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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Music > Artist > Rock > Pop > Canada > Comedy > Opera > Musical > A Little Night Music: Original Cast Recording (1973/Sondheim/Sony/Vocalion Hybrid Super Audio CD/SA-CD/SACD)/Summer Stock (1950/MGM/Blu-ray/*both Warner Archive)

Bachman (2018/MVD/FilmRise Blu-ray)/In Person (1935/RKO/DVD*)/Le Comte Ory/Rossini/Talbot (2017/Naxos/CMajor/Unitel Blu-ray)/A Little Night Music: Original Cast Recording (1973/Sondheim/Sony/Vocalion Hybrid Super Audio CD/SA-CD/SACD)/Summer Stock (1950/MGM/Blu-ray/*both Warner Archive)

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PLEASE NOTE: The A Little Night Music Import Super Audio CD is now only available from our friends at Vocalion, can play on all CD players through its CD layer but needs an SA-CD player to play the ultra high definition audio tracks, while supplies last, while In Person and Summer Stock are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Now for a solid block of music releases, some of which are remarkable or have something special to offer....

John Barnard's Bachman (2018) is a long overdue documentary one one of the most important figures in Rock and Pop music from Canada: Randy Bachman. Serving as a biography of the man, the two big bands he was in, a rare look at Canada, its music scene and the music industry in that period, we get much to see in it too-short 78 minutes. This could have (and should have) been at least a little longer (could someone have asked the man some key questions?) but we get interview moments from him, his family and music people who were there like Neil Young, Paul Schaffer, Peter Frampton, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Chris Jericho, Alex Lifeson of Rush, actor Bruce Greenwood and a new generation of musicians who get it about Bachman.

Starting on his own, then joining local bands, one of them slowly becomes the Guess Who? And thinking singer Burton Cummings has a great voice, that becomes the band with all the hits we all know and love, many penned by the two or by Bachman himself (These Eyes, American Woman, Undone, No Time) until Bachman has issues with the band and he is dropped from the group. They stop having hits, though Cummings has a solid solo career.

Bachman eventually becomes the co-founder of Bachman-Turner Overdrive and a new set of hits (You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, Taking Care Of Business) leads to more worldwide hits (and proves The Guess Who? Probably had a few more classic in them together with Cummings doing so well on his own) until that comes to an end. We'll save the rest, the beginning and other items in-between for you to see, but any serious music fan should check this one out.

Extras include Additional Interview clips and a Theatrical Trailer.

William Seiter's In Person (1935) was RKO Studio's attempt to give Ginger Rogers a showcase that would make her a bigger star by having her play one in this comedy that has a few musical numbers, but is not a musical. She starts by playing a woman with a veil over her face as if she was the victim of disfigurement and playing the sympathies of a young man, only for it to b e a rouse. No disfigurement underneath, but hiding from her fame as she is a movie star.

The humor in the 87 minutes now plays like a bad sitcom and though Rogers looks good and is convincing enough as a star, not always does that play well in this piece that wants to emulate a screwball comedy without the actual energy. Also, though one is used to smoking in older films being all over the place, this one makes it look like a tobacco company ad without a declared product.

The two songs she sings (one is in a movie within a movie) are not very memorable and that makes this all a curio for only the most interested.

No extras either.

Over many years, we have covered many Rossini works, but only one other time did we cover his popular Le Comte Ory and it was a Blu-ray a few years ago...


A few years later, we have a newer performance (from 2017) from the same distributor (Naxos) and it is a little longer, but on par quality-wise with the previous release (details on the story in the previous review) in both playback and content. Phillipe Talbot leads the cast with Conductor Louis Langree, Stage Director Denis Podalydes and Video Director Vincent Massip with the Champs-Elysses Orchestra. You'd do well with either version, the makers really care about the original work and that both turned out as well as they did is a plus.

Ingmar Bergman's Smiles Of A Summer Night (1956) was a rare comedy from the intellectual, sometimes existentialist filmmaker from Sweden who was on a roll ion art houses all over the world by the early 1970s, so it is timely that Stephen Sondheim found himself with a stage musical classic when he created A Little Night Music. By 1973, The Original Cast Recording was issued and it was a hit with a great cast that includes Glynis Johns, Len Cariou, Hermione Gingold, Barbara Long, Mark Lambert and Beth Fowler in a musical that ushered in a new kind of approach to the genre and created an instant classic in the hit ''Send In The Clowns'' recorded at the time outside of this release by Judy Collins and many others since.

Fortunately, Columbia Records (now owned by Sony) valued the release so much, it was issued at the time in a 4-track Quadraphonic version that has hardly been heard since and is a rare cast album of the period that got that treatment, so on its 45th Anniversary in 2018, the great Vocalion label in the U.K. reissued it in its 4-track form from the original master tape in the ever underrated Hybrid Super Audio Compact Disc format and it is now the best you'll ever hear the album.

Though it is not a hit-you-over-the-head experience, hearing it in 4-channels makes this more open, naturalistic and you can really take in the singing and music in a way that has more impact and without trying so hard. It also confirms how good and ahead of his time Sondheim still is. Lovers of musicals, his work and the stage will want to get this audiophile copy of the album, even for the CD tracks (more below on the playback) and a nice booklet with a new essay and some great illustrations is included.

We've been lucky enough to cover more Sondheim than you might think, including the following that might interest you...

Birthday Concert Blu-ray


Barbara Cook: Mostly Sondheim DVD


Finally we have Charles Walters' Summer Stock (1950) which brings Gene Kelly back together with Judy Garland in what would be her last film for MGM after being one of its most important and lasting stars. She runs a farm that is having some trouble when her sister (Gloria DeHaven) brings her own group of theater friends to stage a production at their barn! This does not sit well with Garland or her mom (Marjorie Main) but they eventually relent.

Garland is being pushed into a marriage she does not really want to be in and then meets Kelly, who you know will figure better in her life when they eventually, slowly fall for each other. Eddie Bracken, Phil Silvers and Ray Collins help round out the cast of what is a backstage musical, rural as it is. It is not great, but has its moments and at the last minute, the studio inserted Garland singing ''Get Happy'' which is better than any of the other decent songs they started with and her last classic at the studio.

Note that this is not a folk musical despite the location because inanimate objects like brooms and clocks do not start dancing. Warner Archive has issued this in a pretty well-restored edition including extras: Original Theatrical Trailer, audio only of the cut song ''Fall In Love'', MGM Technicolor cartoon The Cuokoo Clock, vintage Pete Smith Specialty live-action short Did'ja Know? and featurette Summer Stock: Get Happy made a few decades ago on Garland and the film.

Now for playback quality. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Bachman has some good new HD-shot footage (especially interviews) and some great stills, plus old analog video and some fine film clips, so the experience is going to be a little uneven as expected, but plays just fine otherwise. The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Comte may be an all-new HD shoot, but the format has some inherent motion blur, though color is consistent and the shoot itself is not bad.

That leaves the 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Summer Stock the best performer here despite being the second oldest release on the list, sometimes showing the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and restored well enough. Originally issued on 35mm film in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints (if you have one, its very valuable), the version here is usually up to the high quality of that 'glorious' format.

The 1.33 X 1 black & white image on Person is sadly a generation or two down from an older (or older) sources, but still has some decent shots to enjoy. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also a bit rough with background noise, down at least a generation and could use some work, but has no major issues in playback.

A Little Night Music has no image, but is the best release here sonically in its 4-track ultra high definition DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 4.0 presentation with a very pleasant soundstage and smoothness even the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Comte lacks despite being a new recording with a solid soundfield and being the second best performer on the list. Music also offers a DSD 2.0 Stereo track that will rival any vinyl copy and PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo track that is fine, but no match for either DSD option. Comte also has a PCM 2.0 Stereo mix for older systems, but it is not as good as its 5.1 version. Serious fans need a home theater system.

Summer Stock was a monophonic optical theatrical release, so its DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is as good as it will ever sound, but at least MGM recorded the music as well as they could.

Finally, for some reason, Bachman sadly settles for a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix when at least PCM Stereo would have been better, so you can hear everything, but the music suffers too much (a few Guess Who albums already received SA-CD 4.0 releases as of this posting) so that hurts the presentation, but the recording is fine otherwise if slightly disappointing.

You can order the A Little Night Music hybrid SA-CD directly from Vocalion at this link...


...and to order either the Summer Stock Warner Archive Blu-ray or In Person DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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