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Singing the Praises of ‘Abbey Road’

7 Nov, 2008 By: John Latchem

Abbey Road

Most music DVDs present concert footage or compilations of music videos. BCI hopes to offer something different Nov. 11 with its release of Live From Abbey Road: Best of Season One.

The two-disc set, available at $19.98 on DVD and $26.98 on Blu-ray Disc, includes 25 performances from the Sundance Channel series “Live From Abbey Road.”

The series, which began in 2006, showcases musicians rehearsing and performing at the famed Abbey Road recording studio in London that is best known as the spot The Beatles recorded most of their albums.

“So much music performance footage on DVDs out there is from concerts,” said producer Michael Gleason. “You rarely see the artists in the studio. Most artists love the studio. They feel very comfortable there, and you get a better performance.”

A former MGM board member, Gleason decided to go into producing after hearing a pitch from composer Peter Van Hooke for a music performance series shot at Abbey Road. Gleason said he didn’t have any music industry experience before that, but was “just a massive fan.”

Gleason said finding artists to appear on the show isn’t difficult; most embrace the opportunity to record at Abbey Road.

“It’s like a tennis player getting a chance to play at Wimbledon,” Gleason said. “There’s not a single one who doesn’t thank us for having them on.”

Musicians featured on Best of Season One include Natasha Bedingfield, Dave Matthews, Josh Groban, Iron Maiden, Wynton Marsalis, John Mayer, LeAnn Rimes, The Goo-Goo Dolls and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.

The broadcast version of the show presents hour-long episodes with three guest artists each, totaling hundreds of songs. Gleason said rights issues to many of the songs prevented a complete-season release.

“The record labels like to limit the material that’s out there,” Gleason said. “They want to save these songs for their own albums.”

Even so, Gleason said, Warner is producing a compilation CD album of Warner artist performances from the show, and Gleason is hopeful that “Live From Abbey Road” will one day be seen as an invaluable marketing tool for the music industry.

Gleason said a second volume is under consideration, and if the discs sell well, it could pave the way for other types of compilations, such as by genre, or devoting a whole DVD to a single artist. Since the performances are live studio recordings, Gleason said the songs are of album quality.

“Our motto is, ‘It looks like a movie, but it sounds like a record,’” Gleason said. “We put a lot of money into this. You can’t find finer stuff out there.”

Gleason said he is especially impressed with the clarity offered by the Blu-ray Disc version.

“You have to have it on Blu-ray,” Gleason said. “It’s magnificent. You feel like you’re in the room with them.”

Gleason said Abbey Road is fantastic for sound quality, and the difference comes through in high-definition.

“Music fans looking to build a collection of performances will just be amazed,” Gleason said. “People don’t realize when they set up their system just how much better the sound will be.”

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