Category Archives: Music

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best DVDs of the Year

She remains my favorite Christmas Carol. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark TV institution, Time Life has released The Best of The Carol Burnett Show, which includes the best of the best, from all 11 seasons, together for the very first time.

The six-discs feature episodes that haven’t been seen since they originally aired, plus some of Burnett’s most beloved classics on 16 fresh-from-the-vaults episodes. Classic shows include the very first episode with Jim Nabors and the emotional, double-length series finale, as well as some of the best-loved, fan-favorite sketches including “Mrs. Wiggins,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Oldest Man,” “The Family,” As the Stomach Turns, as well as a marathon of movie spoofs, along with commercial spoofs and some amazing bloopers. Once again, I’m so glad we had this time together.

 

Sleeping single in a double bed? Join the biggest names of country music with the time-Life gem CMA Awards Life: Greatest Moments 1968-2015, an attractively packaged DVD collector’s set filled with 127 unforgettable performances from five decades of the nationally-televised ceremony.

Across the 10  discs, home audiences will discover a who’s who of country artists, including Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakam, Barbara Mandrell and Tammy Wynette, who stands by her man. Music lovers will thrill to the memorable, once-in-a-lifetime performances including Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” and Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” as well as famous country duets and collaborations including “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” by Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire, and “Lady” by Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie. There’s also a nifty  year-by-year guide to 50 years of Award winners.

Universal has released a handful of must-have DVDs and DVD sets that are paramount to ever movie maven. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career, including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest, plus 10 episodes from his groundbreaking TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Featuring more than 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.  A shower anyone?

Screen legends Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in one of the most timeless holiday classics ever, Holiday Inn.  The film, in which Crosby plays a song-and-dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays,  features the Oscar-winning song, “White Christmas”. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Holiday Inn [Blu-ray]Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds). ‘Tis the season for one of the most sensational musical comedies of all time! An extra gift: Holiday Inn 75th Anniversary Edition Crosby includes a new bonus disc featuring the all-new full-length Broadway musical.

Discover the true meaning of the holiday season with the live action adaptation of the beloved classic, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer reimagine one of the most enduring holiday stories of all time. Why is the Grinch (Carrey) such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and the Grinch’s world upside down, inside out. . . . and funny side up. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas [Blu-ray]Filled with dazzling scenery, special effects, makeup and costumes, this is an adventure even Scrooge would love. Grinch Deluxe Edition Combo Pack features collectible fuzzy green packaging.

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection features 21 of the funniest movies from the legendary comedian. From his early days in vaudeville to his years as a top Hollywood box-office draw and star of radio, TV and live performances, Bob Hope’s innocent charm and lightning-quick wit have delighted millions of fans throughout the world. Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie CollectionCo-starring some of the Hollywood’s greatest stars (think Lucille Ball, W.C. Fields, Burns & Allen,  Betty Grable, Paulette Goddard, Jane Russell), this gem will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the unforgettable style of one of the most famous comedians of all time.
Hoping for more Bob? Time Life’s

Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials offers the most complete collection of his television specials ever assembled.  The set contains
19 discs, on which fans will find more than 37 hours of specials, including 20 that have not been seen since their original broadcast, as well as an incredible collection of celebrity guest appearances.

Paula Parkins is such a good girl. Make that was a good girl. She is one of those good-girls-gone-bad who leads her degenerate teenage hellcats down a path of gas station hijackings, pajama party orgies and cold-blooded murder Welcome to Ed Wood’s The Violent Years, an essential exposé on crime, gender politics and sweater-stealing; let us not forget the patently deranged dialogue to the scene where the gang performs a “man attack.”

This Blu-ray new 4K print escaped from Alamo Drafthouse’s American Genre Film Archive (the largest non-profit genre film archive in the world, and Something Weird) and we could not be happier. The bonus tracks are numerous, including gutter-noir trailers from the Something Weird vault,  memorabilia scrapbook and a bonus movie, Anatomy of a Psycho, a new 2K scan from an original theatrical print.

Richard Simmons is still a show-biz heavyweight. For 30 years, he has been helping people lose weight (more than 3,000,000 pounds and counting) and get healthy with his unique enthusiasm, charm and encouragement.  Since opening his first aerobics studio in Beverly Hills in 1974, he has cemented himself in America’s pop-culture psyche with 65 fitness videos (selling over 20 million copies), dozens of infomercials, nine best-selling books, myriad parodies of his over-the-top persona, seemingly endless TV and film appearances and tabloid headlines digging the skinny on him.  Time-Life celebrates the glittery guru with Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies: 30th Anniversary Edition, an energetic six-disc set includes the complete collection of Simmons’ bestselling  workout programs. 

Pairing lively classics from the ’50s and ’60s with rockin’ low impact routines and Simmons’ humorous banter, encouragement and sparkly tank tops, the set offers 41 exercise routines set to rock n’ roll classics. Loaded with extras, this special anniversary set also includes 100 minutes of bonus programming featuring an exclusive interview with Richard, testimonials and success stories from Simmons’  students, a full-color 20-page album of rare personal photos and memories personally selected by Richard and a bonus disc of Love Yourself and Win–Six Steps to Self-Esteem & Permanent Weight Loss.

So what was the fuss about? Director Darren Aronofsky’s film mother! received good reviews, though many whined about the flick’s biblical allegories and depictions of violence. And the controversy continues. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in  mother! (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the visually arresting psychological thriller that will leave your heart pounding and your mind blown.  The film also stars and Michelle Pfeiffer, and stunned critics and audiences around the world. The mother! 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include more 35 minutes of in-depth bonus content. Join Aronofsky and cast as they discuss the production of the movie and take us through its spectacular finale. Plus, check out the incredible makeup effects that made mother! a visual tour de force. We thought we’d share the reason Aronofsky so named the film: the title’s exclamation mark, he says, “reflects the spirit of the film” and corresponds to an “exclamation point” of the ending. “To find out why there’s a lowercase ‘m’, read the credits and look for the letter that isn’t capitalised. Ask yourself what’s another name for this character?”

It’s the series that out the “fun” in “dysfunctional”.   After breaking out from “The Family” sketches on The Carol Burnett Show, Thelma “Mama” Harper’s home-spun humor earned its own well-loved sitcom for six knee-slapping seasons.  Time Life invites all classic TV aficionados and sitcom lovers to spend some quality time (across 130 episodes) with Mama’s Family: The Complete Series.  Remember, Mama always knew best.

Celebrating the Original King of Late Night, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends The Complete Collections is the ultimate 10-disc set bringing together all the greatest moments and Johnny’s most legendary guests from the show’s 30 year, 4,000 episode run.  Carefully selected from the vaults by Carson archivists, this Time Life collection features more than 27 hours of classic Johnny–full, unedited episodes and original commercials from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.  Also included is a memory book filled with incredible and rare archival photos and nearly two hours of bonus features. Let’s say it together: Hereeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Johnny!

Paramount has made film fans an offer they cannot refuse:  The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition. Only 45,000 of these limited edition, numbered sets will be made making it a stunning gift for any fan. Celebrating its 45th anniversary, director Francis Ford Coppola’s opus is widely considered one of the most influential films in cinematic history.  Now the entire epic trilogy is available on Blu-ray in a spectacular 4-disc Omertà Edition, which includes the Coppola Restoration of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, as well as the remastered version of The Godfather, Part III. The set includes commentary by Coppola on all three films, a full disc of previously released in-depth special features, as well as exclusive new collectible Trivia Cards, Magnetic Poetry, an Anatomy of a Scene fold out and Quote Cards.

Porno for Xmas? And why not. Bat Pussy isn’t just porno . . . it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made. We’re not sure when it was made and released (possibly released in the early ’70s), but we do know it’s a spoof of the TV series Batman, and the film’s cult following relish the flick’s notoriously poor quality, technical flaws, bizarre dialogue, flaccid dicks, public urination, dildo demonstrations and unattractive stars.

Need more? The director can be heard giving actors directions, a crew member audibly belches during a sex scene and the dialogue includes gems such as My horoscope says “I’m going to fuck you in the nose!” Be honest: Even Mrs. Claus loves Bat Pussy, whose alter ego is Dora Dildo!

First Run Features always releases first-rate DVDs. A quartet of faves:
♥ Life on the Line: Season 3  This Emmy-winning series narrated by Lisa Ling that follows the medical journey of individuals fighting for their life. At hospitals around the nation, people face life and death situations every day. Episode 2: Ebola WarriorsLife on the Line zeroes in on one renowned academic hospital in Southern California. Loma Linda University Health serves one quarter of California and equips medical teams to travel around the world. From surviving Ebola in Western Africa to healing after one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on US soil, the series is an inspiring look into the resilience of humankind.
Ma’ Rosa Actress Jaclyn Jose took home the award for Best Actress at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for her powerful performance as Rosa in this riveting new film from director Brillante Mendoza. Exploring the widespread corruption and chaos of the Philippines in the Duterte era, the film follows Rosa and her husband Nestor, owners of a tiny convenience store who supplement their meager income by selling small amounts of “ice” (crystal meth).

Eventually the couple gets caught and hauled away by police, who are more interested in collecting bribes than eradicating crime. With their parents locked away, it’s left to Rosa’s children to scrounge together the money to pay off the police and free their parents, by any means necessary.
♥ Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe tells the story of the Austrian writer and his life in exile from 1936 to 1942. Zweig was one of the most famous writers of his time, but as a Jewish intellectual he struggled to find the right stance towards the events in Nazi Germany.Image result Driven to emigrate to South America at the peak of his worldwide fame, Zweig fell into despair at the sight of Europe’s downfall. This visually stunning and emotionally powerful film explores what it means to be a refugee, and exposes the difficult decision to speak out or remain silent in the face of tyranny.
♥ The Pulitzer at 100 This documentary by Oscar-winning director Kirk Simon celebrates the centenary of the Pulitzers–the revered national award for excellence in journalism and the arts. The riveting tales of the winning artists give an insider’s view of how these pinnacles of achievement are selected and how the award has the power to change lives and communities. The diverse stories explored in the film relate to immigration, race, gender, and above all freedom of speech–all issues that are ever more relevant in America today.

 Featuring interviews with notable prize recipients (including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians such as Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Carl Bernstein , Wynton y of the man who created it, also brings Pulitzer-winning works to life through readings by John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, Martin Scorsese and Yara Shahidi.

American Genre Film Archive continues to scarce us (sometimes silly) with their gory gamut.  Some faves that will become yours:
♥ The Zodiac Killer Directed by Tom Hanson, who had once owned a chain of Pizza Man restaurants, made this flick in an attempt to capture the real-life Zodiac Killer. That plan didn’t work. Instead, we got the most outrageous and compelling ”tabloid horror” vortex in the history of planet Earth. And beyond.Zodiac Killer, The [Blu-ray + DVD] During theatrical screenings, Hanson constructed in-theater ”traps” to lure the killer from hiding. These included the use of an ice cream freezer filled with rent-a-cops and a raffle with a motorcycle as a prize. Shades of William Castle! This edition is a new 4K scan from the only surviving 16mm blow-up elements. Make sure you listen to Hanson’s commentary!
♥ Ruby No, this movie was not named after my mother. It’s a still relatively-unknown gem brimming with atmosphere and suspense . . . yes, there are enough creepy special effects and blood and gore to satisfy the most demanding genre fans.Ruby [Blu-ray + DVD] Most of it takes place at night, with all kinds of marvelous influences lurking in the shadows. Directed by cult-film director Curtis Harrington and featuring an impressive cast including Piper Laurie (as Ruby, fresh from her starring role in Carrie) and Stuart Whitman. This special BD/DVD combo is the definitive original theatrical version of Ruby, with a 2K restoration, two commentary tracks and more than hours of video interviews and special features.

We remain crazy over Patsy Cline.  She was a trailblazer who defined modern country music, and broke down barriers of gender, class and genre. In her music and her life, she set a standard of authenticity towards which artists still strive. After years of hard work to overcome industry biases and her own personal hardships, she achieved enormous success, only to have it punctured by uncanny premonitions and her untimely death at age 30 in 1963.

When Patsy Cline Was CrazyHer life and legacy is showcased in When Patsy Cline Was … Crazy (UMe), a DVD that collects the acclaimed PBS documentary, Patsy Cline: American Masters, and a wealth of exclusive bonus material comprised of themed additional interview footage and rare vintage performances.  An accompanying booklet includes classic photos of Cline.

Charles Castle, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, looks like he has it all. But his marriage is falling apart and his wife is threatening to leave him if he renews his contract. Studio boss Stanley Shriner Hoff isn’t taking the news too well, and he’ll do anything he can to get his man to sign on the dotted line, even if means exposing dark secrets. Winner of the Silver Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife remains a great piece of film noir. The Big Knife (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] Based on Clifford Odet’s famed stage work, the film boasts a remarkable cast, including Jack Palance, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Ida Lupino, Jean Hagen and Everett Sloane.

Remember when fading film stars began working in schlocky films and/or TV shows? Some of these treasures exist. Yvonne DeCarlo, John Ireland and John Carradine stars in the hellish Satan’s Cheerleaders (VCI Entertainment). Benedict High School’s cheerleaders aren’t shy and sweet. The football team knows them well . . . and Billy, the school’s disturbed janitor, would like to. In the locker room, the girl’s shower and dress, unaware of the evil eyes which secretly watch them. They don’t know that a curse has been placed on their clothes. Satan's Cheerleaders [Blu-ray + DVD]And they don’t know that their trip to the first big game of the season might sideline them for eternity. Will the cheerleaders succumb to the dark ritual of sexual sacrifice and death that’s been plotted for them? Only those who dare watch will know!

What a way to celebrate this year’s end: A never-before-released live recording by Ella Fitzgerald

Forget the champagne and finger sandwiches. The best way to close out the year is with the important Verve Records and UMe release, the last gem celebrating their year-long celebration of Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial.  More than 60 years after it was recorded, Ella At Zardi’s will finally be released on CD and digital December 1. 

Recorded on February 2, 1956 at Zardi’s Jazzland in Hollywood, Ella At Zardi’s features the entirety of the evening’s two-set, 21-song performance, which captures an inspired Fitzgerald, backed by a stellar trio comprised of pianist Don Abney, bassist Vernon Alley and drummer Frank Capp, singing and swinging in front of an animated, adoring crowd, just days before she’d go on to record the album that would catapult her to stardom.

The concert was originally recorded by Norman Granz to celebrate the creation of, and Fitzgerald’s signing to, Verve Records, which Granz founded largely to give Fitzgerald the attention that he felt she wasn’t receiving at her then-current label, Decca. Ella At Zardi’s was planned as the label’s inaugural release but shelved in favor of the now-classic studio album Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Song Book, which kicked off a best-selling, signature series of Song Book releases. The Zardi’s tapes languished in Verve’s vaults for six decades.

Image result for ella fitzgerald

Ella At Zardi’s captures the brilliance and inspiration Fitzgerald’s performances embodied at the time. As veteran jazz journalist Kirk Silsbee observes in the album’s liner notes, “We can hear a fluid and joyous singer who operates with almost giddy authority. Ella manages to find a way of swinging almost every number, no matter the tempo. Ella uses her intelligent phrasing and rhythmic sense in inventive and exhilarating ways. Her repertoire was vast and she didn’t always remember the correct lyrics of a song. But the way she spontaneously redesigns the text in the most musical of ways is Fitzgerald’s signature.”

Ella At Zardi’s caps off Verve/UMe’s slate of releases in celebration of “Ella 100,” which has included the four-CD set 100 Songs For A Centennial; the six-LP vinyl box set Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George & Ira Gershwin Song Books and Someone to Watch Over Me, which marries Fitzgerald’s vocals with new instrumental tracks by the London Symphony Orchestra. The centennial has also seen the first-ever digital releases of her rare early singles for the Decca label.

Ella At Zardi’s stands out for its history-making rediscovery of a vintage performance by one of jazz’s greatest artists. As Granz enthuses in his stage introduction, “This is for real; for me she’s the greatest there is—Miss Ella Fitzgerald!”

Robert Redford demonstrates how lightning was caught in a bottle . . . musIc to your ears!

Teresa Brewer suggested we put another nickel in the Nickelodeon so we could hear “music, music, music!”

Now Robert Redford steps up to the plate (or platter) by narrating American Epic, the essential that explores the pivotal recording journeys at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology captured the breadth of American music and discovered the artists that would shape our world. PBS Distribution has released this journey back in time to the “Big Bang” of modern popular music. 

In the ’20s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, Blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coalminer in Virginia or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. It was the first time America heard itself.

Virtually no documentation of these extraordinary events survives and nearly ninety percent of the recording masters have been destroyed. A vital part of American cultural history has been lost.

Over three episodes, narrated by Redford, American Epic rescues this history. The remarkable lives of these seminal musicians are revealed through previously unseen film footage and photographs, and exclusive interviews with music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era. 

 American Epic represents a 10-year odyssey undertaken by director Bernard MacMahon and producers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson, and audio engineer Nicholas Bergh that involved tracking down countless long forgotten musicians, restoring the music that they recorded and reassembling the technology that created it. Along the way they brought some of the most important figures in contemporary culture to help them on their quest. Executive Producers Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford have lent their support to what Redford calls “America’s greatest untold story”. 

The DVD also includes the feature-length film The American Epic Sessions for which the team has reassembled the very first electrical sound recording system from the ‘20s, and invited Jack White and T Bone Burnett to produce an album of recordings by twenty of today’s greatest artists. In this beautifully filmed musical feature, these artists are given the chance to pass through the portal that brought the world into the modern era.

Engineer Nicholas Bergh has reassembled this recording system from original parts and it is now the only one left in the world. The system consists of a single microphone, a towering six-foot amplifier rack, and a live record-cutting lathe, powered by a weight-driven pulley system of clockwork gears. The musicians have roughly three minutes to record their song direct to disc before the weight hits the floor. In the ’20s, they called this “catching lightning in a bottle.” All the musical performances in this film are live. The audio you hear is taken directly from the discs they were recorded to, with no editing or enhancements. 

 

Diana Ross’ “new” album is (she promises) a “special gift”, sent to her fans “with love”

There ain’t no mountain high enough, but Motown/UMe has scaled pretty high. On November 15, they unleash Diana Ross’ “new” album, Diamond Diana: The Legacy Collection, a memorable music journey that celebrates her iconic legacy. The 15-song collection contains some of Miss Ross’ biggest hits of her career. The CD also includes a special gift to her fans: an exciting new dance club remix of her No. 1 hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Coos the 73-year-old Miss Ross: “I send this special gift to you all. This collection is from my heart to yours, and I send my love, thanks and appreciation to you for my joyous amazing journey. It’s so much fun.”

Ross will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Music Awards on November 19, during which the show will pay tribute to her remarkable career. Ross’ impact in music, film, television, fashion and popular culture is unprecedented. A renowned superstar, she is one of the most successful and influential recording legends and iconic entertainers of all time.

Diamond Diana: The Legacy Collection track listing:

  1. I’m Coming Out
  2. More Today Than Yesterday
  3. The Boss
  4. It’s My House
  5. Endless Love *
  6. Upside Down
  7. You Can’t Hurry Love **
  8. Touch Me In The Morning
  9. Love Hangover
  10. Take Me Higher
  11. It’s My Turn
  12. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
  13. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
  14. Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)
  15. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – The ANMHE ‘Diamond Diana’ (Remix)
    *   with Lionel Richie
    ** with The Supremes

Spend time with Babs Streisand gabbing while on her shrink’s couch

Looking to relax on the couch and read about Babs’ loves and lifestyle? Yearning to learn just what makes Mrs. James Brolin tick (and tock)?

The On the Couch series by Alma Bond, Ph.D. gives readers an opportunity to discover the “secret” lives of Marilyn, Hillary and Jackie O through the eyes of renowned New York psychoanalyst, Dr. Darcy Dale. According to the powers-that-be, “the fictionalized biographies provided a unique and revealing perspective of their lives.”

In Barbra Streisand: On the Couch  (Bancroft Press, $27.95), Bond captures the details found in other biographies dedicated to the life of Babs in a way that provides deep insight into her personality and character. Dr. Darcy Dale―a Madhattan psychiatrist whose expertise is confronted by Babs, dismayed after 30 years of minimally successful therapy.

Throughout a year, Dr. Dale conducts an intimate psychoanalysis, breaking through ego defense mechanisms, and repressions to go deep into the heart and mind of one of America’s last remaining superstars. Babs’ many dimensions come alive as we hear her story in her own words. She fluctuates between self-inflation and insecurity. She cracks wise. She becomes angry. She weeps. For better or worse, Dr. Dale sees her client in all of her raw, most human, aspects, giving readers unprecedented access to her pain and joy.

Babs is funny, a bit abrasive, but very intelligent. Bond provides interesting insights into what Barbra could have been thinking during pinnacle times in her life, and her state of mind from a psychoanalyst’s point of view. While this book is technically fiction, the facts themselves are all true. Only the thoughts and feelings attributed to Barbra are fictitious, along with the story of her “analysis.” Dr. Bond’s extensive research into the life of Streisand, along with her professional knowledge of psychology and her beautiful style of writing, give fans of Barbra’s work and her persona fresh insight into a complicated woman, making this biography “thoroughly enjoyable,” according to Kitty Kelley, who used to write unauthorized celeb bios about every three days.

The book contains no photographs (an obvious money/legal reason) but a slew of rather unattractive illustrations. Funny, girl.

 

A plethora of must-see, must-have films, docs and specials from PBS Distribution

A slew of  DVDs have been released by PBS Distribution. We may he been a little late in bringing you the news, but trust us: These releases are must-see, must-own treats!

Enjoy a special night of music from the composer of Mary Poppins a other beloved Disney gems. Richard M. Sherman: Songs of a Lifetime features a landmark solo performance by the legendary Disney composer, whom with his brother Robert, composed some of the most beloved songs of all time, including music for Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Don Hahn brings this once-in-a-lifetime concert to the screen, filmed entirely at historic EastWest Studio in Hollywood where Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and the Beach Boys famously recorded their albums. A brilliant cast of performers joins Richard, including the star of Broadway’s Mary Poppins Ashley Brown, as well as Juliana Hansen, Wesley Alfvin, and The Dapper Dans of Disneyland.


Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark is a captivating three-part series that follows renowned National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore as he documents threatened species at zoos, in nature preserves, and in the wild. Throughout the program scientists and naturalists reveal surprising and important information about why ensuring the future of these animals is so critical.

When complete, the Photo Ark will be one of the most comprehensive records of the world’s biodiversity. Through the film, audiences can journey with Sartore across the globe—to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania—to chronicle his experiences.


Frontline: Life on Parole is a insightful documentary that explores how Connecticut is rethinking its parole program. More than two years in the making, the program is a remarkable, firsthand look at why some people stay out of jail, why some go back, and how one state is trying to break the cycle of recidivism.

About half of all inmates put on parole in the U.S. end up violating the terms of their release and are sent back to prison. Parole is a condition that offers a taste of freedom but comes with strict prohibitions on whom you can live with, where you can go, what time you have to be home, and more. But across the country, states are trying to change the way their parole systems work in an effort to lower recidivism rates and reduce prison populations.

With unique access inside Connecticut’s corrections system, as well as camera-phone footage filmed by the parolees themselves, the film follows four former prisoners as they navigate the challenges of more than a year on parole—from finding work, to staying sober, to parenting—and doing it all while under intense supervision from the state.


It’s one of the best series on TV. The new season has already garnered lavish praise. During the recent UK broadcast, The Telegraph (London) was delighted to find that “Corfu was still sun-drenched, the titular family of lovable eccentrics remained in perpetual chaos and … the tone was, as before, one of warm nostalgia and deep, abiding silliness.” And The Guardian (London) hailed Season 2 as “sweet, and charming, and pretty, and funny…. [It’s] that rather nice thing: Sunday night family drama entertainment.”

Welcome to the release of The Durrells in Corfu Season 2. Inspired by the beloved memoirs of Gerald Durrell, The Durrells in Corfu features Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell, the harried widowed mother of a brood of recalcitrant children (this season ages 12 to 22). Louisa moves the floundering family from England to Corfu in the mid 1930s to recharge their lives—hers included.

The new season finds the family in dire financial straits, as usual. They have a new landlady, Vasilia, an island beauty who holds a mysterious grudge against Louisa and insists on prompt payment of the rent. And then . . . think we’re giving it all away? Tune in!


 

 

Music mavens have only one request from Santa: The massive “Unearthed”, a Johnny Cash canon

In the last decade of a career that spanned half a century, Johnny Cash capped off his musical legend with a breathtaking final act, recording a series of raw, stripped-down albums with producer Rick Rubin. Those albums reestablished Cash as a vital artist, while adding a remarkable closing chapter to his incredible body of work.

In November 2003, two months after Cash’s passing, Rubin’s label American Recordings released Unearthed, an expansive box set of material, most of it previously unreleased, recorded during the artist’s graceful twilight years. The set was originally planned to celebrate Cash and Rubin’s decade of recording together, and the final mixes had been sent to Cash, but he passed away before receiving them. The recordings, which run the stylistic gamut from stark balladry to punchy rockabilly to heartfelt gospel to classic covers, offer a stunning encapsulation of Cash’s wide-ranging musical vision, and provide a fitting epitaph for his iconic career.

To celebrate the Man in Black’s enduring and influential legacy, American Recordings and UMe have reconfigured this monolithic collection for its first-ever vinyl release, spreading Unearthed’s 79 songs over nine high-quality 180-gram vinyl LPs while expanding the original box’s distinctive packaging for the long-playing format.

Available November 3, the Unearthed vinyl box features a pair of cloth-bound books housed in an LP-sized black cloth slipcase. One book holds the nine LPs, while the other is a gorgeous 60-page coffee table book that incorporates Sylvie Simmons’ extensive liner notes, drawn from five days of interviews at Cash’s home in Tennessee, as well as Cash and Rubin’s comments on every song on the set, plus a copious selection of photographs from the recording sessions, including some of the last photos ever taken of Cash. Preorder Unearthed now: https://UMe.lnk.to/JohnnyCashUnearthed

Unearthed is divided into five thematic sections. Who’s Gonna Cry focuses on acoustic solo recordings, and finds Cash revisiting several classic songs from his legendary catalog. Trouble In Mind is oriented towards electric performances, and includes guest appearances by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Carl Perkins and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as Cash’s wife and longtime duet partner June Carter Cash. Redemption Songs is largely acoustic, and features duets with Joe Strummer, Fiona Apple, Nick Cave and Glen Campbell. My Mother’s Hymn Book demonstrates Cash’s lifelong affinity for gospel music, encompassing 15 time-honored gospel standards. Best of Cash On American offers a memorable 15-song selection of highlights from Cash’s first four albums with Rubin.

Indeed, in the years since Cash’s passing, the artist’s legend has grown and his music has gained in power.  It’s hard to think of a more appropriate and impressive sendoff for this one-of-a-kind American original than the massive musical statement that is Unearthed.

Universal Music Enterprises releases a double-vinyl LP “Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film”

Excited about the news from Universal Music Enterprises? Oui! Oui!

For the first time, the company has released a double-vinyl LP edition of Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film, the 2001 soundtrack which accompanied the release of his acclaimed motion picture. In addition to its standard black-vinyl release, the anniversary LP will also be released in a limited colored-vinyl edition that will be available exclusively through the online retailer, uDiscover.

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The film, a modern classic, is widely regarded as a reinvention of the film musical. Before the popularization of the mash-up, the “Elephant Love Medley” brought together a distillation of the twentieth century’s great songs into an argument-in-song between the Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. “Lady Marmalade” created a one-time-only super group. The album purposefully brought together an eclectic cross-section of artists and music creators to make a definitive musical statement at the dawn of the new millennium.  Where else can one hear the likes of Bono, Rufus Wainwright, Beck, David Bowie, Jose Feliciano, and Fatboy Slim all joining in a unified musical gesture?

“We wanted to celebrate the great songs of the twentieth century as a lens through which to view the world of the turn-of-the-century Paris Belle Epoque, while remaining visceral and relevant to the audience watching the film in 2001,” coos Baz Luhrmann.

The album is best known for its first single, “Lady Marmalade,” re-recorded by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink, produced by Missy Elliott and writing partner Rockwilder, with the lyrics transposing the original location from New Orleans to the title Paris nightclub.  “Lady Marmalade” reached #1 in its eighth week on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, spending five weeks at the top of the chart, the third airplay-only song in Billboard chart history to hit #1 without being released as a commercially available single. The soundtrack album debuted at #5, and peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, while topping the charts in Australia and New Zealand. It eventually reached #1 on the Top Soundtracks chart and was certified in April, 2002, double-platinum.

The song earned a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and MTV Video Music Awards for Best Video of the Year and Best Video from a Film, along with nominations for Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, Best Choreography and Best Art Direction. The album was Grammy-nominated in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Luhrmann (along with music supervisor Anton Monsted, under the music production pseudonym BLAM), is a co-producer on cast recordings on the album. Luhrmann, along with music director Marius DeVries, oversaw all of the cast recordings for the film during pre-production.

The album includes Beck’s “Diamond Dogs” and Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer’s take on T. Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” among the highlights. Other tracks include Ewan McGregor and Alessandro Safina’s take on Elton John’s “Your Song,” Nicole Kidman and McGregor’s love song, “Come What May,” originally composed by David Baerwald and Kevin Gilbert for Luhrmann’s previous film, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, but first heard here.

No doubt abut the success of No Doubt; they were never trapped in a box

No doubt about it:  No Doubt‘s eponymous 1992 debut   album   introduced  the world to a one-of-a-kind band that would soon dominate the music world with their dynamic sound. With such early hits as “Trapped   In A Box” exemplifying the group’s original ska-pop sound, No Doubt kicked off the band’s career with a bang, laying   the   groundwork for the   multi-platinum   success   that they’d achieve over the next twenty-plus years.

On November 10, UMe celebrates the 25th anniversary of No Doubt’s original release with a sparkling new vinyl edition of the album that originally put No Doubt on the map.   In addition to marking the debut disc’s first-ever vinyl release, the new LP will be pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl.  Additionally, exclusive limited-edition colored-vinyl versions will be available through No Doubt’s official website, as well as the online retail sites uDiscover and The Sound of Vinyl.  In addition to the album’s original front cover art, the back cover of the new vinyl edition features   a never-before-seen   band   photo   from the original photo session by photographer Chris Cuffaro.

No Doubt—Gwen Stefani on vocals, her brother Eric Stefani on keyboards, guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young—originally became a local sensation on their Southern California home turf, before bursting onto the national and international scenes with an effervescent, new-wave infused sound that offered an upbeat alternative to the angst-driven grunge-rock that dominated the charts at the time.cid:image003.jpg@01D341CC.BC588CD0

No Doubt’s early ska leanings are balanced on the album by a state-of-the-art pop sensibility that manifests itself on such tunes as “Let’s Get Back,” “Move On” and “Get On The Ball.”    Although the debut album was not a major hit at the time of its original release, it emerged as a fan favorite as No Doubt subsequently became one of their era’s most popular bands.

After releasing No Doubt, the band would score a series of smash singles and  massively  popular  albums  like  Tragic Kingdom,  Return  of Saturn,  Rock Steady  and Push and Shove, helping  to  secure  Gwen, Tony,  Tom  and  Adrian  their  place  in the   American    rock   music   pantheon.   The   band’s   massive success can be traced back to No Doubt, whose definitive new vinyl edition cements its pivotal place in pop history.

 

For the first time, all of Ella and Louis’ classic duets are in one neat package: “Cheek To Cheek: The Complete Duet Recordings”

By the time Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong collaborated on their first duet together, they were each already jazz giants. Fitzgerald was an acclaimed solo artist for Decca with many hits and more than 200 songs under her young belt, first with the Chick Webb Orchestra and then as leader of her own big band. Armstrong, known affectionately as Pops, was one of the leading singers, trumpet players and entertainers of the day; a star of both sound and screen. Together their talent knew no bounds and propelled them further to stardom, and today are some of the biggest highlights of both of their extraordinary careers.

For the first time, all of Fitzgerald and Armstrong’s classic duets are in one place: Cheek To Cheek: The Complete Duet Recordings, a new 4-CD and digital set will hit shelves November 10.

 

Part of Ella 100, Verve Records/UMe’s yearlong celebration of Fitzgerald’s centennial, the 75-track collection gathers their three timeless Verve albums–newly remastered versions of Ella and Louis, Ella and Louis Again and Porgy and Bess–along with all of their Decca singles, live recordings from Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl, recorded as a warm-up for Ella and Louis, plus several alternates and false starts from the Decca and Verve eras, illuminating their craft and good humor. Cheek To Cheek also includes unreleased material:“The Memphis Blues,” with Bing Crosby, from his radio show; several takes of Armstrong’s solo showcase, “Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess;” and an instrumental mix of “Red-Headed Woman.”

The comprehensive collection is rounded out with extensive essay by Ricky Riccardi, the world’s leading authority on Armstrong, plus detailed annotations and rare images from the archives.  Need it fast? Pre-order Cheek To CheekUMe.lnk.to/CheekToCheek4CD

In addition to gathering all of Fitzgerald and Armstrong’s duets, Cheek To Cheek also gives a unique opportunity to hear what it was like to be in the studio with these two titans. The closing disc is rife with a bevy of alternate takes and false starts, displaying their camaraderie, with many previously unreleased, until now.