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Music lovers' musts for fall: CDs, DVDs and a whole lot of Lennon
Daily Herald Staff Report

Legendary musician John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono read "The Way of Life" by Lao Tzu during their 1969 bed-in for peace event in Montreal.


Courtesy of Joan Athey and Peaceworks Now Productions

Images from John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 bed-in are part of the new "Give Peace a Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-in for Peace" exhibit at the Lake County Discovery Museum.


Courtesy of Joan Athey and Peaceworks Now Productions

Bruce Springsteen's highly regarded fourth record, "Darkness on the Edge of Town," gets a deluxe reissue this fall.


Bob Dylan's earliest records are being rereleased with mono sound mixes in "The Original Mono Recordings," an eight-disc box set.


Bruce Springsteen's highly regarded fourth record, "Darkness on the Edge of Town," gets a deluxe reissue this fall in a set that includes the remastered album, unreleased tracks and three DVDs worth of documentary and performance material.


Paul Sancya

Conductor James Levine celebrates his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera this season. In honor of the occasion, special boxed sets of DVDs and CDs of live radio broadcasts are being released.


Courtesy Kochi Miura

Conductor James Levine celebrates his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera this season. In honor of the occasion, a special boxed set of CDs of live radio broadcasts has been released.


Conductor James Levine celebrates his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera this season. In honor of the occasion, a special boxed set of DVDs has been released.


Aaron Johnson portrays a young John Lennon in the coming-of-age drama "Nowhere Boy."


A young John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) is inspired by his mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) in the film "Nowhere Boy."


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Published: 10/5/2010 4:15 PM

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This summer brought music lovers a series of impressive fests and big-name concerts, but fall offers a number of lower-key delights.

Beatles fans, for example, can celebrate the life of John Lennon with a local museum exhibit and a new film.

Baby boomers and opera lovers, meanwhile, can settle in at home with much-anticipated new CD and DVD sets. And families can introduce their kids to two great Disney musicals one on DVD, the other on stage.

Lennon remembered

Saturday would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. To mark the occasion, the Lake County Discovery Museum opens the new "Give Peace A Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-in for Peace" exhibit celebrating the life of this legendary musician and his dreams for peace.

Guests can view more than 40 large-format photographs taken during the famous bed-in for peace event staged by Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono from May 26 to June 2, 1969, in Montreal.

Looking at the images, one is reminded of that week when the world peered into a hotel room to see a long-haired, pajama-clad Lennon, playing his guitar in bed and leading a group of friends and strangers in recording "Give Peace A Chance."

Before arriving at the Lake County Discovery Museum, the "Give Peace A Chance" exhibit was shown in only two other places in the world Liverpool, England, and Woodstock, N.Y. said Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources for the Lake County Forest Preserves.

A re-creation of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel room where the bed-in took place is one exhibit highlight.

"There's a bed, of course, and we also have things that accumulated behind Lennon during the bed-in, like flowers, plants and posters that people brought to the event," Hamilton-Smith said. "The bed-in became such a magnet for energy."

As part of the exhibit, visitors are invited to place their own hopes for peace on a wish tree. Wishes will be mailed to the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland.

A special opening day celebration for the exhibit will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at the museum. Refreshments will be served, and music and other activities will honor Lennon's life.

"We hope this exhibit will be a very personal thing for visitors," Hamilton-Smith said. "We hope people just enjoy the pictures and celebrate Lennon's life and his intentions for what the bed-in for peace was supposed to mean."

-- Laura Stewart

More Lennon

Beatles fans have another reason to celebrate this fall: the release of "Nowhere Boy," a film following Lennon's turbulent early years in Liverpool.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood and set to arrive in Chicago theaters Oct. 15, "Nowhere Boy" features Aaron Johnson as a young Lennon. It's 1955 and the teen is torn between his free-spirited mother and the aunt who raised him. He escapes into rock 'n' roll, meets Paul McCartney and takes his first steps into music history.

The film came out in England last year and was screened more recently at Sundance. It's already won over one important critic: Yoko Ono.

-- Lisa Friedman Miner

Boxes from rock icons

Baby boomers rejoice! Three of rock's biggest icons Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones have major box sets on the way this season.

Dylan gets things started with "The Original Mono Recordings," an eight-disc set that hits stores on Oct. 19.

The box brings together his first eight full-length records, starting with "Bob Dylan" from 1962 and ending with "John Wesley Harding" from 1967. All of these albums are readily available now, of course, but this set delivers them in specially produced mono mixes, reproducing the original sound.

The set, available on CD and vinyl LP, includes the albums and a booklet with vintage photographs and a new essay from critic Greil Marcus. Each disc comes in a jacket that reproduces the original 1960s album artwork. The set retails for $129.98 (CD version) or $264.98 (vinyl).

Up next are the Stones, who will release a deluxe edition of their acclaimed concert film, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones," on Nov. 9.

The film came out in 1974 and displayed a band at the top of its powers. Filmed in 1972, the performances are considered by many fans to be the most powerful the band ever captured on film.

The three-DVD set will include the remastered concert film, the "Stones in Exile" documentary about the making of "Exile on Main Street," and a third disc with additional concert and interview footage. The set also has a 60-page commemorative book and other goodies. It will set you back $99.98.

And then we have the Boss, who releases "The Promise: The 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' Story" on Nov. 16.

This three-CD, three-DVD set celebrates Springsteen's fourth record, one that many afficionados consider his best. "Darkness" includes standout songs such as "Prove it All Night" and the sublime "Badlands," with those awesome Steven Van Zandt backing vocals. It also displays a tougher, angrier side to Springsteen, exemplified by the gritty "Adam Raised a Cain."

So what do you get here? The three CDs comprise the remastered 1978 album, plus two discs worth of previously unreleased songs from the "Darkness" sessions. You also get three DVDs (or Blu-ray discs) featuring the feature-length documentary "The Promise: The Making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'" and more than four hours of vintage concert footage.

Finally, the set comes with an 80-page notebook filled with Springsteen's notes, vintage photographs and a new essay from the Boss. The whole thing goes for $119.98 (DVD) and $139.98 (Blu-ray).

-- Matt Arado

Family fare

Great music, great storytelling.

Say what you will about Disney, but some of their 1990s musicals pack in an incredible amount of enjoyment for both kids and adults.

One of the best "Beauty and the Beast" just arrived on Blu-ray for the first time.

Book-loving Belle yearns for more than life in her little French town. When her inventor father is imprisoned in the enchanted castle of a scary Beast, Belle agrees to take his place. Soon, she's taking her place in the Beast's heart as well.

The songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are catchy, and the characters are completely memorable. Watch the DVD and discover the charms of the only animated film ever nominated for a best-picture Oscar.

The three-disc Blue Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD edition comes with three versions of the film, deleted scenes and loads of extras. It retails for $39.99.

More expensive (tickets run up to $166) but visually majestic is "Disney's The Lion King," on stage through Nov. 27 at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre. Featuring music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, this moving tale of a lion cub who loses his father and must learn to take his place among his pride is brought beautifully to life with massive puppets, extraordinary costumes and a rich song list.

You can always watch the DVD of the animated version, but the Broadway in Chicago musical is an experience for theater and music fans alike.

-- Lisa Friedman Miner

Met Opera milestone

Cincinnati-native James Levine has come a long way from his Midwestern roots to become one of the world's most influential classical conductors.

Though best-known locally for being the Ravinia Festival's music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's summer residencies from 1973 to 1993, it's Levine's longtime association with the Metropolitan Opera in New York that he is most famous for.

The Met celebrates Levine's 40th anniversary with the company with two major commemorative box sets of CDs and DVDs that are a must for any opera lover. Nearly all of the included landmark live performances have never been commercially released on CD or DVD.

Though Levine's very first Met conducting gig isn't included (a performance of Puccini's "Tosca" in 1971), the 11 live Saturday-matinee radio broadcasts of operas spread out through the 32-CD box set show the breadth of Levine's artistry and his push to expand the company's operatic repertory.

All the recordings are starry occasions, ranging from a 1998 performance of Wagner "Lohengrin" featuring Canadian tenor Ben Heppner to the world premiere of John Harbison's "The Great Gatsby" starring soprano Dawn Upshaw and the late tenor Jerry Hadley.

Eleven operas comprise the 21-DVD set, which are largely drawn from celebrated PBS-TV broadcasts.

For opera star power alone, there's the sublime singing of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in a 1982 taping of Richard Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier," while acclaimed Canadian soprano Teresa Stratas is featured in three productions. Also included are two never-before-broadcast DVDs of Berg's "Wozzeck" and Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" featuring current opera stars Deborah Voigt and Natalie Dessay.

The CD- and DVD-box sets of "James Levine: Celebrating 40 Years at the Met" respectively retail at $200 and $300 and are available by visiting

-- Scott Morgan

'Disney's The Lion King'

Location: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesday and Saturday; 1 p.m. matinee Sunday, and also on Oct. 26, Nov. 16 and Nov. 23; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26. Runs through Nov. 27.

Tickets: $25-$166; (312) 911-1700 or

"Give Peace A Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-in for Peace"

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Exhibit runs Saturday, Oct. 9, through Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011

Location: Lake County Discovery Museum, on Route 176, just west of Fairfield Road in the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda

Admission: $2.50-$6; children ages 3 and under are free. On Tuesdays, admission is $3 for adults, and those 17 and younger are free.

Information: (847) 968-3400 or