Universal has created a new DVD series offerring that can become a nice addition to your CD library and may, in fact reside on the shelves next to their CD counterparts. The series is called 20th Century Masters: The DVD Collection and is so named because of their popular 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection series.
These DVDs are priced at a very affordable level, generally under $6.00 US and you get a very simple menu with a play-all option along with the individual song selection. The sound choices are only in PCM Stereo 2.0 and the video is only full screen but that's a small price to pay for the luxury and pleasure of having favourite videos readily available in one easy package.
For the purpose of this review, we looked at 4 DVD titles for Tears For Fears, Styx, ABC, and Asia. Two of those bands (Styx, Asia) came from 70s sensibilities when MTV began while the other two, Tears for Fears and ABC enjoyed the 'ready for it' saviness of MTV years.
The first, Styx, utilized concert footage to sell their songs as they had very little understanding of the medium of MTV videos. Thrown into the fire, as it were, their videos were a transition of actual footage from concerts (Blue Collar Man; Come Sail Away; The Best of Times; Boat on the River) to a rudimentary understanding of video extending fom their own stage "conceptual plays" (Mr Roboto) and finally their full blown attempt at video acting (Too Much Time On My Hands). Lucky us that this set of 6 videos are mostly concert footage as their acting left a lot to be desired. The songs are great and the set enjoyable especially if you're a Styx fan and wax nostalgic. Styx still sells well.
Asia was a supergroup put together by 70s man about town, John Wetton. Wetton was already a well heeled musician having been in King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK, and Wishbone Ash so it was a natural progression for him. Joining him was Yes ex-pat, Steve Howe; Atomic Rooster and Emerson, Lake and Palmer refugee Carl Palmer; and Geoff Downes from The Buggles (Video Killed the Radio Star) and a short-lived Yes stint. This set contains 5 videos, all early attempts in the beginning of the MTV years. And they show. Of course the songs are great and the videos themselves are nostalgic, but they fail to ignite imagination and thus are for the fan of Asia. But still, where else will you find a collection of Asia videos (Heat of the Moment, Only Time Will Tell, Wildest Dreams, Don't Cry, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes).
As the years progressed further into the 80s, the medium of videos became sharper and more interesting rather than a mess of duplicating screens filling up the TV tube and swirly colour flashes from motion. Tears For Fears videos highlighted this with five songs. Four of the videos are songs from their immensely popular Songs From the Big Chair (Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Mother's Talk (US Remix), and Head Over Heels) while the final video/song is "Sowing the Seeds of Love" from their followup album, 1989's The Seeds of Love. This DVD collection is easily the best of this bunch if not only because the songs are so recognizeable and fulfilling. This duo is attempting a comeback in 2004. While their talent is deep it yet remains to be seen whether Tears for Fears can endure the ravages of time.
Finally, We looked at another 80s band, ABC, which was mainly a vehicle for the vocals of Martin Fry. Regardless of who the band actually was, they had a short-lived series of great songs including "Poison Arrow" and "Look of Love" from their first album, The Lexicon of Love. "(How To Be A) Millionaire" made further use of style by becoming a cartoon and thus helping to advance the medium of video. However, ABC, despite their decline in record sales, actually became better musically. Making another climb with the slick and stylish "Be Near Me" and eventually ending the endurance of the band with "When Smokey Sings", their last major hit. This video hits package show a wider range of style as the band progressed in their career making it a video evolution of ABC as well as a song catalog. Super cool collection.
Bottom line: I love what these things are and what they give to us. Cost-wise, they are as cheap as music can get and a great value for the money. I look forward to more titles as they become available.