Iron Maiden-Live After Death (1985)

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Released 4-Feb-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Featurette-The History of Iron Maiden Part 2 (58:33)
Featurette-Behind the Iron Curtain (57:26)
Additional Footage-Rock In Rio 1985 (48:25)
Featurette-'Ello Texas (14:30)
Gallery-Artwork; Tour Programme; On the Road; In The Studio; Gear
Music Video-Aces High (5:04)
Music Video-2 Minutes to Midnight (6:13)
Menu Animation & Audio
Booklet-8 Pages
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 88:54 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (42:01)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By James Yukich
Studio
Distributor

EMI Music
Starring Bruce Dickinson
Steve Harris
Nicko McBrain
Dave Murray
Adrian Smith
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music Steve Harris
Bruce Dickinson
Adrian Smith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
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 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

"Scream for me Long Beach!"

    Iron Maiden are something of an enigma among popular rock bands. Their success spans nearly three decades and they are among the most profitable, most successful touring bands in the business, yet their career has not been weaned on the support of radio airplay or MTV sponsorship. Theirs comes down to a commitment to quality musicianship, a loyal, long-term fan base and level-headed band members who avoid embarrassing media focus or controversy (with the exception of Drummer Nicko McBrain, perhaps).

    By 1984, the Iron Maiden juggernaut was shifting into top gear. The band had toured extensively around the globe and had four successful albums under their belt. The current line-up of musicians had settled into a very tight recording and touring unit, one that would come to be regarded by fans as the definitive era of the band. The release of their fifth album, Powerslave, was buoyed by announcements that the band would be setting out on their most ambitious tour to date; a trek encompassing 193 dates, playing to over a million fans in North America alone. After dress rehearsals in Germany, the World Slavery Tour's huge stage production began in Poland and toured for eleven months straight; through the U.K. and Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and twice through the aforementioned North America.

    It was a given that the monumental success of this tour would yield the band's first live album and concert video, and after minimal deliberation it was decided that their record-breaking four-night sell-out stint at L.A.'s 15,000 seater Long Beach Arena would be ideal. The dates from March 14th to the 18th were recorded on the Record Plant Mobile by the band's close Producer and colleague Martin Birch, while the concert was captured on 35mm film by Director Jim Yukich. The result, Live After Death, was a massive hit; a seminal live album and video that defined the genre and set the benchmark for the presentation of live rock events for years to come.

    The musicians performing in this concert include:

    Twenty-three years have gone by, and Live After Death has been missing from video store shelves for quite a while. While the DVD format grew in strength, fans had to be content with their old VHS tapes, or even worse, dodgy DVD bootlegs from Brazil. Now the wait is over, and fans can enjoy this highly sought after, landmark Iron Maiden concert in all its glory, and also with the addition of a fantastic disc of additional features, most notably the second instalment of the History of Iron Maiden documentaries. The quality of the performance, coupled with the historical significance of this tour, make this release a definite must own for fans.

"Scream for me Sydney!"

    Those who are not up-to-date with the goings-on regarding this band may be surprised to learn that the Iron Maiden who is still selling out stadiums today consists of the same group of musicians, with the addition of guitarist Janick Gers who joined the group in 1990 (or thereabouts). I was very lucky to see Iron Maiden in both Melbourne and Sydney on their recent Aussie Tour in February 2008. Dubbed the Somewhere Back In Time tour, they are recreating this very DVD in their set list, with the addition of a few other songs such as Fear Of The Dark, Heaven Can Wait, The Clairvoyant, Moonchild and Wasted Years. The band's new three-pronged guitar approach really suits these older songs well, and in many ways I believe their musicianship is far better now than it ever was. Bruce's voice in particular is much stronger and while seeing them last month I noted how he now has a much more mature approach to these songs when he performs. If you have the opportunity to see them on tour this year, don't miss it!

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

Track Listing

1. Churchill Speech/Aces High
2. 2 Minutes To Midnight
3. The Trooper
4. Revelations
5. Flight Of Icarus
6. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
7. Powerslave
8. Number Of The Beast
9. Hallowed Be Thy Name
10. Iron Maiden
11. Run To The Hills
12. Running Free
13. Sanctuary

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is where things get a bit disappointing. As I mentioned above, the concert was captured on 35mm film and this fact has been one of the main selling points of this "remastered" DVD release. The standard at the time of post production (1985) would have been to transfer the film to analogue videotape for editing, thus making an analogue video master for VHS duplication. I believe I cited similar circumstances when I reviewed Van Halen's Live Without A Net DVD, and like that release, it appears this DVD transfer has been sourced from the old analogue master tape - not directly from the 35mm master. I'm very surprised that the original film elements have not been sourced for this release, as Maiden are the kind of band who pride themselves on providing the utmost quality for their fans. While the result is ultimately a big disappointment, this must've been one of those situations in which the most desirable video elements were simply not available.

    The transfer is described in the packaging as "TV format", which basically translates as a 1.29:1, full frame video format. Being derived from an analogue source, the overall level of detail in the image is poor, while depth of image leaves a lot to be desired. Had they have sourced a legitimate 35mm master, it would have been logical to scan and restore the elements at 4K resolution and create a 1.78:1 matte that would bring the concert into line with the discerning expectations of today's home theatre viewers. No cigar, by a long shot.

    In addition to the woes of the poor source material, you can add to the mix an NTSC conversion, which has been performed here to create a PAL transfer for our market that is void of any audio pitch issues. There is noticeable interleaving between video frames and fast motion on screen can appear a little ghost-like at times. The conversion from NTSC to PAL video format has also reduced the efficiency of the MPEG compression process by generating these corrupt video frames.

    The camerawork is predominately handheld and can be a little unstable at times. If you're viewing on a large screen this will be particularly noticeable. Some cranes were brought in on the last night to collect some nice, smooth panning shots on stage and from a vantage point mid-air in the audience.

    The analogue master that has been used isn't in particularly bad condition, in fact I didn't notice any magnetic tape errors in the slightest. Low level noise and compression grain are visible consistently and are par for the course in this situation, I'm afraid. There are no film artefacts at all, but having said that, the limited resolution of analogue video isn't likely to betray any scratches or dirt on the original film source.

    As you would expect from an analogue videotape source, colours are not nearly as rich as they could be. The stage lighting lacks a certain vibrancy and the pyrotechnics are not especially striking.

    The main concert (disc one) is not subtitled, however, the entire contents of disc two are subtitled in a number of languages, including English.

    Both discs in this package are DVD9 formatted. The layer break on disc one is situated at 42:01, between the songs Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Powerslave. There was no noticeable interruption on my system.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks accompanying the main concert on DVD. The default soundtrack is a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) mix, overseen by Kevin Shirley. The original stereo mix is also given the respect it deserves; presented here in 48KHz/16bit Stereo Linear PCM.

    As I established above, thanks to our transfer being derived from an NTSC source, the audio elements are presented here in the correct pitch. Obviously, this fact is very desirable for a music-focused DVD title.

    Bruce's singing voice is generally clear and free of any dire diction issues. The concert has been well edited and I didn't notice any audio sync problems at all.

    The new surround mix by Kev the Caveman is exactly what I was hoping for. The surround channels deliver your usual blend of crowd noise and chanting, along with atmospherics that carry echoes of guitar and drums. The crowd participation during Running Free is a real highlight as far as the rear channels are concerned, and Bruce's solemn spoken word passage during Rime of the Ancient Mariner creeps up on the viewer with an eerie sense of foreboding and doom. The front soundstage is punchy, well weighted and belies the age of the recording. Dave and Adrian's guitars are panned left and right respectively, while the front center is occupied by Nicko's snare and kick drums, along with Bruce's vocals. Nicko's toms are panned nicely across the front as well, and they sound particularly great when he lets fly with a nice roll from top to bottom. Also, I noted that Bruce's guitar part in Revelations is finally audible in this surround mix, as I always felt that it was somehow lost in the old stereo mix.

    Martin Birch's original stereo mix holds up surprisingly well next to the surround default. I was expecting to hear a big difference between the two, but I was shocked by the sheer depth and brightness of the audio. I suspect that Kev may have made a conscious effort to make his mix not too dissimilar to the stereo original that many fans are familiar with. It's certainly apparent that the front soundstage is weighted in a very similar fashion to the stereo original, perhaps with a little more separation between the two guitars. The surround mix is obviously much more enveloping and benefits from a less 'busy' feel that to my mind suits the home theatre environment much better. Fans who are familiar with the stereo mix will relish its inclusion here in PCM form.

    The subwoofer lets out a minor amount of bottom end, but the core of the bass guitar and kick drum tones seem to be directed more towards the front center speaker rather than the subwoofer. Given the age of the recording, it's likely that the concert wasn't recorded with extreme bass frequencies in mind, so therefore a dedicated LFE channel is difficult to cater for.

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

Extras

    This is a great collection of extra material for fans of the band. Some are presented in 16x9 widescreen, where noted.

Menu

    The menu pages are very nicely animated, with groovy page transitions and audio clips from the concert. All are presented in 16x9.

Booklet

    An eight-page glossy colour booklet with fantastic collage artwork and a guide to the bonus features contained on disc two.

Disc Two

Documentary- The History Of Iron Maiden Part Two (58:33)

    This extensive and highly entertaining documentary picks up directly where Part One left off. The band complete their World Piece tour and after a very brief break they begin working on their next album in the Bahamas. After some amusing anecdotes regarding the making of the Powerslave album, we then learn about how the scope of such an ambitious tour was conceived and realised. The tour began in Poland to enraptured fans, and the documentary follows them to their appearance at the first Rock in Rio in 1985, as well as the recording of the live album and video at Long Beach Arena.

    Via intimate interviews with the band, this documentary discusses the hectic schedule of recording and touring and dissects the vast amount of work they completed during this time period, coupled with the extreme fatigue that was felt within the band. We get contributions from numerous assorted crew members, technical assistants, band manager Rod Smallwood, producer Martin Birch, and hilarious anecdotes a-plenty. The docco moves fast and imparts lots of info about the business side of the band. This is fascinating, entertaining viewing, and I for one am looking forward to Part Three!

    Like Part One, this documentary is nicely presented in 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement and stereo audio.

Featurette- Rock In Rio 1985 (48:25)

    Performing at the very first Rock In Rio event saw Iron Maiden rubbing shoulders with the likes of Queen and the band are clearly in their element in front of the crowd, estimated at around three hundred thousand and easily the biggest the band has ever performed for. The gig is discussed at length in the above documentary and despite the numerous obvious cuts and edits, is a very nice inclusion.

    The quality varies a bit and the audio goes noticeably warbly in places. These shortcomings are more than made up for in the quality of the performance and the opportunity to see Bruce bleed profusely on stage. The songs included here are:

  1. Aces High
  2. 2 Minutes To Midnight
  3. The Trooper
  4. Revelations
  5. Powerslave
  6. Dave Murray Guitar Solo
  7. Iron Maiden
  8. Run To The Hills
  9. Running Free

Featurette- Behind The Iron Curtain (57:26)

    Produced in the mid-eighties, this piece documents the beginning of their World Slavery Tour, which kicked off in August of 1984 in Poland. There's a lot more detail on offer for these specific shows in comparison to the above documentary. To have a big name metal band visit Eastern Europe, complete with their full stage production, was unprecedented at this time and their visit is clearly relished by the Polish fans. This is the beginning of the tour and the band are clearly not at their peak performance-wise, which makes for interesting comparisons between this and the Live After Death video which was filmed some seven months later. We follow the band as they're visiting assorted clubs, and we get to hear some valuable comments from the natives. Their impromptu jam at a Polish wedding reception is hilarious, as is their soccer match against the Polish Rock Press.

    The overall quality is decent and as a snapshot of Eastern Europe, this piece is really interesting. The songs performed include:

  1. Aces High
  2. The Trooper
  3. 22 Acacia Avenue
  4. The Number Of The Beast
  5. Hallowed Be Thy Name
  6. 2 Minutes To Midnight
  7. Run To The Hills

Featurette- 'Ello Texas (14:30)

   This is a television piece that was recorded during the band's US tour in 1983. Included is footage of their performance at San Antonio; the songs Flight Of Icarus, 22 Acacia Avenue and Iron Maiden are augmented by interviews with the band while sightseeing at the Alamo.

Music Videos (2)

Galleries-Stills

    These are all presented with audio accompaniment but are strangely not 16x9.

R4 vs R1

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

    Aside from NTSC and PAL formatting differences, this disc is identical in content across all regions. The video quality being what it is, I don't see much point in establishing preference of one over the other.

Summary

    Live After Death marks a triumphant live performance from Iron Maiden, captured at the peak of their fame in the mid-eighties. The package includes a great range of extra features for fans and represents superb value for money.

    The video transfer is an NTSC conversion and has unfortunately been sourced from a dated analogue videotape master.

    The audio transfer is first class.

    The extras are both substantial and insightful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

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