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4.5 out of 5 stars36
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on March 2, 2011
This DVD is very interesting and I loved the interviews with so many great singer/songwriters. And it was wonderful to see Carole King talk about her craft and her career. My only beef is that I assumed (and you know what that means) the songs on the CD were recordings from sessions at The Troubadour. They aren't. They are just normal tracks taken off albums of the singers. So if you already have James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt in your collection, you've probably got these very songs already.
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This 90-minute American Masters special originally aired on PBS. It takes viewers back to the early 70s, a joyful and creative period in American music, especially in Los Angeles. There a group of young singer-songwriters was establishing a new genre whose gentleness and intimacy contrasted sharply with the untamed ferocity of rock. They blended folk and rock played on acoustic guitars and pianos, and the personal stories they told touched the hearts of my generation and of all the generations since.

Ground zero was The Troubadour, a small club on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. It was run by an influential, mercurial, and often dictatorial manager and producer, the late Doug Weston. Our guides to the scene are the men and women who wrote and sang the much-loved tunes of the era. We hear first and foremost from from James Taylor and Carole King, who are the best of friends and the focal point of the film.

Taylor and King are joined by Jackson Browne, Kris Kristofferson, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby of Crosby Stills and Nash, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, J. D. Souther of the Eagles, and others, both in interviews and in performance. Recalling their experiences at The Troubadour and other clubs is clearly a pleasure for them, and they express great affection for the period and for one another. Growing up together, they formed intense bonds that endure to this day.

The film covers not only the wonderful music but also the groundbreaking comedy of the time: Steve Martin and Cheech and Chong hold forth at length about what went on in the clubs. Producers like Peter Asher and Lou Adler weigh in, as do songwriters like Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and critics like Robert Hilburn of the L.A. Times and Robert Christgau of Rolling Stone. They discuss the volatile personalities, occasionally shady business dealings, and frequent drug use that threatened the community they helped to build.

The bonus CD is a nice touch: a 10-track compilation of some of the most important original recordings of the era. It should pique your interest in complete albums by the artists I've already mentioned as well as Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, Randy Newman, and Warren Zevon. And if you'd like to preview the film, you can watch it in its entirety at the PBS American Masters website, together with outtakes and additional material.
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on March 15, 2011
After catching part of the documentary on PBS, I had to own the DVD. The CD is NOT the James Taylor/Carole King Troubadour recording but a CD of oldies. You can download the JT/CK concert - and it's a great download. It was tremendously interesting hearing the stories from those who were there as all of it was happening. I thought that I knew a lot of it, but I was totally enlightened. A must for those who still have a foggy memory of those days.
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on April 5, 2011
If you saw the PBS version of Troubadours and enjoyed it, you HAVE TO buy this video. If you are a fan of these artists, you'll be thrilled that they are as relevant and the voices more brilliant than you remember. If you are unfamiliar with James Taylor and Carole King, you need to learn about their beginnings and the beautiful way they make music together, as well as the other artists on this DVD.

I saw Taylor and King in concert together last summer and it was like taking a step back in time. They are so at ease with each other and so playful. It was a breathtaking performance, and this DVD brought it all back to me.

You will not regret this purchase.
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on December 16, 2011
Troubadours - The Rise of the Singer Songwriter (DVD/CD): Being immensely interested in the history of popular music, I was thrilled to get the DVD. It is a wonderful piece of Folk/Rock history. However, I am not sure how often the casual fan would dig this out and watch it. As to the CD, it is a collection of studio hits from a small group of important artists who were involved with The Troubadour. These are not live recording from The Troubadour. They are not live recordings at all. The DVD gets four stars. The CD is only for those who are completely unaware of 1970's popular music.
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on April 16, 2011
This documentary originated in the reunion tour that Carole King and James Taylor recently did, performing their classics all over the country. It has a number of performance clips (including Carole's debut performance at The Troubaour and the first public performance of Fire and Rain), but the heart of the DVD is really the interviews. If you grew up listening to 1970s singer-songwriter stuff, this DVD will bring back memories. As others have noted, the accompanying CD is neither from the reunion tour nor the live performances from the DVD, the CD consists of studio recordings by artists mentioned on the documentary. So it's a nice bonus but if you are a fan of these people then you probably have many of these tracks in your collection already. Also as others have noted, this is not exactly a definitive history of either the Troubadour as a venue or of the singer-songwriter movement; a more accurate subtitle might be "Carole King, James Taylor, and some of their friends remember the Seventies." For instance Bob Dylan is only mentioned in passing. Worthwhile and lots of fun, in any case.
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on December 29, 2012
I purchased this for myself last year after seeing the PBS special on Carole King and James Taylor. Both have influenced my style of songwriting since the seventies and I love their music. I came back this year to by one for a gift. The recipients were thrilled, as they love them too. You really can't got wrong with this set. Their timeless music appeals to all ages and all music lovers. It's one of the greatest sets in my collection.
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on April 1, 2011
This video, starring two and the driving sources behind the "singer-songwriter" movement of the 1970's, discusses the history of this movement along with the characters who helped it explode onto the pop music scene in the early part of the 1970's. If you like James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne, etc., you will enjoy this video.
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on July 11, 2011
As a baby boomer who loves the singer/songwriter era this DVD was a real treat. I enjoyed every minute of it. It contained on video a lot of the information found in a wonderful book on the subject called "Hotel California". I highly recommend the DVD. I must confess that I haven't listened to the CD yet.
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on December 26, 2013
I stumbled upon this package (and the existence of the documentary in the first place) after finally breaking down and buying the King/Taylor "Live At The Troubadour" set. Plus one for Amazon's "others also ordered..." function.

The interviews and musical clips are worth the price of admission. Astonished to find a full "Troubadour tour" rendition of "Your Smiling Face" under the closing credits - a song that was not included on the Live CD/DVD set. The other musical clips could have been longer, I agree with the other reviewer; everything is done to fit a time and production (single-layer DVD) price point. Audio and video quality are decent to good, especially considering the archival source material many clips came from.

That's where some of the annoyances come in. As has been pointed out, the accompanying CD is pointless as it is not necessarily representative of the "scene" portrayed in the documentaty but rather a mixup of studio tracks from various artists that they probably were able to license at the lowest price. But even the DVD - no menus whatsoever except for stereo/surround audio selection. The disc is divided into chapters but they could not even be bothered to author a disc menu that linked to them.

In sum this is an essential companion set to the Live At The Troubadour set whose home video execution could have been much better.
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