Blondie-Live by Request (2004)

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Released 29-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Bonus Track-The Dream's Lost On Me, End To End, Hello Joe
Bonus Track-(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear
Gallery-Photo
Music Video-Good Boys (3:53)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 74:51 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lawrence Jordan
Studio
Distributor
A & E
Warner Vision
Starring Chris Stein
Deborah Harry
Clem Burke
Paul Carbonara
Leigh Foxx
Kevin Topping
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $32.95 Music Blondie


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Portuguese
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    If you want some indication of how much of a fan of Blondie I have been ever since they first emerged from the legendary CBGB Club in New York in 1977, then check out my review of an earlier release on DVD featuring the band - Blondie: Greatest Video Hits. It will save me a bundle of time in writing a synopsis. Suffice it to say, not only do I have everything they ever did on CD but I have bought them all over again after they were remastered and would no doubt indulge them a third time over if they ever made it onto DVD-Audio.

    The Live By Request concept created by Tony Bennett this time sees arguably one of the greatest bands to emerge from the punk/new wave era strutting their stuff on live television. There are good aspects of this - not the least of which is the chance to listen to some of their great music again - but there is a bad aspect to it - you have to put up with the inanity of the host, Jules Asner, at times. Thankfully, Chris Stein is in good form so adds a lot of sparkle to the interruptions of the host. For the record, this is not the original line up of the band, as keyboardist Jimmy Destri is not here. But that does not seem to make much difference to the proceedings as Clem Burke does his usual sterling job on drums and even at the age of ... well, lets just say she is the wrong side of thirty, Deborah Harry can still turn a head or two. Not the ravishing beauty of her youth but still a fine looking woman. No one is going to be stupid enough to suggest that much of the initial impact of the band had nothing whatsoever to do with the stunning looks of the former Playboy Bunny, and whilst their music certainly eventually won people over, Deborah Harry has long been the very visual face of the band.

    Whilst the format for live television does not exactly suit the style of the band, it is great to see them live and tossing out a fair mix of their music in versions that often differ from the classic recordings from the 1970's and 1980's. The updatings are at times necessary to cover the fact that Deborah Harry's vocals are not quite capable of the top end that she could attain back in those years, but that just means we get to hear something rather familiar but also rather different. It makes the evening even more enjoyable to my mind, nicely adding to the amusement created by Chris Stein and Deborah Harry when the obligatory interruptions occur.

    This is a really enjoyable if a little restrained concert and for fans of the band something to well and truly savour. For non-fans, well this might be worthwhile checking out to see exactly why some people do believe that the band should be in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Hell, if The Pretenders have made it into the Hall Of Fame, then there is surely no good reason why Blondie should not be in there.

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Track Listing

1. Dreaming
2. Hanging On The Telephone
3. Accidents Never Happen
4. Tide Is High
5. Good Boys
6. Undone
7. Rip Her To Shreds
8. One Way Or Another
9. Rapture
10. X Offender
11. Call Me
12. Union City Blue
13. Heart Of Glass

Transfer Quality

Video

    Someone else who should be in the Hall Of Fame is the person who mastered this DVD. Take a bow Marc Stecker, Mike Nack and Ron Ng. This is a beauty of a video transfer on the whole, amongst the very best I have seen on a music DVD. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. As this was originally telecast live on television, the original aspect ratio would be around 1.78:1 I would suspect, so the transfer here is very close to the mark.

    The transfer is pretty much d*** near perfect for a concert video. Aside from some artistic out-of-focus shots, this is a very sharp, amazingly detailed transfer that puts more than the odd feature film to shame. I found it pretty much near impossible to find anything wrong with it. There is virtually nothing in the way of grain, not even the slightest hint. Shadow detail is excellent throughout. Clarity is simply staggering - I don't think I have seen anything in the music department this clear since, well I cannot remember. Stunningly good stuff indeed.

    The colours are equally impressive here, with a vibrancy that really has to make the whole show better looking than actually being there. With bright primary colours handled extremely well, a lovely consistency of tone throughout, some gorgeous depths to the blacks and superbly realistic skin tones, you are not going to see much better than this even in recent feature films.

    You can forget anything in the way of MPEG artefacts here, at least generally. There is a bit of a resolution issue in the moving end titles, but that is about the extent of the whole issue. I feel almost churlish to even mention the exceedingly minor and barely noticeable instances of film-to-video artefacts to be found here. If you look really close, you might just see some slight cross colouration and very slight moiré artefacting in the microphone, such as around the 22:35 mark. You will have to look hard though and I really barely noticed it - but needed to mention something ever so slightly wrong with the transfer just to feel like I had something to say! There are no film artefacts in the transfer as far as I could see.

    This is a dual layer, single sided DVD with the layer change coming at 51:02. It is by far and away the worst thing about this transfer as it is simply too obvious - and that on a system that usually hides the layer change very well. So if your system normally shows the layer change, you will have no chance of missing this slow coach of a change. Very poor amongst the wealth of excellence that surrounds it.

    There are five subtitle options on the DVD, although it should be noted that they only relate to the "interview" and request stuff during the concert and not to the songs themselves. As such they don't really have a lot to do and there is certainly nothing wrong with the English effort.

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

Audio

    There are the almost standard three soundtracks on the DVD, being Dolby Digital 2.0. Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1 soundtracks in the only available language option - English. I listened to all three soundtracks in their entirety. As usual, please remember that I really don't much like excessive bass in my soundtracks and especially in music videos, where bass is usually far too prevalent in the mix.

    The vocals come up pretty well in the transfer in general and are generally easy enough to understand. The dialogue is not so well handled and not so easy to understand at times as the microphones did not always pick everything up clearly. That is obviously an inherent problem and not a problem introduced in the audio mastering. There did not seem to be any issues with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original music of course is performed by Blondie and I have to say that it was d*** good to hear the music after a noticeable absence in the case of some of it for nearly a decade.

    First up for review was the two channel soundtrack and I have to say that this was perhaps the best on the DVD. It was extremely well balanced with some decent bass presence added into the mix for some solid body too, which was entirely unexpected. The whole thing simply sounds gorgeous and is exceptionally clear. There really is nothing that much to say about the soundtrack, and definitely nothing in the way of negatives. More than the odd music DVD producer should check this one out to see how good you can get with some quality in the source material and the mixing.

    Next up was the Dolby Digital six channel soundtrack and straight away the additional bass is very noticeable. It is perhaps just a little too prevalent in the mix, so that the vocals lose a bit of their impact, but the main quibble is that the soundtrack seems to be a little congested - not something I was anticipating from this full bitrate soundtrack. This may have something to do with the fact that the surround encoding seems to be very front orientated with almost nothing seemingly mixed into the rear channels. At best there is a little ambience in the rears, but certainly nothing much more than that. It is an okay soundtrack but not the best that I have ever heard.

    Finally we have the dts six channel soundtrack, and remarkably similar to the Dolby six channel soundtrack it is. It is perhaps a little smoother sounding with a bit more body to it, but other than that it is pretty much identical - right down to the slight overemphasis of the bass in the mix and the lack of any real use of the rear surround channels. I was certainly expecting a lot more detailed than what we have here, which really is perhaps not on a par with the sort of quality we tend to expect from dts six channel soundtracks.

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

Extras

    Were it not for the additional songs, this would be pretty much a pointless waste of time.

Menus

    After a reasonable main menu introduction, we get the menus proper which tend to feature some decent audio enhancement and certainly seem to be energetic enough.

Bonus Songs (15:03)

    After the live television show concluded, the band apparently stayed around and gave the audience a few more songs. These are those songs: an acoustic version of The Dream's Lost On Me, End To End, Hello Joe and the beautiful (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear. The presentation is identical to the main programme, other than the sound is limited to only the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, and the technical quality is certainly not significantly less than the main programme. There is perhaps a little more aliasing to be seen but not by much. Nice stuff.

Gallery - Photo

    A collection of 41 generally smallish stills, mostly lifted from the main programme and without any annotation. Nothing really exciting.

Music Video - Good Boys (3:53)

    A pretty decent effort complete with fake film artefacts. The presentation is 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I can find out, all regions seem to be blessed with a similar presentation on DVD.

Summary

    One of the more impressive music DVDs through my player in the last couple of years, even allowing for the fact that I am a big fan of the band. It might not be the greatest concert they have ever done, but Blondie Live By Request is certainly an impressive enough look at a band decades after they first came to prominence - and a band still proving why they were one of the best bands of their era. Fans should lap this up but even the casual music fan will find sufficient enjoyment to warrant a purchase.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, January 17, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews NONE
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