'American Epic' [PBS]
(2-Disc DVD / NR / 2017 / PBS)
Overview: 'American Epic' goes inside one of the greatest-ever untold stories: how the ordinary people of America were given the opportunity to make records for the first time.
DVD Verdict: 'American Epic: The First Time America Heard Itself' is, without a shadow of a doubt, a superb recollection of the early American electric recording scene. The amount and quality of the research needed to pull this together is remarkable, as is the production quality.
As much for the music extracts, as well as the feelings conveyed, I knew this is something I will want to reference, view and enjoy repeatedly. Directed by Bernard MacMahon, this 2-Disc DVD is as good as they come with regard this topic - a topic that, for the love of me, I don't believe I've seen outlined and brought forth quite like this ever before; weirdly.
THE BIG BANG: At the height of the Roaring Twenties, music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology set out across America to capture the unsung voices of everyday folk. This is the Big Bang of modern popular music-the first time America hears itself.
BLOOD & SOIL: America's poor-cotton field slaves, mine workers, sharecroppers-find freedom through music, creating gospel, protest songs, and Delta Blues.
OUT OF THE MANY, THE ONE: Exotic cultures spanning America are captured on record for the first time-inventing new instruments and new cultural identities as disparate voices harmonize in a musical melting pot.
Here on 'American Epic' Jack White (the White Stripes) and renowned producer/songwriter T Bone Burnett have produced an epic recording session using the only working 1920s recording device in existence in this tribute to the artists celebrated in the documentary.
Also starring Alabama Shakes, The Americans, Ana Gabriel, Ashley Monroe, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Bettye Lavette, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Frank Fairfield, Jerron Paxton, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nas, Pokey LaFarge, Raphael Saadiq, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, Taj Mahal, Jack White, and Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, 'American Epic' is a must see for all those who think they know the origins of music - and more. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.