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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • 4 Theatrical trailer
  • 7 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Not the Sunscreen Song - John Safran
  • 8 TV spot
  • Booklet
  • Documentaries
  • Outtakes
  • Music-only track - University Elevator Music - Raspberry Cordial

John Safran's Music Jamboree

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 250 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

After a few years in a television wilderness, it took SBS to have the gumption to give proven media shit-stirrer and self-confessed skinny pale whiny person John Safran his own show. Gaining infamy from his antics on the ABC’s Race Around the World - streaking through Jerusalem, having voodoo curses placed upon the object of a rather worrying obsession in the form of his ex-girlfriend, etc – then multiplying that rep by a factor of one, two, three, four, lots with a run-in over the garbage bin of a certain Lego-haired former current affairs show host, it’s understandable why most of the lily-livered commercial networks baulked in fear of advertiser repercussions at all he had to offer. However, this ten-part series sees him temper his infatuation for naughtiness - just a little bit - to present a remarkably varied look into the often rather weird world of popular music, and the varying subcultures it’s comprised of.

The series combines a selection of regular segments with many one-offs focusing on a variety of disparate subjects, all set within the confines of one of the few remaining groovy independent record retailers in Melbourne, Greville Records. The first of the regular spots involves this setting, with thinly veiled stabs at musical sell-outs and rip-offs in the form of a customer asking for such things as Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of before the “f*ck you I won’t do what you tell me” bits were lost to record company requests for a single version, or The Smiths’ Paint A Vulgar Picture – a full-on stab at record marketing by a band who have had almost as many compilation releases as actual studio albums, or Billy Bragg’s “Workers Playground” (sic – it was actually Workers Playtime - goodness, I’m an even bigger music nerd!) when it had its little “capitalism is killing music” special price message plastered on the sleeve, before magically disappearing from the artwork to go to full price.

The Music Mole is another regular, an industry insider (we have our ideas as to who – bwahaha!) dressed in a very prim mole suit, exposing some of the seamier goings on within the industry both local and abroad. Each show ends with World of Instruments, where one Dr Jordania, musicologist, espouses the virtues of various lesser known musical instruments from around the world, before a wide variety of acts ranging from Magic Dirt and Frenzal Rhomb, to Mental as Anything and TISM to Ross Wilson and even Scandal’Us get down and dirty with them. Sonic Animation also featured on the aired version, but some wanker wouldn’t give music clearance so it’s been cruelly circumcised, replaced by a rather fun voiceover from John as he lets us in on a bit of behind the scenes trivia. The voice of Countdown, Gavin Wood, also pops up with the occasional piece of trivia.

It’s the one-off stuff where Safran really gets to go to town, however, even if he does have a remarkable knack of involving his seemingly rather crap hip-hop tinged old band of two, Raspberry Cordial, with disturbing regularity. There’s way too much to go into detail about here – ranging from parodies of popular songs (Eminem’s Stan given the Dr Seuss treatment – and the bastard kills the Fox in Socks!) to stabs at films - Footloose for example serving as an impetus to return to his strictly religious boys only dance-free zone school to add a bit of boogie to the place. There are also loose how-to guides – a look at the rules of club culture, why you should beware of Beastie Boys around your partners and even the evils of clowns (duh!).

The subversive John is still very much in evidence, destabilising everything from ABC TV music institution Rage to Melbourne street papers to self-important windbag Melbourne talkback DJs to wanky nightclubs, to raking in Labor leader Simon Crean in order to help out the victims of Popstars (no, not us –the actual performers), to simply having the shit beaten out of a certain corporate bigwig mouse. All this and more is interspersed with a variety of interviews – including a vague as ever Ozzy Osbourne, many examples of dress-ups (Prince hawking the wares of the Jehovah’s Witnesses door to door and Ozzy assaulting Melburnians with backwards lyrics are both absolutely priceless) and general forays into the sort of territory just not covered by anything vaguely resembling mainstream music publications or programmes. Oh, we’re even privy to the odd conspiracy theory – shhh, believe it or not George Harrison just very well may be dead!

A wonderfully skewed look at the world of popular music, in general Music Jamboree works and works very well. The only real criticisms are a tendency to labour the point substantially too long on quite a few occasions (what was that those prog-rock dinosaurs Pink Floyd said in some song about a “short, sharp shock”?), and the over-personal nature of many a sketch with John’s aforementioned obsessions with his failed old band and more notably his scary fixation with his ex-girlfriend, L...mmffblble...

  Video
Contract

Another visual grab bag – there’s new footage and old, some cheaply filmed and, well, some less cheaply filmed stuff – the usual caveats for such releases apply here. It’s all presented in a 16:9 enhanced, 1.78:1 ratio, and for the most part looks as good as such things get. All the newly produced footage exhibits decent colour and detail, and little in the way of nasties save for the odd bit of aliasing, whilst some of the more commando-shot bits and pieces can be a little ropier – but never to the point of serving up any major visual nasties. There’s some older film used – promo clips, bits of movies etc – and these often suffer from a few gremlins, but it was present in the source so what are you going to do? With many people still lucky to get any sort of picture from SBS at all nowadays, let alone a good one, you can feel safe in the knowledge that this little double shot of Safran’s work looks pretty much as good as it ever could. Oh, and the layer changes are between episodes, which is nice.

  Audio
Contract

How often do you come across a television programme with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound? Not often – and Music Jamboree is certainly no exception, featuring simple Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. Despite ignoring those big black subwoofwoofs out there as well as the surrounds, those with Prologic setups will get a bit of immersion, but any expectations of wondrous surround activity would be just plain silly – after all, this is hardly the sort of material that begs for such treatment. What is important is clarity and synch, the latter is perfect and the former is fine 99.9% of the time – in all a pretty good hit rate.

Oh, make sure you check out the French, Italian and Yiddish language options on disc one, too (not meaning to sound like a roadie or anything...)

  Extras
Contract

With a two-disc set we usually expect quite an array of bonus goodies, and despite there being mucho main programme to squeeze on, there’s still quite a bit of extra stuff to explore hidden away behind the quaint animated menus of disc two – featuring John in various guises dancing away...

Show related extras: A number of featurettes and other bits and pieces are included. There’s a Jew’Town (gotta have the apostrophe) mockumentary (4:11, full frame) parodying your typical boy band ever-so-serious fare; rehearsal footage from the Footloose sketch (3:05, full frame), displaying many of John’s, erm, intriguing array of flexibilities; and outtakes from the Eminem sketch (3:05, full frame), including one of the cutest little kids you’ll ever clap eyes upon. Next up there are five TV spots (1.78, non-enhanced), all featuring John and SBS soccer guru Les Murray at a urinal (klassy!), as featured during the station’s World Cup soccer coverage; SBS hotline feedback (5.55, full frame) which is pretty self explanatory; two TV commercials (31 seconds apiece) for this very DVD release, including a great stab at that boring old fart reviewer from The Age newspaper Ross Warneke; and finally the chance to select any or all of the Music Mole or World of Instruments segments (well, in regards to the latter naturally Sonic Animation is missing – boo!).

Other Safran-related extra stuff: Pleasingly there’s a bit of a selection of John’s earlier work included, even if there’s much less than the release’s press release actually promises – tsk, tsk. First up is the video clip for the pointy-pointy ARIA award winning single Not the Sunscreen Song, rather obviously parodying Baz Luhrman and Quindon Tarver’s pious little Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) of a few years ago (4:53, 1.78 non-enhanced); John’s Book Club, the first of a few segments made for a number of TV shows (6.29, full frame), this one looking at censorship in literature from the UK's Disinfo Nation; Talkback (4:46, full frame), where John takes on hairy Adelaide talkback radio mouth Bob Francis, with the aid of two of his biggest nemeses (aired on Seven's The Late Report); a few quite fabulous stabs at a certain McBurger chain also made for The Late Report, but unaired, featuring attempts at getting people with the surname McDonald to change it, John dressed as the conglomerate’s promotional clown and registering their trade name in Iraq, just to give them some grief if the US ever invade the place...; and a curious little very short film entitled 13 Secret Herbs and Spices (2:40, full frame, very grainy Super 8 black and white), which sees Chickenman exacting a spot of revenge on a certain Colonel in quite the Tarantino-esque stylee.

What will probably be of great interest to fans of the lad will be his Race Around the World audition tape (11:17, full frame), which pots pretty much everything we expect from him into one little sales piece, complete with him sucking back the odd drop of his own urine – hmm, yummy. Oh, and finally there’s an audio-only song piece, featuring a track called University Elevator Music from that damned Raspberry Cordial band thing he simply won’t shut up about.

Leftovers: It’s a Madman disc, so we expect some of their propaganda - however this time there’s a real treat in store. We get the US trailer for the utterly brilliant look at Tony Wilson and Factory Records that is 24 Hour Party People, which sadly we need to wait forever to arrive on DVD as the stupid cinemas here took a year to wake up to it – cheers, chumps. There are also promos for the anime thing Cowboy Bebop, the dance club thing Better Living Through Chemistry and the very silly thing The Kentucky Fried Movie. Oh, and to cap it all off, there’s a 30-second TV spot for Melbourne radio station RRR.

Packaging: Housed in quite an elaborate fold out cardboard thingy that’s quite worth close examination (dig the acid tabs!), we’re also given a contest postcard and a little (badly proofread) booklet featuring some of the cut-out-and-use stuff as featured on the www.musicjamboree.com website.

  Overall  
Contract

Possibly best summed up as kind of an intriguing cross between Norman Gunston and Mike Moore (the US one behind The Awful Truth, not the Frontline one), John Safran’s modus operandi is a divisive one – for everybody who laps up his actually very clever silliness, others will just think he’s an utter dickhead. If like many of us you’re firmly in the former camp, then don't be a schnorer - Music Jamboree is an essential purchase. If you’re looking for it in your local store then you’ll find it left and to the back...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2252
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      And I quote...
    "A wonderfully skewed look at the world of popular music, presided over by a self-confessed skinny pale whiny person who's been intimate with Ray Martin's rubbish. You need more of a sales pitch?!"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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