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MPI Networks presents
Music Scene: The Best of 1969-1970ˇVol.2 (1969-1970)

"But without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau/Without him Caesar would have stood alone/He's the one who gives his body as a weapon in a war/And without him all this killing can't go on."
- Buffy Sainte-Marie (from her anthem, Universal Soldier)

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: August 08, 2001

Stars: David Steinberg
Other Stars: Davy Jones, Mama Cass Elliot, Groucho Marx, Three Dog Night, Stevie Wonder, John Mayall, Judy Collins, James Brown, The Everly Brothers, Dusty Springfield, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, Chuck Berry, John Sebastian, Janis Joplin, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bo Diddley, Tony Bennett, Johnny Cash, Emmett Kelly, others
Director: Stan Harris

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (psychedelia and leftist politics)
Run Time: 02h:30m:38s
Release Date: May 22, 2001
UPC: 030306639925
Genre: pop

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C+C-C- B-

DVD Review

David Steinberg had the dubious honor of presenting ABC's Music Scene, a variety showcase for the chart-toppers of Billboard Magazine for a short run in the Fall Season of 1969 (with one or 2 episodes spilling over into January of 1970). While I'm certain the producers imagined that by combining elements of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Hullabaloo, The Smothers' Brothers Comedy Hour and The Sonny & Cher Show, they had a satirical comedy/pop music combo that would be wildly popular with the young audience of the day; it appears to not have lasted a season.

MPI presents 4 more episodes and 21 bonus tracks from the short-lived series on Volume 2, featuring some popular acts whose songs showed up somewhere on the Billboard charts during that time. The programs included here seem to have dropped the ensemble of comedians that assisted Steinberg in earlier episodes, and the first one presented does not even feature a guest host. Mama Cass Elliot guests for the 2nd show; Davy Jones appears in episode 3 and the venerable (and subdued) Groucho Marx ushers Music Scene out in its final show.

This is an uneven, mixed bag of performances (something I suspect led to the show's demise), with those of quality coming few-and-far-between. In the four featured shows, the standout live performances are Joe Cocker's cover of The Beatles' Something and Buffy Sainte-Marie's fierce Universal Soldier. Other songs worthy of note is an early favorite of mine from Gordon Lightfoot, (That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me (performed live) and Neil Diamond doing Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, as well as his own Holly Holy (both unfortunately lip-synched).

The icing on this fallen cake is of course Groucho, who obviously would not have used a script if they tried to hand him one.

David: What do you look for in a girl?
Groucho: What do I look for IN a girl...?

At 80, he still had whatever he had that made him a beloved comedic icon. Brandishing his ubiquitous cigar, he runs over Steinberg's every attempt to end the program:

David: I'd like to thank the other guests on the show: Bo Diddley....
Groucho: Bo Diddley? That's the dirtiest name I ever heard. That's what a baby does, isn't it? Bo Diddley, INDEED.

Some of this disc's best performances are included in the bonus tracks (discussed in "extras" section below).

November 10, 1969
James Brown - Mother Popcorn
Keith Barbour - Echo Park
The Everly Brothers - Bowling Green
Dusty Springfield - A Brand New Me; The Look of Love
The Everly Brothers - Medley: Cathy's Clown/All I Have to Do is Dream/Wake Up, Little Susie/Bird Dog/Bye Bye Love
Joe Cocker - Something

December 1, 1969 (32m:38s)
Mama Cass Elliot - New World Coming
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Down on the Corner
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Ye-Me-Le; Witchita Lineman
Neil Diamond - Both Sides Now
Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Night Time is the Right Time
Neil Diamond - Holly Holy

December 22, 1969 (38m:06s)
Davy Jones - Together
Frankie Laine - Jezebel; Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain
Gordon Lightfoot - (That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me; Saturday Clothes
Chuck Berry - Roll Over Beethoven; Johnny B. Goode
Jerry Butler - What's the Use of Breaking Up

January 12, 1970ˇFinale (38m:55s)
John Sebastian - She's a Lady
Buffy Sainte-Marie - Universal Soldier
Lee Michaels - Who Can Want More
Bo Diddley - Hey Bo Diddley
Groucho Marx - Father's Day
John Sebastian - Rainbows All Over Your Blues

Bonus Tracks: (see Extras section below)

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As with Volume 1, Music Scene: The Best of 1969-1970ˇVol.2 is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame television aspect ratio. Some of the segments on this disc are surprisingly sharp for their age. Often, though, the colors are over-saturated, causing bleeds, banding, shimmering and graininess. Still, for an unsuccessful program some 30 years old, the image is certainly better than one might expect.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: With so many different types of audio comprising the original source (some songs lip-synched to tape, some performed completely live and others a mix of both), it is be difficult to rate this transfer fairly. There is noticeable hiss at times, as well as clipping and drops out in random spots. As with the image transfer, not too bad for its relative age.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
4 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Twenty-one bonus performances
  2. Single-fold booklet
Extras Review: Again, as with Volume 1, some of the best performances are included in the bonus section, which consists of 21 selected tracks from various episodes. It was pretty scary to "re-live" some of these songs and recall just how popular they were at the time (Zager & Evans' In the Year 2525, for example). Tony Bennett's spots are marred by the cheesy set-ups more prevalent on the first volume. Pete Seeger does a rousing live performance of his anti-war statement, Bring Them Home, and Joplin rips out Try from the soles of her feet. But my favorite here is the silver-voiced Judy Collins, performing her version of the traditional folk song, Pretty Polly, as clear and haunting as I have ever heard. It was delightful to be reminded just how gifted she is.

There are ample chapter stops for both the feature and the bonus tracks, one per performance. Bonus tracks can be played either individually or as a set, and include:

The Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back
Sonny James - Since I Met You Baby
Zager & Evans - In the Year 2525
Mary McCaslin - Help
Tony Bennett - I Gotta Be Me; Smile
Mary Hopkin - There's No Business Like Show Business
Pete Seeger - Bring Them Home
R.B. Greaves - Take a Letter Maria
Tony Bennett - What the World Needs Now is Love
Johnny Cash - Blistered; See Ruby Fall
Stevie Wonder - Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
Three Dog Night - Easy to be Hard
Della Reese - MacArthur Park
The Cowsills - Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Smith - Baby It's You
Moms Mabley - It's Your Thing
Bobby Sherman - La La La; I'll Be your Baby Tonight
R.B. Greaves - Take a Letter Maria (yes, twice)
Janis Joplin - Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)
John Mayall - The Laws Must Change
Judy Collins - Pretty Polly

Four brief promos for the show featuring members of The Rolling Stones might be of particular interest to their fans, but, strangely (as on Volume 1), no performance by the band is included anywhere on the disc.

Only English subtitles are available on this disc, whereas Vol. 1 included Spanish and French. Note that these pertain to the spoken audio, not to song lyrics.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

"You're not gonna have David Steinberg to kick around anymore." - David Steinberg

As the budget for this soon-to-be-cancelled series was obviously diminishing, the omission of the comedy ensemble was actually a blessing. Groucho's humor, though limited, is a priceless inclusion. Although few performances are noteworthy, those that are make this worth at least a rental. Fans of folk music from this era might find there is enough material here to warrant adding this disc to their collection.


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