DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Live Aid: The Day the Music Changed the World

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Live Aid: The Day the Music Changed the World





    Studio: W.S.M/Warner Music/Metropolis
    Year: 1985
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 600 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Standard (4:3)
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 Surround, DD Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, French
    Retail Price: $39.95





    Whenever people think about the greatest or most legendary concerts in history some think of Woodstock, the “Judas” incident to Dylan in 1966, Altamont with the Stones or perhaps even something like the Isle of Wright or The Concert for Bangladesh. While all of these featured legendary things there’s no denying the huge impact brought to the entire world on July 13, 1985 when Live Aid hit the air. The concert featured dozens of performers and was broadcasted across the world. The event was so large that you could probably ask anyone what they were doing during Live Aid and they could give you an answer.

    Unlike other large concerts, Live Aid was set up for the people of Africa who were suffering from hunger as well as various diseases. Everyone know that rock stars have the worst egos out there but something in the skies open up and the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, The Who, Queen, Tina Turner, Madonna, Phil Collins, Sting and various others came together to help raise money. The egos were put to the side and everything else in the world stopped and come together for a good deed. To date, the Band Aid Trust has earned nearly $144 million dollars for Africa and that number will continue to grow.

    There’s really no point in reviewing a concert like this because as an avid concert fan I think the greatest thing about the concert isn’t really the music but years after the concert when you look back for that nostalgic trip. The music is certainly great when you’re there live but the real fun is years later when you look back at the event and think about how young you were, what you were doing in your life or who you were seeing. I was too young to remember Live Aid but I’m sure many out there will be watching this thing and revisiting a time in their life when they were gathered around their televisions watching this event.

    Things that seemed bad or funny then might have a different effect on them now. A favorite performance in the concert might appear bittersweet today due the memory of an old love. Perhaps you’ll laugh your way through this remember you and your friends smoking pot all day while listening to these jams. Who knows what you were doing or thinking at the time but in 2004, I’m sure this DVD will be bought not for the actual quality of some of the performances but the viewer’s memory of the events. A few things are left off here and there but hopefully that nostalgic feeling will hit you and take you back to 1985 on that faithful day when the entire world came together like never before.


    Disc 1:

    BBC News report w/Michael Buerk’s report from Korea
    Band Aid---Do They Know It’s Christmas? video
    USA For Africa---We Are the World
    Intro by Richard Skinner
    Coldstream Guards---Fanfare, National Anthem
    Tommy Vance intro to Status Quo
    Status Quo---Rockin’ All Over the World, Caroline
    Tommy Vance intro to Style Council
    Style Council---Internationalists, Walls Come Tumbling Down
    Tommy Vance intro to Boomtown Rats
    Boomtown Rats---I Don’t Like Monday’s, Drag Me Down
    Intro: Harvey Goldsmith
    Adam Ant---Vive Le Rock
    Ultravox---Dancing With Tears in My Eyes, Vienna
    Intro by Andy Peebles
    Elvis Costello---All You Need is Love[/i]
    Tommy Vance intro
    Nik Kershaw---Wouldn’t It Be Good?
    Sade---Your Love is King, Roxanne
    Phil Collins---Against All Odds
    Sting & Phil Collins---Every Breath You Take
    Andy Peebles intro
    Howard Jones---Hide & Seek[/i]
    Andy Peebles intro
    Bryan Ferry---Slave to Love, Jealous Guy
    Paul Young---Do They Know It’s Christmas?, Come Back and Stay
    Paul Young & Alison Moyet---That’s the Way Love Is
    Paul Young---Every Time You Go Away
    Bob Geldof welcomes Philadelphia
    Jack Nicholson back ref & intro
    Bryan Adams---Kids Wanna Rock, Summer of ‘69
    Jack Nicholson intro
    U2---Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bad


    Disc 2:

    Beach Boys---Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Good Vibrations, Surfin’ USA
    Billy Graham intro
    Dire Straits & Sting---Money For Nothing, Sultans of Swing
    George Thorogood---Madison Blues
    Queen---Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Gaga, Hammer to Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions
    Simple Minds---Ghost Dancing, Don’t You Forget About Me
    Andy Peebles intro
    David Bowie---TVC15, Rebel Rebel, Modern Love, Heroes
    David Bowie intro
    The Cars---Drive (CBC Footage)
    Jack Nicholson intro
    Joan Baez---Amazing Grace
    The Pretenders---Stop Your Sobbing, Chain Gang, Middle of the Road
    Jack Nicholson into to The Who
    The Who---Love Reign O’er Me, Won’t Get Fooled Again
    Chevy Chase intro
    Kenny Loggins---Footloose
    Billy Connolly link to Elton
    Elton John---Bennie & The Jets, Rocket Man
    Elton John & Kiki Dee---Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
    Elton John & George Michael---Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
    Concorde mid-flight interview with Phil Collins


    Disc 3:

    Bette Midler intro
    Madonna---Holiday, Get Into the Groove
    Freddie Mercury & Brian May---Is This the World We Created?
    Paul McCartney---Let It Be
    Bob link to Band Aid
    Band Aid Finale-Do They Know It’s Christmas?
    From Philadelphia
    Don Johnson intro

    Tom Petty---American Girl, Refugee
    Phil Collins & Concorde take off
    Chevy Chase intro
    Black Sabbath---Paranoid
    Chevy Chase intro
    REO Speedwagon---Can’t Fight This Feeling, Roll With the Changes
    Crosby Stills & Nash---Teach Your Children
    Judas Priest---Living After Midnight, Green Manalishi
    Billy Graham back ref & thanks Philly
    The Cars---Just What I Needed, Heartbreak City
    Neil Young---The Needle & The Damage Done, God’s Perfect Plan
    Thompson Twins, Steve Stevens, Nil Rodgers, Madonna---Revolution
    Billy Graham intro
    Eric Clapton---White Room, She’s Waiting, Layla
    Jack Nicholson & Bette Midler intro
    Phil Collins---In the Air Tonight
    Chevy Chase intro
    Duran Duran---Union of the Snake, Save a Prayer, The Reflex
    Patti Labelle---Imagine, Forever Young

    Disc 4:

    Hall & Oates---Maneater
    Hall & Oates, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin---Get Ready, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, My Girl
    Bette Midler intro
    Mick Jagger---Just Another Night, Miss You
    Mick Jagger & Tina Turner---State of Shock, It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll
    Bill Graham intro
    Jack Nicholson intro to Bob Dylan
    Dylan intro to Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood
    Dylan, Richards, Wood---Blowin’ in the Wind
    Lionel Richie intro
    Band Aid finale
    USA For Africa finale We Are the World





    VIDEO---All the performances are shown Standard (4:3), which is the correct ratio for all of these since they were shown on television. I wasn’t around to watch this stuff when it originally aired and I’m sure everyone was watching on different sources so there’s no way for me to tell how much better these looks than when they first aired. I have seen various trade videos but then again, all of these were recorded from difference sources so I’ll just do my best when it comes to rating the video.

    I flipped through the entire set and I was really impressed with what I saw. There are some very minor digital artifacts but nothing that is ever too distracting. In reality, that’s the only minus to the video quality. The news programs and music video that start the set off also looks remarkably good without a hint of dirt or scratches. On the UK set there’s some “banding”, which are horizontal lines that appear on some of the video but this is explained in the booklet by Jill S. Sinclair, the DVD producer:

    The horizontal “banding” that appears on some of the UK performances is called microphany and occurs when the camera lens is affected by great volume. Whenever you see microphany you know that whatever is going on, for the cameraman closest to the action, it really is LOUD.

    The production books also notes a few segments, which were taken from a PAL source so the quality isn’t the highest level here but while watching I really couldn’t notice this here. Also, according to the book, the Philadelphia concert footage was destroyed so many of the performances were lost until MTV discovered over one hundred tapes worth of footage, which the producer’s were able to use to make up some missing moments.

    I’m not really sure what HD-DVD has in store for us but this is probably a good indication of what we’ve got to come. While watching this thing I couldn’t help but think of HD for various reasons. For starters, when the first show in London starts up we get an intro to Princess Diana and her hubby. The camera pans in on them and holds still for a few seconds before pulling back and showing the crowd around them. As the camera pulls back my jaw pretty much hit the floor when all the detail was right there as if you were standing in the crowd. You could clearly see what everyone was wearing as well as being able to see what people’s shirts said even though they were far off in the background. We then get a few shots from above the crowd and I swear it appeared like you could pause the thing and count all the people. The detail is really that sharp. I’ve seen various concert DVDs and none of them have ever featured this much detail.

    The detail is just as good when the concert actually starts. You can clearly see which artist is wearing makeup, sweating or has a pimple on their nose. Even in shots that are far away from the stage, the detail is so sharp that there’s no blurriness and no colors bleeding. When the camera is behind the artist looking out at the crowd, once again it appears you could pause the thing and count how many people are there. The colors of their clothes never bleed and again, it’s rather fun reading what their shirts say. The entire London segment is remarkably clear and I don’t see how anyone could be disappointed. Keep in mind, I’m partially basing this on what I’ve seen throughout the years but I seriously doubt the thing looked this good live.

    The Philadelphia concert is just as impressive with the same vivid detail as the London concert. Once again feel free to pause the picture and count the people in the crowd. No matter where the camera is stationed it’s easy to see everything go on and it’s even easier to read what people are wearing or which artist is sweating and whatnot. When daytime ends and the night comes into play there’s still a wonderful transfer and I think it looks even better with all the vivid colors from the lights on full display.

    AUDIO---The “extras” like intros, news broadcasts, interviews and the “We Are the World” music video are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and all sound remarkably clear. The news broadcasts feature no hiss or static and pack quite a punch. The music video also sounds remarkably well and it’s easy to tell the thing has been remastered. However, it’s a fair warning to say you should keep the volume down if you have neighbors.

    If that warning wasn’t enough, remember that was a 2.0 Surround track. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks sound remarkably well. I was rather worried this stuff would sound very fake when mixed to 5.1 but that’s certainly not the case. One problem I always have with music concerts is that it appears the producer’s don’t know how to mix in the audience with the music. Often times the audience mixed in drowns out all the music but thankfully that’s not done here. The entire concert is perfectly mixed and not once did the audience drown out the musicians. A lot of the times, after the intro and while the band is playing, the audience noise is moved back to the rear speakers, which leaves the fronts in full display for the music. I wish more studios would do this because I’ve got several DVDs where the audience is just too big of a distraction.

    With disc one we get some rock, some piano music as well as acoustic and each is perfectly mixed. The wide range that the music has is very nice especially considering the year this was done. If you were impressed with the Led Zeppelin audio last year then you’ll be equally impressed here. The acoustic duet between Collins and Sting is the most impressive thing on disc one because when the two are singing together, it’s mixed where they aren’t overlapped but instead sounds like they are doing an actual duet. The words aren’t blurred or too loud over the music.

    My grandparents got me hooked on The Beach Boys on a trip to Florida when I was around six or so but they’ve never sounded like this before. Disc 2 starts off with three songs from them and once again, the recording is just amazing. What’s most impressive is once again how the vocals and music is mixed. The lead singer gets the front speaker while the music and background vocals are perfectly mixed in the surrounds. Each voice is very clear so you can easily center in on which ever one you want to listen to. Then there’s Queen’s set, which again sounds amazing and really packs a nice punch, especially “Bohemian Rhapsody”. As usual, the crowd gets into the song and sings along and again it’s very impressive with how this is mixed. It appears you’re actually listening to two different recordings with the lead singer on one and the crowd in the other. While they are singing “together” it appears they are separate and make for a nice arrangement. “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” need another warning because two pictures fell off my wall due to the amount of bass.

    With Disc 3 we get Paul McCartney’s performance of “Let It Be”. I don’t know the full story but someone can correct me if I’m wrong. Somewhere during the song McCartney’s microphone went out and there were some seconds without any vocals but this has been corrected on the release. This here is also mixed a bit differently and sounds a tad bit lower than the other parts but it’s still quite impressive. The Tom Petty, Neil Young and Black Sabbath (w/Ozzy) sets sound wonderful with the bass high and the clarity wonderful. The highly would probably be the new mix on Clapton’s “Layla”, which is very nice. Disc 4 has the same wonderful sound and as a die-hard Bob Dylan fan, I must comment on “Blowin’ in the Wind”. You fans might be wonderful if this new mix helps make the song appear better? Sadly it doesn’t and the only thing added is Dylan’s worst live performance scattered in 5.1. Oh well, DVD can’t work miracles.

    The English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and French subtitles are only available with intros and any spoken words. The songs are not subtitled.

    EXTRAS---Up first is the collector’s booklet, which I mentioned in the video segment. This is a small but nice package that includes the complete set list on the DVD as well as various photos from the event. The “Do You Know It’s Christmas” single has the hand written lyrics on display as are some pages from the original Live Aid program. There’s a large article by Paul Vallely, which talks about the event as well as everything that went on around it.

    Up next is some performances, which according to the DVD, haven’t been seen by anyone unless you were at the actual events. All of these are presented with 2.0 Surround tracks and 4x3 video. The quality is a bit lower than the actual feature but these are still nice.

    INXS---What You Need, Don’t Change
    B.B. King---Why I Sing the Blues, Don’t Answer the Door, Rock Me Baby
    Ashford & Simpson w/Teddy Pendergrass---Reach Out and Touch
    Run DMC---King of Rock
    Cliff Richard---A World of Difference
    Overseas Contributors---Various artists
    David Bowie & Mick Jagger---Dancing in the Streets video

    Finally we get the documentary, Food and Trucks and Rock ‘n Roll, which was produced a year after this event and shows where all the money went to. The film is shown 4:3 with 2.0 Surround and doesn’t looks too hot but it’s still nice to have.

    Each discs main menu is set up where you can play the concerts in various formats. You can select the “play all” option, which will play the concerts in the order I have the songs listed above. You can also select an “artist search” thing where you can go directly to the artist you want to see. Then there’s “London concert” and “Philadelphia concert”, which you can select and only the performances from that show will play. Each song has its own chapter stop so things are very easy to find.

    OVERALL---I’m sure many will be disappointed that one of their favorite tracks got left off. Originally I wasn’t going to buy the set because two Dylan songs were missing but I’ve certainly been changed after viewing what’s actually here. If you thought this set looked disappointing on paper then you’ll certainly change your mind when you see and hear this thing. I was really impressed with the quality control and considering the low retail price there’s really no reason for anyone not to buy this. This here should certainly get some votes when it comes time to select a DVD of the Year.

    A disclaimer of sorts from the booklet:

    All the performers gave their time free of charge on Live Aid day and no money has been paid to them by the Band Aid Trust for their inclusion in this DVD. The publishers, record companies and songwriters also waived their fees to help maximize the revenues for the Band Aid Trust.

    Money raised from the sales of this DVD will be used to continue the work of the Band Aid Trust in Africa.



    Release Date: November 16, 2004
     
  2. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Well written review, Michael. However, I have to take exception with one thing you wrote:


    It's actually more like some 80+ tracks that got left off, including the Led Zeppelin reunion tracks with the flubs in them, along with a couple of Madonna songs from the concert. And IIRC, didn't Wham! perform a few of their songs as well? As for the "Dancing in the Streets" music video, I clearly recall this being part of the telecast, more than likely part of the ABC highlights telecast, since I videotaped both from the local broadcast via our Fox affiliate and the ABC highlights program.

    While the quality of the DVD release looks and sounds rather good, the obvious omission of a significant chunk of the concert makes this release one I'm going to pass on.
     
  3. Jason Adams

    Jason Adams Supporting Actor

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    Roger Jason Adams
    Maybe they will release a Vol. 2.
     
  4. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    None of OZ for Africa made it either.
     
  5. RichP

    RichP Second Unit

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    I was looking forward to this release for so long, but this is disappointing in a major way.

    Far too many performances not here. To not include Zeppelin is sacrilege IMO.

    I'll be passing on this one.
     
  6. Jeff Brooks

    Jeff Brooks Second Unit

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    I seem to remember Dire Straits being one of the better performances; but, I just can't see purchasing this. I remember taping the whole thing on several VCR's, and watching it later, and really enjoying only a few performances.
    Good review, though. Thanks.
    But, on another note, I sure wish someone would get Mark Knopfler to remix "Alchemy-Live" in 5.1 for DVD. Now, that would be worth buying.
     
  7. Bruce McDermott

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    I agree that Zeppelin should have been on there. But their performance was, uh, BAD, as all members of the band have since admitted....

    Didn't matter to me, though. I was blissed out just seeing them on stage again.
     
  8. paul_austin

    paul_austin Second Unit

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    I dont understand why you would fix the audio on "Let it Be"? thats part of history....
     
  9. Eric_R.

    Eric_R. Stunt Coordinator

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    Zeppelin didn't want the footage on the DVD.

    I remember them blaming Phil Collins for such a bad performance and Phil mentioned this all @ an interview (that i was lucky to go see) on XM which will be on after X-mas.

    I do remember downloading a DVD that someone compiled from footage that they taped and that was good enough for me.

    Eric
     
  10. NeilO

    NeilO Producer

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    I never saw this, but I did make about 4 hours worth of cassette tapes off the radio when I heard it. I really enjoy those cassettes I made so I'm looking forward to this. I'll miss not seeing the Hooters, but I won't miss Led Zep.

    Neil
     
  11. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I'm on the fence for this, but the price is decent and the quality is there, so I'll probably pcik it up. Nesides, my beloved WHO are on there!
     
  12. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Don't blame the producers of the DVD. As has been mentioned over and over in "Live Aid" related threads, Led Zep didn't allow their footage to appear. If you wanna bitch at someone, make it the band, not the "sacriligious"

    DVD producers.
     
  13. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Yeah, it did - there's some INXS on the final disc.
     
  14. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    When I taped most of this live in '85, I most certainly saw and recorded the video of DANCING IN THE STREETS as well as the BB King performance of Why I Sing the Blues.



    It doesn't matter to me if Zeppelin themselves asked for their performance to be left out - the point to me is, it's not there, period.



    Also, some of the performances seem out of sequence. I thought I recall Joan Baez singing Amazing Grace as one of the very first acts of the event, welcoming the modern 80s youth to "their Woodstock". The Cars performance is split up.



    It's not that bad a set. But I don't need it.
     
  15. questrider

    questrider Second Unit
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    Here's a "loose" listing of the coverage that was on MTV that day:

    http://home.i1.net/~bytor/liveaid.html


    And I agree Zeppelin performed terribly. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones protect the Zeppelin legacy as best they can and I'm sure when it came time for them to give permission to use their performance on this set they all voted a resounding "NO" immediately, whether it is for charity or not. Same goes with the Atlantic anniversary in 1988 and their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. It seems everytime the three of these guys have "reunited" they perform horribly. The Page & Plant (without Jones) tours of 1995 and 1998 were filled with great performances which shows what a little rehearsal will do for ya! I sure wish they'd release some DVDs of those tours.
     
  16. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    It seems people think that this should have been released complete or not at all. As I said in the previous thread, I personally didn't care about any of the performers except for the three Dylan songs. I was going to buy this for the three Dylan songs and nothing else. They could have released the entire show on a 20-disc box set but only those three songs were going to get my money. When I heard that two of the songs were going to be cut I said I wouldn't buy it.



    I guess the great thing about reviewing is that you get to sample things before putting your cash down on them. I certainly understand why everyone is so disappointed but I honestly believe that everyone would be happy if they got to see what's actually here. What's on paper might seem bad but the actual work done here is quite amazing, especially for such a low retail price. We are missing a lot of footage but 10 hours of music for $25 is a great deal no matter what isn't here. I'm the type that looks at what's on a disc and not what was left off.



    As Colin pointed out, Led Zeppelin didn't allow their set to be included so nothing can be done here. We're missing a lot of sets but we don't know why they aren't here. Perhaps some didn't give their permission or perhaps some were wanting money for the sets to be included. We don't know all the details yet and we might not ever know them. As the booklet states, everyone on the disc gave their "material" for free so that more money could go to the actual cause.



    Perhaps Madonna didn't want certain songs released. Perhaps Dylan didn't want two of the songs included. Perhaps a songwriter was wanting money and the producer's said no. From going through each disc, I'm a little nervous saying the producer's were "lazy" but "cutting" things out. They could have rushed this into production but that's not the case. Actually seeing this thing makes you realize that money was spent. I'm sorry some won't be buying the set but hopefully you'll rent the thing since it's miles beyond the videos we have.
     
  17. Daryl Stovall

    Daryl Stovall Second Unit

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    What happened to the "For the Tears in Their Eyes" Video by Prince?
     
  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    IIRC, Fox didn't exist in 1985 - the channel you watched may have been around, but not as a part of the Fox network.



    The Bowie/Jagger video ran as part of the day's normal progression. It showed up mid-day. Only one Madonna song is missing: the world premiere of "Love Makes the World Go Round". No Wham! is missing - GM sang lead for "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" (with AR on backup) but they did no songs on their own.
     
  19. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    A good Bowie set there, I'd be interested if the price were low enough, or if they sold each disc seperately. Did Bowie actually play more songs? Weren't they switching between different stages or something, so some acts got cut off even though they kept on playing?
     
  20. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    For my money, it's great to have some of the performances we do get, like Duran Duran, Queen and Simple Minds but really, I don't care what they included or deleted--as long as they have U2's complete "Sunday Bloody Sunday/Bad" set, the rest is just icing on the cake. Everything Live Aid wanted to be was succinctly captured in that one 15-minute tour-de-force perfomance...anything else left off this release I won't be sweating. YMMV, of course, I just mean to indicate that I couldn't be happier with what we're getting (and in less than 2 weeks, whoo-hoo!)...
     

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