Love is in the Air-The Series (2003)

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Released 3-Dec-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Press VS The Artists
Featurette-Frank Sinatra In Melbourne, Lee Gordon, Johnny Ray's Secret
Featurette-The Questions VS The Who, Abba In Australia
Featurette-Helen Reddy, Debbie Byrne, Pat & Olivia
Featurette-Renee Geyer Archive, Helen Reddy Archive
Featurette-The Moir Sisters Archive, Marcia Hines Archive
Featurette-Olivia Newton-John Archive, Pilita, Kamahl, Chad Morgan
Featurette-Frank Ifield, Mary Schneider, Rita Schneider, Rolf Harris
Featurette-Barry Crocker, I've Been Everywhere, Aunty Jack, Molly
Featurette-Jon English, Red Symons, Joe Dolce, Harry Vanda
Featurette-Sherbet, Countsown, Andrew 'Greedy' Smith, Split Enz
Featurette-Countdown's England, France And Germany Trip
Featurette-Dragon, Renee Geyer, April Sun In Cuba, James Freud
Featurette-The Music Business, Johnny Young, Crowded House,
Featurette-Stock, Aitken, Waterman, Waltzing Matilda
Featurette-Don't Dream It's Over, Choir Girl, She's A Mod
Featurette-Hoochie Gucci Fiorucci Mama, Love An Adventure
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 274:32 (Case: 372)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring The Bee Gees
Little River Band
Air Supply
Olivia Newton-John
Pat Carroll
Helen Reddy
Michael Gudinski
Marcia Hines
Renee Geyer
Molly Meldrum
Darren Hayes
Glenn Wheatley
Kylie Minogue
Case Slip Case
RPI $79.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Love Is In The Air was a five part documentary series that screened on ABC television late in 2003 and followed on from the successful series first aired in 2001, Long Way To The Top.  That earlier series focused on the history of Australian rock music. What we get with this new series is a somewhat brief history of the Australian pop music scene. It comes nicely packaged with the five episodes spread over three discs all individually stored in their own Amaray cases and slipped inside a nice bright pink slip case.

    The series is named after the quintessential Australian pop song, written by Harry Vanda and recorded by John Paul Young. This song features extensively throughout the series, most notably in the extremely catchy opening sequence.  There are plenty of highlights scattered throughout, and anyone with even a passing interest in pop music will love the look back at some of the best songs and moments in music history. The ABC institution that was Countdown of course figures prominently in the series. It provided the launching pad for many of the best Aussie artists and so it is only natural that it gets a fair amount of time dedicated here. There are also plenty of interviews, both recent and back in history with many of the players in the music business including, but certainly not limited to, Glenn Wheatley, Harry Vanda, Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, The Bee Gees, Red Symons, Tim and Neil Finn, Mark Seymour, Darren Hayes, and Michael Gudinksi. Overall this is a decent enough look at the history of popular music in this country, but I still felt there were a great many holes evident, with many acts such as Pseudo Echo, Mondo Rock, GANGgajang, Eurogliders, 1927, Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons, Moving Pictures, Men At Work, or Kids In The Kitchen getting barely any mention or even no mention at all. I guess this would have only been solved if the series stretched to 10 or 12 parts. I reckon there would easily be enough content for it, but I guess the budget was tight.

    As mentioned there are five parts to this series, with each part focusing on a slightly different aspect of pop music in Australia:

Episode 1 : The Last Gig On Earth (55:32)

    Where it all began for pop music in this country is covered in this first up episode. Australia may well be known as the Antipodes and for many it certainly lived up to its name when they travelled to a place so far away from the centres of music in America and Europe it must have seemed like another planet. This episode looks at the music scene in Australia during the 1950s and early 1960s as many overseas acts such as Little Richard, Judy Garland, and various acts from promoter Lee Gordon made their way with often controversial results. The Beatles tour of 1964 is covered, as is the success of 'home-grown' talent The Bee Gees.

Episode 2 : She's Leaving Home (54:01)

    One of the criticisms of the Long Way To The Top series was the apparent lack of content dedicated to the women of the rock 'n' roll industry. This has been answered in this series with a whole episode dedicated to the talents of the female Australia pop artists. Early acts such as the immigrant Pilita paved the way for woman such as Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, Debbie Byrne, Renee Geyer and Marcia Hines to shine (pun intended), though often not at home. Many, such as Helen Reddy, had to make it big overseas first before being accepted as talented back home and this strange phenomenon is covered in depth in this episode.

Episode 3 : Strange Fruit (54:51)

    This was my favourite episode. Nobody it seems writes a good quirky pop song quite like us and this episode is dedicated to the strange and the bizarre songs that often just took off and became hits despite the fact that they sounded so stupid and dumb. The likes of Lucky Starr and I've Been Everywhere, Rolf Harris complete with wobble-board and his various ditties such as Jake The Peg and Tie Me Kangaroo Down, John Williamson with Old Man Emu, through to the famous Shaddup You Face by Joe Dolce are all covered. Strange fruit indeed...

Episode 4 : I Should Be So Lucky (56:12)

    This episode covers some of the success stories of Australian music. Those that succeeded in one of the toughest businesses going around and conquered the world. The likes of Kylie Minogue, Little River Band, Dragon (yes they were a Kiwi band), James Freud (in his pre Models days), the mega-successful Air Supply, John Farnham, and the truly amazing rise of Savage Garden are all charted here. Interviews with most of the key players and those intimately involved during their rise to the top give this episode a real sense of authenticity.

Episode 5 : National Anthems (53:58)

    Rounding out the series is a bit of a potted look at some of the biggest songs ever to appear from this country. The reasons they were written and the often misunderstood nature of their lyrics is covered in some detail. The likes of Richard Clapton's Girls On The Avenue (nothing to do with sex workers it seems), the genesis of Australian Crawl's Boys Light Up (nothing to do with smoking), and the technical reasons why Don't Dream It's Over is such a great song are all covered here. Again there are plenty of gaps, but I guess in a little over 50 minutes we can only expect so much.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video on offer here is presented in the digital television widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it also benefits from being 16x9 enhanced. This is the same aspect ratio that the series was presented in on ABC television.

    With the transfer containing the full range of early 1960s and 1970s black and white television, through to more recent colour footage and brand new interview material, the quality is obviously going to differ greatly. The new material is excellent. It is consistently sharp, clear, and brilliantly vibrant in colour. The older material suffers from pretty much every artefact and problem associated with age at least once during the five part series. Overall there are no traces of edge enhancement, and grain is absent in the new material and is not a real major issue with the older material.

    Colours for the new interview footage are superb, benefiting from modern equipment. They are vivid and vibrant with deep solid saturation. The footage from the 1960s and early 1970s is black and white, but with the advent of colour television in 1974, the footage from that point on is in full living colour, though it is often quite washed out and hazy looking. It is nonetheless serviceable for the task.

    There are no obvious compression artefacts. The older television material features all manner of artefacts including tracking noise, blobs, scratches, lines, noise, and the like  The various problems are pretty much as expected and really nothing to get excited over.

    Disappointingly, there are no subtitle streams present.

    All three discs are dual layered and presumably contain an episode on each layer. There are no layer change pauses as a result.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A fairly basic audio selection graces this disc. What you get here is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack as the only option, encoded at a bitrate of 224 Kb/s.

    Obviously there is plenty of dialogue in this documentary, and Toni Collette's narration comes across clear and perfectly balanced. Some of the older dialogue from the 70s television shows and video exhibits some hiss, distortion, and generally mixed fidelity. It still does the job expected. There are also no audio sync issues.

    The music is conveyed very nicely with clear stereo separation and a solid low end despite the fact we are only operating on two channels. Some of the really old stuff exhibits a little hiss and distortion as is to be expected, but overall the songs from the late 70s and early 80s have scrubbed up pretty well.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a whole stack of extras on each disc, collectively labelled 'More Love'. Most of this is simply additional interview material that didn't make the final cut. Rather than detail each individual interview segment, I have simply listed the running times and given a brief summary of the content of each episode's extras.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Featurette - 'More Love' Episode One

    There is a 'play all' option here and when selected the six mini-featurettes run for 14:24. First up is a series of run-ins that various pop idols had with the Australian press. This includes interviews with The Beatles, Mick Jagger, The Bee Gees, and Roy Orbison. There's also a 0:51 discussion of Frank Sinatra's famous visit to Melbourne, a 1:00 discussion about promoter Lee Gordon, and a rather silly 3:29 featurette on the visit to Australia by Abba. Some reporter is chasing them on a yacht on the Swan River in Perth trying to feed them some marron!

Featurette - 'More Love' Episode Two

    Viewed via the 'play all' option this series of mini-featurettes runs for 19:03. Included here is more recent and archival interview footage with the likes of Helen Reddy (2:34), Debbie Byrne (2:02), Renee Geyer (1:12), The Moir Sisters (0:44), Marcia Hines (1:59), Olivia Newton-John (2:52), and Pilita (1:18).

Featurette - 'More Love' Episode Three

    There's quite a significant quantity of extra material here, all pretty much the same as the previous two episode, with most of the interview segments simply bits that didn't make the main feature. Total running time via the play all option is a healthy 75:30. Topics featured here include interviews with Kamahl (1:08), Chad Morgan (1:39), Frank Ifield (1:31), Rolf Harris (6:18), Barry Crocker (2:58), Jon English (1:31), Harry Vanda (3:43), Daryl Braithwaite and Sherbet (5:28), Tim and Neil Finn from Split Enz and three segments featuring the antics of Ian 'Molly' Meldrum and Countdown running for 8:07, 12:03, and 3:30 respectively. The Molly interviews are among the best as they include anecdotes from the programme's directors and producers in addition to Molly. Just how the well worn Mollyism 'Do yourself a favour' was born is a highlight.

Featurette - 'More Love' Episode Four

    Not as much material here with a total running time of 21:44. Included is more interview footage with Todd Hunter from Dragon (2:53), Renee Geyer (2:30), James Freud (2:16), Johnny Young (0;50), Neil Finn (1:53), and Pete Waterman from Stock, Aitken, and Waterman (2:10).

Featurette - 'More Love' Episode Five

    Another 25:33 minutes of interview material that didn't make the final cut. Included here is Barry Crocker discussing the history of Waltzing Matilda which he affectionately calls Australia's first ever pop song (5:42). Neil Finn discusses the trauma of writing and discusses Don't Dream It's Over (3:09) further while Don Walker from Cold Chisel and James Reyne from Australian Crawl have more thoughts on the song writing process. Rounding out the selection is a 5:42 minute interview with Pseudo Echo's Brian Canham discussing his band's big hit Love An Adventure.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title is not available in Region 1.

Summary

    Love Is In The Air is the follow-up documentary series to the highly successful Long Way To The Top rock 'n' roll documentary. This time round we are treated to five episodes covering the history of pop music in Australia. With the series only running for a little over four hours there are certainly plenty of gaps in the history of Australian popular music present. Whilst what we get is at times a bit of a 'potted' history, there are still many superb moments, funny anecdotes, and heaps of fun-filled nostalgia filled memories to keep any pop music fan educated, enlightened, and entertained.

    The video quality is highly variable given the mixed nature of the source vision.

    The audio is functional and performs the task necessary of a documentary.

    The extras are substantial but effectively amount to little more than padding.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
Agree, a patchy documentary -
Awful packaging -