's always more great stories and great music to experience. Running 106 minutes, I wished it were a bit longer, but this is fine as it stands, making it one of the year's best music documentaries. Though some were not sure Howard could pull it off, he did.

Extras include a thick, high quality 64-page booklet with an introduction from director Howard, essay by music journalist/author Jon Savage and quality reproductions of rare photos from The Beatles' private archive, then Blu-ray 2 (running 100+ minutes) adds the featurettes Words & Music (24 minutes) where John, George (in archive footage and audio), Paul & Ringo (also including new interviews) are joined by the likes of Peter Asher, Elvis Costello, Howard Goodall & Simon Schama on their landmark body of work, Early Clues To A New Direction (18 minutes) brings the same group of persons back and adds the likes of Paul Greengrass, Stephen Stark, Malcolm Gladwell, Sigourney Weaver, Richard Curtis & Whoopi Goldberg on their humor and way with women, we five rarely seen performances of She Loves You, Twist and Shout, Can't Buy Me Love, You Can't Do That and Help! from their early (1963 - 5) performing years, the 7-part A Deeper Dive (43 minutes) that includes great interviews with Ronnie Specter, other major industry players and the surprise story of some of the band's earliest female U.S. fans and finally, the alternative opening to the documentary (3 minutes) that was cut for being possibly too primitive, though it has some nice aspects to it.

For more on our ever-growing coverage of The Beatles together, solo and otherwise, please start with this link...


The Human League: A Very British Synthesizer Group is a new 2016 CD compilation set from Universal Music of the highly successful and landmark British New Wave group who helped make synthesizer-based music mainstream, though they controversially were asked to start adding more common instruments to their later music. It changed their music at least a bit, if not ruined it as this new set shows, but we were likely denied a few all-synth gems that would be as ahead of their time as many of the tracks in this set are. Instead of just short, single versions of their music, this new set has a very interesting mix of various kinds of singles, mixes and cuts that give a better showcase of one of the great bands of the 1980s and include...

CD One

  1. Being Boiled : A-Side Single

  2. The Dignity of Labour [Part 3] : Dignity of Labour 12-inch single

  3. Empire State Human : A-Side Single

  4. Only After Dark (Single Edit) : Travelogue Free 7-inch

  5. Nightclubbing : Holiday '80 EP

  6. Boys and Girls : A-Side Single

  7. The Sound of The Crowd (Instrumental Version)

  8. Hard Times : B-Side Single

  9. Love Action (I Believe In Love) : A-Side Single

  10. Open Your Heart : A-Side Single

  11. Don't You Want Me : A-Side Single

  12. Mirror Man : A-Side Single

  13. You Remind Me Of Gold

  14. (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Extended Version)

  15. The Lebanon (Single Version) : A-Side Single

  16. Louise (DJ Edit) : A-Side Single

CD Two

  1. Life On Your Own : A-Side Single; First Commercial Release

  2. Human : Extended Version

  3. I Need Your Loving (DJ Edit) : A-Side Single First Commercial Release

  4. Love Is All That Matters (DJ Edit) : A-Side Single First Commercial Release

  5. Heart Like A Wheel (William Orbit Remix) : A-Side Single

  6. Soundtrack To A Generation (Edit) : First Commercial Release

  7. Tell Me When (Radio Edit) : First Commercial Release

  8. One Man In My Heart : A-Side Single

  9. Filling Up With Heaven : A-Side Single

  10. Stay With Me Tonight (Single Version) : A-Side Single

  11. All I Ever Wanted (Radio Edit) : First Commercial Release

  12. Night People (Radio Edit) : A-Side Single First Commercial Release

  13. Never Let Me Go (Album Version)

  14. Sky (Radio Edit) : A-Side Single

There are no extras, but we recommend you try out this great later concert by the group at this link...


Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again (2016) has concert footage directed by Ted Kenney that mixes the latest tour of the now-veteran singer/dancer with behind the scenes footage as Lopez leaves a hit TV talent show to finally tour for the first time in years, but she has recently been divorced, lost her major record label deal years ago and has two great children to raise. We meet her family, friends, business associates and the big names in the short 84 minutes that is not bad, but sometimes feels forced or fake.

The good news is that she still can sing, looks great, has retained her huge fan base, can still dance and still has the energy to pull this tour off. The bad news is that she seems a bit more depressed than I think she or anyone connected to this production realize and seems profoundly stuck and barely surviving in some sense. Is she just in a holding pattern before the next big thing or is this a semi-swan song before she becomes a legacy act? We'll see, but this is worth a look at a major star revealing just enough to see her at this point in time.

There are no extras.

Mark Shuman's Morphine: Journey Of Dreams (2016) is a surprisingly strong, rich 93-minutes-long documentary on the great 1990s alt. Rock/Punk band with a different sound and feel than most at the time trying to have success without selling out, building their fan base, landing the most unusual of major record label deals and the arc of how they rose and fell. One of the members is no longer with us, so we hear from him in clips, plus his wife and the rest of the band are interviewed along with Henry Rollins and Joe Strummer in a great portrait of their history and legacy that is never boring and knows how to build the story.

But instead of just being mechanical, it is also a biography of all involved and additionally adds insight into the music industry on all levels at the time we can always hear more about. I was really pleased it was not a formulaic presentation, but very palpable and for real, so anyone who is a fan or the least bit interested should go out of their way for this one.

Extras include 40 minutes of more interviews, plus a stills section.

Robert Mugge's New Orleans: Music In Exile (2013) is a recent concert documentary with some interview footage of how the Jazz scene in the great city destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (with an assist by the U.S. Government not assisting enough) runs a long, solid 113 minutes and as usual for Mugge, hits the nail on the head. Of course, more building has happened since then, but this is about building the soul, building ideas of what to say and the psyche of the music scene. Dr. John and Kermit Ruffins are among the many who perform and talk, but the city is also profiled in its own way.

If you are interested in this music or the city, this disc is one for you.

Extras include six bonus music performances, seven extended music performances, David Spizale: ''A New Orleans Rescue'' and Jon Cleary ''A History Of New Orleans Piano''.

And finally we have Andrew Horn's We Are Twisted F***ing Sister (2016), looking at one of the more enduring 'hair bands' of Rock Music's 1980s period, one that many feel killed the genre and.or its dominance on the music scene, along with the Classic Rock trend and the end of Grunge. Running 134 minutes (!), this is actually a really detailed look at how the band slowly came together, the troubles they had on the way and how they finally found success as MTV was on the rise. All the band members are interviewed, including outspoken lead singer Dee Snyder, who never holds anything back.

Again we learn more inside industry goings on and get rare film, video and music clips throughout. Even if people (the press, more 'serious' Rock fans and critics) did not take them seriously, they did and always respected their fans, never selling them out to their great credit. Even if you don't like their music or style, this I well done and if you give it a try, you might be surprised.

Extras include five hours of extra interview and film/video clips, plus an feature length audio commentary track by Director Horn. For more on the band live that we've covered over the years, try out starting with this link...


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Beatles just surpasses the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Exile (mostly with new footage) and Twisted (with plenty of old analog video footage) as the best picture performer on the list, though in the case of all the clips, they can show the age of the materials used, but Director Howard and Apple Corps had the funding for extensive restoration and it shows. All new footage in all three cases are HD shot and where applicable, analog videotape flaws include video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL and/or NTSC cross color, faded color and tape damage. Some film clips can look rougher than others and not just by the way they were shot, but this is to be expected from such documentary productions.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Lopez and anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Morphine tie for last place (no video for the Human League release, sadly) looking good, but with some soft or rough moments. Lopez has faux black & white HD video that never rings true for many spots, while Morphine has the compilation issued already noted for the Blu-rays.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Beatles is well mixed and presented, even with its share of older and monophonic sound, but it is able to outdo the same type mix that Twisted offers, which itself ties with the PCM 2.0 Stereo on Exile for second place.

In between, more consistent throughout is the PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo on the League CD set, as clean and clear as I have ever heard them in the format, though vinyl LP might opt for the 3-LP version of this release. Otherwise, the high digital watermark of the band is the long out-of-print, 2-channel stereo DSD Super Audio CD version of their Dare album from Europe, if you're lucky enough to have one and can play it. The Beatles music at its best at most isolated on either Blu-ray matches or surpasses the League CDs here, though.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Lopez (bouncing from concerts to talking) and Morphine (more talk than music, also offered in a weaker, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) are about even, have slight audio issues at times and tie for last place sonically.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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