SoundStage! Music Online Editor's Pick Archives
March/April 2003

Misha Mengelberg Quartet - Four in One
Songlines SA1535-5, 2002

Musical Performance
***
Recording Quality

*****

Overall Enjoyment
****

This live-to-stereo-DSD recording is what we audiophiles want all SACDs to sound like. The musicians -- Misha Mengelberg on piano, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Brad Jones on bass, and Han Bennink on percussion -- are sonically portrayed with great vividness and a complete lack of electronic haze. Douglas' trumpet has the perfect amount of bite, and the piano wafts through the soundstage with supreme clarity. You'll need to goose the volume more than usual, but this will help you admire the wide dynamic range of this SACD all the more. The music is inventive and inspired, all of it composed by leader Mengelberg or Thelonious Monk, not the sleep-making jazz found on all too many audiophile recordings. This is one of the very best-sounding SACDs you can buy, which makes it one of the best-sounding recordings, period....Marc Mickelson


Best of Bowie
EMI DVD, 2002

Musical Performance
****
Recording Quality

****

Overall Enjoyment
****

This two-disc DVD-V compilation culls almost 50 of David Bowie's music videos and live performances -- from the early '70s to the late '90s. You'll find all of the MTV-approved fare, such as "Let's Dance" and "Modern Love," along with videos done for Bowie's earlier and more recent albums, some of which weren't shown much or at all in the US. More than any other rock star of his era, David Bowie was a visual spectacle, so he translates very well to such a comprehensive video set. Best of Bowie lends itself to beginning-to-end viewing -- perhaps over a couple of sittings, however, because the running time is in excess of four hours. Even though the more recent videos on disc two don't hold up nearly as well as the vintage material on disc one, Bowie is forever watchable, not just because of his clothing and makeup but also his persona(s) and presence. You can't call him a rock chameleon -- he didn't blend into what was going on around him, preferring instead to define the cutting edge. Philosophizing about David Bowie is easy, but as this set proves, pinning him down is hard. The image quality is impressively crisp, and the sound is the same. Both befit a deluxe A/V greatest-hits package....Marc Mickelson


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