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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Documentary > Rock > Biography > Politics > Sex > House > Vivo (2021/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Waiting: The Van Duren Story (2022/MVD/Living Eyes DVD)

Fanny: The Right To Rock (2022/Film Movement DVD)/Gallant Indies (2022/Icarus DVD)/Re-Flex: Vibrate Generate (2022 remixes/Warner/Cherry Pop CD Set)/Sons Of Adam: Saturday's Sons The Complete Recordings 1964 - 1966 (High Moon Records CD)/Vivo (2021/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Waiting: The Van Duren Story (2022/MVD/Living Eyes DVD)

Picture: C+ (Vivo Blu-ray: B) Sound: C+/C/B/B-/B+ & C+/C+ Extras: B-/C-/B-/B-/C/C+ Main Programs: B/C+/B-/C+/C+/B-

Here's a great new set of music releases...

Bobbi Jo Hart's Fanny: The Right To Rock (2022) is a great documentary about the title rock band, the first all-female rock band, launching in the late 1960s, but never getting the commercial success they should have had. Racism, sexism and other ignorances (homophobia turned out to be one of them) did not help, but early on, the amazing producer and music man Richard Perry took them on while still a major executive at Warner Bros. Records and some solid albums were made.

I remember seeing another groundbreaking woman, the late, great Helen Reddy, introducing them on The Midnight Special TV show so long ago and thinking they were pretty good. Then I thought, good, we'll be hearing more from them and maybe get some more all-female rock bands. Then it did not happen. Even landing the also-amazing Todd Rundgren to produce an album for them did not do the trick, or eventually landing up on the glorious Casablanca Records did not do enough. I'll let the program tell the rest, as not to ruin anything for you.

I was nice to see what actually did happen to them and I was disappointed I did not hear more about each new album, for whatever reasons. The ladies are all still pretty much here to speak for themselves and they are able to tell a very thorough, privileged, personal and ever very private story of their lives and show us the great highs and unfortunate problems of the music industry in one of the primest moments it or any industry will ever have. This runs a very rich 96 minutes, with 35+ minutes of extras (see below) and is highly recommended!

Philippe Beziat's Gallant Indies (2022) is yet another backstage documentary on performers and in this case, opera singers and dancers, which has its moments and the group is not a bad one to see in action, but we have also seen a glut of such releases (just the ones strictly on ballet in recent years has been quite numerous) eventually leads to overlap and we've seen so much of this. At this point, I wondered if any of the stage performers had seen any of those previous documentaries or maybe the next ones to be caught in action on camera should be required to see a few.

Taking place in 2019 at Paris' Opera Bastille, bringing Rameau's Les Indie galantes (the title of this documentary in English, of course) to life. We focus on eight performers, stage director Clement Cogitore, deal with its politics and ask ourselves as I have reviewing dozens of actual operas: is this update too deconstructionist or modernized and if so, does it lose anything from the original? Opera and stage fans will most likely want to catch this one.

Re-Flex: Vibrate Generate is a group of recent (2022) remixes of many tracks from the club techno dance group out of London, best known for their international megahit The Politics Of Dancing in 1984. Though they had did not land any other huge such hits (maybe they frightened radio stations and music buyers?,) it is not for lack of trying after listening to the still strong tracks on this double CD set.

Eighteen of the twenty-four tracks here have never been released officially before if ever and adds to the case that they are yet another one of those great, underrated bands that did not have the hits or commercial success they deserved. Maybe they were a little ahead of their time, though they would also qualify for being a New wave music genre act. Jamming The Broadcast is the closest they come to a song similar to their big hit and it is interesting, but they offer much more (like Chumbawamba, also somewhat political like them and both very loud to get their points across) so I was very pleased to hear this one and everyone I have talked to about it seemed interested. If you are, you'll definitely want to get this set.

The Sons Of Adam: Saturday's Sons The Complete Recordings 1964 - 1966 features the brief-lived Rock band that began as the more Surf-oriented Fender IV and would consist of Randy Holden, Jac Ttanna, Mike Port and Michael Stuart-Ware. Though you may have never heard of them and they did not get into the studio enough, lasting only a few years before their break up, they apparently were an exceptional live band and you can get some of that from the 24 tracks on this disc.

There were line-up changes, 45 singles, all kinds of bookings and getting involved with major label Decca, et al, but the thick booklet in the DigiPak case for the CD is exceptionally rich in tech info, history, illustrations and other amazing stories and history that was as pleasant a surprise to us as any CD (or Super Audio CD or audio-only Blu-ray) we have come across in the last few years. We would recommend you listen to the CD cold, then start reading the booklet upon repeat listenings to get everything this release has to offer. Sadly, for very such band you hear of like this, there are dozens, hundreds we'll never or barely hear about, so it becomes representative of one of the greatest times for music ever. Glad we got to experience it!

Kirk DeMicco's Vivo (2021) is a surprisingly good, colorful and entertaining CGI animated fantasy/backstage musical with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights, Hamilton) that actually works better than the feature film of the former and makes for a solid flipside to Encanto (reviewed in 4K elsewhere on this site) as the title kinkajou (voiced my Miranda) who loves music and is the animal companion of music man Andreas. His lost live is a singer (Gloria Estefan in great form, as usual) Marta Sandoval.

Just when he is about to tell her he loves her, she gets the big break and that makes her a worldwide commercial and critical success, a big diva with a huge fan following, but will she ever know about this true love?

I like that this film does for the great survivor Estefan when Sing 2 did for U2, though like that film, it offers a little more of what we have seen before than not, yet there are some charming moments and visually impressive ones throughout that keep this going enough to overcome those flat points. The musical is still a pretty dead genre form being played out beyond belief, but the screenplay, outstanding consultation work with the ingenious Director of Photography Roger Deakins and a voice cast that also includes Zoe Saldana, Ynairly Simo, Juan De Marcos and Brian Tyree Henry make this one worth a good look.

Remarkably, this did not get a big theatrical release because NetFlix wisely snagged it before Sony could do that. The result is one of the best gets the company ever picked up that they did not produce themselves.

Extras include Digital Copy, Sing-Along mode, Music Video for the Missy Elliott song for the film and a Behind The Animation featurette,

Finally, we have Greg Carey & Wade Jackson's Waiting: The Van Duren Story (2022) which deals with the lead singer/songwriter of the band Big Star, whom made two great albums in the 1970s, but broke up before they had the kind of commercial success they needed to stay together and continue. However, Van Duren himself was making music before the band formed and has been making music since. The co-directors track him down over his solo work and things get more interesting than expected.

For instance, they discover the solo album they got that impressed them was not really in print, Duren did not have the rights or even the original master tapes, if they still existed, and found it a Herculean effort to even find out any information on anything or anyone involved with the former band members beyond their two albums. Those albums have been reissued on CD, et al, so they are easy to find.

What then develops here is a new chapter for Duren, who is still alive and yet another major piece of music history hidden, but finally uncovered albeit belatedly. Duren has serious talent, but that apparently is not good enough for the music industry, who needs all the original, creative talent it can get and adds to the idea that so many of the most talented musicians, writers, singers and performers out there are not having even the minimal success they should be. We the audience are the ultimate losers when that happens, so its great documentaries like this make such a difference. This runs 79 minutes and extras are 90 minutes, making me wish the main program was a little longer.

Now for playback performance. The CDs have no hidden vide of any kind and the four DVDs (including the animated Vivo at 2.35 X 1) offer anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image playback that is just fine, has some flaws at times (the two documentaries have older film and analog video footage to go with its still sand newly shot HD video) and they all look as good as they can in the format. A Blu-ray might have brought out more quality, but they play as well as they possibly can in this older format.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 image on the Vivo Blu-ray is the best performer here, with much better and brighter colors, making me wonder why a 4K edition was not issued, but maybe later. Otherwise, it has a consistent look throughout and the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix that might be a mixdown form a 12-track soundmaster, but we were not able to confirm that as we posted. As it stands, it is sonically very capable and one fo the better animated film soundtracks we have run into in a while. The Vivo DVD offers lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that is surprisingly lively at times for the format, but that does not last.

Fanny offers both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with some Mono mixes with the 5.1 having an edge, while Indies has only lossy 2.0 Stereo Dolby and Waiting only has lossy 5.1 Dolby. Gallant has location audio issues that hold it back, but the others sound as good as they can and I especially wish they had lossless sound because the music on both is very good.

Both CDs offer their sound in PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo, but the Re-Flex music was recorded two decades later and is much more bass-heavy, while some of the Adam recordings are also here and only exits in PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Mono. They sound as good as they can in this older audio format, but I would be nice to hear Re-Flex in Super Audio CD's DSD, DTS Master Audio or some similar lossless audio format.

Extras include nicely illustrated booklets for the Waiting DVD (built into its slim DigiPak packaging) and the two CDs, with Waiting also offering extended interviews and some Behind The Scenes materials. Fanny (again) offers 35 minutes of additional footage split into a few sections, including a visit to their old shared home and some excellent interview footage that did not make the main program, some of which really should have. That leaves Indies with just some trailers.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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