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The Discovery of Eilleen Twain

starring Eilleen Twain

MVD Visual

I love this wonderful CD/ DVD combo, but probably not for the reason intended by the fine folks at MVD Video. Eilleen Twain now operates under the moniker Shaina Twain, and unless you live under a rock like me, you know she's one of the biggest stars in the country-pop universe. But she started out in a crap job like anyone else; her roots are in the Canadian Las Vegas, a resort named Deerhurst up in Huntsville, Ontario. Deerhurst was a low budget operation, but it believed in presenting the highest production standards possible and did it all on a shoe string budget. Twain came from poverty and a love of music and begged her way into a job singing in the Deerhurst breakfast hall, but soon became a headliner, and then went on to bigger and better things. In this package you get two disks, a DVD of interviews with ex-coworkers and a CD of a collection of her early material. The CD is rough in spots and is overproduced, but you can still hear her potential behind the drum machine and brass line. But in my opinion, it's the DVD that should make you snap up this piece of pop music history.

The DVD combines archival VHS footage of Twain along with interviews of those who remember her and are still in the old digs. We see the shows she starred in; they were all shot in the late 1980's and while they are flashy, the massive hair styles and skin tight spandex bodysuits remind you of embarrassing prom pictures. We never hear from Twain herself; all the stories are from Deerhurst old timers. But here's the thing - if you ever watched SCTV this is the sort of material they were self-consciously mocking. There's the same overwrought amateurism, the jazzexercise dance moves, and while the costumes look OK from a distance close up you can see the flaws, even in these low-res fuzzy magnetic tape rips. This is a time capsule from when amateurs could make their own videos' and the polish of big network editors was an expensive luxury. Twain has moved up and on while Deerhurst is still the refuge of the well-to-do and has even hosted a G-8 meeting. This is way more fun than your standard "where did she come from" doc. If you love Twain, great, you'll totally dig this, but if names like Guy Caballero or the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers ring happy bells, do NOT miss this.

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