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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Singing > Castration > Religion > Abuse > French > Soul > Pop > Multi-Channel Music > Classical Musi > Todd Rundgren's Utopia: Live At The Chicago Theater (2018/MVD/Purple Pyramid Blu-ray/DVD/2-CD Set)/Wandering Muse (2014/IndiePix DVD)

Farinelli (1994/Film Movement Blu-ray)/Hues Corporation: Rockin' Soul/Love Corporation (1974 - 1975/RCA/Sony/Vocalion Quadraphonic Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD Hybrid)/John Neumeier Collection (2011 - 2018/Naxos/C Major Blu-ray set)/Todd Rundgren's Utopia: Live At The Chicago Theater (2018/MVD/Purple Pyramid Blu-ray/DVD/2-CD Set)/Wandering Muse (2014/IndiePix DVD)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Hues Corporation Import Super Audio CD is now only available from our friends at Vocalion, can play on all CD-capable players and can be ordered from the link below.



Here's a great new diverse set of music releases for you to know about....



Gerald Corbiau's Farinelli (1994) is a film I never bought and always had issues with, the tale of the title adult who was castrated before 7-years-old so his voice would never change, crack or become mature, becomes a singing sensation. As was the case with darker forces in the Church, they wanted voices that would celebrate the faith, but at what cost to some members? Coming out decades before the sickening church scandals that unravel as you read this, the script is more interested in the story as narrative than dealing with its issues. That makes it odder than ever to view now.


Besides glossing over issues of genital mutilation, pedophilia and violent suppression, it also is casual with the homoerotic aspects (even near incest) of the story as Farinelli (Stefano Dionisi as an adult; I nerver bought his lip-syncing in this film either) seduces women with his singing and his composer/brother (Enrico Lo Verso) has sexual intercourse with them as his castrated brother does not have that ability as they go on their European tour where the singer is a big hit with women and high society. The film is too happy to deal with just that period and ignore the awful implications of how they got there.


Now you can see for yourself if this is a fair assessment or are you able to be passive with the issued being put on the side.



Next we get another great double album release on not just one CD, but a Super Audio CD with three sound choices from the great British record label Vocalion. The Hues Corporation: Rockin' Soul and Love Corporation (1974 - 1975) delivers the vocal group at their commercial and critical peak at RCA Records with two really fine studio albums and the first one includes their classic chart-topper Rock The Boat, and all-time instant classic. Fortunately, even with a few soundalikes, they were singing as well on all their records and this Quadraphonic (4-track 4.0) Super Audio CD/SACD/SA-CD Hybrid release brings back the rarest versions of the albums for the first time since their original release of the time that very few people have had the chance to hear.


Mostly recording original material, the tracks include...


Rockin' Soul
1: ROCKIN' SOUL (Holmes)
2: HOW I WISH WE COULD DO IT AGAIN (White; Relf)
3: WE'RE KEEPIN' OUR BUSINESS TOGETHER (Holmes)
4: EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD (Smalls) from the musical The Wiz
5: I GOT CAUGHT DANCING AGAIN (Holmes)
6: LOVE'S THERE (Holmes)
7: ROCK THE BOAT (Holmes)
8: I'LL TAKE A MELODY (Toussaint)
9: NO END IN SIGHT (McManus; Pedrowski)
10: INTO MY MUSIC (Holmes)

Love Corporation
11: ONE GOOD NIGHT TOGETHER (Holmes)
12: FOLLOW THE SPIRIT (Moore)
13: LONG ROAD (Lambert; Potter)
14: GOLD RUSH (Holmes)
15: HE'S MY HOME (Holmes)
16: WHEN YOU LOOK DOWN THE ROAD (Holmes)
17: YOU SHOWED ME WHAT LOVE IS (Raleigh; Fox)
18: LOVE CORPORATION (Holmes)
19: SING TO YOUR SONG (Holmes)
20: SOUL SAILIN' (Randall)


Unfortunately, they had no more hits that big and that big hit is considered an early disco hits, yet they sadly disappeared. If anyone thought they were only a good one hit wonder, these albums prove that myth wrong. The second album had Kari Russell replace Fleming Williams as a singer, but the album has David Kershenbaum (Joe Jackson, Duran Duran) as producer and future producer Michael Ommartin (Donna Summer, Diana Ross) as one of the several name musicians here also including David Paich (soon of Toto), Larry Carlton, Ernie Watts and so many more. So this is much more than two albums with 4-track sound and one big hit, but two albums RCA backed strongly and smartly knowing they had some great music on their hands. That's why every serious music lover should revisit it, especially this way.



Though he is one of the top ballet dancers of the last century or so, we have not heard enough of John Neumeier, but a new 4 program set called The John Neumeier Collection (2011 - 2018) that includes remarkable (if sometimes long) performances of Nijinsky, Weihnachtsoratorium, Tatiana and The Little Mermaid has arrived in a solid (and solidly-cased) Blu-ray set that is being announced as a Limited Edition is now available and includes some great extras. This is not to be confused with another fine Neumeier set on Blu-ray we reviewed a few years ago at this link that one might want to get with this one at the same time...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/14579/The+Art+Of+John+Neumeier:+Death+In+Venice+


What I like about these programs is that they take their time, the dancing pushes the boundaries and Neumeier is digging deep into the material to bring out nuances you would not get anywhere else. In Little Mermaid for example, he actually adds author Hans Christian Anderson as a character in a way that melds very well and makes total sense. Thus, Neumeier mis making sure his superior dancing ability is met at the highest levels with the best possible interpretations of the material before him so each one will stand out as compared to all other interpretations of them past, present and future. Very smart and that is why you should get this set before it runs out!



Despite some of the greatest records from the 1970s and being one of the premiere singer/songwriters of his time, Todd Gerund was and is so much more, a brilliant musician, technician, producer, arranger, engineer and music genius, whose success started long before his solo work and has been going strong all this time. As a member of Nazz and Utopia, he was already heading up some of the most interesting and challenging music around. That is why I was very interested when he was reforming the latter with Todd Rundgren's Utopia: Live At The Chicago Theater (2018) after over three decades!


We get a 24-song set that sticks with only their own songs pretty much (no solo Rundgren hits here by what is essentially the U.S.'s lost Progressive Rock band (sorry Kansas!) with more string, smart instrumental work than even I expected. Rundgren talks with the audience a little, but it is about the music and the audience is with him all the way. This is so good, I wanted to go back and hear all their original studio albums and again ask the question, why is this man not more celebrated? Why!?!


This set has a Blu-ray disc, DVD and 2-CDs so you can play it on almost every 5-inch digital playback machine ever built. Serious music fans should check it out. More on the playback quality below.



Finally, Tomas Wormser's Wandering Muse (2014) is a documentary about Jewish musicians, Jewish identity and how traditional instruments and traditional music are being kept alive by those of the faith in this glove-traveling work following independent musicians, their work, their thoughts, their music and how faith plays into that. The added point being it is music and existence that many wanted to see erased and disappear, made more important by a resurgence by such hate groups, et al.


Running just over 90 minutes, it becomes an important testimonial to lives gained and lost, ideas and people lost and almost lost, then possibly the start of something new or the delayed continuation thereof. I did not know hardly anyone here, but cheers to the directors for coming up with this idea and delivering on it. This may just become more relevant as time goes on, so you might want to give it a look.




The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Farinelli was shot on 35mm Kodak color camera film negative (including 5494 stock) and is as good looking as anything here, with consistent color and a solid look. The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on all four Neumeier shows are HD shoots that have good color, but can have slight motion blur in a few small places. He also has his shows lit better than most classical releases, so they look better than most we have covered over the years that were not 1080p or above.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Utopia is such a production and benefits from fine color consistency, is not as well lit, but looks as good with not major darkness issues. The only low point is when we have to deal with multi-screen images and cell phone footage, but that is mercifully short.


That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Muse shot digitally mostly outdoors and having the softest appearance, much like the Utopia DVD, but rougher since it w3as shot on the fly and location more often than not.



If the Utopia Blu-ray had any lossless multi-channel sound on it, it might have been the sonic champ here on this list, but the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 4.0 Quad lossless sound mix on Hues Corporation is remarkably the best recording here, has the best playback of all these releases and is the oldest, 20 years older than Farinelli! Anyone who doubts the sonic excellence of soul music before the Disco era will be especially impressed how good the mixing, engineering, producing, arranging and performances captured are here. All 20 tracks sound great and those used to the classic hit Rock The Boat will be amazed what they have not heard in the song before in the stereo mixdown 99% of us have heard and only heard since it was issued 44 years ago and counting. We also get the 2.0 DSD Stereo that sounds better than any stereo version you've heard before and a PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo version that loses some of the music, but also shows in comparison how much better the presentations in lossless DSD are here.


The sonic runner-up here actually turns out to be the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes (including the 5.0 DTS-MA on Little Mermaid) of the John Neumeier Blu-ray set, all very well recorded, with fine soundstages and decent clarity and warmth that complement the extraordinary dancing well. The PCM 2.0 Stereo versions for older systems on all the Blu-rays are also not bad, but no match for the DTS versions and as good as what we've heard on ballet Blu-ray releases over the last few years.


You would think Farinelli might have a 5.1 mix or the like, but it is only here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix from the original analog Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) original theatrical soundmaster, but this is a little harsh, a bit over-bass oriented and a little louder than it needed to be, hurting the natural sound originally intended. Try a Pro Logic (or Pro Logic-like) mode when playing it back for best results, but expect some sonic limits.


Utopia has a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on both the Blu-ray and DVD versions, but has PCM 2.0 Stereo on the Blu-ray and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in place of that on the DVD. Rundgren has always been sonically adept in his many releases over the years and why this one has no lossless multi-channel option on the Blu-ray is puzzling. Especially with the music being so good, this is a disappointment and the PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo on the two CDs are no better than the Blu-ray's PCM Stereo. A shame too since it is shot so well.


That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Muse that is passable and does not hurt the music much there, but it is a documentary and some location audio is better than others. Not bad overall, though I wish the music was lossless somewhere.


Extras include illustrated booklets on all releases but Muse, Farinelli adds an Original Theatrical Trailer, trailers for other Film Movement releases, interviews an a Making Of featurette, Neumeier adds excellent interviews by the man himself on all four programs and Behind The Scenes on Tatiana and Mermaid, Utopia has interviews with all members of the current form of the band and a Behind The Scenes look at the show and Muse has 45 minutes of

Deleted Scenes and Outtakes.



You can order The Hues Corporation Super Audio CD directly and only from Vocalion Music at this link...


https://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.php?prod=CDSML8539



- Nicholas Sheffo


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