Rock Icons (1993) (NTSC)

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Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 144:30
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Various
Rhino Home Video
Warner Vision
Starring Jimi Hendrix
Eric Clapton With Delaney & Bonnie
Jeff Beck
Alvin Lee and Ten Years After
B.B. King
Black Sabbath
various other
Case 4 Arrow-Triple
RPI $99.95 Music Various

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This collection was originally released in 1993 on VHS and has now been regurgitated onto DVD for re-release to an unsuspecting public. I really wish they hadn't bothered.

    Unfortunately, despite what the title might suggest to you, no this is not a serious treatment of rock music's icons in any way. It is not a documentary on rock music, nor a serious history or exploration of this musical style in any way. This is purely and simply a very subjective collection of old rock music video clips, strung together by person or persons unknown and with no apparent thought, order, rhyme or reason - other than that these must have been the video clips they could get their hands on more easily/cheaply. There is no detail provided on when each individual song was released, or in some cases who the musicians are, let alone why the song or artist in question has been considered for inclusion as a "rock icon".

    A total of 33 video clips (ignoring the three clips which appear twice) are included and these are very loosely bundled together under the headings "Guitar Gods" (disc 1), "Psychedelic High" (disc 2) and "Hard Rockin'" (disc 3). These respective classifications are highly subjective. For example, whilst many of the artists featured on the "Guitar Gods" disc might by general consensus of most rock music fans be agreed worthy of this title, the actual songs chosen to represent the artists are extremely poor. Take for example the chosen B.B. King number, Heartbreaker, which features B.B. King singing along with gusto alright, but is a song with virtually no guitar playing in at all! So why choose this particular clip when any one of his numerous other guitar blues classics would have been much more appropriate? Similarly, I'm sure there are innumerable better examples out there to showcase Santana than the song Jingo, or to showcase Jeff Beck than the song Definitely Maybe. In fact, nearly all of these selections had my blood boiling in one way or another, either as an inappropriate choice of artist to include in the collection in the first place (many of these names I hadn't even heard of) or else as a frustratingly poor choice of song to showcase the more well known artists that were included.

    In amongst many many questionable inclusions in this subjective collection we get one token Jimi Hendrix song and only one track each from Eric Clapton and Deep Purple (the latter hardly representative). Thankfully at least Black Sabbath featured with two tracks (including a great/rare live version of the eponymous first single Black Sabbath). But how you could possibly contemplate putting together a three-disc collection entitled Rock Icons without featuring Jimi Hendrix more prominently, or without mentioning at all the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Stevie Ray Vaughan or U2 is completely beyond me. This is certainly not a collection that can be taken seriously for its title.

    To add insult to injury, the run-time for each disc in this collection is only around the 45 minute mark (disc 3 being slightly longer), so there is no reason at all why the entire collection couldn't have been covered off in just one DVD rather than three.

    Track listing is as follows. Songs marked with an asterisk are duplicated tracks.

Disc 1: "Guitar Gods" (43:43) Disc 2: "Psychedelic High" (45:04) Disc 3: "Hard Rockin'" (55:43)
1. Santana
1. Canned Heat
Let's Work Together
1. Pacific Gas & Electric
Are You Ready?
2. Grateful Dead
One More Saturday Night
2. The Byrds
So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star
2. New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Truck Drivin' Man
3. Jeff Beck
Definitely Maybe
3. The Byrds
Eight Miles High
3. The Byrds
So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star*
4. Alvin Lee and Ten Years After
Good Morning Little School Girl
4. Thunderclap Newman
Something In The Air
4. Black Sabbath
Iron Man
5. Johnny Winter
Johnny B. Goode
5. Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
5. Alice Cooper
6. Joe Walsh And James Gang
Walk Away
6. Moody Blues
Nights In White Satin
6. Mountain
Don't Look Around*
7. B.B. King
7. Blue Cheer
Summertime Blues
7. MC5
Kick Out The Jams
8. Duane Eddy
Peter Gunn
8. Small Faces
Itchykoo Park
8. Steppenwolf
Rock Me
9. Jimi Hendrix
Hey Joe
9. The Who
Happy Jack*
9. Deep Purple
Highway Star
10. Eric Clapton With Delaney & Bonnie
Tribute to Robert Johnson
10. The Nice
Hold Onto A Dream
10. Spencer Davis Group
Keep On Running
11. Mountain
Don't Look Around
11. Manfred Mann
Mighty Quinn
11. Poco
12. The Who
Happy Jack
12. Donovan
12. Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    In a word: woeful.

    The clips are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. Note this is an NTSC transfer, so if your TV is not NTSC compatible then you will not be able to watch it.

    This DVD has been sourced from very poor quality, several-generations-old analogue video source elements. Nasty stuff. Sharpness and shadow detail is commensurately poor, with a high amount of visible grain, all edges poorly defined and bleeding, and the whole transfer plagued with persistent low-level noise.

    Colour saturation is OK in some clips, but by and large reflects the source materials used, with most blacks and most expanses of colour plagued by excessive noise. The quality of the source material may also be blamed for the flagrant and persistent colour bleeding and chroma noise. Some clips are in black and white and also suffer from poor shading and definition.

    MPEG artefacts are prominent. The source materials contain such a high amount of inherent random noise that even with the DVD bit rate cranked up to the full 10Mb/s and set there constantly for the entire duration of the feature, the MPEG compressor doesn't stand a hope of conveying all the source data. Consequently MPEG macro-blocking artefacts may be seen to some degree in just about every single video clip. Apart from the MPEG artefacts, other conversion artefacts include aliasing in some clips. Source artefacts are also a shocker and you can virtually catalogue them all, with microphony, overmodulation (in some of the older clips) and analogue tape-tracking errors all being highly distracting.

    There are no subtitles and the discs are single-layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    In a word: woeful.

    There is a choice of two English audio tracks on this disc, being a Dolby Digital 2.0 (at 192 Kb/s) and a Dolby Digital "5.1" mix (at 448 Kb/s). I reviewed the latter and found it wanting in all respects.

    I place quotations around the "5.1" mix because, whilst the rear channels do remain actively used and loud for the majority of this feature, for most songs it would appear that the front L-R stereo channels have simply been re-fed into the rears to achieve what may be technically termed a "surround" mix, but in reality is simply a louder/more accentuated stereo soundstage. In fairness, I may have heard one or two songs where some instrument placement appeared to be slightly more weighted to the rear than the front, so it is possible that some token mixing effort might have been undertaken for some songs, but if so this mixing effort is extremely nominal. Certainly for a good 95% of the songs it is quite obvious you are simply listening to a stereo sound - or even a mono sound (eg B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix songs) - being reproduced out of five speakers.

    The source audio elements are the ones that accompanied these very old source clips. Not surprising then, the quality of the audio mix on the DVD is uniformly harsh and bright and notably lacking in any dynamic range or fidelity at all. Vocals are often hard to make out, instruments bleed and there is no top end in many songs. There is at least some bass left in the source clips for some songs, so the subwoofer does chime in to help the mains out on occasion.

    Again, not surprising given the quality of the source audio elements, there is prominent and persistent hiss and distortion in nearly all songs in all speakers. Clicks and pops were also noted, for example in the rears during the Johnny Winter song, and several minor audio dropouts were also noted. The worst audio dropout occurs during Black Sabbath's Iron Man - only a very brief one but nonetheless it is a momentary full audio dropout occurring along with an analogue tape tracking error in the visual at that point.

    I did not note any major issues with audio sync.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This collection is also available in Regions 1 and 2 in the same format.


    A decade-old poor selection of poor quality music videos strung together with no apparent rhyme or reason, and foisted on the public in a three-disc package when one disc would have served. More infuriating than enlightening, I can't find anything at all to recommend about this collection. A worthy Hall Of Shame nominee.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA.
AmplificationElektra Home Theatre surround power amp
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

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Comments (Add)
absolute crap - rob harrison
Can return it - rob harrison