What happens after a physics student works on the Manhattan Project? Well, at least for this person, he becomes the most influential recording engineer in music history. This man is Tom Dowd. In Mark Moorman’s fascinating documentary, Tom Dowd and the Language of Music, we are taken through the development of modern music through one of its most famous guides. The film is a mixture of interviews with Tom Dowd, as he also takes us to various biographical and musical locales in New York cities, and testament… from the musical acts he worked with. The people Dowd worked with is a who’s who of musical icons: Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Aretha Franklin, and the list goes on. Quite a list, quite a film.
Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, this sound mix is quite active on all speakers. Like a well mixed record, the audio is quite effective. Musical portions can be heard quite clearly on the rears; dialogue sections are reserved mostly for the front speakers. Some occasional “harshness” on the dialogue sections, but this is a disc about music. The audio mix sounds great for an independent documentary.
The 1.85:1 Widescreen presentation (unanamorphic, I believe) is also solid. Colors and flesh tones are natural. There is a lot of archival footage, so the quality is not the greatest at times (to be expected). Slight shimmering in places, but not too distracting. The video is not as good as the audio, but on a disc about music would you expect any different?
There is a healthy portion of extras here. There are three deleted scenes, all fairly short. However, there are a heck of a lot of additional interviews. Almost a feature film by itself, these interviews are fascinating. Many other artists are interviewed about Tom Dowd. The inteviews are divided into chapters, even better. Making a Studio Shoot is a three minute curiousity about, well, making a studio shoot. There is a photo gallery, previews for other Palm Pictures, and Web Links.
Sadly, Tom Dowd died shortly after the documentary was made. This film is a testament to his legacy and love for music. If there ever was a man behind the scenes of modern music, it’s Tom Dowd. Fascinating stuff. Great doc. Very good sound, video, and features. Check it out.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Additional Interviews
- “Making a Studio Shoot” featurette
- Photo Gallery
- Web Links