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Produced by Jeremy Podeswa and Ingrid Veninger; directed by Jeremy Podeswa Rebel Films Inc., 1992. VHS cassette, 48 min., $129.95. Distributed by Lynx Images Releasing, #606 -174 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ont. M5T 2C2.

Grades 8 and up/Ages 13 and up

Reviewed by Frances Daw Bergles

Volume 21 Number 6
1993 November

A new take on old songs, Standards captures attention and piques curiosity with a combination of archival footage of vintage performers (Lady Day, Lena Home, etc.), contemporary covers, and informative, entertaining commentary.

Canadian vocalists (Maggie Moore singing "Runnin' Wild," Molly Johnson crooning "Don't Explain," Cherie Camp performing "Ten Cents a Dance," Laura Hubert belting "Gimme a Pig Foot," Sarah McLachlan whispering "Gloomy Sunday," David Ramsden, the accompanist throughout, serenading with "Embraceable You," Holly Cole interpreting "The Man I Love," and Jane Siberry with "The Love I Have for You") provide a back-drop for a discussion of the nature, vitality and lasting power of musical standards.

Divided into eight distinct parts with headings taken from interview quotes, the production showcases the eight vocalists in counterpoint with thought-provoking discussions by musical authorities, including Richard Ouzounian, Gene DiNovi and Salome Bey, about what a "standard" is. Starting with the definition of a standard as "An established measure or model: a) A definite level of excellence; b) Something permanent, something that has lasted a long time," the video goes on to expand the definition, define content, discuss the origin, vitality, style, sophistication, history and time period of pop music, explore the synthesis of song, performer and audience, and address the controversy over changing and adapting classics.

I particularly enjoyed the discussion based on a Richard Ouzounian quote that deals with the energy and vitality of American classics being the result of immigrant cultures adopting and adapting a new language.

The production is a good blend of music, visual, and intellectual interest. Not only is the music terrific, but insights into the language and culture are stimulating. Both the songs and the commentary are well articulated.

Frances Daw Bergles is a librarian in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
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