Catching Up With the Latest in...DVDs

By Chris Willman
September 12, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT


(NPG/Hip-O) It seems ”Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” when it comes to paying for a pro filming job: ”Live” looks like it was shot by fans who snuck Super-8s into the Aladdin and had their tapes confiscated. But the music nearly makes the visual shoddiness 4-givable. Even with his dirty stuff banished from the set, Prince works up a good, dry sweat, his current favoring of James Brown-style big-band soul revue and jazz fusion broken up by occasional blasts of rock-guitar heroism (including a ”Whole Lotta Love” cover!). B

HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS (Catfish) Anyone interested in alt-country’s origins may be astonished to learn that cameras (and stereo sound) were rolling in 1975 as a positively boyish Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, et al. sang, drank, and recklessly disregarded walls separating folk, rock, and hillbilly music. But there’s a reason this documentary has remained unseen for a quarter century: With no narration to inform us who Larry Jon Wilson is, or subtitles to establish Austin and Nashville locales, ”Highways” foolishly assumes an innate knowledge of outlaw culture. B

CHER — THE FAREWELL TOUR (Image) Rarely has there been such a disconnect between singer and song as when Cher blithely warbles U2’s ”I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” while being lowered to the stage in an outfit that looks like a sequin factory’s remains tangled up in cotton-field briars after a tornado. What she’s looking for, of course, is the perfect headdress — a spiritual quest we follow through innumerable costume changes accomplished while dancers do gauche-man’s-Cirque gymnastics. The set is predictably short on grace but big on will. C+

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: 25 YEARS OF MUSIC (Lions Gate) After offering two ludicrously skimpy CDs a few years back, ”SNL” finally gives us the encompassing and roughly chronological musical retrospective we’ve always wanted with this five-DVD set. Unnecessary inclusions of Blind Melon, Live, and Mariah Carey from the later years are a small price to pay for a permanent record of Elvis Costello, the Tosh/Jagger duet, Patti Smith, and so on in the early volumes. Musical comedy sketch bits serve as useful interruptions, if only to remind us how clearly Courtney Love modeled her persona on Gilda’s Candy Slice. A-