Image Entertainment // 1976 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // February 28th, 2000
Good rockers given poor treatment.
I mentioned in my last music review, for James Taylor: Live at the Beacon Theatre that back in the '70s I was listening to harder rock, including an upcoming band called Blue Oyster Cult. These hard rocking guys from New York were among my favorites. I'd seen them in concert several times and they gave quite a show, especially with their later full laser displays. One of their concerts I saw was in 1976, the year they came out with their biggest hit "Don't Fear the Reaper." So when I first got my DVD player, and didn't yet know about sites like DVD Verdict, I went looking to see if they had anything on DVD. Imagine my joy at seeing they had a concert disc for one of the same tours I saw live. I ordered it right away, and it was one of the first discs I ever owned. I decided today to review it since part of my job is to let you know which discs NOT to buy. For while this disc certainly brings back memories, it sure doesn't sound like the concert I remember.
I was gratified by the recent Grammy awards to see a virtuoso old favorite win big. Carlos Santana hails from the days when technical excellence really meant something in rock and roll. I'm not pointing any fingers *cough* Britney *cough* but many acts today are not what you would call masters of their craft. Blue Oyster Cult hails from these same times and standards. While they wouldn't make music you would call "pretty" they were all highly skilled musicians. Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser is one fine guitar player who has never quite gotten his due. And their songs were often quite inventive, drawing from history, myth, legend, and pure conceptual fantasy. One cover they always did that I thought was the best version anyone had done was "Born to be Wild." That song, along with 10 others among my favorites, is on this disc.
For nostalgia purposes the disc is alright. Seeing those guys like they were in 1976, and even some really dated stuff like lead singer Eric Bloom ranting about the gate guards confiscating patron's pot stashes brought back some memories. They did have a small part of their laser show in this concert as well. Unfortunately the minuses of the disc so outweigh the scant positives.
Just about everything else fits here. But there are differing degrees of terrible. The disc doesn't look that bad. Since the concert footage was never released there are virtually no nicks or blemishes from the film stock. The image is quite soft from the quality of the original footage and doesn't suffer from edge enhancement. Shadow detail is pretty fair as well. But like I said, the image is quite soft and reminds me more of a VHS tape than a DVD.
The sound is much worse. For something that makes or breaks a concert disc Image should be ashamed of themselves. No efforts were made to improve on the original recording, which must have been pretty bad to begin with. The soundtrack is uncompressed stereo, which isn't bad in and of itself. Considering the quality of the sound live I wouldn't have complained. But the recording suffers from numerous dropouts in sound, and comes off thin and harsh. Using the Digital Sound Processing in my receiver I was able to take care of much of the thin quality, and give it ambiance. But nothing could help the frequent level drops. This is what Image should have dealt with in production.
There are no extras at all. Only a menu to get to each song is included, and the menu is full of dot crawl and pixelation. Ironically the concert footage doesn't.
It makes me very sad to see the treatment one of my old favorite bands has gotten on this DVD. I wouldn't mind the picture quality if they could do a remix of the sound, particularly in DD 5.1. I'm only writing this review on the off chance one of you comes across it, and are an old BOC fan like me. You'd only be disappointed. I can't even recommend it for a rental unless you just plan on watching it while playing some of their stuff off of LP or CD. If you want to hear good Blue Oyster Cult live then buy the Extraterrestrial Live album on CD.
Blue Oyster Cult is thanked for giving me many hours of enjoyment and putting on a great show. Image is sentenced to doing a remix of the soundtrack until they get it right.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* Full Frame
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Not Rated