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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Music > Family > Industry > Disco > Politics > Concert > Backstage Musical > Soul > Bee Gees, The: How Do You Mend A Broken Heart? (2020/HBO*)/Deep Blues (1991/Film Movement)/Lullaby Of Broadway (1951*)/Respect (2021/Aretha Franklin/MGM/UA/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Tina (2021/Tina Tur

Bee Gees, The: How Do You Mend A Broken Heart? (2020/HBO*)/Deep Blues (1991/Film Movement)/Lullaby Of Broadway (1951*)/Respect (2021/Aretha Franklin/MGM/UA/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Tina (2021/Tina Turner/HBO/*all Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Bee Gees, Lullaby Of Broadway and Tina Blu-ray are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Up next is one of the best groups of music titles we have ever covered...

We start with the first of several remarkable documentaries, Frank Marshall's The Bee Gees: How Do You Mend A Broken Heart? (2020) may not be the first to cover the lives of the extremely successful supergroup, but it is the best of them, longest and most thorough. Some clips from the older ones (including This Is Where I Came In (aka The Official Story Of The Bee Gees and the 50th Anniversary release The Bee Gees - In Our Own Time, both reviewed elsewhere on this site) and further vindicates their great talents as Barry Gibb becomes the last survivor of the band and his immediate family.

Though most in the U.S. had not heard of them until they rode a later British Invasion wave in the later 1960s (becoming one of its most successful acts,) they formed in the late 1950s as a musical child trio, eventually appearing on the Australian Bandstand series (not produced by Dick Clark, but similar in some ways as a music show) and even then had amazing harmonies. Eventually one of the most successful family acts of all time, they instantly hit on both sides of the Atlantic on (ironically) Atlantic Records' Atco label in the U.S. and Polydor in the U.K., et al. They were writing and co-producing their work that early too.

Their first era usually included smart ballads that landed up being chart-toppers and a few often covered classics (like the title of their song used for this release) and the personal issues broke them up for a while. They reformed at RSO Records (Manager Robert Stigwood's new label that Atlantic handled at first) and a new era (the falsetto/disco era they are best known for) was launched thanks to genius producer Arif Mardin and the instant international success of Jive Talkin' and more hits. Saturday Night Fever, other hit albums and records and other projects kept them going until they got targeted in a still-insane, inane record-burning event in Chicago that landed up resembling a Nazi rally.

Running a very packed 111 minutes (and they skipped things like their solo albums, Sesame Street Fever, their unusual Sgt. Pepper's movie with Peter Frampton, hits from Fever sequel Staying Alive and more) that could have gone on even longer without being boring if it wanted too, it is the most personal of all the programs on the group, covers more about youngest brother Andy Gibb and more about their creative process than the still-impressive earlier works. They were survivors even after disco ended, the music endures, some of it is now among the greatest guilty pleasures in music history, others will play and sing it blatantly and their influence on dance, New Wave and other genres is something they did not have enough time to get into, but Barry Gibb is totally vindicated by now.

Most important, it is a priceless, underrated part of music history everyone needs to see and know about, a rare look inside the music world, the music industry and shows just how grade-A they were and are as talents and a music act in all of industry history. A reminder that a special combination of classiness and talent used to be the gold standard in the music business and how that standard has been trashed too much since. I am not alone in loving The Bee Gees, thinking they (and Barry throughout) among the most commercially and critically successful singer/songwriters of all time, even before his huge hit albums for and with Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers, et al.

Director Marshall gets to the heart of the matter and leaves no stone unturned, making The Bee Gees: How Do You Mend A Broken Heart? one of the most important documentaries of the last few years and that says something.

Two Deleted Scenes are the only extras.

Robert Mugge's Deep Blues (1991) is an impressive record of some great blues musicians you likely have not heard of unless you really love the genre, if that, but they all have a huge fan in the underrated Dave Stewart. Highly influenced by such music (among many genres) and a very formidable musician on his own, the co-founder of one of the greatest duos in music history, Eurythmics (with the amazing Annie Lennox) and player and producer on even more music (including helping out Tom Petty when he was injured during the course of making an album) decided to fund this project and recruited some of the best people he could find to help him out.

Robert Mugge (Black Wax, The Gospel According To Al Green) was brought on to helm the project and Writer Robert Palmer to write up and narrate its long, rich 91 minutes and if you like this kind of music, this delivers over and over and over and over again. Even if it not your music, cheers to all involved for capturing some key moments of a scene that is being way too ignored for all of our own good. That film was chosen over video is a huge plus and gives this and the people in it the respect they deserve. As good as any release we've covered over the years on the subject, it is definitely worth a good look.

Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet (from Film Movement, up to their usual high quality standards) on the documentary including informative text and an essay by the great Anthony DeCurtis, the inside Blu-ray case sleeve has notes by Director Mugge and the disc adds a feature length audio commentary track by Mugge, plus a solid Behind The Scenes featurette running a half-hour and featuring some great extra music performances and three theatrical trailers, one of which is for this film.

David Butler's The Lullaby Of Broadway (1951) is are one outright musical and an often lush backstage musical at that knows it is being a little nostalgic and taking on often well-known showtunes and classic songs, many of which had appeared on the charts and in older musicals (read black and white) so the film is determined to cover each one in Glorious Technicolor performances backed by Doris Day at her early peak, Gene Nelson, Gladys George, Florence Bates, S.Z. Sakall and Billy De Wolfe.

Besides the title classic, other songs include Somebody Loves Me, Just One Of Those Things, Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, In A Shanty In Old Shanty Town, You're Dependable and Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart among others. I always joke that many of the Looney Tunes characters were also singing many of these songs, but the highly paid actual actors who did them are not heard doing the same as much these days. Nice restorations like this change that.

The plot had Day going back to New York City to surprise her mother, but it turns out that 'mom' is an alcoholic in trouble. Its enough of a story to hang the film on, but the music and performances (including dancing) is the core of the film and in that, it delivers.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

Liesl Iommy's Respect (2021) is one of the year's best and strongest dramatic films with a stunning performance by Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson as The Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Aretha had her story to tell, greenlit Hudson to play her and left us before this gem was completed, but it is a remarkable film that exceed the biopic and musical genres to tell us about her life story from the beginning to a point in her career where she was very personally ill, in trouble and had to fight and make some tough choices that would make the difference between not only success and failure, but a future versus no future and even dying.

After seeing her as a young lady, Hudson picks up as she has grown up in the church run by her father (another brilliant performance by the always great Forest Whittaker) and dealing with even early heartaches and disappointments. He is not happy with a local young man (Marlon Wayans, incredibly good in a mostly thankless role) as she dreams of doing more with her vocal talents. By the later 1950s, she lands up at industry giant Columbia Records and gets to cut some very professionally-made singles and albums, but nothing takes.

Then an unexpected turn as the ingenious Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records loves her voice and sees an opportunity, but wants her to switch gears and record at Muscle Shoals doing more Soul-oriented music. Things collapse early, but not before she leaves enough material recording a song a friend wrote called I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) and Wexler is able to cut it into a single. The result is an instant crossover hit and she's on her way.

Yet, there are other problems and issues, which is why we have the film. The conclusion is also amazing, with Aretha obviously making a huge statement about her life and herself before she left us and it succeeds. The rest of the amazing cast (including Mary J. Blige in a strong turn as Dinah Washington) with chemistry and energy to spare, the production design, set design amazing clothes (especially Hudson's Aretha outfits!) and period accuracy is simply remarkable and Hudson gives it her all on every level. That places her immediately at the top of every Best Actress award you can think of (along with Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye and Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball, and awards season is just beginning!!!) in a tour de force that more than honors one of the most important singers of all time.

But Director Iommy must also be credited for helming this work with a solid script and some amazing instincts in pulling this all together and all off. It is very hard to make any kind of movie like this about an important person in real life people not only love, but grew up with over many decades and will continue to do so. At almost 2.5 hours, something had to go, though the one scene I wished were here is Aretha, Producer Tom Dowd (who is in the film, but not in a large enough way) and Producer/Engineer Arif Mardin (who might be there, but not credited in the credits as such) doing something with a major hit to be of hers where they are combining their three geniuses to pull it off. That might be for another movie on those men, I hope, but Respect more than delivers and I cannot wait to watch it again!

Extras include Digital Copy, while the discs add five solid featurettes: The Making of Respect, Becoming Aretha, Capturing A Legacy, From Muscle Shoals and Exploring The Design Of Respect, all of which I recommend after seeing the film. All the hard work paid off!

Last, but absolutely and never not least, Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin's Tina (2021) is a new documentary about one of the great singers, icons and performers in all of music history and of all time, Tina Turner. You may know part of her story if you were lucky enough to read the great I, Tina book by Kurt Loder or the remarkable feature film biopic What's Love Got To Do With It? with Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne. Now, we get new footage, unseen vintage footage and a new interview with the legend herself adding to the record and telling the story of her stunning comeback, which joins that of Elvis, Dionne Warwick and even Mariah Carey as the most significant and amazing of all time.

She goes into the early years that covers Ike again, but this time, we also learn about her parents and other parts of her past. Its not pretty. The early years with Ike had promise and he had some talent, but he was let down too many times before he met Tina and some extraordinarily abusive (including horrific sexual abuse) went on for about 16 years!

On the other side of this were some hit records, some classic recordings, a song like the Phil Spector-produced classic River Deep Mountain High was Top 3 in the U.K. and bombed in the U.S.!!! They were one of the hottest live duos of the time, but she was hiding some ugly secrets and it almost destroyed her. Even after key TV appearances and playing The Acid Queen in Ken Russell's film of The Who's Rock Opera Tommy (1975,) thing just got worse and worse, until she found a way to leave Ike. She did and the rest is history.

The program covers some Ike and how others could not let it go even after she sold a ton of solo records and set solo concert attendance records, showing how rude the press can be. This in the face of all of her great new music, positivity, scene-stealing turn as Aunty Entity in Mad Mad Beyond Thunderdome (1985, now on 4K disc and reviewed elsewhere on this site) and hit videos on the likes of MTV for her singles and outright high sales of several of her concerts on home video. She completed her goal of being a Rock icon in her own right, trashed ageism an d sexism with ease, created one of the most positive discourses in music history and only grew and grew as an all-time force in the industry.

At 118 minutes, they could have gone on and that would have been fine with me and they do skip some of her later work or incidents (she survived a stroke,) but she eventually triumphed on and off stage the best she could, even if some of the pain remains. She tells it like it is as usual and when all was said and done, it still felt like she had a few more big hits in her, maybe something more to share that was incredible and amazing. Its great to see her again and I cannot strongly recommend this one enough.

Extras include two clips that promote this well: #LoveTina Celebrity Tributes and Culture Closeup.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Bee Gees has a bunch of great vintage footage to go with the music clips, live performances and new interview footage. More than a little bit of the older footage can have flaws (fading or damage on film clips, definition limits on any old low-def analog video clips) and some of those cannot be fixed, so this is a authentic as it can get and no fake manipulation has been applied to any fo the footage. This is all pretty color correct too.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Blues can show the age of the materials used a little bit, but this was shot on full color 35mm film and holds up very well. Someone took care of the master material and this is scanned in 4K.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Broadway looks really good and is a pretty good representation of a 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor film print, with a very wide range of color and

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Respect Blu-ray is one of the best HD-shoots I have seen in a while with good styling and color quality throughout, a good use of the scope frame. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image DVD is passable and not anywhere near as good, but it likely could not look better in the format. Hope a 4K edition eventually gets issued.

That leaves the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer in Tina with some great older stills and footage, including analog video, some good photochemical film and some home movies (including some mold damage, unfortunately at times) still retaining good color. The newer interviews are solid HD shoots and there is also some great film footage in mint condition. Like the Bee Gees documentary, the analog videotape flaws at times including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. Otherwise, there are some amazing visual moments here and this is very well edited. A real pleasure to watch!

As for sound, the lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) on Respect is easily the best-sounding release that opens up the sound and has its moments throughout. The dialogue and music very much benefit. Glad they did not hold this soundtrack hostage for a potential 4K version. The DVD is passable with its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but it cannot hope to deliver like the Atmos tracks!

The Blues Blu-ray has decent PCM 2.0 Mono mix that is sounds good, but has this issue where there is a slight harmonic distortion throughout that was either unnoticed or just not an item that could not be eliminated. Otherwise, this sounds fine.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Lullaby is well mixed, recorded and presented, off of the original sound materials, sounding as good as the film will likely ever sound. The music is more well recorded as expected (this is the case of all musicals made into about the 1990s) and the source materials held as well as it could.

That leaves the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Bee Gees and Tina, with their interviews and newer audio sounding fine and the music always sounding top rate, especially on Bee Gees, where I have never heard their songs sound so good. Apparently, while Tina Turner's music masters were fine and are newer, The Bee Gees got their own soundmasters retransferred (192/24?) and I hope they reissue their whole catalog with these upgrades. Some of the audio on Tina is just older and monophonic often, so that holds back the overall sonic impact, but all of her solo music from live performances to her studio work (starting with Private Dancer, whose original recording is exceptional; something one can more than clearly hear on the better vinyl pressing and the now out-of-print JVC CD) are as dynamic as ever.

To order any or (the better choice!) all of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, The Bee Gees, Lullaby Of Broadway and(/or) Tina, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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