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Rhino presents
Sugarcubes: The DVD (2004)

"Planet, the universe and me."
- Björk - Planet

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: February 07, 2006

Stars: Björk
Other Stars: Einar Benediktsson, Siggi Baldursson, Thor Jonson, Magga Ornolfsdottir, Bragi Olafsson
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:33m:44s
Release Date: February 07, 2006
UPC: 603497046928
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Björk remains one of the most fascinating female artists in contemporary music. Whether it's her cupie-doll looks hiding an undeniable sex appeal, or a vocal range that is earth-shattering and chill-inducing, the Icelandic chanteuse is the quintessential "misunderstood genius." Her eccentric nature first came to the forefront as a member of Iceland's super group, the Sugarcubes, which, as legend says, formed on the day Björk gave birth to her first son back in 1986. The band's debut album, Life's Too Good, was released in 1988, and featured the instant hits Deus and Motorcrash.

Björk remains the reason to get acquainted with the Sugarcubes, but the six-piece outfit also features vocalist Einar Benediktsson, drummer Siggi Baldursson, guitarist (and Björk's ex-husband) Thor Jonson, keyboardist Magga Ornolfsdottir, and bass player Bragi Olafsson. The most controversial member of the group was arguably Einar, whose odd, often off-putting vocal style alienated fans upon the 1989 release of their second album, Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week! Einar had a similar effect on the rest of the band members (especially Björk), often feuding with them. Their third album, 1992's Stick Around for Joy, received better critical acclaim, but proved to be their swan song, as they disbanded soon after its release.

Björk's chameleonic nature (and, again, unnerving beauty) is fully on display in the 12 videos included here on Sugarcubes: The DVD. She's simply radiant in Regina and Walkabout; during a sequence in the latter, she's mesmerizing in even the most ridiculous costumes (and hair-dos). For some reason, Einar's voice is more tolerable in these videos than on the records. Given that he's in a lobster costume in Regina and often shows up with odd make-up on, it's a bit surprising that he isn't more annoying. Regardless, these videos are an excuse to marvel at Björk, as she gives new meaning to the word "presence" in each clip.

Two of the band's best songs, Planet and Walkabout are among the classics that are on board. The videos span all three albums, and include an early one for Birthday featuring Björk singing in Icelandic. That clip and its English counterpart bookend the DVD, with the inclusion of the non-album track, Luftgitar serving as a real bonus for die-hard fans. The lesser Sugarcubes tunes are dominated by Einar's vocals, but such tracks were never released as singles, and therefore, aren't included in this collection. Instead, the disc is rounded out by the Björk-led songs Cold Sweat, Deus, Motorcrash, and Eat the Menu.

Disbanding before the big grunge craze, it's too bad the Sugarcubes didn't get the chance to make a bigger splash in the alternative music scene. Of the band's two lead vocalists, it's a blessing to the music industry that Björk is the one that has gone on to an illustrious solo career. Einar has gone on to other musical ventures as well, but nothing as prolific as his waifish counterpart. For that reason, I guess it's good that Sugarcubes: The DVD is a retrospective instead of a reunion disc.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: While the quality varies greatly from video-to-video, overall these full-frame presentations are decent to look at. All of the clips feature quite a bit of grain and dirt, but the older ones are much worse. The one constant pleasure is the vivid color scheme that perfectly fits the perky, offbeat nature of the songs themselves.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: While fans might complain that richer, more active audio isn't available, the Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes are adequate. The songs don't sound much different than they do on their original CDs, which will be just fine for most listeners. Vocal clarity is consistently sharp, and is always seamlessly integrated into the rest of the mix, especially during the newer videos.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 9 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extras are bonus videos for Hit, Walkabout, and Vitamin.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

A band whose time came and went way too soon, the Sugarcubes music videos have finally been compiled in this wonderful new release. While the audio and video are adequate given the age of the content, it's a shame that there aren't more extras than the trio of bonus videos that we do get. Still, fans will love to finally have such a collection at their disposal, and would be missing out if they didn't also pick up the other new Sugarcubes DVD, The Sugarcubes: Live Zabor, as well.


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