Eagle Rock Entertainment // 1981 // 74 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // January 7th, 2010
I can't say that I'm a fan of John Denver's music, but over the years I have certainly have come to know and like some of his work. For me, his songs are simple yet beautiful melodies that have a warmth and charm about them. You may not necessarily rock to them, but they have a quality that makes you want to stop and listen. They make you feel good.
Outside of a few of his songs that my choir sang in the Spring Show of 1988, John Denver Rocky Mountain High: Live in Japan is my longest visit with the artist. Contained on this concert DVD, recorded in Tokyo, Japan, in 1981, are 18 of Denver's biggest hits. They are:
* Starwood in Aspen
* Take Me Home, Country Roads
* Follow Me
* I'd Rather Be a Cowboy
* Leaving On a Jet Plane
* Goodbye Again
* Rocky Mountain Suite
* Fly Away
* Dancing with the Mountains
* Back Home Again
* Thank God, I'm a Country Boy
* Sleepin' Alone
* Rocky Mountain High
* Eagle and the Hawk
* Annie's Song
* Sunshine on My Shoulders
I cannot speak to Denver, his discography, his concerts, or how this DVD ranks in the compilation of all his recorded material. What I can tell you is that this is a simple yet exceptionally pleasant concert with John singing to a very polite audience in Japan. This concert made me nostalgic for concerts of this era when the focus was on the music and not on the pomp of the performance. This concert has Denver and his musicians playing and singing his music without fanfare. It's an honest, carefree performance of the man and his music. His songs are the show, and Denver sounds remarkable. Each song comes from him beautifully, without effort, sounding like a studio recording. His voice is strong, pitch perfect, and melodious. Though I didn't know all of the songs, I enjoyed every minute of the performance.
The video isn't much to look at. Denver doesn't dance around or shot off pyrotechnics. No, he switches through a bunch of guitars, stands at the microphone, and sings. There's some interaction with the audience, but that's limited because of the language barrier.
This DVD presents the concert in a full frame video with three audio track options. For the video, it's a bit of a mixed bag -- some good and some weak. While there are no significant errors with the video, colors run a bit hot, details are a bit soft, and contrast is a bit off. Despite these weaknesses, the overall performance is quite acceptable and you'll be able to see John and his group perform quite well. (The nature video that plays in the background is slightly lost in the transition, however.) But considering the age of the performance, I'm not especially concerned. More so to me, the important part of a musical DVD is the audio; and all three tracks are quite good. Depending on your mood, any of the tracks will appease as each has no errors and imparts a different tone to the performance. The Dolby 2.0 mix comes across like a CD; the Dolby 5.1 mix opens up that CD sound with a somewhat richer and more open environment, adding some depth with the surrounds; and the DTS mix further enhances the performance giving clarity to the notes, deepening the bass, and expanding the immersion through the surrounds. I did find the DTS most to my liking, but there is no fault with any of the mixes. Pick one as your mood fits.
This disc comes without any subtitles or bonus features. What is included is a two-page pamphlet/insert that gives a touch of background on John and this concert.
I enjoyed John Denver Rocky Mountain High: Live in Japan more than I expected. His music is a joy to hear, and though I don't think I am ready to run out and buy a bunch of his music, this was a refreshing reminder of the pure beauty of music. As a final testament to joys of this disc, I will attest that I find myself now still humming and singing some of his music. More importantly, and more to my surprise, this disc will a permanent home in my collection.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
* Full Frame
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 74 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated