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EMD/CAPITOL

MOVIE INFO
Director: Andrew Solt
Cast: Various

MPAA: Not Rated

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Standard 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 62 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 4/11/2000

Bonus:
• John and Yoko Interview
• Discography


PURCHASE
DVD

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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon's Imagine Album (1971)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

1971’s Imagine isn’t John Lennon’s best album, but it remains his most famous. 1970’s Plastic Ono Band was Lennon’s first full musical album as a solo artist, and it’s easily his finest work. He and wife Yoko Ono created some very experimental releases like 1969’s The Wedding Album and he put out some excellent singles like “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma!”, but John didn’t produce a full rock LP until POB.

It proved to be a difficult record to top. POB came during a period of severe introspection for John and he tried to exorcise many demons with it. POB remains likely the most personal album from any former Beatle, and it’s also arguably the best of the bunch.

By Imagine, John had mellowed a little, and the record showed a gentler side. Actually, that’s not fair; POB had some quiet and lovely tunes like “Look At Me”. Nonetheless, Imagine came across as a sunnier album as a whole; it definitely had some harsh moments, but they didn’t dominate the proceedings as they had with POB.

It’s also a more accessible piece, largely thanks to the title tune. “Imagine” has become a verified classic and may well be the most-played of all solo Beatle tunes. It got new life after the events of September 11 when its tone fit the aftermath of that terrible day; Neil Young performed it at the outstanding America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon broadcast. It even became part of a joke in Forrest Gump.

This may sound like sacrilege, but honestly, “Imagine” never did a lot for me. It’s a nice tune, and I appreciate the message, but it’s not the best track on the album. Unlike the intensely personal POB, Imagine covered a wider range of subjects. It dealt with his feelings toward Yoko, both in a fully positive way (“Oh Yoko!”) and more regretful (“Jealous Guy”). Lennon also deals with political issues in “Gimme Some Truth” and addresses the then-running feud with former bandmate Paul McCartney.

”Imagine” may be the album’s most famous song, but “How Do You Sleep?” clearly remains its most infamous number. In no uncertain terms, Lennon expresses his disdain for Paul and pretty much everything McCartney represented. (In case the song itself wasn’t strong enough, Imagine came with a photo insert that showed Lennon holding a pig in a clear mockery of the cover for McCartney’s Ram.)

While I guess Ringo stayed on the sidelines, another former Beatles showed his feelings on the matter, as George Harrison played on “How Do You Sleep?” among other Imagine tracks. His stinging slide guitar drove home the points made by Lennon. I always thought Lennon’s bitterness was excessive and misguided - there were no heroes or villains involved in the end of the Beatles - but it’s still an excellent song nonetheless.

”Sleep” offers one of Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon’s “Imagine” Album’s highlights. The program follows the sessions for the recording of the record and it provides an excellent look at that period. Truth shows a warts and all view of the sessions and offers some very interesting material.

Actually, the show mixes fairly raw session shots with short interview snippets and proto-music video montages. In the latter regard, we see silly segments for tracks like “Crippled Inside” - which shows John and Yoko at play - and “Oh Yoko!”, during which we watch the couple playact as they “search” for each other. There’s also a rudimentary video for “Imagine”.

Those moments are cute but insubstantial. In addition, the interview - which appears in a longer form in the DVD’s supplements - also lacks much punch; the information reveals little of use. However, the rest of the program features generally excellent material.

As I alluded, one of the highlights relates to “How Do You Sleep?” We actually get to watch Lennon play the song to Harrison for the first time; the quiet, barbed glee of the two as they connect their unspoken feelings about the unmentioned subject of the tune is fascinating to watch.

But that’s not the best moment of Truth. Those elements come directly within the studio, as we watch John and the band work out the numbers. I was very surprised to see the heavy role Ono played in the proceedings. She contributed many ideas and seemed to be an active participant in the work.

Most of the footage seems fairly innocuous, but some heated moments arise. Lennon gets actively irritated on a few occasions; we see his ire flare during “Gimme Some Truth”, “Oh My Love” and “Oh Yoko!” The latter’s the most extended and amusing. Lennon’s growing anger at the engineer’s continued mistakes contrasts with the song’s sunny tone and makes the piece all the more entertaining.

Spookier is a meeting between Lennon and an obsessed fan. Clearly the latter has some mental issues, as we learn during their discussion. Back in the day, Beatle fans had all sorts of freaky delusions, with or without drug usage. Though this deranged partisan seems harmless, the foreshadowing of December 8, 1980 makes this moment very creepy.

Gimme Some Truth could have used more documentary footage and less frivolity and musical montages, but overall, I still found it to be a fascinating piece of work. It’s an invaluable program for fans. We rarely see such candid and revealing glimpses of any musical artist, much less such a legendary one. From start to finish - which includes a demo version of “Look At Me”, by the way - Truth is a joy to watch.


The DVD Grades: Picture D+ / Audio B / Bonus C+

Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon’s “Imagine” Album appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Subjectively, I was actually fairly pleased with the picture of Truth, as it looked better than I expected. However, objectively, the presentation included a lot of flaws.

For the most part, sharpness seemed adequate. Much of the program featured good accuracy and a fairly well delineated image. However, some softness did occur at times, partially due to the documentary setting. The show appeared slightly gauzy on occasion and displayed moderate fuzziness, though most of it was reasonably distinct. Jagged edges showed up at times, but I saw no problems with moiré effects, and the image seemed to be free of edge enhancement.

Print flaws caused the majority of the concerns. Throughout the show, I saw many examples of speckles, nicks, marks, blotches and additional debris. Light grain appeared much of the time, and I also witnessed some thin vertical lines and hairs, most of which cropped up along the outside edges.

Colors tended to appear bland and fairly lifeless. The program featured a generally drab palette due to the somewhat sterile setting of the recording studio, but even the garden and other exteriors came across as flat and pale. The colors seemed moderately acceptable but still appeared drab. Black levels were somewhat inky and muddy, and shadow detail generally looked a little thick; low-light situations could be difficult to discern. Some shots were worse than others; for example, “Oh Yoko” looked genuinely terrible. Still, despite the myriad of flaws, I was reasonably pleased with Gimme Some Truth, as it looked good for an older project of this sort.

Inconsistent but still superior was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Gimme Some Truth. I was shocked to find that form of mix, as I expected a simple stereo presentation. For the most part, the audio fell into that category, but some of the music broadened nicely.

Actually, the track seemed to vary between full 5.1 and monaural. When material straight from the recording sessions appeared, it appeared to emanate solely from the center channel. Those elements demonstrated the biggest concerns as well. They sounded somewhat flat and thin, and they showed a little hiss.

A few non-musical segments showed decent spread across the front spectrum in regard to general atmospheric ambience, but it was the final recordings that presented the strongest aspects of the mix. Again, most of the time the audio offered a very good stereo presentation that remained mainly oriented toward the front speakers. Usage of the surrounds tended to be somewhat general, as the rear speakers usually tended to reinforce the music. However, they periodically became more active. For example, the harmonica bit during “Oh Yoko!” popped up in the rear, as did the whistling solo during “Jealous Guy”. The surrounds weren’t used in a gimmicky way for the most part; instead, the nicely complemented the original material.

For the musical segments, audio quality seemed positive. The vocals were clear and accurate, while instrumentation appeared distinct and crisp. Guitars rang and stung nicely, while drums thumped well and bass rumbled well. Low-end response was good but unexceptional as a whole. Overall, I thought the music represented the original material well. Gimme Some Truth wasn’t an excellent presentation as a whole, mainly due to the segments that didn’t involve final recordings of Imagine; the documentary portions showed thinner and flatter audio. Still, the overall impression offered was good, and I was pleased with this solid 5.1 remix.

Many music DVDs don’t include any extras, but Truth tosses in some supplements. Most significant is the John and Yoko Interview. Conducted by someone from the BBC Women’s Hour program, we saw snippets of this session during the main program, but this piece includes the whole thing. It runs for 37 minutes and 10 seconds as the interviewer chats with John and Yoko about many uninteresting things. They cover sex, love, music and sausages, but not necessarily in that order. It’s nice to have this as an archival piece, but it reveals very little useful information.

In addition, we find a discography. This covers all the Lennon albums from 1968’s controversial Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins through 1998’s four-CD The John Lennon Anthology. Each entry includes track listings and musical samples. It’s a reasonably good presentation of this information; at least it tops that of McCartney’s Wingspan; that DVD’s discography included a slew of errors.

If had a complaint about Gimme Some Truth, it’d relate to the extras. Clearly a lot more footage of the recording sessions was filmed, and it’d be great to see this. However, this falls into the “nit-picking” category; it’s such a delight to see this invaluable material that I can’t gripe about absent clips. Objectively, picture quality displayed many flaws, but it still looked fairly good for the age and origin of the film. Audio seemed generally positive, and the DVD also included some minor extras. Truth provides a fantastic look at one of the all-time greats and it belongs in the collection of all Beatle fans or any others who want to see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a legend.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3125 Stars Number of Votes: 16
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