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The Spin Sheet

DVD reviews by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Genesis: The Video Show

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

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Genesis: The Video Show
1974-1999 (2005) - Atlantic (Rhino)

Program Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B-/D-

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A

Matt and I have had this little debate going for a while now. Matt insists that Genesis, as a band, was infinitely better with original lead singer Peter Gabriel, way back in the early 70s, than they were with Phil Collins later. I, on the other hand, feel that both Genesis and Peter Gabriel came into their own musically and creatively after they parted ways. I can certainly appreciate Matt's argument: Genesis was far more experimental with Gabriel at the mic, largely due to his influence. But look... Genesis would never have garnered the more mainstream success they eventually did had Gabriel remained with them. The impulse to become a commercial hit machine was just in the band's nature, and that wasn't going to happen backing Gabriel's theatrical showmanship. What's more, had he limited himself to simple front-man status, the world would certainly have been deprived of Gabriel's richly original and influential body of solo work - a prospect so dreadful that I shudder even to consider it. Weighing the might-have-beens, I've come to the clear and confident conclusion that I win the argument hands-down.

I can't say that Genesis has ever been one of my all-time favorite bands - those slots were taken up by The Police, U2, the aforementioned Gabriel, REM, The Ramones and The Talking Heads (in case you're keeping score). On the other hand, when I look back at my teen years in the early 80s, there was a defacto second-tier billing of acts whose music was seldom far from my consciousness. Those bands included Journey, Rush, Van Halen... and Genesis (I won't get into my lengthy Metal flirtation for sake of brevity in this review - my apologies to Angus Young, et all). Each of those second-tier bands has one thing in common - they're as reliable as Old Faithful. You expect a certain kind of sound from them, a particular feeling in their music, and they nearly always deliver what you're hoping for. In a dark, post-pubescent, fight-the-power sort of mood? A Rush anthem in 33 and 1/3 was just the ticket. Making out in the back seat? You slipped Journey in your dash deck. Crusin' with the boys? It's Halen time, baby (with Roth, of course).

And Genesis... well, Genesis just sort of melted nicely into the cracks of almost any mood. Sure, Phil, Mike and Tony got a little too cute for their own good on occasion (ahem... Illegal Alien, most of everything released after 1983, etc), but there's a darker undertone to some of their music that really worked for me. I'll listen to Keep It Dark, Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea and Domino any day. Indeed, there's scarcely a Genesis tune that doesn't recall some angsty, overly dramatic period of my teen years. The proof of this was all too evident as I spun this DVD. It's packed with great tracks, decent ones and some duds... but I knew the words to about 80% of them and had no problem shamelessly singing 'em along with ol' Phil. For better or worse, few musicians can crank out a catchy, brain-sticky tune like Phil Collins.

Genesis: The Video Show (or The Cinema Show - A Video Anthology as the menu so importantly indicates) contains a whopping 32 videos from the band. Everything from 1974's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway on is represented here, with the majority of the disc obviously dedicated to the Collins, Rutherford, Banks period. The Gabriel era is given a nod with a 1999 re-recording of the song The Carpet Crawlers, and three tracks from the band's short-loved, post-Collins and entirely forgettable Ray Wilson swan song are here as well for completion's sake. In between, you get virtually all of Genesis' major and minor commercial hits and semi-successes. Trust me when I say that if you recall a Genesis vid from early MTV and later VH-1, it's here.

Each video is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, in that wonderful slightly soft and with bleedy colors quality you all remember from the analog days of musical television. All of the videos have been remastered, so they certainly look better than ever, but they're just only going to look SO good, you know? What makes this disc a winner, however, is that the audio for all 32 videos is presented in three flavors: remastered Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, as well as remixed and remastered 5.1 surround in both Dolby Digital and DTS. All three tracks are excellent. The original stereo sounds as good as you've ever heard it, and the new 5.1 mixes thankfully strike the absolute perfect balance between natural, enveloping performance audio and more gimmicky panning and directional effects. The DTS mix, as usual, has the slight edge in terms of smoothness and clarity, but it's very slight. Rest assured, you'll enjoy great audio quality whichever track you choose.

The menus have a sort of 3-D animated look, that utilizes the band's album cover artwork. You can play the disc as a whole, select individual tracks from stacks of CDs representing the various songs, and choose your audio preference. There aren't really any extras on the disc to speak of (I would have liked maybe some band interviews or lyrics), but there IS one nice feature: When you start playing each song, there's a little symbol that appears in the corner over the title graphic. If you press ENTER when you see it, you'll be taken to a page of credits for the song that includes all of the relevant recording details and the single's original release artwork. Press ENTER or PLAY again and you'll kick right into the song - a nice touch.

The lack of bonus material aside however, Genesis: The Video Show certainly delivers a cramming good lot of the band's music on a single disc, and in nicely updated, state-of-the-art audio quality to boot. If you're a Collins-Genesis diehard, there's plenty here to make your ears (and eyes) happy. Even if you're more a Gabriel-Genesis man, like Matt, it's hard not to reflect at least a little kindly upon the body of work represented here. As for me... well, the DTS Keep It Dark sounds awfully good in MY media space, I can tell you.

The Boston Red Sox: 2004 World Series: Collector's Edition

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The Boston Red Sox: 2004 World Series
Collector's Edition - 2004 (2005) - MLB/FOX TV/New Video (A&E)

Program Rating: A+ (for Red Sox fans)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/B

Let's just say it right now and get it out of the way: You Red Sox fans out there waited a long damn time to win a world championship. But when it finally came, I daresay that the wait was more than worth what Fate at long last delivered to you. If you were filling in the box scores for these games like a storybook in advance, you could scarcely have contrived a sweeter post-season revenge scenario to erase those 86 years of hardship than the reality of being down to the New York Yankees three games to none in the ALCS... and then coming back from the brink of disaster to whoop their ass in seven AT Yankee Stadium. The actual World Series last year was almost an anti-climax after one of the most unlikely and dramatic come-from-behind wins in sports history... but I doubt any Red Sox fan would trade the four games that followed the Yankee-spanky for anything. Hell, I'm a Twins fan and I cherished every darned minute of it.

In the wake of such stunning and joyous retribution, there's really no greater gift that Red Sox fans could receive than this... a hefty, 3-pound box set, slapped with the seemingly innocuous moniker The Boston Red Sox: 2004 World Series - Collector's Edition. For the first time ever, born upon 12 DVD discs, Major League Baseball (via A&E and New Video) has released an ENTIRE World Series complete on home video. You get every single second of every single game. Better still, you also get the complete American League Championship Series, from the very first rockin' bars of the MLB on FOX theme song, to the final Boston-baked back slaps on the field.

The quality on these discs is rock-solid, just as you'll recall from those fateful October nights under the lights. Mastered directly from the FOX broadcast digital tapes, there's nothing to complain about video OR audio-wise. You get nothing but excellent picture and play-by-play game sound, as-seen-on-TV only slightly better.

Interestingly, each disc is slim-packed for your protection, with cover art that features the complete box score and stats of the game contained within. Every hit, every error - they're all here, along with player quotes and such interesting bits of trivia as the number of fans in attendance, the game time temperature, the number of foul balls, the number of first-pitch strikes, etc. Not enough baseball ephemera for you? Well, there's also a bonus disc that contains player interviews, the locker room celebration, the Sox's visit to the White House, the Ring & Banner ceremony, the official MLB 2004 World Series Film, celebrity fan reaction, the "best of" player wireless audio... you name it. It's three hours of material in all. About the only thing that's missing is a tiny souvenir ecto-containment trap with a wisp of the Bambino's own curse-reversed spirit... and that'd be just creepy.

As satisfying as this box set must surely be to Red Sox fans of course, it goes without saying that its very existence must come as a swift and stinging kick in the nuts to Yankees fans. Rest assured, A&E and the MLB have felt your pain... and they mean to salve your blue and white pin-striped soul with their next hefty DVD box set: The New York Yankees: Fall Classic 1996-2001 - Collector's Edition (just released), which contains five complete and hallowed Yankees games on disc, plus two more DVDs of extras. Not too shabby.

Frankly, I hope these new MLB DVD box sets are selling like hotcakes, because I'd like to see a LOT more of them in the future. I'm certainly saving precious shelf space in my DVD collection for a future The Minnesota Twins: World Champions 1987 & 1991 - Collector's Edition box. Yeah, I know. "Dream on, Bill... dream on."

Okay, I will. Hey... isn't that what being a sports fan is all about? I mean, heck... if the Red Sox can finally win a World Series, ANYTHING is possible.

Bill Hunt

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