Albert King-Live in Sweden (2003)

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Released 19-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 58:03
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Albert King
Edward Earley Jr.
Oliver Johnson
Frank Dunbar
Cesar Pena
James Norwood
Vince Sala
Leon Blue
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $31.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Final song plays over credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Wow, how lucky am I? For my first review, I have the opportunity to review a DVD by one of my favourite artists of all time, Albert King. I believe this is the first DVD release ever in Region 4 devoted totally to Albert King. Albert had been a personal favourite of mine for many years, so don't expect too much objectivity in terms of the music or performance quality. I first became aware of Albert King about 17 years ago when I was browsing through a selection of second hand records at a garage sale and came across one with a cool cover on the Stax label. I knew Stax was the soul label based in Memphis which released many classic recordings for artists such as Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas & Booker T. & The MGs. I expected a soul album, but when I took it home and played it, I got a fantastic blues album featuring great lead guitar from the man himself. The album was Born Under A Bad Sign, considered by many critics to be one of the best blues albums ever recorded, and mentioned by Albert King during this concert..

    Albert King is one of greatest blues guitarists ever, noted for his stinging tone and ferocious attack. He has influenced many of the best rock and blues guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Robert Cray & Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was born in Indianola, Mississippi in 1923 and died in Dec 1992. In between he recorded many albums for a large number of labels. His peak period was from 1966 through to the mid seventies while he was recording for Stax. During this time he sold many records and had hit singles on the American R&B charts. He never achieved the level of fame which has been achieved by B.B. King, to whom he is not related.

    The concert presented on this DVD was recorded as a one hour show by Swedish Television in 1980 during a European tour. It appears to have been recorded in a small theatre, featuring an American backing band. This is a bonus, as quite often American blues & jazz artists would tour Europe and use local bands to back them during shows. This generally led to lower quality performances. Having said that, the backing band, which calls itself Nirvana, are not in themselves well known and I can find no record of any of the band members appearing on his (or anyone else's) albums.

    From a performance perspective, I found this concert to be a high quality one, featuring some classic songs, some great singing and playing from Albert, a competent backing band and an appreciative audience. Unfortunately, it is too short with a total running time of just under an hour, of which nearly 20 minutes is devoted to interviews and a track where the band plays on their own while Albert is obviously taking a break.

    Track by Track the concert includes

  1. Born Under A Bad Sign (7:46) - This includes the introduction of Albert to the stage sporting his trademark hat and pipe and is really a warm up with Albert in full swing but the band seemingly still finding their feet.
  2. Interview (6:17) - Albert seems relaxed and jovial during this segment and mostly talks without prompting from the Swedish interviewer. He discusses the labels which he recorded for and some of the major events in his career.
  3. The Sky is Crying (10:10) - This where the concert really starts cooking with a great performance of a classic tune. The second guitarist, Cesar Pena, also gets a solo which, despite being completely outclassed, he performs admirably. This track was the highlight of the disc.
  4. The Very Thought of You (4:20) - Another classic Albert King tune providing a real change of pace into a deep soul ballad mood. It features some excellent singing from Albert.
  5. Cadillac Assembly Line (5:22) - This is a lesser known tune including a solo from the second guitarist, although this time it earns a rebuke from Albert. He did have a reputation during his lifetime for being a bit grumpy especially with band members or crew who made mistakes.
  6. Summertime (11:40) - This is where Albert leaves the stage and the band jams on the classic song from Porgy & Bess. Although admittedly funky, we are not here to see Nirvana.
  7. Cold Woman With a Warm Heart (4:35) - Albert again shows his grumpiness on this track, giving the band a ticking off for not playing in the right tempo.
  8. Interview (1:05) - A short interview where he talks about planning to retire. He often talked about and eventually did retire about 5 years after this concert. However, this did not last long and he was soon back on the road touring until his death in 1992.
  9. As the Years Go Passing By (6:58) - This track is another classic Albert King tune matched with an excellent performance, especially the final solo. Unfortunately it is interrupted by another piece of interview footage with the song continuing in the background. During this interview, he talks about his custom made "Flying V" guitar which was another of his trademarks.

    Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this concert, despite its short length and interrupted format, and would recommend it to any fan of Albert King or classic urban blues. The lack of available concert material makes this DVD more desirable than it otherwise might have been.

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Track Listing

1. Born Under A Bad Sign
2. Interview
3. The Sky Is Crying
4. The Very Thought Of You
5. Cadillac Assembly Line
6. Summertime
7. Cold Woman With A Warm Heart
8. Interview
9. As The Years Go Passing By

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this concert is reasonable considering that most of the issues seem to be related to the original source material, rather than the transfer itself. The original source material, made by Swedish television presumably as an outside broadcast in 1980, is not of good quality. 

    The concert is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio (full frame), which according to the case is how it was originally recorded. 

    Taking into account the poor source material of this transfer, it is fairly clear and sharp with the performers' facial expressions, sweat and playing clearly visible. Shadow detail is not very good, however, on a brightly lit stage this is to be expected. There was no obvious low level noise. Generally speaking, leaving aside the significant artefacts mentioned below, this video presentation was surprisingly good.

    The colour was as good as could be expected from an old television show. There were not many colours to be seen as the band were all wearing black but what there was was quite well saturated. There was some chroma noise evident during the interview portions on the bright red wall behind Albert King's head. There was also some flaring during close-ups of brass instruments, resulting in jagged lines of colour.

    Artefacts were the major problem with this video presentation. It is afflicted by quite bad microphony, from time to time becoming very distracting especially at 22:15 and 28:55.This problems appears on and off during the entire show, which is unfortunate and is obviously a problem with the source material. There were also some film artefacts, especially black specks, but these were not distracting. I saw no evidence of MPEG artefacts.    

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Considering the source material, the sound quality is surprisingly good. It was consistently clear and quite well balanced between the various instruments and voices. There was some occasional feedback and distortion but it did not interfere with my enjoyment of the music.

    This DVD contains only one audio option, a Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 1536 Kb/s. Despite being encoded in two channels the sound seemed to be mono, which is all you could expect from a 1980 television show.    

    Dialogue during the interview portions was clear and easy to understand.    

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    Considering that the sound was only in mono, the music came across extremely well with all instruments easy to distinguish and the guitar tone clear and loud throughout.    

    Due to the mono sound, there was no surround activity.    

    Using an advanced surround setting on my amplifier allowed the subwoofer to add bass to the music, which was a welcome addition.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc. The menu was static and allowed for tracks to be selected individually or the entire program to be played.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    I cannot find a review of the R1 disc, but I would assume that the Linear PCM track should be of higher quality due to its non-compressed nature. Taking this and PAL into account, I would recommend the Region 4 version.

Summary

    This concert was an enjoyable experience for me, and considering the lack of other material available, is of historical importance.

    The video quality is ordinary, due to the poor source material.

    The audio quality is surprisingly good despite being mono, especially considering the poor source material.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
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