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Category:    Home > Reviews > Pop > Soul > Rock > Blues > Vocal > Counterculture > Covers > Country > Awards > Musical > Fantasy > Backstage > D > All Day Thumbsucker Revisited: The History Of Blue Thumb Records (1968 - 1974/Verve/Universal Music CD Set)/Ray Conniff: Laughter In The Rain/Love Will Keep Us Together (1975/Sony/Vocalion Super Audio

All Day Thumbsucker Revisited: The History Of Blue Thumb Records (1968 - 1974/Verve/Universal Music CD Set)/Ray Conniff: Laughter In The Rain/Love Will Keep Us Together (1975/Sony/Vocalion Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD Quadrophonic Hybrid Albums)/CMA Awards Live: Greatest Moments: 1968 - 2015 (Country Music Awards/Time Life DVD Set)/Doctor Dolittle (1967/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition (1942/Paramount/Universal Blu-ray Set)/Patti Cake$ (2017/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)



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PLEASE NOTE: The Doctor Dolittle (1967) 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, while the Ray Conniff: Laughter In The Rain/Love Will Keep Us Together Super Audio CD is CD player compatible and is now only available from Vocalion. All can be ordered from the links below.


This next group of interesting music releases offer many more rarities than expected...



All Day Thumbsucker Revisited: The History Of Blue Thumb Records (1968 - 1974) is a reissue of a hits set that covers the amazing, if too short, run of one of the great smaller record labels you may not have heard of before. You probably have heard at least a few of the songs in this new CD set, a reminder of how small companies used to be able to deliver big, important music, but that the environment of great smaller record labels into the 1970s (of which there were many) contributed to one of the greatest periods of music ever. Now handled by Verve and Universal Music, the songs on this CD set are as follows....


Disc One

  1. Only You Know and I Know - Dave Mason

  2. The City - Mark Almond

  1. Put It Where You Want It - The Crusaders

  1. A Song For You - Leon Russell

  1. Stimela (Coaltrain) - Hugh Masekela

  1. By The Light Of Magical Moon - Tyrannosaurus Rex

  2. Yes We Can Can - The Pointer Sisters

  1. Darkness Darkness - Philip Upchurch

  1. Son Of Mirror Man / Mere Man - Captain Beefheart and His Magic Ban

  1. Sugar on the Line - The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation

  1. Little Mama - Luis Gasca

  1. Canned Music - Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks

  2. Riffin' (A.K.A. A Motif Is Just A Riff) - Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Junior Mance

  1. I've Been Loving You Too Long - Ike & Tina Turner

  2. Fat Jam - Ben Sidran

  1. Southern Man - Sylvester and the Hot Band


Disc Two


1. Delta Lady - Leon Russell

2. Shiver 'n Shake - Albert Collins

3. Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave - Dave Mason

4. Blackbird - Bossa Rio

5. Ride A White Swan - Tyrannosaurus Rex

6. I Scare Myself - Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks

7. The Everlasting First - Love

8. The Frog - Joao Donato

9. Safe As Milk - Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

10. Breezin' - Gabor Szabo

11. Sitting on the Outside - John Mayall

12. Images - Sun Ra

13. Bird's Word - The Last Poets

14. Roger - Ken Nordine

15. How Long (Betcha' Got A Chick On The Side) - The Pointer Sisters

16. So Far Away - The Crusaders


Needless to say some of these are big name acts, here often in their early years. Captain Beefheart was very popular at the time, as was Leon Russell, T. Rex had its amazing run that was all too short, people still talk about Sun Ra, John Mayall, Hugh Masekela and Albert Collins retain their huge reputations, Ike & Tina Turner are least as legendary and besides the many one hit wonders, we get the early hits of The Pointer Sisters.


I had not heard some of these some of these songs in a long time, while there are at least a few I don;t remember hearing at all, but similar to healthy radio back in the day, you get something different and new with each track and that is what the excitement of music is supposed to be all about. A very pleasant surprise that would make a great gift set to any true music lovers you know, especially if they love more than one genre of music, it is a set as serious music fans need to hear.


The one extra is an illustrated booklet on the music including informative text and an informative essay so you can learn more about the two albums and the star artists, some of whom moved on to even bigger success. You also learn about how the label was so key in music history.



Ray Conniff: Laughter In The Rain/Love Will Keep Us Together (1975) has a cover that suggests the holidays, even if this ultra high fidelity reissue was not made with that in mind. The great people at Vocalion Records (out of the U.K.) continue their release of really great, interesting materials in the Super Audio CD (aka SACD or SA-CD) with its insanely clean, clear and amazing ultra-dynamic range abilities. This is part their series of 4.0 Quadrophonic Hybrid Albums and this single disc offers two of them. This is the kind of music that might be dubbed 'elevator' or played in doctor's offices at the time (whole channels used to be devoted to music like this, specifically here with hits sans any rock, soul or edge) with 'fascinating' results.


These days, some of the songs remade here in their original form are considered lite in themselves, but that tends to be seen through the angry current lens of post-modern music. That the songs covered here are often pop classics (1, 3, 4, 6, 9 on the first album, 11 to 15, 18 & 19 on the second) bares that out. You got to admit when these singers and Conniff remake hits, they at least definitely demonstrate good to great taste, even if you might not like their versions.


They are at least not as bad as what Pat Boone used to do to music of the time. The tracks are...


LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN


1. Laughter in the Rain (Sedaka; Cody)
2. I Honestly Love You (Allen; Barry)
3. Sundown (Lightfoot)
4. Angie Baby (O'Day)
5. Mandy (English; Kerr)
6. Seasons in the Sun (Brel; McKuen)
7. Eres Tu (Calderon; Hawker)
8. Cat's in the Cradle (H & S Chapin)
9. Feel Like Makin' Love (McDaniels)
10. (You're) Having My Baby (Anka)


LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER


11. Please Mr. Please (Welch; Rostill)
12. Midnight Blue (Sager; Manchester)
13. Rhinestone Cowboy (Weiss) / Wildfire (Cansler; Murphey)
14. Feelings (Albert)
15. My Little Friend (Budd; Cahn) theme from the film
Paper Tiger
16. I'm Sorry (Denver)
17. At Seventeen (Ian)
18. Solitaire (Sedaka; Cody)
19. Love Will Keep Us Together (Sedaka; Greenfield) / How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You) (Holland; Dozier; Holland)


All in all, I found these more interesting ans amusing than I expected and am certain I heard some of them back in the day, but like most remakes, they did not stick with me. Another way to explain the music style is almost like Lawrence Welk or The King Family, but closer to The Ladybirds on the classic Benny Hill Show. Hearing them in 4-track sound, I actually respect them more since you can tell they were not cutting these records as a joke, but doing alternate harmony versions that can make you rethink some of the songs. Not bad and being two albums worth, worth a good listen.


The one extra is an illustrated booklet on the music including informative text and an informative essay so you can learn more about the two albums and the star artist.



CMA Awards Live: Greatest Moments: 1968 - 2015 is the new 10-DVD set of highlights from the annual Country Music Awards TV specials set up to further promote the genre past the Grammys and in the face of changing tastes in music and the counterculture. Issued by Time Life, it goes back to its early black and white shows and delivers some of the biggest names in the history of the genre, though many of the giants (Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers) did more than crossover, they became American Music icons beyond the genre.


This includes one hit wonders, other major stars who did not cross over as much and captures the mood of the genre at the times of the broadcasts. Country had to adjust in the face of Rock by the mid-1950s, not to mention Soul, but by the later 1960s, what we now call root music and a more graphically honest idea of what Country could be (especially with the rise of more women in the genre) gave the music a new golden period that lasted until the early 1980s that I not discussed enough. However, to some, it was just good and even great music, genre labels just generic.


Sadly, the music became like the Western film genre, older and a quasi-obsolete with no new innovators, so it took its cue from Rock (and post-Rock, another bit untouched by analysts) that would work spectacularly well with the likes of Garth Brooks, but not as well with others. This set lands up addressing that by default, making it more interesting than expected. Historically, it is often priceless, but musically, has its ups and downs. Now fans and the curious can see for themselves.


Extras include...

  • Newly produced bonus interviews with country legends including Charley Pride, Kenny Rogers, Naomi Judd, Ronnie Milsap and more. Plus CMA bonus features with Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, George Strait, Carrie Underwood and many other country music stars.

  • 44-page memory book including show photos, a history of the CMA Awards, plus a year-by-year guide to 50 years of Award winners, plus a smaller booklet inside the case listing the contents of the discs.



Richard Fleischer's Doctor Dolittle (1967) is the Best Picture Oscar nominee musical with Rex Harrison (hot off of My Fair Lady (1964) as the title character who can 'talk to the animals' and was made decades before Eddie Murphy revisited the material non-musically with less acclaim if bigger box office. A very British production, it has since gained a cult following of its own and may not be very successful as a fantasy musical all around, does have its moments including in its locations, production design and supporting cast that includes Anthony Newley (who co-wrote the songs with Leslie Bricusse), Samantha Eggar, Richard Attenborough, Geoffrey Holder and a cast that is in tune with the energy intended.


Fox has decided to release this upgraded version of the film via Twilight Time in their Limited Edition Blu-ray series, quite a thing for such a major production, but not because the presentation lacks anything sonically or the film is somehow not the final cut. All in all, it is more hit than miss, but an uneven experience, but as Harrison has been re-immortalized as the inspiration of Stewie on the hit animated TV classic Family Guy, the film suddenly has a new cache and curio factor thanks to pop culture at its best. The songs are the kind that can work while you watch, but don't necessarily stay with you.


Also, despite Director Fleischer and Director of Photography Robert Surtees delivering a true big screen entertainment, we were getting a glut of British musical fantasy event films (think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Oliver!, the latter also issued by Twilight Time and one that won the Best picture Oscar!) so I always get a sense and feel of overlap in all these films, no matter which one I watch. However, since they did go all out, they always have their moments and that is why it is worth seeing the original Dolittle to see what they did pull off.


I would note since Bricusse and Newley's hit stage musical Stop The World I Want To Get Off (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was successful in its deconstructionist way, that might have given them a different angle here that allowed this not to be too grouped into the other such films of the time.


Extra Special Features include an Isolated Music Score Track in lossless DTS-MA sound, an Audio Commentary Track with Songwriter/Screenwriter Leslie Bricusse and Film Music Historian Mike Matessino, the biographical TV special Rex Harrison: The Man Who Would Be King, an Original Theatrical Trailer and another great illustrated booklet on the film (standard for Twilight Time) with more excellent thoughts in the latest essay by film scholar Julie Kirgo. All fans will consider this a serious collector's item, so get it while you can.



Mark Sandrich's Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition (1942) is the film that launched Bing Crosby's hit ''White Christmas'' as one of the best-selling songs and singles of all-time, anywhere or anyhow. The remake film would be named after it and even help introduce the great large-frame film format VistaVision, so major was the property considered. Berlin is still one of the most prolific hitmakers/writers ever. With that all said, This also has Fred Astaire, who stops the film from becoming even less relevant than it otherwise would be. However, this hit for Paramount (now part of Universal's catalog) has some racist and politically incorrect moments (one of the reasons to remake it even then) and was never my favorite film to begin with, especially as a holiday film. It has only aged oddly and more since.


The plot has the guys both going after Marjorie Reynolds as Bing turns his back on showbiz to run the title small venue, but Astaire is not far behind. This makes it a Backstage Musical by default, but even then, not a very good one. The leads can both sing and Astaire's dancing is unreal as usual, but unless you are already a fan, only have so many expectations. This Blu-ray set also has a hideously colorized version (maybe for Satanists who hate the holidays?) and a bonus disc.


Bonus Features include a very new version Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical, A full-length Broadway production based on the timeless classic film that differs from both the 1942 film and White Christmas remake a good bit, presented here on a separate Blu-ray, plus A Couple of Song and Dance Men: An intimate retrospective of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire featuring an interview with Ava Astaire-McKenzie, All-Singing, All-Dancing: Experience the making of the unforgettable song and dance numbers, the most unfortunate Coloring a Classic: Learn how the film was color-designed to transform the black and white classic, while the Blu-ray with the movie itself adds a Feature Commentary by Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Archive Audio Comments from Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, and John Scott Trotter and an Original Theatrical Trailer.


You've likely seen seen Eminem in 8 Mile but you haven't seen a rags to riches rap story like this one. Taking place in New Jersey, Patti Cake$ (2017) is directed by Geremy Jasper (whose known for his music videos) and whom creates a similar feel here. Her family life is less than perfect, and her bank account isn't stellar, but Patti Cake$ gets some formidable allies with help from her best friend, a mysterious musician and her loving grandmother for a chance to achieve her dream.


The film stars Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, and Cathy Moriarty.


A digital UV copy is also included.



Special Features include...


Director's Commentary


A slide of Cake$


Patti Sea$on Music Video


Lyric Video


Making the Music


Danielle as Patti


Geremy


Jersey Women


Gallery


While it will appeal to rap and hip hop music fans more than many, Patti Cake$ is your typical story of an unlikely musical prodigy that's a mix of comedy and drama with some clever editing and filmmaking tropes to make it stand out.



Presented in this Blu-ray/DVD set with a 1080p high definition Blu-ray and standard definition DVD, both version of Patti have a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with the Blu-ray offering a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (5.1 lossy Dolby Digital track on the DVD) that capture the film nicely for both formats. The film is colorful and has a great soundtrack that suits this indie well.


The 1080p 2.20 X 1 digital High Definition image on Doctor is still the best visual performer here, originally shot in the 70mm Todd-AO format and color can be really rich and wide ranging by DeLuxe. The makers did not go color crazy like this was Wizard Of Oz, so long segments are natural, outdoor color and then some are in between the two, matching what the film was trying to work up to narratively. However, this is slightly darker often in a way that cuts a bit into the lighting and depth, holding back the film in subtle ways. Otherwise, this is sourced from a great video master.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 image on Holiday is here is a horridly colorized version that was made for goofs who at like black and white is a visual disease. The work here looks deathly, color is awkward and seeing Crosby in colorized blackface sums up the nightmare disaster that transfer version is. To call it high definition is a real stretch anyhow. Thus, we get the film in its real version, black & white, as a decent digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and has more than a few good shots while also having some that are softer than they ought to be.


That leaves the 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the CMA DVD set starting with black and white video, then moving into color looking good for its age, but like all analog videotaped production of the eras of the set, you get analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker where film clips turn up, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and even a bit of tape damage. With that said, these look really good for what we get, meaning someone took their time to remaster these the best they could. The work pays off.


Finishing on our sound coverage, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Doctor easily matches and surpasses by a slim margin Doctor, well mixed and presented from a film originally designed for 6-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects with Academy Award and blockbuster aspirations. Good thing the soundmaster was is such good shape.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on both version of Holiday are simply the same, no 'colorizing; of the sound or other tampering with the original optical theatrical mono sound, but maybe now, it could be upgraded a bit when they redo this for 4K (and hopefully, no more colorizing). The PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo on the Blue Thumb CDs are really nice, fine and well defined for the format, clear, open and well-transferred tot he point that many will be surprised by the improvements if they know these songs, have not heard them in eons or have lower expectations for recordings of the time. The songs themselves tend to be very well-produced and engineered, so you can see why they are so critically acclaimed on top of the singers and songwriters.


They even sound a little better than the PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo tracks on the Conniff Super Audio CD, but the ultra high definition DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 2.0 Stereo are smoother than the CD tracks here or on the Blue Thumb set and the DSD 4.0 Quad mix is the best of all, more than able to compete with anything reviewed in this text. I was surprised this type of music was so well recorded, but it is.


That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on the CMA DVDs, which start out as Mono, but land up simple stereo in the later shows and stereo thereafter. The older audio can have issues, but they are live recordings for the most part and include some rare performances even no country fans can appreciate.



To order the Doctor Dolittle (1967) limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/


and to order the Ray Conniff Super Audio CD, go to this link for to and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


https://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.php?prod=CDLK4602



- Nicholas Sheffo & James Lockhart (Patti)

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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