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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Pop > Rock > Jazz > Vocal > Soul > Documentary > Gospel > Blues > Country > TV > Chicago Live In Concert (2008)/Michael McDonald: A Tribute To Motown + Live (2008/Soundstage/Image Blu-ray Singles)/Rejoice & Shout (2011/Magnolia DVD)/Steve Winwood Live In Concert (2003/Soundstage/I

Chicago Live In Concert (2008)/Michael McDonald: A Tribute To Motown + Live (2008/Soundstage/Image Blu-ray Singles)/Rejoice & Shout (2011/Magnolia DVD)/Steve Winwood Live In Concert (2003/Soundstage/Image Blu-ray)/Live At The US Festival 1983: Willie Nelson + Waylon Jennings (Shout! Factory DVD singles)

 

Picture: B-/B-/C/B-/C/C+     Sound: B/B/C+/B/C+/C+     Extras: D/D/C/C/D/C+     Concerts/Documentary: B-

 

 

Here comes another set of music programs you might want to catch, including two with significant upgrades.

 

 

The three Blu-ray concerts here are all from the popular Soundstage program and we have covered two of them on DVD before.  The first of those two is Chicago Live In Concert (2008), which we looked at a while ago at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/1519/Chicago+In+Concert+(Soundstage)

 

 

I thought this was a good, but not great concert and it is not the only Blu-ray they have on the market (another is with Earth, Wind & Fire reviewed elsewhere on this site) but both have the newer version of the band.  Then we get a show from the same period with Michael McDonald in which he is joined by two of his Doobie Brothers bandmates as well as Valerie Simpson and the late Nick Ashford.  You can read more about it at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/2273/Michael+McDonald+In+Concert+(Soun

 

In this case, it is offered with a second, lesser A Tribute To Motown concert which represents the flattest part of any part of McDonald’s career.  Even when you compare his Motown covers from that show to the one from Soundstage, there is a difference.  The backstage extra segments are not on either Blu-ray reissue, nor are their any text or “Meet The Band” segments from the those DVDs.

 

Fortunately, the 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both are not only an improvement from the DVDs, but finally show the proper aspect ratio!  The older DVDs cut the frame of the respective Soundstage shows into a 1.33 X 1 square, but these Blu-rays look much better just by showing us the widescreen TV frame intended.  They are older HD tapings, but with that said, detail and other minor issues exist, but you do get plenty of fine images with nice color-range and shots that deliver just how live the performances are.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes also far surpass the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes and you even get PCM 2.0 Stereo tracks that are warmer than the Dolby from those old DVDs.  I was impressed.

 

 

Don McGlynn’s Rejoice & Shout (2011) is an interesting documentary on the rise of the Gospel Music genre in the 20th Century and how it started in the church, moved on to unexpected commercial success within that community, then became the powerfully politicized music of The Civil Rights Movement and then, the Counterculture movement in general to the point that Gospel songs with no secular intent whatsoever suddenly became hit songs!

 

Many of the key persons in the business, especially the singers, are interviewed, joined by a few scholars and even the great smokie Robinson shows up to top off the interviews nicely.  I thought it was a good documentary, but it fell short at times, skipping some of the history and some interesting additional developments as the final edit seems as interested in preaching to the audience versus staying journalistic and telling more of the story.

 

The best example is about the legendary Dixie Hummingbirds, who had some of that early commercial success.  We even get the unique history of the music out of Philadelphia where they and so many key acts come from, but we do not hear the story about how the group backed up some big singers (Olivia Newton-John, Paul Simon, Helen Reddy) on some of their famous hits and just how much more mainstream (especially pre-Rap) the genre became.  I just hope these choices were not politically motivated.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is unfortunately softer throughout despite being a new shoot and even the interesting vintage film and video footage is affected in odd ways.  I think we even see kinescopes at a few points.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix can only do so much with talking and so much music that is monophonic for the most part and a PCM 2.0 Stereo track additionally included might have helped.  Extras include a trailer and additional interviews that help.

 

 

The third and final Soundstage Blu-ray that is new to us is Steve Winwood Live In Concert (2003) which features the former Traffic/Spencer Davis Group lead singer towards the end of his big solo run performing songs like Glad, Bully, Freedom Rider, Dear Mr. Fantasy, Empty Pages (eight songs altogether) and three bonus songs: Rainmaker, Different Light and Walking On.  At its worse, he just had to sing Back In The High Life Again, one of the most overplayed songs of all time.  However, he gives a good concert that is for fans, but will impress some who are not.

 

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is equal to the Chicago and McDonald Blu-rays, showing that someone at Soundstage had some good HD shooting standards.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is also as well recorded and impressive with a solid music soundfield that has a warm live feel like the others.  Hope we see more Soundstage Blu-rays from Image Entertainment soon as they are bound to be popular with true music fans.

 

 

Finally we have two DVD singles from two Country Music legends, taped on the same day (6/4/83 was billed as “Country Day”) at an event that is not talked about much but was launched as if it was the next Woodstock.  Live At The US Festival 1983 has the main performances from Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings hitting their later stride in shows that are pretty good, even if you are not a fan of them or their music.  Both sing 24 songs each with Nelson performing Crazy, Always On My Mind, All Of Me, Stardust, On The Road Again and Help Me Make It Through The Night, while Jennings sings his Good Ol’ Boys theme from the original Dukes of Hazard, Amanda, Clyde, Mental Revenge, Honky Tonk Heroes, Rainy Day Woman, Jack-A-Diamonds and Storms Never Last with Jessi Colter.

 

Though both were taped the same day in old analog NTSC videotape, the Nelson concert is weaker than the Jennings concert throughout, both running over an hour each.  Who knows why, but that’s the case.  Both are also here in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that shows its age, but is not bad overall.  The only extra is a brief interview with Jennings on his DVD before he goes on stage.

 

 

For more on Nelson, start with this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9030/The+Willie+Nelson+Special+with+speci

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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