|Category||Music Video||Theatrical Trailer(s)||None|
|Year Released||1993||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||110:50||Other Extras||None|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame (NTSC)||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Subtitles||None||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There is no way to write this up without sounding biased - the number of acts influenced today by Black Sabbath and their enigmatic vocalist Ozzy Osbourne far outnumber those of any other contemporary artist. They range from the hapless jokes (Pantera (or Wanktera as I like to call them) and Metallica) to the future of all music that revolves around the expression of genuine feelings rather than telling the audience how to feel (Type O Negative, My DyING BRIDE, Bethlehem... the list just goes on and on). And, apart from some minor quibbles, this DVD presentation of live footage and behind-the-scenes footage (which looks somewhat staged) is a fitting tribute. Consisting of twenty live versions of songs from all the stages in Ozzy's illustrious career leading up to the release of the Live & Loud double-CD set in the mid-1990s, this disc basically demonstrates why the media conglomerates basically wish this man didn't exist. I must confess, however, that I have no idea which session musicians played with him on the tour that this footage is taken from, but it's safe to assume that they are from the No More Tours tour, from which the live album was recorded.
Side A begins with a sample from the aforementioned naming tune which introduces the Program Start, a quick introduction with Ozzy spouting his usual and funny expletive-ridden statements about how pathetic the mindset of today's media is. From there, we are treated to a ten-song set consisting of I Don't Want To Change The World; Desire; Mr. Crowley (a real highlight, musically); I Don't Know; Road To Nowhere; Flying High Again; Paranoid; Suicide Solution; Goodbye To Romance; and Shot In The Dark. A twelfth chapter consisting of Ozzy abusing a room service waiter after his usual banter about his fundy enemies within the media (always good for a laugh, these bits) closes Side A (no disc-flipping graphic). Side B consists of No More Tears; Miracle Man; War Pigs; Bark At The Moon; Mama, I'm Coming Home; Crazy Train; Black Sabbath; and the sentimental tear-jerker Changes. From there, we go to a track titled End Credits. All in all, this is 112 minutes of some of the darkest music ever recorded. Some of my more serious colleagues in the study of artistic expression have compiled a big list of the darkest, most intense songs ever written by human hands. All of the top ten songs are songs that Ozzy Osbourne had a hand in writing.
The footage is presented at the standard television aspect ratio of 4:3, which is perfectly suited to our purposes, anyway. The transfer rate of this DVD is kept consistently high because of the high levels of motion on the screen. The transfer is so sharp that it utterly defies the conditions under which the footage was shot, and it is clear enough to make out every subtle movement in the musicians and the crowd. A few shots here and there become a little blurred or lacking in definition from time to time. Most of the shots that lose sharpness, however, are enhanced a little by such losses and it is more likely that this was an artistic decision on the photographer's part. Shadow detail is consistently good, although I would hesitate to call it clear. By the way, the tinges of colour around parts of the musicians' and spectators' bodies are deliberate lighting effects, and thus cannot be regarded as chroma noise. Even the sort of aliasing I expected to see around such plausible locations as cymbals, guitar strings, and sweaty heads was thankfully absent. This is as close to the classic definition of reference quality video material that a music video shot before the advent of DVDs is ever going to get, and it looks utterly wonderful.
The hotel room and backstage footage is a different kettle of fish. It is somewhat softly focused, with light reflections showing up to look like a small white blur, but again, artefacts of all kinds are absent from this footage. While these interspersed snippets of footage are of lesser quality than the concert material, they aren't so by much. In a nutshell, this disc sets the standard for video quality in music video DVDs. Unfortunately, this disc is a flipper, with the flip coming in at 57:08. It is a nice throwback to the days when this music would have been recorded on large discs of black vinyl, but this is one sense of nostalgia that we Black Sabbath fans would rather live without. Thankfully, the flip occurs after some orchestrated footage is presented to give a break between songs. It is therefore the single least disruptive flip I have ever seen. Still, RSDL formatting would have been vastly preferred.
As a real treat to Black Sabbath fans, Live & Loud contains a chapter with the original four godfathers of dark music, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward together after seventeen years of bitching and fighting to perform the immortal classic they named themselves after, live in the flesh just one last time. The result is somewhat like Type O Negative's interpretation of this mesmerizing classic assault of sonic darkness. Those who fully understand the meaning behind the song will experience total body euphoria as they listen to it, and as it builds to its great climax, they will feel their dark, doomy spirit escaping right out of their body. It's worth watching to see the manner in which the band gets into playing the damned thing!
I listened to both audio tracks on this DVD, but I can tell you that this presentation was definitely designed to be listened to using all six channels. The sound in Dolby Digital is so clear that I could easily make out each and every little note that each musician plays. The Linear PCM track, on the other hand, severely limits the dynamic range of the music to the extent where it becomes completely unlistenable during the more active parts of the songs. This is particularly problematic during such songs as Paranoid, a song that gives the guitarist a perfect opportunity to prove his prowess by playing a blisteringly powerful solo while staying in perfect time with the rest of the song. Low level distortion in the sound from bass overamplification haunts this particular audio selection.
The audio during the between-song exchanges in a hotel room and some other locations I had trouble completely placing is somewhat subdued by comparison, but that's easy to overlook given the rest of the DVD's quality. Audio sync was absolutely and utterly spot on, with the footage of Ozzy's lip movements and his band's collective hand movements perfectly in sync with the audio. Someone at Epic Music Video obviously went to a lot of trouble to make sure the movements corresponded to the sound, which is a particularly tough ask when faced with such compositionally variable music as the old Black Sabbath numbers, and most of Ozzy's post-Sabbath material. This is a rare instance of Sony actually giving a music lover what they want instead of trying to tell them, so I strongly encourage all lovers of doomy music to drink it up!
The surround presence was seemingly designed to recreate concert hall conditions, and this especially shows during the aforementioned revival of Black Sabbath. I simply cannot speak of this part of the DVD highly enough. The only way this could possibly be even vaguely topped is if the plans to release Type O Negative's After Dark home video on DVD include the inclusion of their knighthood-earning version of this unparalleled classic. The subwoofer literally went berserk supporting this live rendition of the greatest song ever written. Although the climactic feel of the moment is somewhat spoiled by following it with Changes, a rare Black Sabbath song in that I've never really been able to appreciate it, those who are unprepared for the display of musical eliteness that Black Sabbath constitutes will find it a welcome cool-down.
The video quality may be very slightly flawed by the standards of other DVDs, but it is a paragon to be emulated without reservation in the world of music video.
The audio quality is so wonderful it will rightfully become the standard by which I judge all music videos on DVD.
There are no extras, unless you consider seeing Black Sabbath together in the flesh with glorious Dolby Digital 5.1 sound an extra like I do.
To put it simply, the only things that would be better than this music video would be a recording of Black Sabbath live in Birmingham on December 5, 1997 transferred to DVD, and a DVD music video for the two studio tracks that accompanied the live album this performance was made into. This DVD blew me away so much that I want it put in the Hall Of Fame.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, using Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM 2 Channel Stereo modes|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|