If you only remember Peter, Paul and Mary from the 1960s when they were at the height of their fame, be prepared for a bit of a shock.
It's now more than 40 years on from when our trio were hitting their stride as the folk trio who popularised folk and turned protest songs into chart successes. And -- well, it's hard to say this in a politically correct way, but while Peter and Paul show just the expected ravages of time, Mary Travers seems to have turned into Mama Cass.
Yes, it's bad to even have to mention it. But that physical change does hit you as a total shock.
Once the initial shock has faded, this DVD, a history of the group, has some pleasant moments, mostly in its very fragmentary snippets of performances from the late 1960s, when our trio were one of the most successful interpreters of songs by gifted creators such as Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger.
Although we remember Peter, Paul and Mary for their chart successes (including 'If I Had a Hammer', 'Lemon Tree', 'Blowin' In the Wind', 'Leaving On a Jet Plane'), this DVD reminds us that the trio was also intensely politically committed, using their music to help fight racism, protest against the Vietnam War and to publicise other worthwhile causes.
Problem is, we are told this not once, not twice, but dozens of times. Their sincerity is obvious -- but it does become intensely boring. And, to be honest, their performances during the 1980s and 1990s aren't up to the standard of their early work. We're given too little of the early stuff, and far too much of their later efforts, including a long and self-indulgent PBS broadcast in front of a studio audience of youngsters and their parents, with the highlight being a cloyingly twee rendition of 'Puff the Magic Dragon'. It's truly nauseating.
It's interesting to see and hear in commentary the great Pete Seeger and Ronnie Gilbert, who comprised half of legendary folk group The Weavers -- and to see PP and M performing with another Weaver, Fred Hellerman.
But these moments are few and far between. This DVD drips sincerity, but precious little else. This is truly one only for the most deeply committed fan.
The early archival material here is testament to the high professional achievements of the trio. But it's presented in such a fragmentary manner, with irritating voice-overs constantly intruding, that the whole package comes across as a wasted opportunity. The PP and M story deserves to be told properly one day. This one doesn't do the job.