Beautiful Melodies telling you Terrible Things: New Tune Tuesday 9.27.11
Ah, New Tune Tuesday, it's been a while. Though there has been a few good released in the time I've been out gallopanting around town with a camera, we haven't missed a lot. Couldn't miss this week though, as there some good new (and old-new) ear bud that make a trip to your favorite record store more than worthwhile...
I'll set the scene for you, it's fall 1993 and a band opens up their tour for their newest album here in Phoenix. Somehow this band is big news because this is on the news, with a brief clip from the show and an interview with the lead singer, who's horsey voice gone from the show, basically says he has nothing to say. My Mom talks about how this guy can't sing and how playing that music just ruins your voice and isn't good. I didn't care at that moment that my Mom went to a respected college getting a degree in music, but from that clip I heard, I knew she was wrong. But I didn't think anymore of it, I was after all, too young to really obsessive over a band or songwriter.
Fast forward a few of years. She's tall and slender, dresses cool, talks cool and hey, her legs go on for what seems like miles. More importantly? The t-shirt she's wearing, it's a naked baby in a pool chasing a dollar bill. My ticket in with this girl, I knew it then, was figuring out what that t-shirt was all about. So I dug up every Nirvana release I could that weekend at (the now defunct) Warehouse Music store. I came into class that next Monday a whiz kid on the band, and am so excited to talk about their debut album, 'Bleach.' It was of course then I found out she never heard of that album, didn't care it was their first album, in reality, all she cared about was the album 'Nevermind,' cause hey, it was on the radio and sold millions and was so hip! At least I ultimately ended up with Lady Hawk out of the deal, she likes 'In Utero' better than 'Nevermind,' talk about original!
Oh well, if it wasn't for that shallow bimbo I never would have had my teen angst years and the rest of my 90's fueled by the muddy banks of the Wishkah. I also wouldn't have been so excited for today...
RELEASE OF THE WEEK (9.27.11): Nirvana 'Live at the Paramount' Blu-Ray
"So like 2% of you people are dressed in costumes, which personally I think is very lame...unless you're all supposed to be punk rockers..."
~Dave Grohl before "Floyd the Barber"~
(note: 'Live at Paramount' was a Halloween concert)
What's that you say at home, "the new tune tuesday release of the week is a...blu ray?" That's right, friends, so get over it. Yes, to you in the corner, even more so than the super deluxe expanded Biblically sized 20th anniversary of 'Nevermind,' but I'll get to that soon enough...
So you may remember, when I first talked about this now released batch of Nirvana 'Nevermind' 20th anniversary goodies back in June (in THIS New Tune Tuesday) I ventured a guess on what the "DVD" of the 4-CD/1-DVD package would be, I guess that it would be the Halloween 1991 "homecoming show" from the Paramount theatre in Washington. Thankfully I was right. I also mentioned it was professionally filmed (as in, shot on 16mm film) and so that it could make a better quality release than even "Live at Reading." I was right again as DGC and Universal released this blu ray heavily marketed as "the only Nirvana concert shot on film" and so thus "the only Nirvana concert available in HD." Indeed, this thing looks beautiful. To me, when it comes to a concert, there's no better look than 16mm film. It gives you a deep depth of field that's need for most shots, yet still gives DOF control when needed for those close in shots, and it just picks up the lighting beautifully. Indeed, Nirvana never has, and unfortunately never will get the chance to, look better than this 'Live at Paramount' blu ray release.
While the DVD edition packaged within the afore-mentioned super duper exclusive deluxe 'Nevermind' set has a few bonus music videos and easter eggs, the blu ray is a little more bare-bones. It does give you the option of viewing the film in it's original 1:37:1 full frame aspect ratio (in essence, 4:3 for you kiddies at home) that the film captured. It also offers a 16:9 cropped in widescreen (much like netflix and most HD stations do to 2:35 framed films) to give a faux-widescreen feel. 1:37:1 is certainly the way to go, as you don't get any crop, all the film shot is there to be seen. It's a wonderful transfer with absolutely NO crop, even in the corners you get just a BIT of rounded edge from the film negative, you still see an occasional piece of small hair in the film gate, letting you know they didn't do any excessive noise reduction. The AVC encoded bit rate stays pretty constant in the upper 20mbps range and the audio is absolutely killer encoded from 96Khz/24-bit in a variety of choices.
The concert itself? Probably the closest any of these video releases come to showing what a Nirvana show as like on most given nights. If you've checked out the DVD on the 'With the Lights Out' box set or the 'Live! Tonight! Sold out!' DVD, you've seen a few glimpses of this show, but it's best seen in it's entirety. The band opens up with (one of their favorite songs to cover) an excellent version of the Vaselines "Jesus Don't Want me for a Sunbeam" and they move through a 19-song set that features 'Nevermind' almost in it's entirety, some of the best tracks of their previous LP, 'Bleach,' such as "About a Girl" and "School," as well as one of my favorite songs off of that record, their cover of "Love Buzz." Theres also a little glimpse into the future with "Rape Me." While they mostly go from song to song, there is some in between song chatter here and there and Cobain opens up the show, before even playing a song, by wishing everyone a "happy halloween."
For those that don't know, this was a homecoming show for the boys, not just for being back in the state of Washington, but being back in the US. They had been abroad touring, hearing about their new record 'Nevermind' absolutely exploding back home, but it really wasn't until they got back they realized just what the "Smells like Teen Spirit" single was doing for them. So in some ways, this is the last time you'd ever see Nirvana like this. Soon after they were the biggest band in the world, Cobain was struggling with his newfound "boy genius," "voice of a generation" fame and some of the fun would certainly die for the trio. This is Nirvana before they were the headliners at some of the biggest festivals around, before Cobain suddenly decided 'Nevermind' wasn't a good record because it "wasn't punk enough." This is when they were, simply put, the best (not biggest) band in the world and certainly the best band since the Replacements. We're lucky to have this piece of musical history in such fantastic quality, both on the audio and video side of things.
The Numbers: Video - 4.5/5 Beautifully filmed on 16mm film in controlled lighting, I'm so glad they give us the option to watch the "4:3" un-cropped film. Nice bitrate too.
Audio - 5/5 Fantastic mix from the soundboard with little audience interference.
Bonus - 0/5 If you're in this for the bonus material, pick up the deluxe 'Nevermind' box, that DVD is the only one with bonus material.
Aesthetically Speaking - 4.5/5 Beautiful bluish (and slightly grainy) screen grab of all three members on the cover, a nice mini-booklet with pictures and scans of posters (man, Nirvana, Mudhoney and Bikini Kill at one show? those were the days) and a nice picture of Cobain playing guitar on his knees for the inner sleeve case cover. The Disc is a Halloween take on the classic Nirvana "smiley face" logo. Good package.
Available on: Blu Ray, DVD, Special DVD with 'Nevermind' Deluxe Box, iTunes
Note: Until December, the Blu Ray is exclusive to Best Buy
Other Notable released (9.27.11)
So it's really Nirvana week, as we also have multiple version of the 20th Anniversary of their classic 'Nevermind' out. Let's break them down quickly:
- 1CD - Re-mastered album only
- 2CD- Re-Mastered album, B-Sides, Smart Studio Sessions, Boombox rehearsals, BBC sessions
- 4LP - Pretty much the 2CD version in vinyl form with some lovely packaging.
- 4CD/1DVD - All of the 2CD set plus the original Butch Vig mixes of the album, the full Paramount concert on CD as well as the concert on DVD, this one with a few bonuses. oh, and a Deluxe hardbound book. There's only 10,000 of these in the US, my number is 3,822 BTW.
So let's get this out of the way, don't buy the 1CD. All you get is the album "remastered," and by remastered they mean victim of the "loudness war." Don't know what I'm talking about? Google it, read into it. You'll see why so many music fans have moved away from harshly mixed CD's and back to the warmth of vinyl. However, honestly, you probably won't notice, but still, I wish the record companies would allow US to turn up the volume on our own. So you're left with the 2CD and the big box, so the question is, is the box worth the extra $60/70? Well, it depends on what kind of fan you are really. This set isn't the be all end all trip to the moon some hoped for, that is clear. But the original Vig mixed album is certainly interesting, as it certainly takes off some of the finished albums polish while leaving all the power, and then the book itself is really fantastically put together, but after seeing it a couple times, is it going to end up on your shelf never to be seen again? I guess that depends on you. Also, where's the, Vig quoted "REM gone punk," outtake "Song in D?" This SHOULD have everything, right? All in all, it is a good set with some great additions, but these few questions and the loudness war leave my favorite Nirvana release of the day to indeed be the 'Live at Paramount' blu ray.
Available on: Way too many editions, CD, Vinyl, iTunes
'The Whole Love,' Wilco
Don't expect a whole lot of growth on this self-released Wilco album. If you've heard 'Sky Blue Sky' or 'Wilco - the Album' it's more of the same as far as tone and style, but that isn't to say that's a bad thing. The record is another solid release from the group, and it is more daring overall than 'Wilco the Album,' certainly better lyrically, and while it's not 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,' it's another solid album from the group.
Available on: CD, Deluxe 2CD, Vinyl and mp3
'Roots,' Johnny Winter
Winter is really a national treasure, despite the drugs and hard living Winter is still going strong. Despite his health leaving him to have to sit down the entire time, the show I saw back in 2009 was certainly one of the best shows that year. 'Roots' is aptly titled, as it's Winter playing versions of the songs that were the root of his career and style. Produced by Paul Nelson (a great axe player in his own right) it also has some other guests such as Derek Trucks, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes and Winter's brother Edgar. Winter is a true legend and we're lucky to still have him around...
Available on: CD, Vinyl
'Neighborhoods,' Blind 182
What's that? Am I suddenly back as a freshman in high school?! Yes, friends, Blink 182 is back and...they haven't grown as artists as all. If what you want is a bunch of guys in their late 30's doing a slightly less youthful angst version of what they've always done, this is for you. I'm not ripping that, you know what you're going to get, or at least what you probably want to get, and you get it. Still, Blink 182 will always be the band that in high school a kid I once knew named JM used his knowledge of how to play their songs on guitar to get girls to come back with him to his house after school to "hang out" and listen to him play. Yes, Blink 182 and the immature elements of high school, sort of like peanut butter and jelly I suppose.
Available on: CD, Deluxe Version, Clean Version, mp3