01/20/06
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

Sound and vision collide this week with long-awaited DVD titles from hair-metal rockers Bon Jovi, legendary jazz vocal femme fatale Billie Holiday and '80s power pop trio The Police.


Bon Jovi -- Slippery When Wet-DualDisc (Mercury)

It is amazing to think that it is has been nearly two decades since Slippery When Wet (1986) became Bon Jovi's multi-platinum breakout. The album spawned the Top Ten "Wanted Dead Or Alive," as well as a pair of chart-toppers with "You Give Love A Bad Name," and "Livin' On A Prayer."

The mid 1980s release perfectly coincided with the eruption of MTV and lead singer Jon Bon Jovi's pretty boy mop top was tailor made for the medium. Using state-of-the-art technology, this DualDisc features a CD and a DVD -- with audio, video and computer content  -- on a single two-sided disc.

The audio CD layer contains a newly remastered edition of the entire Slippery When Wet long player and it has never sounded better. Flip the disc over and get your choice of either an ultra high resolution stereo mix or become surrounded by the simply breathtaking Dolby Digital 5.1 option. The music really comes alive, resulting in the discovery of previously hidden details and otherwise obscured instrumental interplay on practically every number.

Deeper album cuts such as the fist-pumper "Raise Your Hands" and the metal power ballad "Never Say Goodbye," are two of the best examples in 5.1. Upping the ante even further are the full-length videos for "You Give Love A Bad Name," "Livin' On A Prayer," "Wanted Dead Or Alive," "Never Say Goodbye" and "Wild In The Streets." Time has treated them all surprisingly well. The images appear much crisper than when they were plastered across MTV seemingly 24/7 during the era that the network actually played videos.

Billie Holiday -- The Ultimate Collection (Verve/Decca/Hip-O)

This DVD was extracted from Billie Holiday's Ultimate Collection Deluxe Sound + Vision anthology. Up first are a host of rare motion picture performances. "Saddest Tale" is the earliest, dating back to the 1935 Duke Ellington short Symphony In Black, A Rhapsody Of Negro Life. "The Blues Are Brewin'," and "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans," pair Holiday with Louis Armstrong from the 1947 motion picture New Orleans.

As television became a more popular entertainment outlet, Lady Day made a few rare appearances. "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," a sultry "Billie's Blues," "My Man," and "Fine And Mellow," are all from the 1957 CBS-TV show Stars Of Jazz. The final Holiday video in this collection was shot less than a year before her death. "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," is taken from a '58 guest shot on Art Ford's Jazz Party.

The last pair of visuals are homages to the two artists who visibly influenced Holiday the most. Stretching nearly 30 years earlier is a 1929 short of Bessie Smith singing "St. Louis Blues," backed by the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, under the direction of James P. Johnson. Finally, Louis Armstrong's 1933 take of "I Cover The Waterfront," is a real find as it was filmed while Satchmo was on tour in Copenhagen.

The bulk of the audio performances were recorded at a pair of venerable New York City venues -- the legendary Savoy Ballroom ("Swing! Brother, Swing!" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me") circa June of 1937 and the one and only Metropolitan Opera House ("Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" and "I'll Get By") in January of 1944. Fans who want to go beyond the bandstand to the men behind the music will find the next segment of interviews a font of information and reminiscences.

Among the key participants are jazz music revolutionary and discoverer of Lady Day -- John Hammond, as well as musicians Jo Jones, Roy Eldridge, Tiny Grimes, Billy Eckstine and Jimmy Rowles. Concluding the disc are two rarities: a rehearsal of Holiday from 1955 singing her trademark "Jeepers Creepers," as well as a broadcast conversation between Mike Wallace and Lady Day for the Dumont Network's Night Beat in November of 1956.

The Police -- Synchronicity Concert (A&M/Universal)

After nearly a decade out-of-print, the Godley & Crème-directed Synchronicity Concert has been resurrected and significantly augmented for this nearly two-hour expanded edition.

The original 90 minute programme looks stunning and the newly mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround audio options will put you front-row-centre. In terms of performance, the entire concert is a high-energy marathon of wall-to-wall classics. The opening rave up "Synchronicity I" gives way to a playful call-and-response on "Walking In Your Footsteps." Sting plays cameraman during the finale of "Walking On The Moon," telling the audience " … now you'll see yourselves as I see you…" as he films them.

Nestled among hits such as "Message In A Bottle," "Wrapped Around Your Finger," "King Of Pain," "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," "Every Breath You Take," and "Spirits In The Material World," are a few lesser-known tunes. "Hole In My Life," "One World (Not Three)," "Tea In The Sahara," "Can't Stand Losing You," and a show-stopping "So Lonely" are all featured performances.

The bonus material contains four additional songs: "Synchronicity II," "Roxanne," "Invisible Sun," and "Don’t Stand So Close To Me" -- complete with multiple camera angles allowing the viewer to direct the action on screen. Not enough? Then check out the vintage Synchronicity Concert trailer and band interview shot in Melbourne, Australia at what turned out to be the last gig of the final Police tour of the 1980s.


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.



 

Search Now:
In Association with Amazon.com