Monday, November 23, 2009

Music DVD Review: Rare & Unseen: The Beatles -- The Unofficial Account of the Biggest Band in the World

Now Available

In order to be a real "rocknrolla," eventually you have to ask yourself if you want to actually “make it” or if you'd rather just perform your way on stage by eating fistfuls of chicken in between singing and cursing. Although I'm sure a few would choose the chicken, the rewards are far greater for those who are as passionate about music as the late and legendary Beatle, Mr. John Lennon whose anecdote from a French television interview is included in this unofficial documentary. And for those of you scratching your heads, the chicken reference Lennon cites in regard to the Beatles' decision to gravitate towards professionalism refers to the musical career the group had before and after signing on with Brian Epstein.

Yet despite the fact that the production quality of the DVD is exceedingly poor since it feels like it's an overlong paid program for itself complete with voice-over lead-ins for "faux" commercial breaks, die hard fans of the Fab Four will want to seek out some of its one-of-a-kind inclusions. However, it's nearly killed with padding including some of the worst Dick Clark inspired narration to have been written for someone other than Dick Clark or a Dick Clark related infomercial and odd choices for talking heads including Dancing With the Stars judge Len Goodman don't do much to change our mind about its validity.

On the plus side however, this chronicle of the group back when Pete Best was a member boasts the earliest footage ever recorded of the band on stage in Liverpool in 1962 as well as the only existing film of the guys on tour in Scotland. Unfortunately, it isn't enough to recommend the DVD which is edited into five parts with would-be commercial breaks that tease at what's to come, again adding to an infomercial feel.

While the same typical points are covered including speculation on why the group broke up and reiterating just how original and successful they were in their heyday, the presentation isn't successful as a whole as it moves from reconstructed footage (a la E! Channel) to candid authentic video. Still, aside from some of the rare and unseen clips, the one benefit served up in this documentary is by inviting some valuable early sources who usually aren't asked to speak to do so, which opens your eyes to other musical performers of the era who shared the stage with the guys (minus the chicken) including Sylvie Vartan.

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