Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
A Night With Harry Chapin and 100 of his closest friends.
klandersen | Wheaton, MD USA | 05/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""It's my Solo!" I have mixed emotions about this DVD, being a big Harry Chapin fan I am VERY thrilled that Harry's work has made it to a medium that was only in the development stages when Harry died in 1981. I often wonder what Harry would have thought of Compact Discs and Digital Technology taking over the music, and now movie, industry. The first CD's were released in 1983 by Columbia Records starting with classical music and then pop/rock artists beginning with Billy Joel's "The Nylon Curtain". It took several years before any of Harry's music saw the laser light of CD's. The first Harry Chapin CD released was "Remember When The Music" in 1987 a repackaging of "Sequel", so I was surprised when I first saw this DVD at my local Tower Records, or should I say Tower Entertainment Store.The show is titled "The Book of Chapin" and was originally broadcast for television in the Inaugural season of PBS's Soundstage Series. It starts off with Harry singing "What Made America Famous" to an empty soundstage/auditorium, at the end of the song when Harry sings the closing lyrics "...Is anybody there?" the camera zooms in to a head shot of him and when it zooms out, magically there is an audience and they are applauding enthusiastically. I found that to be a pretty neat visual effect. So obviously Harry sang that particular song twice for this production, once in an empty auditorium and once in front of the live audience. Another interesting visual effect is a double screen technique during "Mr. Tanner" when bass player John Wallace is singing as Mr. Tanner under Harry's lead singing. The packaging of this DVD is attractive although it is slightly deceiving.
The description on the back mentions the appearance of Harry's Brother Tom Chapin during this performance, However, Tom never appears on this DVD. Harry's band consists of Michael Masters (cello); Ron Palmer (guitar); and John Wallace (bass), THEY appear in the DVD but Tom never does. Also Harry's regular concert and recording drummer Howie Fields isn't in this performance, which gives the songs a different sound and feeling, some might call it "Unplugged" well I have news for you folks Harry Chapin was always "Unplugged". Plus the original credits for the PBS Soundstage production has been cut short, by Platinum Entertainment, the company that packaged this DVD, before the copyright date gets a chance to be scrolled up the screen. Another typo is the song "She Sings Songs Without Words" is misnamed as "She Sings A Song Without Words" both in the on-screen song selections menu and the outside packaging. These mistakes Really disappoint and annoy me.There is no copyright date for this SHOW in the packaging or on the disc, although the DVD is copyrighted 1998 the year that the DVD was released, not the show's original broadcast date. Therefore I feel that this DVD is only part of the original PBS Soundstage Series broadcast called "The Book of Chapin". Judging, from the band members who appear, the songs performed, and Harry's appearance, Since I don't know the original broadcast date or when the "Soundstage Series" started, I determine this performance to be recorded sometime between 1974 & 1976 the year when Harry's double album "Greatest Stories Live" was released. When "Greatest Stories Live" was released on CD two of the three studio recorded songs were not included because of time restrictions of early CD's, it has never been repackaged to include those two songs.
Although there are no real extras with this DVD there is a mid-performance Question & Answer session. Since I never saw the original broadcast of this PBS Soundstage performance or any other Soundstage performances that I can recall, I can only speculate that Q&A sessions are a common occurrence for Soundstage shows. Other than the packaging having misinformation the only thing included in the case is an order form for other DVD's from the Platinum Entertainment... Overall the quality is very good for a twentysomething (almost 30something) old video concert performance. The picture quality is very good and clean. The audio however is muffled, which might be because of the mid-seventies audio equipment being used to record the actual performance. I really enjoyed the performance and the fact that the songs "Six String Orchestra" and "Sniper", early Chapin songs rarely done at later Chapin Concerts, are included. I feel this DVD was a case of "Lets rush a Harry Chapin concert video on to DVD". For Picture I give it a 5, and for Sound I give it a 3."
An Evening With A Storyteller
Jeff Feather | Tigard, Oregon | 03/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Never mind the bad sound quality. Never mind the poor picture quality. It's an evening with Harry Chapin, And for the true fan, it's an all to rare occurance. There is so little of Harry Chapin on video for his fans, and yet, this is where Harry Chapin shown like a bright and shining star, on stage performing to an audience. This is such a special and wonderful moment in time, even bad sound quality does not detract from the pleasure of watching Harry live. Those of you who did not have the pleasure of seeing Harry in concert as I did, will never know what you have missed. It is so rare to behold a performer so pure as Harry, he takes you right into his songs and leaves you feeling as though you are the only member of the audience, and that he is singing only for you. THIS, is just such a performance. This, is what you want to see to feel the experience of the real Harry Chapin. There are too precious few examples of Harry live, This is one of the shining few that cature the man. Buy it with confidence."
E. Gilchrist | Atlanta, GA | 01/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No only did I grow-up around his music, it helped raise me. I not only remember the music, but I also remember Harry as a friend. John Wallace, his bass player lived near by. I can remember playing softball with Harry. He was as true and crisp as his music. While this show can bearly do him justice, it gives people insight into the man Harry was. Harry's death is a great lose to all who knew and loved him, but also to those that never will."
Harry Chapin, An Evening With
bill | dublin, ireland | 11/29/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember where I was when Harry died and how sad my sister was on hearing the news.It was then I began lessoning to his music and been a fan ever from that day. This DVD is of his early works but having never seen him on TV, placed a face against the music. Worth a viewing to any fan."