9/22/04 - TAPNotes by Matt Rowe
As the world turns, so too do PCs, hard-drives and all that digital
stuff we use to produce The Digital Bits
on. As it happened, viruses, errant worms and assorted apocalyptic
destructions brought my PC and TAP
to a near grinding halt. Many dollars later, a new PC, a pair of
hard-drives and achingly recovered software emerged. Fortunately,
much of this stuff is recoverable thanks to backups and lots of
luck, but it sure did cost me time. But here I am at last, finally,
back for another issue of TAPNotes.
Just so you know, I've provided a new inclusion to the column due to
requests from the readers. And since many of you wanted to know the
aspect ratios of the DVDs I review here, I'll include that as well.
FYI, all titles reviewed in TAPNotes
can be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on the cover art (as
always, doing so supports The Digital
Last year, Neil Young issued a CD that told a story with his
popular Greendale, a
concept album dealing with issues that are near to Neil's heart.
But the album, along with the complementary website, could only
go so far in disseminating the thoughts that Neil needed to
voice. Early this year, the filmed part of Greendale
went to theatres, largely in the art houses in metropolitan
areas, perhaps missing much of Neil Young's audience. The story
is that of a small town, Greendale,
and a few interesting characters, including the Devil who makes
a metaphorical appearance. Wanting to draw attention to the
environmental plight of the world, Greendale
merges politics with drama. Shunning talk, the movie moves along
via characters lip-syncing the dialogue parts of the songs
contained on the album; a long MTV video, if you will. It's not
compelling nor is it graphically pure with grainy film depicting
the story but it is pure Neil. If you're a fan, this chapter of
Neil is a viable addition to an already large volume of work.
This set contains lots of extras with a making of featurette, a
family tree (characters of Greendale)
with selectable fictional biographies, an extra with a stage
performance of Be the Rain.
From the audio side, Greendale
can be enjoyed in DTS 24/96 5.1 (Rockin'!!), Dolby Digital 5.1
and/or Dolby 2.0 stereo, all of which sounds pretty damn good.
This DVD is presented in full-frame video. Check out closing
remarks for free copies of Greendale.
As Neil sings, "...a little love and affection, in
everything you do, will make the world a better place..."
Scaggs: Greatest Hits Live
Filmed in San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, this DVD
presents one of our favorite solo artists, Boz Scaggs and his
collection of great songs. There are 16 main menu songs with a
bonus inclusion of Harbor Lights,
the second of 2 versions here, tucked away inside the extras
section. The songs come from many points in Boz Scaggs' career.
From pre-Silk Degrees,
Atlantic issued, Boz Scaggs
(1969), with Loan Me a Dime,
and Runnin' Blue from 1971
Columbia debut, Boz Scaggs and Band,
up to Dig from 2001 with
I Just Go. Of course,
there are lots from his peak period of Silk
Degrees here like Lowdown,
Harbor Lights, Look
What You've Done to Me, Georgia,
Lido Shuffle, and We're
All Alone. This concert was filmed by the busy Daniel
Catullo in high definition video and audio. Audio choices
include DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo, with video at
Fans of Boz need no coercion for this set as it is pure Boz,
satisfying in every way.
In the 70s, synth wizard Isao Tomita, pumped out a massive
collection of popular albums immersed in reinterpreted classical
works. He reworked Williams (Star
Wars), Grofe (Grand Canyon
Suite), Debussy (Clair de
Lune), and Mussorgsky (Pictures
at an Exhibition) and others. But his most enduring
and popular work was his revisiting of Holst's The
Planet Suite. His version brought the scorn of the
Holst family upon him but made fans quite happy. To this day, we
wish for a pure SACD or DVD-Audio version of this iconic work.
This DVD provides the entirety of Tomita's Planets
album. It is presented in Dolby Stereo and accompanied visually
by planet facts and space footage that looks suspiciously like a
science class video. But, oh, that soundtrack. The video,
presented in full-screen only, is watchable only once, after
which you'll pop the DVD in to enjoy the audio presentation of
The Tomita Planets. At
least until we get what Tomita fans deserve, true hi-res.
Greatest Hits DVD (1978-1997)
Journey has gone through several Mark lineups with the most
enduring being that of the Steve Perry years (props to the
current lineup). Of course, there are many albums that carry
that legacy well including SACD issues of a Greatest
Hits as well as a studio album. But what about all
those great visual concert songs and videos? Any Journey
collection absolutely cannot be complete without this DVD in it.
Okay, it's dated with those funky 70s/80s hairstyles and clothes
but who cares! It's Journey. And it has Perry's captivating
voice in tow along with the excellent instrumental work of the
rest of the band from that era. All the songs are here, 18 of
them. You know them all. The standout here is the very late
(1996) When You Love a Woman
as a music video. The video itself is tastefully rendered
without the stark excess of the earlier times and the music is
extremely mature. This set is very reasonably priced and is
bursting with Journey goodies. It was compiled by Steve Perry
and is possessed with off-kilter sequencing but it works. It's
all full-screen with all Stereo sound. The video, depending on
what you're looking at, can be quite washed but again. Journey,
reasonably priced, and collectible. Extras include a
Luc Ponty: In Concert
This DVD places the violin jazz master in his environment, in
this case, the Jazz Jamboree on October 23, 1999 in Warsaw,
Poland. Using his signature electric violin, Ponty displays the
ease and mastery of his instrument even as he picks it like a
guitar to begin one song. The DVD begins with a spectacular Rhythms
of Hope and proceeds through the DVD with a total of
9 works that will have you in awe. Ponty's use of a five string
electric violin is indicative of the power that he wields as he
shapes notes to a free and fluid jazz style, is a statement to
the broad capacity of jazz to incorporate a traditionally
classical instrument and expanding its use. The sound is
presented in an extraordinary DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and
PCM stereo, all sharp and crisp. The video is full screen.
Extras include biographies (self-scrolling and musically
accompanied), Touring Memories
(featurette), details on recent productions (2 recent albums),
and a discography (self-scrolling and complete.) The release of
this DVD is simultaneous with the CD issue. It's all good.
Mitchell: Refuge of the Roads
Joni is the essential female poet of the 60s and 70s. Try as
you might, it's very difficult to deny her impact on music. Her
writing is greatly introspective with lyrics that still speak to
every soul. Fused with her jazz leanings, her music is tough to
beat. Refuge of the Roads
was released in 1984 and showed a maturity with its built-in
edits of movies clips woven into the stage performances.
Mitchell's love of the seemingly mundane but beautiful
occurrences enhance the concert footage making it the work of
art that it is. You get 13 stage performances including a warm
rendition of Woodstock.
Joni looks as if she is enjoying herself immensely during these
performances which makes this quite encompassing. If you're a
Joni Mitchell fan, this Shout! Factory release is an important
addition to a library of her albums, most of which are highly
recommended. This DVD is presented in full screen and the audio
choices include a 5.1 mix with a 2.0 PCM stereo. The short of
it? I love this DVD. I've already watched it 5 times... all the
Dowd & The Language of Music
Mark Moorman created this incredible walk through the life of
great music producer, Tom Dowd. The A-list of Dowd's work
include some of the world's best albums by music's most enduring
acts including Eric Clapton, Cream, The Allman Brothers Band,
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Wishbone Ash, Otis Redding, and many more.
Dowd's effectiveness as a top-notch producer was his ability to
tap into the artist's vision often before the band did
themselves. The fact that his skills cut across many genres of
music reveals the depth of his skill and his love for all music.
Certainly, his life provided plenty of exposure, as this film
divulges. He sat in a studio as early as age 7. His innovations,
as engineer, did more to advance the art of recording than any
single producer of his time.
This film lovingly treads through every moment of Dowd's life
yet always coming back to his accomplishments. Anecdotal and
historical, this DVD becomes an essential addition to the
serious music collector's library, especially for those savvy
enough to recognize the great producers and engineers of our
musical legacy. The coolness of this film is Tom Dowd's own
narration. He walks us through many aspects of his life as a
child and as an adult.
This DVD provides some incredible extra features in addition to
the core film. There are over 80 minutes of bonus footage that
includes deleted scenes and interview clips. This movie by Chris
Blackwell's (Island) Palm Pictures is an important document that
honors not only the art of music production but also the man who
single-handedly reshaped recording techniques, many of which are
still conceptually used to this day.
This DVD provides audio at Dolby Digital 5.1 and stereo with
video presentation at 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Dowd.
Jam: The Complete Jam
We've reviewed this title before here on The
Digital Bits but it bears to be brought out again as
a 'blast from the past'. Why? Well, good things shouldn't go too
long without being revisited. Imagine never watching Citizen
Kane (gasp!) or The
Godfather (groan!) again. Or even digging out any of
the Indiana Jones or Alien
Quad for a re-watch. Yep, you got my point. So what
makes this set so special? Simple! It's what we all want for any
of our favorite bands, a complete collection of videos, TV
appearances, live footage, and extras like a video scrapbook and
several featurettes rounding out a near perfect chronicle of one
of the late 70s, early 80s influentials. Merging punk with past
styles and brewing a unique flavor of new avenue music, The Jam
will be remembered for their quality song writing and cool
presentation of said music. Not to mention, Paul Weller's
ability to write great pop songs. It's all in full screen, but
you get it in Dolby Digital 5.1 for audio. Labels should take
note and give us sets like this for every band the masses clamor
for. Let's see... Bill wants The Police, Matt wants Faces,
Wishbone Ash, The Band, Grateful Dead, and so on while Adam and
always great to stop in and give some small insight into something
that I have that works well in the player, something that spins
magically into our consciousness and leaves lasting impressions.
That's exactly what I try to bring to your attention - DVDs that can
be timeless or have great material on them even if it's buried. Of
course, I'll tell you where it is.
I have 3 free copies of Greendale
to give away. Want one? Here's how we'll do it. The first three
people who can remind me what MY favorite Neil Young song is will
get the a DVD of Greendale.
Drop me a line at the e-mail address below. Until next time, keep
the music spinning.
By the way, if you have a music DVD that you'd like me to know
about... please, by all means, bring it to my attention. Life is too
short to miss the best. And I can't be everywhere at once. Next
issue, I have Roxy Music and John Entwistle DVDs to talk about. I'm
also going to bring one out from the past... but I'll leave that a
secret until then. Ciao!