Stray Cats-Rumble in Brixton (2004)

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Released 18-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Booklet
Additional Footage-Flashback
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-European Tour 2004
Featurette-Mystery Train Kept A Rollin'
Credits
Easter Egg-Solo Performance - Rumble in Brighton
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 84:18 (Case: 129)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Audio Format Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pierre Lamoureux
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Brian Setzer
Lee Rocker
Slim Jim Phantom
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 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

    I was too young to have heard of Stray Cats during their first period together (1979-1984), and during their second (1986-1992) I was only starting to look outside the music that Sydney's commercial radio had to offer. My first foray into the realm of rockabilly/psychobilly was hearing The Cramps and Reverend Horton Heat in ’95, and for a long time I looked down on Stray Cats’ music as somewhat toward the cartoonish side of a genre that was already treading dangerously close to the line of self-parody, which is a pity, really, because once stripped of the early ’80s chic that I was so willing to turn up my nose at, the Cats recorded an impressive body of work, worthy of the (slightly scary) devotion that they seem capable of engendering in their fan base.

    Stray Cats (no ‘the’) were a trio from Massapequa, New York who got together in 1979 but, finding no local support for their preferred style of music, left for London where they had heard that the rockabilly scene was booming among the young rockers. It turned out that their information wasn’t as reliable as they’d hoped, but they put together a loyal core of followers through a series of pub gigs that allowed them to stitch together a record deal and invade the land of their birth in 1981 by musically guesting on a national TV show (Fridays, which also gave The Clash and The Pretenders their first American exposure) with a set that included Stray Cat Strut and Rock This Town.

    Winning a cult following across Europe and the US by playing high-energy retro music in years when Toto, Billy Joel and Christopher Cross were scooping musical award pools, the Great Gloved One’s Thriller was becoming the best-selling record of all time and the MTV-fuelled resurgence of new wave was drawing off disaffected punks may be seen as an historical aberration. Nevertheless, the band’s success continued until infighting caused a break-up in 1984. The band members pursued their own projects until a less-successful reformation to record Rock Therapy (an album made half of covers of rockabilly classics), and continued touring and recording until 1992, when the band broke up again among declining crowds and unimpressive album sales.

    Having come together only occasionally for one-off performances since, Stray Cats reformed for a whirlwind 25th Anniversary tour of Europe in 2004, culminating in a show at London’s Brixton Academy on 17 July. This performance has been brought to what is technically the best concert DVD it has been my pleasure to watch. Recorded by seven HD video cameras and with a recording presented both in uncompressed PCM stereo and an encompassing 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, the presentation of this disc is truly exceptional – not only rivalling, but in many ways surpassing, some of the best disc transfers taken from big-budget movies.

    One of the joys of one-off reformations such as this is that the band is not handcuffed by promotion of a new album. This concert’s set list takes on a ‘greatest hits’ feel, padded by a handful of covers of rockabilly classics, and the band is remarkably tight for one that has only been regathered for a few weeks. The energy level is generally high - although guitarist/lead vocalist Brian Setzer starts to struggle after the first half-hour, the freshness of the group carries them through an extended performance without flagging.

    Setzer returns with his old licks, as well as some he learned during his time with The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Lee Rocker’s upright bass rattles through a shamanistic combination of harmony and percussion, while Slim Jim Phantom’s dynamism behind his stripped-down, stand-up drum kit keeps the trio aggressively attacking the largely high-tempo set.

    The film direction, too, is unexpectedly excellent – cameras rarely get in each others’ way, as we have come to expect from video concerts, angles are well-chosen and avoid excessive use of the extreme close-up viewers of this type of disc know all too well. The director also rarely (exceptions are made during Ubangi Stomp and Blast Off) succumbs to the temptation to induce epileptic seizures by quick cutting. Chapter placement is uniformly excellent, however shot construction is designed so that 1.33:1 ratio viewers will lose important areas of screen real estate if they opt to view this disc in pan-and-scan, rather than letterbox mode. Also note that, although Mystery Train Kept a Rollin' is mentioned in the track listing below, this does not appear in the concert feature, but instead forms part of the featurette listed in the Extras below.

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Track Listing

1. Rumble In Brighton
2. Double Talkin' Baby
3. Something's Wrong With My Radio
4. Ubangi Stomp
5. Stray Cat Strut
6. Gene & Eddie
7. Too Hip Gotta Go
8. Sleepwalk
9. I Won't Stand In Your Way
10. My Baby Left Me
11. Blast Off
12. 18 Miles To Memphis
13. Bring It Back Again
14. Fishnet Stockings
15. Runaway Boys
16. Rock This Town
17. That's All Right
18. Good Rockin' Tonight
19. Twenty Flight Rock
20. (She's) Sexy + 17
21. Please Don't Touch
22. Mystery Train Kept A Rollin'

Transfer Quality

Video

    Visually, this disc is nothing short of exceptional, even without allowing for the fact that it was recorded live in a less-than-totally-controlled environment. I actually swapped this DVD with reference quality discs such as Return of the King to compare just how good the transfer was, and in most ways it was at least as good as - and in terms of sharpness and shadow detail actually exceeded - almost all of these discs.

    The feature is presented in its native 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness and shadow detail on this disc is nothing short of extraordinary - you can clearly recognise faces in the audience, even when the house lights are down, and you can even read the writing on T-shirts of the crew buried in the shadows of the stage wings. Broad areas of colour are noiseless, and there is no evidence of aliasing of straight lines such as guitar strings. Fingerprints on Setzer's guitar and beads of sweat on the musicians' faces are clearly defined. There is minimal lens flare from flash photography in crowd shots, or where a camera catches a stage light dead-on, but there is no comet-tailing.

    Colour is very good, but when musicians are overshot, then recaught by a spotlight there is some white-balance overcompensation, especially when Setzer is using his white guitar or where Rocker is particularly mobile with his glitter-coated double bass.

    There are no visible film or video artefacts, however there were a couple of instances of macro-blocking when Setzer is particularly mobile and Rocker is uncharacteristically stationary in the same shot.

    There are no subtitles recorded on this disc.

    The RSDL change on this disc is at 54:08, after Fishnet Stockings. Although obvious, there is no good place (i.e. no fade to black with accompanying silence) to place the layer change on this disc.

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

Audio

    The audio is as clear as the video on this disc. The only instance of miskeying or fuzziness occurs with crowd noise which, while indistinct as one would expect, is actually relatively distinguishable compared to many concert DVDs I have seen.

    There are two audio tracks present - a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and an uncompressed 48/24 PCM stereo track.

    There were no visible instances of audio sync incompatibilities, which will often occur during concert footage when a piece of footage is used out-of-sequence to avoid a visible miscue or failure of shot. This may be due to the unusually high number of cameras in use to record this concert.

    The audio itself is recorded nearly flawlessly on both tracks. Setzer's guitar is magnificently replicated, and treble percussion (cymbals, snares and stick clicks) are all crisper than they have any right to be in a DVD audio track.

    The surrounds in the 5.1 mix are somewhat bass-heavy, and the signal to them is marginally less distinct than that from the front and centre speakers, but I found myself preferring the encompassing surround mix to the purer stereo mix on the second audio track.

    The subwoofer use, reserved for the double bass and Phantom's kick drum, is again surprisingly clean. Each note showed clear separation from the others, and Rocker's slap bass is worthy of the treatment.

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

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    The menu's loading is briefly delayed to load and animate a screen displayed for a second or two to display a concert photo while Setzer sings "There's a rumble in Brixton Tonight!" I'm not entirely sure how this counts as an extra.

Menu Animation & Audio

    The menus are animated, including concert footage and soundtrack excerpts.

Booklet

    The accompanying 24-page booklet contains a credits list, concert and magazine photos (from the Mystery Train featurette below), as well as a hagiography by the webmaster of Brian Setzer's website.

Additional Footage - Flashback (3:30)

    A montage of clips - Stray Cats performing Stray Cat Strut, both as the original music video and as live TV performances from around the world.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes (20:31)

    A montage of film snippets tracing the band's 2004 European tour, from rehearsal in Los Angeles through France, Germany and Finland and the UK until the final Brixton concert. Very little onstage footage is shown, however.

Featurette - Mystery Train Kept a Rollin' (11:28)

    Includes 7:18 of recording studio footage preparing to record a studio track for inclusion on the concert CD, and 4:10 of the track itself, superimposed on a montage of band photos, magazine covers and a video clip of the band listening to the finished track. There is no chapter stop before the track, however, so there is not a convenient way to skip directly to the finished track.

Credits

    DVD credits, replicating information in the booklet, in animated form.

Easter Egg - Solo Performance (3:57)

    An Easter egg on the disc shows a solo performance by Setzer of Rumble in Brighton. Although this appears to have been filmed in a record shop, records around the walls are dedicated "To VH1", indicating that it was filmed for either British or American TV.

R4 vs R1

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

    It appears that the international versions of this disc are identical to the Australian release. The CD version of this concert includes Mystery Train Kept a Rollin' as an additional track rather than burying it as part of an extra that is difficult to isolate.

Summary

    This disc has replaced Underworld, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Star Wars Trilogy as the "show-off disc" for my system. It's a technically exceptional presentation of a very good concert performance, and should be added to the collection of anyone who appreciates the band and its music.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Gaut (A bio? Have I no privacy?)
Friday, February 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayPanasonic TX-86PW300A. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-512.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-512
SpeakersWharfedale Diamond 8.3 fronts, Wharfedale Diamond 8.2 rears, Wharfedale Diamond 8 centre, Wharfedale 12" sub

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