Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs-Live: Jailhouse Rock (1993)

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Released 29-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 55:47 (Case: 60)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Chris Fitz-Gibbon

Warner Vision
Starring The Aztecs
Billy Thorpe
Gill 'Rats' Matthews
Paul Wheeler
Warren 'Pig' Morgan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Northwest Airlines, Chandlers
Action In or After Credits Yes, sort of...

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

Plot Synopsis

"Boggo Road Jail - Brisbane Australia, 31st July 1993
The First Time Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs Played Together in 20 Years!"

    The word hero gets bandied about a bit. People tend to use it when it really isn't warranted, such as for sports hero or action hero. In reality, the term hero should be reserved for those whose deeds or actions really do deserve the term, such as those who work with the disadvantaged in Africa or the scientists working on treatments for diseases and afflictions that plague mankind. The term legend allows much more freedom as it is a lot more subject to debate. Let me put forward a proposition:  Billy Thorpe is a legend and if such an award existed, he should be awarded The Royal Australian Order of Dead-Set Legends. Billy Thorpe is indeed a fine musician and one of the finest produced by this country. All this glowing praise that I heap on Billy is due to the fact that he has the incredible ability to make the sometimes overdone and unoriginal sounds of blues-influenced rock sound fresh and alive. This in no mean feat for someone like me who is more a fan of newer music such as Single Gun Theory or Circle of Dust. Billy Thorpe can really rock a joint, and from the word go on this disc, you can see why.

    The concert featured on this disc was filmed at the Boggo Road Jail in Brisbane in 1993 when the jail was closed and awaiting redevelopment. When a promoter had both The Divinyls and Rose Tattoo signed to play the closed Boggo Road Jail, he put it to Billy, who had been living in the US since the mid 70s, that perhaps he might like to play the concert with a reunited Aztecs. At first, Billy wasn't interested and dismissed the idea but after much persistence by the promoter, he was talked into returning to Australia, reuniting the band and playing one last gig. Committed to this disc is that gig.

    From the start of the concert, you wouldn't think that these guys hadn't played together for almost 20 years, and with only 3 days of rehearsals. Indeed this was the case and although a bit more practice may have given the group a bit more polish, the raw talent and pure musicianship sweep away any cobwebs that may have gathered anywhere near this inspired band. From the first track, Mamma, you know that you are in for a fun little trip and from then on the ride gets better and better. In the short time that this disc runs, we get a fair dose of music, most of which is from the band's early 70s repertoire, and made famous by their performance at the renowned Sunbury Music Festival which is regarded basically as the Australian Woodstock.

    Any collection of this band's songs wouldn't be complete without the classic track Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy, which is Billy Thorpe's signature tune. Thankfully, this isn't the only high point and this long-separated foursome play a surprisingly tight gig given their many years apart.

    For anyone who is interested in the history of Australian rock as well as blues-oriented classic rock, this is really a must have as it's the only visual document of the band available since the heady days of Sunbury. If you've only heard the name and wonder what all the fuss is about, then have a look at this disc and you'll see why. Very much recommended.

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

Track Listing

1. Mamma
2. Rock me Baby
3. Be Bop A Lula
4. Most People I Know Think That I'm..
5. C.C. Rider
6. Rock n Roll City
7. World Turning
8. Ooh Poo Pa Doo

Transfer Quality


    For a DVD whose content was original destined for VHS this video actually fares reasonably well with the usual provisos when the transfer comes from a VHS master.

    This feature is presented in its original full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio with, of course, no 16x9 enhancement.

    Given that we have a concert shot on videotape with the intention of being committed to VHS, the level of sharpness of the image is quite reasonable. While not of any reference standard, at the end of the day we really shouldn't complain about any video transfer flaws seen as this is probably as good as we'll ever get. That said, there is a fair bit to report as to the various flaws seen during the program.

    As stated before, sharpness is reasonable with a reasonably clean and clear picture visible. The shadow detail in some scenes is a bit on the ordinary side at times (2:04 and 10:56 for example) but this might be expected as sometimes videotape footage shot in darker circumstances can be fairly lacking in detail. Taking this into account, what we do have is not too bad. There is some low level noise visible at 11:52 but it is not present to a distracting extent.

    Colour use for the program content is quite natural with the stage lighting giving the band the usual exaggerated colourations. This is not overdone, though, and we have a fairly reasonable colour transfer here.

    MPEG artefacts are visible during this program with some minor pixelization visible throughout as evidenced at 1:06 and 20:29. Also, there is some macroblocking visible as seen at 1:06. As is common with videotape to DVD transfers, aliasing is fairly frequent with too many appearances to note (but one example is at 12:00). Chroma noise is visible at 17:58, but is not overly common or distracting. Cross colouration, which seems quite common with older video transfers, is visible at 16:31. And how could we forget our old mate edge enhancement who continues on his perpetual world tour at 1:30 and 10:11 along with many other instances? As this is a videotape master, we do have the occasional analogue tape tracking error in evidence, such as at 41:43 and 55:22.

    There are no subtitles available on this disc.

    This is a single layered disc and as such there are no layer change issues.

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


     There is only one audio track available on this disc, that being the original English track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

     The dialogue, or in this case, vocal quality is quite good with Billy able to project his voice with clarity and authority. The few spoken segments are also quite clean and audible. There is some audible distortion that takes place from 45:07 at the end of the song World Turning which continues up to a point where Billy Thorpe's microphone fails at 46:03. The distortion continues to the end of the song when the distortion ends and Thorpe's microphone problem is rectified.

     The music is by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, also known as just The Aztecs. The music is in a blues-oriented classic rock style with the band consisting of Billy Thorpe on lead vocals and guitar, Gill "Rats" Matthews on drums, Paul Wheeler on the bass and Warren "Pig" Morgan on keyboards (and his organ work on the opening number Mamma is spectacular in its simplicity as it really leads the song).

     The surround presence on this disc is quite limited to a very thin atmospheric role and listening to the disc in plain 2 channel mode will probably not rob the listener/viewer of anything of real value.

     The subwoofer is used to a limited extent only and backs up the left and right mains at the bottom end with some of the LFE from the bass and drums. It is not overly prominent in its contribution.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are a few superficial extras available with a short biography of Billy Thorpe being the most interesting.


     The main menu features static images of Thorpe while the first song Mamma plays in the background. The song plays its full length of 6:15 before coming to an end and leaving the menu static and silent. Our choices on the Main Menu are:      The Song List is exactly that and the viewer can highlight any of the songs for instant access. There seemed to be a problem with highlighting the Menu button at the bottom of this page as attempting to select it was a bit hit-and-miss, as the button failed to be highlightable and one had to guess as to whether it was selected or not.

Picture Gallery: 19 Images

     These images are black and white pictures of Billy and the band and are of fairly limited interest as there is nothing here that we didn't see during the main program.

Biography: Billy Thorpe 8 pages

     This is a short and sweet bio of the band's influential front man. While it is interesting, is gives but a glimpse of the rock legend with a much more detailed account available in his books Sex and Thugs and Rock 'n' Roll and its follow-up Most People I Know (think that I'm crazy) which are both great reading.

Credits: 6 pages

     These are the credits for both the main program and the disc itself.

R4 vs R1

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

     At this time, this title is only available in Region 4, although this disc's region free coding may lead it to be made available in other PAL countries or perhaps in the US with a little red triangle in the corner of the cover stating: "Region 1 PAL". Somehow, I don't think so...


     If you have any interest in the history of Australian rock and in one of this country's most well-known sons, take a look at this disc and see what all the fuss is about. Billy Thorpe really does know how to rock and he delights in taking the audience along for the ride. Hop on board and get ready for a ride. It may be a bit bumpy, but it sure is good. Recommended.

     The video is adequate with some video artefacts present but not to an extent that the main program is diminished.

     The audio is adequate with a quite low bit rate (192 Kb/s) still able to convey the energetic feel of the Boggo Road Jail venue.

     The extras are light on with a short biography of Billy Thorpe being the most interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Friday, October 18, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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