Judge Eric Profancik desperately wishes that some rock group would, just once, end their show with "Roll over Mozart."
Our review of Electric Light Orchestra Live: The Early Years, published September 15th, 2010, is also available.
"George Harrison himself once said that if the Beatles had stayed together, they would have sounded like the ELO."
George, I'm not sure I can agree with your rather bold assertion, as stated on the DVD's packaging. While the Beatles had their own definite style, I just cannot fathom any logical progression from them to what the Electric Light Orchestra did during its heyday in the 1970s. Regardless, I'll admit my fondness for both groups—which is probably stronger for ELO than for the Beatles. It's amusing how things can date you. Recently, I've been talking about ELO because of this disc, and I'm surprised how many people I know who don't know who ELO is. I keep telling them they probably know their music, but they just can't instantly connect it to the group itself. All these people, all several years younger than myself, just make me feel old(er). At least my coworkers know ELO.
Still, this live concert with ELO at Wembley Stadium is before my time. I missed all that '70s fun and glam, but with this disc, I'm given the opportunity to revisit it one more time. And I'm sorry for that opportunity, because the '70s was just a flat-out ugly decade. All those floods and bad perms, they give me nightmares. But I tried to ignore all of that and focus on the concert itself. This disc gives you a chance to see ELO perform the following songs: "Concerto for a Rainy Day," "Standing in the Rain," "Night in the City," "Turn to Stone," "Tightrope," "Telephone Line," "Rockaria," "Wild West Hero," "Showdown," "Sweet Talkin' Woman," "Mr. Blue Sky," "Do Ya," "Living Thing," and the ever-present "Roll Over Beethoven." As any casual fan of ELO will note, this is a standard lineup for the group. They always perform a certain group of songs, and they always end things on "Roll Over Beethoven." The concert features some solid performances of their tunes, and the show is fairly entertaining to watch too.
I am sorry to report that this concert DVD is severely lacking in its transfers. Let's start with the video portion of the presentation, which is sketchy at best. The video is terribly wanting in quality: washed-out colors, weak blacks, low details, and a sea of dirt and grain. This is the result of the age of the video and probably the equipment used at the time. I also doubt any significant effort was made to clean the print before it went to disc. You will not be impressed with this transfer at all. While you can see the spectacle of the show, you'll feel removed from what you're watching.
But more importantly, there are problems with the audio. First, there are two audio tracks available: the original Dolby Digital 2.0 and an "extrapolated" Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. I was surprised yet pleased to see that the DD 2.0 mix was the default option in this case, but I'll admit it didn't stop me from instantly switching over to the DD 5.1 mix. In both cases, I didn't care for what I heard. The DD 2.0 mix is decidedly weak. The original recordings don't seem to have been done exceptionally well, and you can hear quite a bit of hiss throughout. The music and dialogue are adequate and comparable to a scuffed-up record. With the "extrapolated" DD 5.1 mix, I could instantly tell it was fake. It's a bad mix, with the hiss even more prominent, a bit too much treble in the vocals (making everything sound thin), and the surrounds being forced to give the impression of immersion. I would recommend the DD 2.0 over the 5.1.
In addition to the concert, there is a bonus section dedicated to ELO's "Discovery" album. With this bonus feature, you are treated to what are, in essence, early music videos for some of those songs. You get: "Shine a Little Love," "Confusion," "Need Her Love," "Diary of Horace Wimp," "Last Train to London," "Midnight Blue," "On the Run," "Wishing," and "Don't Bring Me Down." Again, I can't say these overly impressed me, but it was frightfully intriguing to watch the psychedelic videos in and of themselves.
I consider audio to be the key component in a music DVD, and based solely on that, I can't recommend this disc. The disc quality is remarkably unimpressive. I have only given such a high judgment score because of the music itself and because of the novelty of seeing such a grand show from the '70s. However, if you like ELO and want a concert DVD, I highly recommend the "Zoom" DVD instead. It's a more intimate, recent, and better-recorded concert. Not only do you get a smattering of ELO's classic hits (and the ever-present "Roll over Beethoven"), but you also get a taste of their new stuff.
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