Music DVD or Blu-ray Edition
The holidays are a time when many have a little more time to kick back and relax and spend some time in front of the television, perhaps watching a music DVD or Blu-ray. And as always, there are a bunch of good ones that have released recently. Here are our picks for some of the best.
Video Singles Collection
Compiled here in this 3-DVD set, for the first time ever, are all of Depeche Mode's video singles. The whopping collection of 55-cuts is presented chronologically, beginning with the band's big hit "Just Can't Get Enough" from 1981 through the Anton Corbijn-directed "Should be Higher" from 2013. Corbijn isn't the only big name director DM utilized over the decades; work from Julien Temple, D.A. Pennebaker and John Hillcoat is featured in the set that includes hits like "Personal Jesus," "Master and Servant" and "Blasphemous Rumours" along with dozens of other favorites and lesser-known tunes. Included rarities are a previously-unseen alternate version of "Stripped" and alternate versions of "People are People," "Soothe My Soul" and "But Not Tonight." More than two hours of audio commentary from the band is also included as is a booklet with all the credits and release info for each video.
An Evening with Todd Rundgren: Live at the Ridgefield
Early in the show Rundgren makes it clear to the audience that there'll be no new material sprung on them this evening, announcing that the song selection is meant to let the crowd revisit their old and perhaps glory days, a little bit tongue-in-cheek as that is exactly what the prolific star is doing himself. To that end there's no shortage of hits and favorites as the band, including Kasim Sulton (Utopia) and Prairie Prince (the Tubes) run through classics like "I Saw the Light," "Black Maria," "Can We Still Be Friends" and "Hello It's Me." The rowdy "Bang the Drum All Day" features a bass solo from Sulton, and Utopia's catalog is represented with power pop cuts "Secret Society" and "Love in Action." Rundgren also plays homage to a couple of R&B greats with takes on Curtis Mayfield's "I'm so Proud" and Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby Baby." Lots of deep album cuts highlight this impressive reminiscence that also includes a CD version of the show.
Brian Wilson and Friends
Filmed at the Venetian Theater in Las Vegas in 2014, this hit-filled show begins with "Our Prayer," a no-lyrics demonstration of the wonderful harmonies that Wilson would pioneer with the Beach Boys. "Heroes and Villains," "Sloop John B," "Dance Dance Dance" and "Good Vibrations" follow in rapid succession; shortly thereafter Wilson starts bringing on the guests. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar are featured on "Sail on Sailor," Mark Isham plays trumpet on the sublime instrumentals "Half Moon Bay" and "Don't Talk" and Nate Ruess (fun) handles lead vocals on the peppy "Saturday Night." Other guests include She & Him on "God Only Knows" and "On the Island" and Kacey Musgraves on "Guess You Had To Be There." The spotlight goes back on Wilson himself as the show heads to a close with "Help Me Rhonda," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Fun Fun Fun" and "California Girls." The show wraps up appropriately enough with "Summer's Gone." A CD with a slightly different track listing is included in the package.
Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music
Recently aired as an eight-episode series on PBS, Soundbreaking is presented here on three DVDs. Each of the eight episodes has a theme, and first up in the presentation is "The Art of Recording," a segment focusing on producers which most impressively includes lots of footage and commentary from the recently deceased George Martin of Beatles fame. Other episodes focus on everything from the rise of sampling to the wonders of the human voice to a look at the MTV era and how videos changed the music business (in this episode Tom Petty laments the fact that he "had to" make videos for all his hit songs, something he did not enjoy.) Simultaneously entertaining and educational, Soundbreaking is loaded with insightful commentary from the likes of Roger Waters, Questlove, Quincy Jones, Dave Grohl, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, Billy Idol, Beck, RZA, Paul McCartney, Steven Van Zandt and dozens of others along with parts of about 25 songs per episode from artists spanning the Ronettes to Radiohead, Bing Crosby to the Cure and Blondie to Beyonce. The whole program begins quite appropriately with David Bowie's "Fame," and while fun for fans of music of all sorts, a complete viewing of Soundbreaking should also be thought of as mandatory for those who are just getting started in their quest for said fame.