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''Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?'' soundtrack

Universal // SACD // May 27, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 10, 2003 | E-mail the Author

The Music:



1. Po Lazarus - J. Carter & Prisoners

2. Big Rock Candy Mountain - Harry McLintock

3. You Are My Sunshine - Norman Blake

4. Down In The River To Pray - Alison Krauss

5. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys featuring Dan Tyminski

6. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Chris Thomas King

7. Man Of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental) - Norman Blake

8. Keep On The Sunny Side - The Whites

9. I'll Fly Away - Gillian Welch & Alison Krauss

10. Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby - Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss & Emmylou Harris

11. In The Highways - The Peasall Sisters

12. I Am Weary - The Cox Family

13. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental) - John Hartford
14. O Death - Ralph Stanley

15. In The Jailhouse Now - The Soggy Bottom Boys featuring Tim Blake Nelson

16. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (With band) - The Soggy Bottom Boys featuring Dan Tyminski

17. Indian War Whoop (Instrumental) - John Hartford

18. Lonesome Valley - The Fairfield Four

19. Angel Band - The Stanley Brothers



* This can only be played on SACD players. There is no CD layer.




The DVD



SOUND: The "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack is presented by Universal Music on SACD in DSD 2.0. Despite notes on the bottom of the back cover about a 5.1 mix, one unfortunately isn't included here. Although the bluegrass/folk music wouldn't suggest a 5.1 repurposing, one of my favorite presentations on the DVD-Audio format is Bela Fleck's "The Bluegrass Sessions", which translated to multi-channel quite wonderfully.



Thoughts of multichannel presentations aside, this is certainly an album that most are likely familiar with. Winner of the 2001 "Best Album" Grammy, the "Oh Brother" soundtrack took off like a rocket thanks to the success of the widely-heard and highly catchy "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow". As a result, the movie and accompanying soundtrack (which was created before the movie) brought in legions of new fans to bluegrass. No mere trend, the success around the album continued - a tour featuring artists from the soundtrack and a DVD concert performance ("Down From The Mountain") were both quite successful.



The soundtrack is a fascinating exploration of Depression-era American Roots music, with everything from the upbeat ("Constant Sorrow", which has Union Station member Dan Tyminski providing the guitar work and vocals, backed by folk musicians Harley Allen and Pat Enright) to the chilling (Ralph Stanley's "O Death") to the beautiful (Alison Krauss's "Down to the River to Pray") to the sunny ("You Are My Sunshine"). Producers T Bone Burnett and the Coen Brothers have put together a terrific compilation, showcasing superb examples of gospel, blues, folk, country and other genres while still providing a great mood and atmosphere for the movie the soundtrack accompanies.



The SACD's Stereo presentation is generally quite good, although the material doesn't really showcase the format as well as some other titles may. In comparisons between the CD and SACD, the SACD did offer greater clarity for both the vocals (Alison Krauss's haunting, angelic "Down to the River To Pray" sounded stunning) and instrumentals and a warmer sound, but the differences were not night-and-day. Still, any improvements are welcome and this new release did provide a more pleasant, detailed presentation of the award-winning album.



Final Thoughts: The "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack provides a terrific introduction to American Roots music, providing a mixture of genres and songs that are memorable, moving and entertaining. The SACD did offer improved clarity over the CD edition, but the differences were just noticable, not remarkable.

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