America – Live At Central Park 1979 (Eagle Vision DVD-Video Version)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: C+ Concert: B
1960s and 1970s, music trios had an underrated run of hits, popularity and
success. Some are kitschy by today’s
standards, like Tony Orlando & Dawn, but even they produced competent hit
singles that are sounding better every day, especially of late. By the early 1970s, two in particular were
inarguably on a roll and created strings of classics that endure decades
later. One is Three Dog Night, with its
unbelievable run of standards like One,
Shambala, Mama Told Me (Not To Come) and Easy
To Be Hard from the stage musical classic Hair. The other is America.
year later (1969, versus Dog’s 1968,) the band had the same combination knack
for great material, great vocals, honest phrasing and chemistry that fit the
counterculture movement right on. From
1972 to 1976, they had one of the strongest run of hit albums and singles including
no less than George Martin producing some of the most iconic of 1970s
songs. Martin was still working with
them when member Dan Peek left and by 1978, Martin followed. Still, they continued as a duo and their 1979
Central Park concert shows the energy and talent that made them a success was
still very much intact.
America – Live At Central Park
1979 hits DVD for
the second time after Capitol Records issued it 2005. Now, the rights have switched to Eagle
Visions Classics and after watching it, you will see why it was a key title
that was not going to stay out of print for long. The songs here include:
Only Game In Town
I Need You
A Horse With No Name
13) Sister Golden Hair
includes their biggest hits and in delivering them to the huge New York crowd,
the songs sound as good here as you have ever heard them and you would never
know that in a few years, they would revert to the flatter pop of You Can Do Magic. I will always say Peek made a mistake, but he
followed his religious calling and that was it.
Director Peter Clifton delivers the moments and intercuts them with both
behind-the-scenes footage and footage from California and the desert. If only most concerts we get now were this creative
and not so phony.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a nice HD transfer of the original
16mm film elements and has more than a few moments of blowing away the many
HD-shot concerts in the last few years.
That it is a great outdoor venue that takes well to film only
helps. Shots and editing are creative
and this is color consistent. The DTS
5.1 mix here is the best of the choices that include lesser Dolby Digital 5.1
and decent PCM 2.0 16/48 Stereo sound.
The combination is engaging throughout.
compared to Capitol Records DVD release that offered the same image type
(likely the same master) and three soundtrack choices as is here. The picture framing is different a bit and in
some ways, a little sliver may be missing here versus the Capitol version, but
neither are superior, though I hope Eagle makes this a Blu-ray ASAP. As for the sound, the DTS on the Eagle
version has some more detail and fullness than the Capitol version, so it makes
this a slight upgrade from that first release.
have the same extra of Clifton’s fine audio commentary track. Grab any copy you can, but if you get the new
in-print Eagle version, you’ll like the sound a bit better. Not that it makes it the DVD-Audio
high-definition MLP tracks of the Homecoming
(going for very high prices) album, but it can easily compete with the
disappointing live SACD we have reviewed and know more gems like this are in
vaults somewhere. Hope this disc brings
about their release too.
- Nicholas Sheffo