Chet Atkins: A Life In Music
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted July 3, 2001
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The Movie:

Throughout the last three years reviewing DVDs, I've come across legions of movies that I've enjoyed and would likely never have heard of. I've also had the chance to learn about and enjoy several artists that I've never come across before, the latest of them being guitar legend Chet Atkins, who has sadly passed away a couple of days before this DVD is to be released.

"A Life In Music" chronicles the career of Atkins, a pioneer in country music who added different genres and elements into the music that really started the "Nashville sound". A number of famous artists pay tribute to Atkins throughout the documentary, including Dolly Parton, Mark Knopfler, Les Paul, John Fogerty, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Suzy Bogguss, George Benson, Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, and Peter Frampton. It's fascinating to listen to how these artists were not only influenced, but often assisted by Atkins, who believed and supported many of these artists. As the documentary goes on, it looks at Atkins' career as a producer, bringing in artists to quickly and efficently cut songs for release.

Most entertaining are the interview clips with Atkins himself, who provides terrific insight about what it was like to become a father figure for many artists during the years and at one point discusses that he wonders if producing was the right choice when he believes that he could have written more music himself. After listening to how much Atkins meant to all of the people involved with this documentary though, I think he definitely chose right. His discussions about the musicians he's worked with and his early experiences with music are wonderfully engaging as his soft, modest way of speaking delivers years of incredible experiences throughout the years revolutionizing music.


The DVD

VIDEO: "A Life In Music" is presented in full_frame and occasionally varies in the look and quality due to the fact that the documentary takes clips and elements from different quality material and different eras. Sharpness at least was usually consistent, but there were a few clips from early years that looked rather soft. The new interviews, of course, looked the best as they appeared sharp and well-defined. There are some concert clips that come in in-between, looking a little bit softer.

Although the softness did become a slight concern once or twice, it was at least pleasant that that was really the only concern. I didn't see any pixelation or edge enhancement, and only a few of the older black and white clips appeared somewhat grainy. A scene where Atkins is wearing a suit did shimmer a bit, but that was an extremely brief problem. Colors during some of the older clips seemed a tiny bit smeared, but for the most part, colors looked crisp and well presented.

SOUND: "A Life In Music" is presented in Dolby 2.0 and mainly sticks to a "documentary audio" type format for the program. The music comes through clearly and crisply, although not quite with the fidelity of most music programs. Interviews and narration did come through quite well, sounding natural and clean.

MENUS:: Since there are no extras or language options, the only menu included is a scene selection menu.

EXTRAS: No extras.

Final Thoughts: "A Life In Music" was a very insightful and informative program convering the life and career of Atkins, who has unfortunately passed on. Still, "A Life" remains a fine tribute. It's unfortunate though, that a few more extras couldn't have been included on this DVD release. Still, audio/video quality is pleasing. Recommended.


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