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MPI Networks presents
Music Scene: The Best of 1969-1970—Vol.1  (1969-1970)

"...and a couple of poems by Rod McKuen. I guess everyone must be in to Rod McKuen, man."
- guest host Michael Cole

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: October 19, 2000

Stars: David Steinberg, Lily Tomlin
Other Stars: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Dells, Roger Miller, Bobby Sherman, Buffy Sainte-Marie, B.B. King, Tommy Roe, Paul Anka, The Temptations, The Grass Roots, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Eydie Gorme, Isaac Hayes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, Everly Brothers, Mary Hopkin, Lulu, Lou Rawls, Little Richard, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Charley Pride, Three Dog Night, Tom Jones, The Rascals, Sly & the Family Stone, Oliver, Richie Havens, Tommy Smothers, Michael Cole, The Rolling Stones, others
Director: Stan Harris

MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 03h:45m:00s
Release Date: October 17, 2000
UPC: 030306633428
Genre: pop


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+C-C- B-

DVD Review

Music Scene was a variety showcase for the chart-toppers of Billboard Magazine in the heyday of "flower-power" music. MPI presents 4 episodes and 21 "bonus tracks" from the short-lived series on this disc, featuring some of the biggest names from the Top Ten charts across the board, from country to pop to rock'n'roll. The show's hosts, lead by David Steinberg and including Lily Tomlin, dish up the acts with sociopolitical sketches filling space in between. The 3rd and 4th episodes include guest hosts Tommy Smothers and Michael Cole (Pete from TV's Mod Squad), respectively—presumably an attempt to boost ratings. As I have no recollection of this program at all, I suspect the attempt failed. Maybe it was that Sugar, Sugar(by the nonexistent band, "The Archies") stayed on the charts too long, undermining the show's base premise—or the attempt to commercialize bands whose music protested against commercialization.

Some of the songs are memorable, but only two of the performances really stand out: Janis Joplin ripping out Kozmic Blues, and Buffy Sainte-Marie's electrifying He's a Keeper of the Fire (in the bonus section). The Temptations do a solid I Can't Get Next To You; CSN&Y are in top form on Down By the River (if passionless); Smith does Baby It's You exactly as I remember it and Richie Havens does his Richie Havens thing on Rocky Raccoon. Sly & the Family Stone seem toned down, despite slipping Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey into their set and the godfather himself, James Brown meanders through an interesting piece like a zombie. Performances by Eydie Gorme, Paul Anka and Roger Miller are snorers (and probably were for the younger audience of the time as well). And Merle Haggard is openly mocked in his introduction for Okie from Muskogee ("We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee/ We don't take our trips on LSD....") by Smothers, who mimes a toke from a joint as the tape rolls.

While most of the acts appear live in the studio, others seem to be on tape; some play live, most are lip-synched. The overall look is indicative of the times: stage sets and props consist of large, geometric shapes in bright neon colors, optical spirals and are actually pretty spare. The camerawork is typically "experimental", with quick zooms in and out, soft focus and split-screen shots—attempting a crazy, "psychedelic" feel. The performers turn every episode into a "fringefest": suede or polyester, the strands are everywhere; if there were a contest, Sly would win with his entry, hanging several feet down from his sleeves. Hey, not that there's anything wrong with that, I still have my suede fringed jacket I bought that same year (my little brother wrested it from me at one point and even wrote his name in it, but somehow I got it back).

Classic retro fun—on DVD when you are in control and can zip past Michael Cole reading Rod McKuen.

Tracks:

September 22, 1969—Premier (38m:33s)
James Brown - World
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Down By The River
Buck Owens - Tall Dark Stranger
Oliver - Jean
Three Dog Night - Easy To Be Hard
Tom Jones - I'll Never Fall In Love Again
Music Scene Singers - Sugar, Sugar


October 6, 1969 (34m:22s)
The Rascals - People Got To Be Free
The Dells - Oh What A Night
Roger Miller - King Of The Road
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Here I Go Again
The Rascals - Carry Me Back
Roger Miller - Where Have All The Average People Gone
Bobby Sherman - Little Woman
The Archies (Recorded) - Sugar, Sugar


October 20, 1969(35m:32s)
Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People/Dance To The Music
Merle Haggard - Okie From Muskogee
Pat Williams - Music Scene Theme
Bobby Sherman - Little Woman
Steve Lawrence - The Drifter
Tommy Smothers & David Steinberg - Comedy Routine
Sly & The Family Stone - Hot Fun In The Summertime/Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey
The Temptations - I Can't Get Next To You


October 27, 1969 (38m:54s)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls Of Fire
Ten Years Later - Bad Scene
Smith - Baby It's You
Richie Havens - Rocky Raccoon
Jerry Lee Lewis - She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye
Janis Joplin - Kozmic Blues
Michael Cole - Rod Mckuen Railroad Poetry
Isaac Hayes - Walk On By
The Archies (Animated) - Sugar, Sugar


Bonus Tracks: (see Extras section below)

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Music Scene is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame television aspect ratio. Some of the segments on this disc look amazingly sharp and vivid for 30-year-old videotape; when it's good, it's very good. MPI has done especially well with the clarity and color, but perhaps a bit too well: the colors are over-saturated in various sections; bleeds, banding, shimmering and graininess are scattered throughout. I detected no pixelation or edge enhancement and while this transfer is perfectly watchable, the distortions are a nuisance.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: With so many different types of audio inherent in the original source (some songs lip-synched to tape, some performed completely live and some a mix of both), it might be difficult to rate this transfer fairly. There is hiss present in some performances; the audio clips or drops out in others. It is basically an enjoyable if not astounding listen. Most of the transfer seems to come through as stereo, but random tracks are clearly monaural.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 40 cues
Music/Song Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
4 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Other
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Some of the best performances are included in the bonus section (01h:18m:30s), which consists of selected tracks from other episodes:

Mary Hopkin - In My Life
Lou Rawls - I Can't Make It Alone/Just Squeeze Me
Marva Whitney - Things Got To Get Better
Joe Cocker - Delta Lady
Lily Tomlin - Comedy Routine
Three Dog Night - Eli's Coming
Tommy Roe - Dizzy
Spirit - 1984
Della Reese - Wedding Bell Blues
Lou Rawls - Your Good Thing (Is About To End)
Gary Puckett - This Girl Is A Woman Now
The Grass Roots - Heaven Knows
Lulu - Oh Me Oh My (I'm A Fool For You, Baby)
Little Richard - Lucille/ Tutti Frutti
Bobby Sherman - Sounds Along The Way
Eydie Gorme - Tonight I'll Say A Prayer
B.B. King - Just A Little Love
Paul Anka - My Way
Charley Pride - Louisiana Man
Buffy Sainte-Marie - He's A Keeper Of The Fire
The Everly Brothers - Medley: Rock And Roll Music/The End/Aquarius/If I Were A Carpenter/The Price Of Love/Games People Play

There are 4 brief promos for the show done by reluctant members of The Rolling Stones (including Keith Richards in a "spacesuit" costume) that might be of particular interest to their fans, but, strangely, no performance by the band is included anywhere on the disc.

Subtitles are available in 3 languages, but only for the spoken audio; the song lyrics are not translated.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

No, I was not thrilled with this disc, but it was a bit of fun, and Joplin's Kozmic Blues is worth the price of admission. If you're feeling nostalgic for your afro or tie-dyeds, or for a time when inter-racial relationships and feminism were shocking, there are some fun, classic songs here and this is surely worth a rental.

 


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