As you'd expect from Rufus Wainwright, his first official DVD is certainly not a 'no-frills' affair. The man who fills his albums with extravagant, flamboyant arrangements has crammed All I Want with over three hours of material, a nice touch when so many artists do a perfunctory job when it comes to DVDs.
The centrepiece is an hour long documentary which traces Wainwright's life story so far, from his childhood in Montreal, through to his years of partying in New York City, right up to the recent release of the Want Two album. As well as this though, there's also no less than 13 live performances and four music videos. There's also a bonus interview section where Wainwright and his many celebrity fans talk about specific songs from his career. All this, and a brand new song, The Maker Makes.
A veritable smorgasbord of goodies for your average Wainwright fan then and the only dilemma for most people will be where to start. Well, the documentary is as good a place as any. Previously shown in March on Channel 4, this features interviews with Rufus, his sister Martha, his mother Kate McGarrigle, and a vast array of celebrities, ranging from Sting and Elton John to the Scissor Sisters (featuring Baby Daddy actually wearing a hat at a jaunty angle), Tom Chaplin from Keane and Mark Gattis from TV's League Of Gentlemen.
The great thing about the documentary is that this is not your average record company fluffy documentary. Wainwright has always been honest about himself and he's on good form here. Revelations about his over-reliance on crystal meth a few years ago where he actually went blind are dealt with unflinchingly and unapologetically, while his often difficult relationship with his father Loudon (who doesn't appear here) is also discussed. In fact, the section about the superb Dinner At Eight is one of the most affecting things on here.
Even the celebrity interviews aren't too annoying. Only Sting comes across as his usual pompous self, but people like Sir Elt, Chaplin and especially Gattis just seem like genuine fans. The main star though is Wainwright himself - articulate, funny and always extraordinarily honest, he gives us in depth looks at the stories behind the songs (such as Danny Boy, about his first, unrequited, love and Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk about those heavy, hedonistic days in New York). There's also some exclusive home video footage of the young Wainwrights posing and acting up to the camera.
The live performances are really something special. Filmed at Cambridge Corn Exchange, Central Park in New York and live in the studio, they don't feature any repeat tracks and cover all of Wainwright's albums, from the debut's Beauty Mark to Want Two's The Art Teacher. Fans of the Wainwright family will also be interested to see sister Martha on backing vocals here, just before she found solo stardom of her own with her self-titled debut album.
So even if you saw the documentary on Channel 4, this is still an essential purchase for all the extra material on display. It's also worth mentioning that the transfer to DVD is perfect, with wonderful 5.1 stereo and a flawless picture quality - just one more reason why you can't afford not to buy this DVD.