Various Artists

Twentieth Century Blues: The Songs of Noël Coward [Video]

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Twentieth Century Blues: The Songs of Noël Coward is an entertaining but uneven affair. The live performances, covers of Noël Coward songs, are a mixed bag. Every song sounds quite good in the uncompressed PCM format, and the picture quality is also good, displaying subtle, subdued colors. The biggest knock against the DVD is in the performances themselves; some artists, for whatever reason, lip-sync their songs. While good for American Bandstand cheesiness, the Pet Shop Boys numbers are almost unbearably goofy as Neil Tennant laughs and struggles through his band's songs. The Suede performance is equally awkward. The Divine Comedy, Marianne Faithfull, and Robbie Williams present much more digestible performances, even if Williams seems to have indulged a bit too much in some sort of spirits. The between-song banter, by British stars of stage and screen, is slightly informative but somewhat boring. Supplemental features consist solely of a list of Coward's plays and text-based discographies for the tribute artists. The liner notes in the DVD case, 11 paragraphs' worth, provide the best insight into Coward's life and art. If the majority of the artists hadn't phoned in their performances, there would be more to recommend here. As things stand, it's a mildly entertaining package, but a fluff piece at best.