When You're Strange – a Film about The Doors
A lot of the footage has been seen before, not surprisingly, but there's quite a bit of "new" stuff as well, including some scenes of them in the studio.
Eschewing artsy fartsy documentary stuff for the most part (but not completely), "When You're Strange" comes across as a nice celebration of The Doors and their music. We wish there'd been more music – more performances of entire songs – but there's other material available that can fix that craving.
The Blu-ray is presented nicely, with about as good a 1080p transfer (at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1) as you could expect considering the sources and dates of the footage. The quality is actually all over the place, but that helps make the doc feel authentic rather than manipulated.
You have two choices for the audio: dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM Stereo, and however you slice it it sounds great considering the source material. We liked the surround track best and were very pleasantly surprised by the sound quality overall, which is clear and dynamic and separates the three musicians' instruments nicely. Depp's narration comes through clearly as well.
Extras include a movie poster and small pamphlet and on the disc itself there's a short documentary that includes the thoughts of Jim Morrison's father and sister. It's pretty interesting, but we'd have liked more.
"When You're Strange" is a very good introduction to the Doors for those who've been sleeping under a rock for the past 40 years, and a nice blast from the past for fans.
Released in 1970, Paranoid (according to the liner notes) "changed the face of rock music forever" and "defined the sound and style of Heavy Metal more than any other record in rock history." We assume the writer has never listened to Deep Purple's "Machine Head" – in our opinion the quintessential heavy metal album – or many of The Who's finest efforts, which helped expand rock music past the limits of pop singles and to the art form that rock music became.
Still, one shouldn't be surprised to find a certain amount of hype on an album cover!
Paranoid contains several good songs, but the most famous are undoubtedly the title song and "Iron Man," the latter perhaps due in no small part to its connection with the hit movie of the same name.
Black Sabbath at the time consisted of vocalist and now media icon Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi , bass player Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward, the band's original lineup. The tales we're told via this Blu-ray are the stuff of rock legend and cover the band's origins as a band named Earth into the Black Sabbath so many came eventuallyto know and love. There's some pretty good trivia here, too; for example, did you know that the album was originally going to be called "War Pigs," but the label made them dump that idea because they were afraid it might alienate people who bought records and weren't marching against the Vietnam war.
This is much more of a "talking head" piece than the Doors documentary outlined above, and features a bunch of historians, media types, musicians, and suits. Best, however, is Tom Allom, who engineered the album. As with other Classic Albums have done, this title has Allom in a studio with the album's original master recordings and he plays us individual tracks – vocals, bass, guitar or drums, letting us get a sense of the parts that eventually became the whole of Paranoid.
This kind of treatment is always fascinating, and no less so here.
The Classic Album treatment is, overall, much like that for other entries in the series, which includes "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Who's Next" and as such is another good title in the series.
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080i, at an aspect ratio 1.78:1. The video quality is all over the place, thanks to sources that span the decades, with the best footage being the modern interview stuff, which appears to have been shot in high definition.
Audio, alas, is unremarkable. It's offered only in a linear PCM track – not that there's anything wrong with that in itself – but while the interviews and the like come through clearly, the music sounds flat, not nearly what you'd want from a heavy metal album you undoubtedly want to play LOUD! We didn't have a copy of the original album around and so couldn't compare the music tracks to this Blu-ray; we certainly hope the album sounds better, otherwise it's a real waste of material. Alas, many CD's of old albums sound thin compared to their vinyl versions, which is why formats like DVD-Audio and SACD can be so great.
Speaking of material, the Blu-ray includes some 42 minutes of extra interview footage and some of it's very good. It looks like stuff that didn't make it into the running time of the TV show and that's too bad because if it were incorporated into the main film it would be more coherent. But it's still well worth your time.