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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Gospel > Soul > Biography > Blues > World Music > Vocal > Comedy > Country > Musical > Gospel According To Al Green (1984/MVD Visual Blu-ray)/I Am The Blues (2016/Film Movement DVD)/Roaring Abyss (2015/IndiePix DVD)/Pure Country: Pure Heart (2017/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/State Fair (1962/F

Gospel According To Al Green (1984/MVD Visual Blu-ray)/I Am The Blues (2016/Film Movement DVD)/Roaring Abyss (2015/IndiePix DVD)/Pure Country: Pure Heart (2017/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/State Fair (1962/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Picture: B/C+/C/B- & C/B- Sound: B-/C+/C+/B- & C+/B Extras: B-/C/C-/C-/A Films: B-/B-/B-/C-/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The State Fair 1962 remake Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below.

Here's our latest look at new music releases...

Robert Mugge's The Gospel According To Al Green (1984) is back in a restored edition and the documentary film on how the legendary soul singer left it all behind for religion. Here's our coverage of the older DVD from many years ago...


Now, MVD Visual, whose been slowly issuing and reissuing Mugge's amazing series of documentaries, has issued this one on Blu-ray and though he usually makes great films, I was only so impressed when I saw this again on DVD a while ago for only the second time. It is that rare film that actually got better with age because of some twists and turns in music and the industry that puts this in a new light. Green never returned to the charts after his Annie Lennox duet either, but he has shown up at times singing his hits a bit, though I don't know if a sequel is necessary. This one is definitely worth a look, but at east some kind of update in the near future would be nice.

Extras include a 30-minutes audio interview with Green, church service outtakes and 17 minutes of commentary by Director Mugge.

Daniel Cross' I Am The Blues (2016) is an excellent documentary made recently to show the legacy and current life of Blues music in the U.S., going to New Orleans and both interviewing and recording performances by key names in the genre, as well as up and coming talent, proving that Rap/Hip Hop will never be the only name, last name in music, truthfully, honestly or otherwise. Even of you're not a big fan of Blues, this Film Movement DVD release is definitely worth a look as these artists survive against the tide of a changing music industry that does not seem to know where to go for new talent in any genre too often.

Barbara Lynn, Biblo Walker, Carol Fran, Henry Cray, Little Freddie King and to my surprise, Bobby Rush (didn't know how blues he was or that he lived there) grace the 118 minutes of wall-to-wall Blues. It might nit be for everyone, but it is something different with a rich quality to it and all involved not only love this music, they live it and its shows. Try it out!

30 minutes of unseen bonus footage is the only extra.

Quino Pinero's Roaring Abyss (2015) takes us to Ethiopia where there is a music boom starting with 80 different nationalities, all kinds of variances affecting the singing, performance and styles of Soul, Blues and much more in a documentary that might be showing us the birthplace of something we have not quite seen or heard yet. The talent is certainly there, as is the energy, ambition, singing, harmonizing and thus, we may be actually seeing a story or two in the making.

IndiePix has snagged this musical slice of life for DVD and those interested in world music should bookmark this in just in case.

A teaser and trailer are the only extras, but maybe we'll see an expanded version in a few years if a boom of talent takes place. Even if not, its far superior to the music laziness we've been seeing in the U.S. the last few decades!

Damon Santostefano's Pure Country: Pure Heart (2017) is a disaster on so many levels, a separate essay would not give us enough room to cover it all and life is too short, so this heartless, tired 'can they make it!?!?!' formula mess hoping to promote possible future Country talent like the young female singers in lame roles requiring limited effort. Hard to tell if they can really act or not. Willie Nelson shows up as himself, but way too briefly.

I guess you could scan though the LONG 184... I mean 84 minutes fir the music, but its only a drop in this endless river of boredom. I suddenly thought of Hee Haw as a documentary series for a split second there.

The only extras thankfully are Digital Copy and three music clips.

And now our last title, another upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray. Actor Jose Ferrer co-stars and directed the 1962 remake of State Fair (1962), about a time in America where families believed in the American dream, when the State Fair was considered the highlight of the year. All the Frake Family is looking forward to it! Pa Frake (Tom Ewell) is looking forward to the hog competition, Ma Frake (Alice Faye) with her mincemeat competition, the son Wayne (Pat Boone) is in the hotrod race and Margy (Pamela Tiffen) the daughter is a young woman looking summer fling. It's a summer of love, as the Frake family will have a summer they will never forget.

The Frake family is your average Southern plantation family, were men love fast cars and even faster women. The women are taught to be beautiful yet dutiful women to their men. The State Fair is the highlight of the year (which is sorta sad in itself) for the Frakes. Ma and Pa Frake are involve with various competitions, but both Wayne and Margy both meet and fall in love with someone at the fair (even though both of them already have fiances), Wayne with race/dance girl Emily (Ann Margret, as if he could handle her!), Margy with a playboy newsman (Bobby Darin). Wayne finds out Emily is married woman and Margy finds out her fling is moving far away after the fair. Both of their relationships started started as a summer fling, but turns into a torrent affair that tears apart their lives.

This movie plays so flatly, it feels like someone wanted make a Blu-ray version to just add to their collection just by issuing it with a bunch of extras. Watching the musical certainly takes you back in time, it showed the time period in America when men were able to sexually harass woman (it they did it now there would be considered sexual harassment), and women were treated more like objects than individuals. While the songs and musical was fun, the moral of the story was questionable, but it was filled with drama of love, lost and tragedy ...and how the family pulls together afterwards. Wally Cox and a young boy who would grow up in real life to be Pop/Rock singer Meat Loaf also star.

Extras include another well-illustrated booklet on the film with a great essay by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds an isolated music track, a feature-length audio commentary track by Pat Boone, page to screen featurette, State Fair TV plot and trailers.

For more on the film and its predecessor, see our DVD coverage of both musicals here...


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Gospel is the best presentation here in a new 4K transfer from the original 16mm camera materials, and though we can see the age of the materials used here and there, this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film including the too-soft DVD from years ago. The film was purposely shot to have a reddish cast leaning brown like the churches they were filming and that's fine. You get some good detail, proving yet again the virtues of 16mm film in HD.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on State Fair, shot in older 35mm CinemaScope, is an improvement from the DVD without a doubt, but there are still anomalies form the format that have not been corrected and left as is. Color and some depth and detail can be seen better, but this is far from the best Scope shoot ever, so expect some flaws. We doubt this could look much better on Blu-ray here, though.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Country may be more consistent, but it is more generic, poorer and has softness issues you'd never get from film of any kind. Some shots look off and the anamorphically enhanced DVD version is much worse, softer and harder to watch, so expect the worst before viewing in either format.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Blues and Roaring actually look better than Country, but Roaring barely, which has softness and some motion blur issues. However, they had way less money to work with, so you can figure that one out.

As for sound, Country is the champ sonically by default with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is at least well mixed and presented, letting the musicians shine in a mess of a so-called film. However, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 4.0 lossless mix on State Fair is a surprisingly good upgrade from the lossy Dolby Digital 4.0 from the old DVD, both based on the original 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects that played with the film in better screening. The soundmaster survived well enough and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix is also included that is not bad, but the 4.0 is better.

The PCM 2.0 Mono on the Gospel Blu-ray is an improvement over the old Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono fro the old DVD, but there is harmonic distortion and warping in more than a few parts that need to be fixed down the line if possible. Otherwise, it sounds better.

Blues offers both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but I liked the 5.1 a bit more. Roaring only has lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but it is decent and on par with the other DVDs here.

To order the State Fair limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo & Ricky Chiang (State Fair)


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