""Sarah McLachlan: Video Collection 1989-1998" was my first DVD. I received it as a present from a friend who shared my passion for Sarah McLachlan's music and artistic vision. The DVD features fifteen music videos spanning all four of Sarah's studio albums (Touch, Solace, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and Surfacing). The earliest, Vox, dates from 1988 and we see then-20-year-old Sarah as fresh-faced and angelic. The directorial tastes of some of the earlier videos are questionably cheesy, with Vox (Canadian version) being one of the most New Wave-stuck in the '80s mode. The picture quality is generally very sharp, with crisp blacks and vibrant colours. It is a pleasure to see Sarah's maturation as an artist and the directions that her music would take. One of my favourite videos is "Steaming," a pseudo-film noir club scene reminiscent of Anita Kelsey's songs in the sci-fi film "Dark City." Sarah is a lounge singer, a temptress, with ardent eyes and gloved hands caressing the old-fashioned stand microphone. Her burning gaze bores a hole into you as the story in the video acts itself out.Other notable videos include "Drawn to the Rhythm," a Loreena McKennittesque video full of surreal images and shot in black and white. The simple, haunting beauty of Sarah's voice and acoustic guitar combined with the wavelike rhythm and images of the ocean make this one tread on New Age/Celtic territory à la McKennitt and Kate Price."Possession" is full of muddled religious imagery: Adam and Eve, the severed head of John the Baptist, an actor portraying Christ, as well as blends of pagan imagery (witches/seductress)."Into the Fire" is a very catchy song with a rather creepy video: naked, mud-coated Sarah rolling around in mud and soggy leaves. Ick. I felt grimy just watching it!The last few videos from Surfacing really show Sarah's new image and darker songs. "Building a Mystery" features a mysterious man collecting stars and lights and sewing them onto a skirt (this is the top picture on the DVD case), and slipping into a crawl space that Sarah follows him into. "Sweet Surrender" is a bit more disturbing: a victim of a hit-and-run or an accident, apparently dead, mimes along to the music. The body mysteriously moves from the middle of the road, where we see it hit by a car, to the backseat of said car, then is carried into a house and placed on a chesterfield. Sarah and the "body" duet and mimick each other's actions. "Adia" is a neat study in still photography.This is the perfect gift for that Sarah McLachlan fan. Lots of fun even the third and fourth time through. The variety of musical styles and directorial choices in the various videos make this a pleasure to come back to again and again! I can't wait until Sarah McLachlan's new album comes out..it's been five years since Surfacing. Work on the new CD was suspended for six months due to the severe illness of Sarah McLachlan's mother and Sarah's pregnancy (Sarah gave birth to daughter India on April 6, 2002. Congratulations Sarah and Ashwin!). There's a 75% chance that it will be released sometime in 2002, with the single being released an unheard-of 16 weeks in advance. Here is the tracklisting for "Sarah McLachlan: Video Collection 1989-1998":1. Vox (Canadian Version) 2. Steaming 3. Ben's Song 4. Vox (US Version) 5. The Path of Thorns (Terms) 6. Into the Fire 7. Drawn to the Earth 8. Possession (Canadian Version) 9. Hold On 10. Good Enough 11. Possession (US Version) 12. I Will Remember You 13. Building a Mystery 14. Sweet Surrender 15. Adia"
Chronicalling the musical growth of Sarah McLachlan
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is interesting to me to see how the visual images in the fifteen music videos spanning the career of Sarah McLachlan from 1989-1998 reflect the musical growth of the Canadian singer-songwriter. There was a reason that her career exploded with the "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" album and McLachlan has often talked about how it was not until that point that she really knew what she was doing with the lyrics of her songs.
The first four videos come from her debut album "Vox" and offer a series of completely different presentations of McLachlan. The Canadian version of "Vox" offers a fountain of water spurting in front of the singer, whose bright red hair and clothing reminds me of "Ah-Ha" for some reason. Contrast this with the American version of "Vox," where the hair is different in both style and color or "Steaming," where McLachlan is all vamped up, wearing long gloves and clutching a microphone in a strange lounge act. The video for "Ben's Song" has the virtue of simplicity, as befits the subject matter (the death of a young child McLachlan knew) shot in black & white with McLachlan on piano and someone on upright bass, but it will remind you of John Lennon's "Imagine" video and again the singer has another look (and too much lipstick).
With the tracks from her second album, "Solace," you can tell McLachlan is striving for a more mature and cohesive image. With "The Path of Thorns (Terms)" she sings the song naked in a golden half-light while a couple of ballet dancers depict the breakup of which she sings in shades of blue. "Into the Fire" specifically continues these elements: McLachlan is again singing in the nude, apparently covered in mud, shot totally in blue light. The other visual thread has images of McLachlan running through the forest, as both an adult and a child. Washing off the mud we return again to the emphasis on golden light (the song talks about walking "into the fire" but substitutes water images instead of flames throughout). You do not often see a pair of videos that are so visually linked in terms of key elements like this.
"Drawn to the Rhythm" is the most artistic of the videos in the entire collection. Short in black & white and letterboxed we again have the juxtaposition of the singer singing and visual images that suggest the meaning of the song, in this case people frolicking by the side of the sea. More than most of her videos, these images are on point with regards to the lyrics being sung, without getting lost in rampant symbolism. At this point McLachlan's hair is long and curly, which is how I think most of us first remember being aware of her as a singer.
Aesthetics continue to play a part in the videos for "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy." The Canadian version of "Possession" again offers bright golden light and the mostly religious imagery will remind you a lot of R.E.M.'s classic video for "Losing My Religion." However, knowing that this song was inspired by a fan's obsession, it is ironic that McLachlan goes in a completely different direction with the video "story."
The video for "Hold On" is the one that best represents the recurring elements of McLachlan's videos: the juxtaposition of the singer and the images, the ballet like movements, the golden light, and the tendency for McLachlan to usually avoid looking at the camera when she sings (but she gets better at that as she goes along). "Good Enough" is in a similar mode but with a more coherent narrative and for the first time images of McLachlan's band. With the American version of Possession the juxtaposition is the singer singing with her band and without (sort of all Sarah, all the time).
"I Will Remember You" stands out by itself for two reasons. The first is McLachlan appears without make up and the second is that it is clearly being used to promote the movie "The Brothers McMullen" (it was actually called "The Theme" for that Ed Burns film).
The final videos come from "Surfacing," and represent the McLachlan of Lilith Fair, which is pretty much to say a major music diva. Her image is rendered more powerful not only because of what she accomplished out there on tour, but because the curls are gone and she now has what would be considered a power haircut. This is a McLachlan who keeps singing to the camera in "Building a Mystery," using more than just the recurring tones of gold and blue to lend emotional shadings to the song and images. "Sweet Surrender" might have some of the more puzzling contrasts of images with the song being sung, but that simply means McLachlan is willing to have to indulge in a little art for art's sake. "Adia" completes the triptych of the mature McLachlan and finishes the journey begun a decade earlier.
What we have here is clearly a walk down memory lane, which will be of high interest to the fans McLachlan has acquired over the years, but of passing interest to others. This collection is really more about the singer than the videos, which is what may well limit its appeal. In other words, most people who pick this DVD up are going to know before they watch it how much they are going to like it.
Note: The directors and producers for each video are mentioned on the DVD, along with the songwriting credits, but they are sort of difficult to find. But if you are watching a video and then click "next" you should get to the page that provides all that information as well as what album and related releases are involved. I did not find this the first time but stumbled across them as I was checking some things out for this review. "
Don't hate her because she's beautiful.
James K. Joyce, Jr. | Kansas City, MO USA | 07/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I should probably start by saying that I am a relative "newbie" Sarah McLachlan fan. I had never heard of her before I saw The Brothers McMullen on video, but I know a beautiful voice when I hear one. The first CD that I bought was Surfacing, because I couldn't get enough of Building A Mystery and Sweet Surrender on the Radio.Perhaps I'm atypical, but my favorite (studio) album of hers is Touch (the 3rd one I purchased), and I think the videos from that one are pretty good overall. So what if all she does in the first one (Vox) is stand there and look beautiful? That was the late '80s and music video was still a relatively new medium, and it's not like they had TITANIC's budget for that baby.However if you buy this, you should definitely get it on DVD not VHS, since the four additional videos (her most recent) are about the best ones on there. Sweet Surrender is my favorite of all--it's just visually stunning, and it's one of my favorite songs.The only reason I give the DVD 4 stars instead of 5 is it could have had a few more extras, but overall I'm very pleased with it. I like the way the menu allows you to watch each video separately, and then shows you which album the song is from."
Older & more expensive version of newer release.
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 01/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD was re-released in December 2000 and is now available on Amazon for less. The only difference is that the newer release (which is currently mis-titled as Video Collection 1999) comes in a hard plastic keepcase. The following link should show you the newer DVD. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000541X5"
Great video collection
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 06/01/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This a great compilation of Sarah's videos. The only complaints I had is that it is only 2 channel dolby digital and the song navigation was hard to deal with. Other than that, its good quality. Just wish we could see more concert DVD's like James Taylor's "Live at the Beacon Theater". We can only hope Sarah McLachlan has one in the works."