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Case Number 00263

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Rolling Stones: Bridges To Babylon

Warner Bros. // 1998 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // January 13th, 2000

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All Rise...

The Charge

"I can't get no, Satisfaction. Lord, I try."

Opening Statement

Directed by Bruce Gowers (Eddie Murphy: Delirious, Woodstock '94, Fleetwood Mac: The Dance), this disc captures in vivid digital quality a live performance by the Rolling Stones on their Bridges to Babylon Tour, recorded in St. Louis, Missouri. The disc is a very early entry in the DVD catalog, and really does give every indication of having been thrown together quickly to put a product on the shelf. Whether this is the fault of the Stones or the disc transfer company, I don't have enough information to say. We can only hope it doesn't become a trend for other music discs, or for future Stones offerings.

The Evidence

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger keep the band together, and continue to build steam as time goes on. Like wine and cheese, they improve with age. Also like well-aged wine and cheese, they give you quite a kick. The band as a whole continues to certify their legendary status, long since earned and only ever underscored. While no Stones fan would ever downplay or belittle Charlie Watts or Ronnie Wood, we also know the Stones' drive comes from the venerable Richards' guitar work, backed up superbly by one of the best front men in the business, Jagger.

The play list spans their entire illustrious career. The biggest radio play hits are present, but so are deeper album cuts, and also a good sampling from the album the tour is supporting. Their supporting cast is excellent as always, but a few specific highlights standout. I was unable to pull a cast list for the band from any available source, but the lead backup singer, and also the horns section, were in great shape. Especially the backup singer. When I saw this tour in Atlanta she received a standing ovation for her vocals in "Gimme Shelter," and it was richly deserved. She has excellent stage and voice charisma with Jagger.

The transfer itself is in pretty good shape. It's not reference quality, but it's also not a bad effort. Concerts aren't the most stable of images to do a digital compression transfer with, but the attempts I've seen thus far have tackled the challenge quite admirably. This one falls a little short of those efforts, unfortunately. Colors are strong and solid, edges are usually sharp; but in places, the transfer breaks down in small ways. When the glitter drops from the ceiling in "Brown Sugar," the image seriously breaks down. Jagger's net shirt (pink worn over a white t-shirt) causes some problems early in the show also. But, for the most part, you have to be actively looking for these edge and pattern problems to appear to take note. Casual viewers won't really notice them.

The sound is good, well mixed and very engaging. As with many concert DVDs, take advantage of the settings in your receiver if you have them, and find a time when your neighbors and family aren't home. Then crank it up.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

This disc qualifies as the most stripped down disc I've seen yet. When we say "bare bones" disc, this one, unfortunately, could be a reference level disc for the term. No subtitles, no alternate audio, no extra features of any kind. You receive the concert and that's it.

There are no menu options for audio options, nor are there band or cast credits. The only menu selections are "Play Concert" and "Song Selection," which gives you twenty-two chapter stops (twenty tracks and opening and closing segments). That's it. When we say this is a bare bones disc, once again, we're not kidding.

The case promises Dolby 5.1, but I didn't see it on the disc.

Closing Statement

Oddities about the disc aside, this is a good purchase for any fan of the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. Period. It would be nice to have a disc with, at least, some basic DVD features (like some menu'ed credits, and perhaps some audio options). But this ultimately doesn't get in the way of enjoying a great concert performance.

The Verdict

The Rolling Stones are excused with the court's abject and humble apologies.

As for the company responsible for this rather uninspired disc, they are to be reprimanded harshly, and should take the next sixty days in the hole to reflect upon their poor treatment of such Legends as the Rolling Stones.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 80
Extras: 0

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genre:
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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