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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Concert > New Wave > Gospel > Country > Spirituals > Pop > Rock > Tubular Bells 50th Anniversary Tour (2022/Cleopatra Blu-ray Set)/Wendy O. Williams: Live and #%$ing! Loud From London (1985/DVD/both MVD)

Amazing Grace (2022 compilation/Country/Gospel/Time Life DVD Set)/Flintrock: The Albums (1975 - 1979/Pinnacle/7T's/Cleopatra/CD Set)/Howard Jones Live In Japan (1984/DVD + CD Set/both Cherry Red Records UK)/Tubular Bells 50th Anniversary Tour (2022/Cleopatra Blu-ray Set)/Wendy O. Williams: Live and #%$ing! Loud From London (1985/DVD/both MVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Flintrock CD set and Howard Jones DVD/CD Set Imports are now only available from our friends at Cherry Red Records UK and can be ordered from the links below.

Now for some major musical blasts from the past....

We start with yet another expansive DVD music box set from Time Life, who's made a reputation out of such sets and this time, instead of focusing on a single TV series, we get Amazing Grace, taking its many clips from several sources to show how expansive gospel music and its connection to country music is. The singers & musicians here include Reba McIntyre, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, Randy Travis, Brenda Lee, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Kris Kristofferson, The Statler Brothers, Willie Nelson, Josh Turner, T. Graham Brown, Marty Stuart, Rhonda Vincent, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Gene Watson, Bill Anderson, B.J. Thomas, Jeannie Sealy, Barbara Fairchild, Ricky Scaggs, George Jones, Porter Wagner Johnny Cash, Barbara Mandrell, Martina McBride, Roy Acuff, Skeeter Davis, Ernest Tubb, Roy Clark, Charlie Pride and Loretta Lynn.

No doubt the set has plenty of credibility and fans of both music genres will consider this a solid treasury with hours and hours of clips they have never seen before or not for a very long time. About every gospel song I could think of is here and I am not a big fan of this genre, so those in my camp will find it more massive than they need it to be. Still, this was a smart idea and a great gift set in time for the holidays.

Extras include a high quality booklet on the artists with great illustrations and a track listing of every single artist and the song they perform, while the discs add interview clips.

Flintrock: The Albums (1975 - 1979) covers all our albums released by the U.K. band who were a big deal in Britain, Japan and Europe in the mid-1970s with Pop/Rock bands that were often covered by a cycle of magazines aimed at teen gals in particular, but the band has the advantage of appearing on a few hit TV shows (pre-MTV) and for the most part, are not that bad. The four albums are all they made, including one that is a live release and you get a few cover songs, but they are also time capsules of an era sadly long gone.

The albums are ...On The Way, Hot From The Lock (the live album), Tears 'N Cheers and Stand Alone. Though the last album sounds best, as you might expect, Cheers is the best album, which gets better as they go along and shows what might have been if they had stayed together and stuck to that direction. I also was surprised by their good taste in their choices of songs to remake, even if they are not totally successful in their covers (The Beatles' She's Leaving Home, Steely Dan's Rikki Don't Lose That Number) but they try.

I should add that writer/backing vocalist/drummer/timpani/xylophone player Mike Holoway was becoming a star in his own right as a young teen actor, including on the hit U.K. TV series The Tomorrow People involving children with psychic powers. It was successful enough that it made it onto some U.S. TV stations and stayed well remembered and liked enough that A&E Home Video even issued the whole series a good while ago (see the reviews elsewhere on this site) on two DVD sets, so you may have seen him before and not known it.

The bonus tracks and an informative booklet on the band and its history are the extras and you read about all the details at the order link below.

Howard Jones Live In Japan (1984) is one of the major full-length (aka long form) music concert programs that seemed to always be in print as soon as it arrived and was considered demo material for earlier home theater systems in the analog era with the underrated singer/songwriter/musician singing 14 songs, including great hits like What is Love?, Pearl In the Shell and New Song.

What also helps besides his limitless energy is a great audience who may be laid back at first, but eventually get into it, but that tends to be the way Japanese audiences are, though some fans flew and travelled to be there to the NHK Hall in Tokyo. It is my belief that Jones is highly underrated and underappreciated, a bit ahead of his time and people still have not totally caught up with him. This show adds evidence to my beliefs. Definitely see it or if you have not seen it in ages, see it again to see how great he was live.

A small booklet with illustrations and basic information is the only extra. For more from Jones, try our coverage of this DVD set marking his 20th Anniversary with a 2006 concert:


The Tubular Bells 50th Anniversary Tour (2022) celebrates the first album ever issued by the eventually massive Virgin Records label, made Mike Oldfield an instant name and helped William Friedkin's classic film The Exorcist become an all-time blockbuster. This show ignores the movie, but performs the entire album as a live show at The Royal Festival Hall with lights and images that celebrate the work and is narrated by the solid actor Bill Nighy.

That makes it a new way to appreciate the music, the album and its legacy, though some purists might not be as happy as was the case with the Tubular Beats project a few years ago. Still, it is very ambitious and you could only name so many albums, especially instrumental ones, that would get this treatment.

Extras include a Behind The Scenes documentary that runs 90 minutes and on-camera interview with Mike Oldfield and Virgin Records founder Richard Branson. For more on the album, try our coverage of the Tubular Beats CD Set:


Last but not least is a Grammy nominee and punk rock legend who left us too early. Wendy O. Williams: Live and #%$ing! Loud From London (1985) is a rare concert fo the singer, performer and wild woman in action for about an hour performing a dozen songs in non-stop hard play mode and took place at the Camden Palace in London. Lemmy & Wurzel from Motorhead also show up to take the craziness up a notch.

Its the kind of show you were lucky you could find on VHS back in the day, but it has aged well because Williams is one of the most important and subversive performers in the history of the genre, still dangerous as Rap/Hip Hop has become the dominant music genre and still one of music's most important female artists. If you have not seen her in action outside of some online video footage, this is a great crash course (with lots of crashing) to check out.

There are no extras.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the two Bells Blu-rays deliver the best image by default, especially because they are the only new recordings and the DVDs are from old analog and early digital sources. They are mostly of live footage and can lean blue because that is the way the lighting was made, but they are fine otherwise. Unfortunately, Cleopatra still insists on using the much older, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 codec for even their newest productions, so this set suffers like so many before it sonically.

The 1.33 X 1 image transfers on Amazing, Jones and Williams can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a set transfers to all previous releases of these titles. Wherever any of the Amazing clips have turned up before, they look as good as they can here, the Jones show has been issued in several formats over the years (VHS, Beta, 12-inch LaserDisc, etc.) and looks as good as it can here, while the Williams show is roughest of the three and was the least expensive production. That shows, but its fine for what it is, plus in all cases, you have to expect some analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. Williams is the roughest in those respects, while Amazing has some later clips that happen to be presented in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1. DVD sound here is either lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Williams, unless you want to think of it as barely stereo) or Mono & Stereo (Amazing,) save Jones with a PCM 2.0 Stereo DVD and PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo CD that sound good, but I wish it were even stronger.

*That leaves the Flintrock CDs, all here in PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo, all showing their age and when they were recorded, save the last album (Stand Alone) which lands up having the best sonics of all the releases here.

To order the Flintrock CD set and/or Howard Jones DVD/CD Set imports, go to these links:

Flintrock CD set


Howard Jones DVD/CD Set imports


- Nicholas Sheffo


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