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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Pop > Folk > Rock > Documentary > Environment > Nature > Science > History > John Denver – Around The World Live (1977 – 1990/Eagle Vision DVD Set)

John Denver – Around The World Live (1977 – 1990/Eagle Vision DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Concerts: B-



After covering a TV movie about his life, we finally get to see the real John Denver in action.  For your reference, the telefilm Take Me Home was not bad and you can read more about it at this link:





Eagle Vision is releasing no less than a 5-DVD set called John Denver – Around The World.  Of course, it features a decent set of concerts, which we count as the main programs, but it also surprises by offering two non-music specials we’ll get to in a moment, making this a pleasant surprise of a box set release.


We get four full-length concerts, plus three appearances he made at the Farm Aid shows in 1985, 1987 and 1990.  That includes a 1987 duet with a friend from the USSR singing What Are We Making Weapons For?  Little did anyone there know that the USSR would collapse in a few more years, but it was a bold statement in the early middle of The Reagan Era.



The four main concerts are:


Thank God I’m A Country Boy – Live In Australia 1977


Rocky Mountain High – Live In Japan 1981


Solo Acoustic Show – Live In Japan 1984


Country Roads – Live In England 1986



The shows are at their best when Denver allows his voice not to be overshadowed by the backup singers and he is not only a good showman, but good entertainer and a gracious one at that.  Whether you like his music or not, he is sincere, serious and more talented than he gets credit for.  In all the shows, he performs his many hits (including four U.S. #1 hits and three #1 albums!) including Thank God I’m A Country Boy, Sunshine On My Shoulders, Rocky Mountain High, Annie’s Song and Take Me Home, Country Roads.  All these years later, it is more apparent than ever that he was continuing music in the Folk tradition Pete Seeger possessed and it is amazing how over these shows, his voice and energy are surprisingly consistent.


The audiences are also a plus (even in the 1981 show where the Japanese are not sure how to react) and it reminds us what a class act Denver was and how he is too often forgotten today.  Some of that is because he was already doing music that was not in favor, though he made it so by selling so many millions of albums, but also for political reasons because he was pro-environment and common sense before it was vilified by The Far Right in the U.S. and its political landscape.


That brings us to the specials.  Day At The Bighorn shows that Denver more than walked the walk, tackling the nature he loved by jumping right into it.  In this case, it is during some serious winter weather, but he just walks right into it as if he was on Nitro Circus.  Not a care in the world, because he loved the world.  Then there is the remarkable Earth Day 1990, where he talks about biodiversity, how bad pollution can be, how he was hoping the electric car was on the way (of course, GM built it to gut it, as Who Killed The Electric Car? (reviewed elsewhere on this site) will show you) and offers ideas and insights ahead of their time throughout this impressive program.


Even when it is dated, he is on the money in just about everything he says and if he had only lived, he could have told us “I told you so” or even made a significant difference.  He would likely be furious and activist about the wholesale destruction that has been going on of late.  I was amazed what a great job he did here and how exceptionally well read and well spoken he was here.  In his hit film Oh, God, he proved to be a fine comic actor.  Here, he proved he was a leader who had something to say we should still all hear.  Why more environmentalists have not discussed this program is a huge mystery, but it is the single item here I hope gets rediscovered due to this release.


The 1.33 X 1 image on all the concerts are analog tape (likely all NTSC) and show there age, especially the earlier shows with aliasing errors and ghosting.  However, color is consistent enough and is watchable enough.  The specials are on film, likely 16mm, from older analog transfers.  They deserve some work and HD transfers.  The concerts have three soundtracks in DTS 5.1 (the best choice in all cases), Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, while the specials are Dolby 2.0 that have some stereo separation.


Specials notwithstanding, the only extra is a booklet with concert track listings, stills, an essay, other tech information and credits.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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