No CDs. That's right – a first – absolutely no CDs are highlighted this week. It's all about music DVDs this time around.
The Beatles – Help! DVD: The Fab Four's follow-up to A Hard Day's Night doesn't come easy for fans this time. Where Night simply came in one format – two-disc DVD – Help! is out in two versions that are wildly different in price, and the motivation to purchase the more expensive one comes in how dedicated you are and whether you need to see the film in the original aspect ratio. The "deluxe" packaging is questionably "deluxier" than the standard edition. Sure, you get a 60-page book of photos, a copy of the script, a poster, and some postcards, but aside from that, there is little else. The sole difference in the actual film is that the standard edition comes in 1:33 (fullscreen) ratio while the deluxe comes with the original 1:75 aspect ratio. The decision to make this the only significant difference between the two was probably based on one thing alone: greed. Most die-hards want to see the original film, not the chopped-down fullscreen version, and charging the jaw-dropping MSRP of $135 for it is simply disgusting. There's only one reason why they didn't offer this in the standard edition, and that's because they know that the deluxe simply won't sell otherwise.
Blackfield – Live in NYC DVD: It's not enough that we got not only the amazing Blackfield II album, and one great album and an equally great EP from Steven Wilson's main band, Porcupine Tree (Fear of a Blank Planet and Nil Recurring, respectively) this year, now we get this live DVD to sate the desires of fans clamoring for more – because we always are. Wilson and bandmate Aviv Geffen, along with longtime band director/artist Lasse Hoile, filmed this show in New York earlier this year (you know, hence the name,) and from all reports it lives up to last year's Porcupine Tree DVD, Arriving Somewhere, in all respects. Get your hands on one soon if you want it – it appears to be disappearing quickly, for some reason. Amazon is already sold out.
The Who – Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who: It might be easy to look at the title of this and dismiss this as yet another of those "unauthorized biographies" that seem to flood the market around Christmas, the kind of thing that small labels hope desperate, unwitting buyers will pick up at the last minute for loved ones they know love the bands. And looking at the cover doesn't help – nearly generic, with that RAF logo that the band was known for in the early days (it's really a photo of Keith, but that's beside the point). It doesn't look legit but it is, and in some ways it's kind of the flip-side of The Kids Are Alright, which presented the band from the perspective of video clips from their career. Now we get the band from their own perspective, via new interviews with Pete and Roger along with family and friends and archival footage (as well as some celebrity interjections about the band).
The big deal with this one, why you want to get out and pick one up now, is, you guessed it, a Best Buy exclusive, and it's pretty big – like the one for Tom Petty's Runnin' Down a Dream big. Only at Best Buy can you get a third DVD, which is a 90 minute concert from Chicago, 1979. It's been edited down a bit from the original show, which was well over two hours long, but what's reportedly here is actually great – Quadrophenia material, "My Wife," "The Real Me," etc. Who fans really don't want to miss this.