The Secret Policeman's Music Edition (Disc 8) (1999)

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Released 19-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-What's Up, Tiger Lily?; The Natural History Of The Chicken
Trailer-Malcolm; The Secret Policeman's Balls
Featurette-Amnesty International
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 56:05 (Case: 55)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Hillier

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Tom Jones
Phil Collins
Pete Townshend
Bob Geldof
Eric Clapton
Jeff Beck
Nik Kershaw
Lisa Stansfield
Spinal Tap
Daryl Hall
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Information Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Credits roll beside Morrissey

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

Plot Synopsis

    First, a little background to the Secret Policeman's Ball concept. The idea was initially formulated in 1976 by Peter Kluff and John Cleese to raise money for Amnesty International. Using comedy to raise money for such a serious venture as Amnesty International was unheard of - I guess that is why it has performed (pardon the pun) so well. Since then, the numerous fundraising shows/concerts have been a great success, both raising money for, and increasing the public awareness of, Amnesty International.

    The Secret Policeman's Music Edition is a compilation of performances from all the shows. This means the performances were captured anywhere between 23 years and 11 years ago. There are some remarkable performances, including Sting, Phil Collins, and Pete Townshend. This is classic music captured on film. Some of the other acts include the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, Tom Jones, Eric Clapton, Seal, and many more.

    All in all, this DVD has a lot of great music, but it could have had a whole lot more. The running time comes in at a meagre 56 minutes - not much by any standards. I would be hesitant to fork out too much of your hard-earned cash on this DVD. Having said that, if you do decide to buy this DVD you will not be disappointed by the acts on offer. I know I found them very satisfying.

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

Track Listing

1. Can't Turn you Loose
2. Roxanne
3. in the Air Tonight
4. Pinball Wizard
5. I Don't Like Mondays
6. Farther Up The Road
7. Message In a Bottle
8. Wouldn't It Be Good
9. All Woman
10. Won't Get Fooled Again
11. Big Bottom
12. Hey Joe
13. What's Going On
14. We Hate it When Our Friends Are..

Transfer Quality


    The differing ages of the source material is really quite apparent in this transfer. Having said that, the major problem with this transfer is softness.

    Presented in the non-enhanced aspect ratio of 1.33:1 this transfer preserves the original recorded aspect ratio.

    Sharpness ranges from terrible to reasonable depending on the source. The film from the 1987 performances is particularly bad, especially in long shots of the artists (22:50). Fortunately, the transfer cannot entirely be blamed for this as the newer acts show significantly improved sharpness. Surprisingly, I found the original footage from 1979 to be better than that from 1987. Shadow detail is reasonable for the newer film but very poor for old materials. Again, the transfer is not to blame entirely for these problems.

    Colour was reasonable for newer sources and almost non-existent for the older sources. A real mixed bag here.

    There were no obvious occurrences of pixelization throughout and aliasing is very well controlled. The lack of sharpness in the transfer would definitely minimize aliasing, but even the newer material did not alias, even when the exact same aliasing-prone segments as seen on other discs was presented. Film artefacts were present but not at all intrusive.

    The "subtitles" available on this disc include artist, song, year of release, and album information. No lyrics unfortunately. This is a single layered disc so there is no layer change to negotiate.

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


    The audio is again fairly average on this disc.

    There is one audio track available - being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track encoded at 224kbps. The package incorrectly states that the feature is only mono - it is most definitely stereo in segments. The performances from 1979 and 1987 are mono (same signal through the left and right channels), while the 1991 recordings are in stereo.

    Dialogue quality is quite good for the newer recordings. However, the 1979 recording of Pete Townshend shows a fair amount of distortion at around 38:20. The 1979 recordings suffer most from distortion, but again this is not caused by the transfer. Audio sync gets a little out for some of the performances but is generally pretty good.

    The surrounds are not used and the subwoofer rests throughout the feature.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is a selection of extras on this DVD, none of which are terribly exciting. If you think they look remarkably similar to the last Secret Policeman's DVD, you would be right.


    Themed and enhanced with audio and video. A nice touch is the 'clips' that cycle in the centre of the menu. Click on one to be taken to the act that is being displayed.

Trailer - Secret Policeman's Ball (3:38)

    Ugh.. This must be taken from the first show and is absolutely TERRIBLE quality. It is presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. The framing wobbles terribly, film artefacts abound and the sound is distorted.. Lucky it is just a trailer.

Trailer - What's Up Tiger Lily (1:35)

    A very soft and grainy trailer is presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

Trailer - Malcolm (2:10)

    1.78:1 non-enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. This trailer is of reasonable quality. Malcolm is a great movie.

Trailer - Natural History of the Chicken (0:10)

    1.78:1 non-enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This is of reasonable quality but I have no idea what it is about because the trailer is cut short - oops.

Amnesty International Advertisement (0:30)

    Advert asking for money to help Amnesty out.

DVD Credits

    Credits for the producers of the DVD.


    Five short pages about the history of The Secret Policeman's Ball.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can tell, this DVD is not available in R1.


    The Secret Policeman's Music Edition captures some excellent musical performances from the last 23 years of Secret Policeman's Balls. The transfer is technically quite poor but it really does not detract from the performances. The running time is a little on the lean side at 56 minutes.

    The video quality is quite poor.

    The audio quality is quite poor.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Cameron Rochester (read my bio)
Sunday, April 21, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer 106S DVD-ROM with PowerDVD 4.0 scaling to 864p, using RGB output
DisplayMitsubishi VS-1281E CRT front projector on custom 16x9 screen (270cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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