DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live (With Special Guests)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Steve Tannehill, Dec 12, 2005.

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  1. Steve Tannehill

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    XenForo Template  The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live Studio: Rhino Home Video Year: 1989, 1996-97 (2005 Release) Rated: Not Rated Aspect Ratio: 4x3 (Tommy - OAR); 2.35x1 (Quadrophenia - not 16x9 enhanced) Audio: English DD 5.1; English 2.0; Commentary Captions/Subtitles: None Time: 1:02:20 (Tommy); 1:32:51(Quadrophenia); 1:53:37 (Live Hits) Disc Format: SS/DL (DVD-9) on 3 discs Case Style: Digipak The Feature: The first evening I had a chance to walk down 44th street in Manhattan, I heard the familiar strains of Tommy blasting from the St. James Theater. The next night, I saw my first Broadway show, and it was a full-tilt extravaganza. This 1993 production was just the latest incarnation of the first true "Rock Opera," The Who's Tommy. Over the years, this story of a deaf, dumb, and blind kid with uncanny skills and spiritual "power" had evolved from disjoint ideas for songs into a cohesive double album in 1969. Propelled into the spotlight after their filmed performance at Woodstock, The Who toured with Tommy, making it a staple of their live performances (although, as I recall the story being told, to the eventual dislike of Keith Moon). In 1975, the gawd-awful movie version pretty much killed off the Tom-ster, except for the occasional song included in the Who repertoire. The Who disbanded in 1982, but a lucrative 25th anniversary tour was too much to pass up--and to the delight of fans in the U.S. and U.K., the full-length Tommy was revived for performance in concert. The Los Angeles concert in particular included guest stars singing the songs--a leather-clad Billy Idol as the abusive Cousin Kevin, a method-acting Phil Collins in boxer shorts as the wicked Uncle Ernie, the big-haired Patty LaBelle as The Acid Queen, Steve Winwood as The Hawker, and the Pinball Wizard himself (and the only good thing about that 1975 movie) Elton John. I was a fan of this concert from the first time I owned it on laserdisc, but two copies of the laserdisc rotted away to the point of being unwatchable. So it was with great pleasure that I watched The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live on DVD. This three-disc set features both the aforementioned Tommy concert, as well as a concert film taken from the 1996/97 Quadrophenia tour, each occupying a single disc. A third disc of the second set from the 1989 show, as well as the encore from the 1996/97 show rounds out the collection. Quadrophenia tells the story of a lad who has "Four-Faceted Multi-Personality Disorder" (I never cease to be amazed at pop-psychiatry coming from rock'n'roll bands) during the era of the Mods versus the Rockers--which I gather was the U.K.'s own version of civil unrest in the 1960's. A 1996 concert was conceived as a one-off show with a star-studded cast, ala Tommy, performed by not The Who, but by TED (Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey). The show went so well, it evolved into a tour with a filmed component on Jumbotron replacing the majority of the performers and on-stage narration. Left behind were The Who (reclaiming their name), P.J. Proby as the Godfather, Simon Townshend as the Bus Driver, and Billy Idol as the Ace Face. Quadrophenia has also been freshly edited with not only the original Jumbotron footage, but vintage footage of everything from bread lines to the early Who. About a third of the stage performance has been replaced by this footage--but, frankly, I like that. It is also well-done. I've seen concert videos that are absolutely ruined by flash-cutting between videos and the concert performers. Thankfully, no Dramamine is required, although uppers are optional.  I'm actually new to most of the songs from Quadrophenia, although I recognize the ones that ended up in the typical Who greatest hits compilations (like 5:15 and Love Reign O'er Me). The set list matches the album listing. The third DVD in this compilation is called "Live Hits" and it is culled from the 1989 and 96/97 shows. Songs include (from Los Angeles):
  2. Substitute
  3. I Can See For Miles
  4. Face the Face
  5. Love Reign O'er Me
  6. Boris the Spider
  7. Dig
  8. Join Together
  9. Rough Boys (dedicated to Elton John, ha!)
  10. You Better You Bet
  11. Behind Blue Eyes
  12. Won't Get Fooled Again
  13. Who Are You? From the 1996-1997 tour, the Quadrophenia Encore includes:
  14. Won't Get Fooled Again
  15. Substitute
  16. I Can't Explain
  17. The Kids are Alright
  18. Behind Blue Eyes
  19. Who Are You? In addition, three songs from a 1989 Giants Stadium concert are included:
  20. The Acid Queen
  21. Pinball Wizard
  22. A Little is Enough These last three songs are only in mono sound. Curious. Still, with three discs of content, and some tempting extras, this is a great compilation for Who fans. The Feature: 3.5 / 5     Video: The Tommy concert and its encore set of Live Hits was recorded in 1989, and is shown properly in 4x3 format. It is colorful, and despite the trappings of concert videos of that age, it holds up well. The image is a little soft and a tad over-saturated, but generally pleasing--especially if you've ever seen what laser rot looks like. There is an interesting disclaimer on the last page of the booklet that accompanies the DVD set: "Note: Whilst the Tommy show was filmed with the express intention of being released, the Quadrophenia show was only filmed for the band's archive: both sound and picture have been intensively worked on to the highest possible standards." Well, not quite. The Quadrophenia concert and its encores were filmed in 1996-97, but are shown in 2.35x1 widescreen that is not enhanced for 16x9 televisions. I'm a little surprised that no effort was made to provide anamorphic enhancement in this day and age. The underlying film is a mix of concert footage, newly filmed background footage, and black & white archival footage. I think it would have looked better had it been enhanced, especially when viewing the video commentary (which superimposes Daltrey and Townshend over the concert image as it plays. Townshend is wearing a striped shirt. On the full-screen Tommy, it looks fine, but on Quadrophenia, it is moire patterns galore. Considering the source of Tommy, I would say that the PQ is acceptable. Quadrophenia is average. Video: 3 / 5    Sound: Both Tommy, Quadrophenia, and their supporting second sets and encores have gotten 5.1 remixes, but are also presented in DD 2.0. The soundstage is expanded in the 5.1 mix. Tommy sounded good throughout, but I noticed a little unevenness in Quadrophenia, particularly when P.J. Proby was singing. The 5.1 soundtracks still pack some punch, and are definitely crankable--much to the dislike of my neighbors, I am sure.  Sound: 3.5 / 5     Extras: The set includes a full-color 20-page booklet that goes into the history of Tommy and its place in rock opera, the basic stories of both Tommy and Quadrophenia, and anecdotes regarding the live performances of both shows. The Tommy DVD includes a Photo Gallery and a Visual Commentary by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. The Quadrophenia DVD includes a 7:48 piece called "The Quadrophenia Story" as well as another visual commentary. These visual commentaries are quite interesting. Select audio track 3 and you will hear it, but hit the enter button on your remote at any time, and video of Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will be superimposed over the current picture. It is quite seamless, and actually informative. The "Live Hits" DVD includes a 7:13 piece called "Billy Idol: From Cousin Kevin to the Ace Face" - it is quite a difference to see him in leather pants compared to designer suit. There is also a 41 second teaser to an upcoming documentary called "My Generation: Who's Still Who" which is slated for release in the fall of 2006. Oh, I love the FBI warning on these discs... quite irreverent. Extras: 4 / 5     In Conclusion: While the video presentation of The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live is not perfect, one has to keep in mind the age of the source. Thankfully, the video did not die before it got old, and the audio more than makes up for it. This is a nice compilation of two great concerts. Overall Rating: 3.5 / 5     In Current Release
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  24. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Obviously the original elements were not anamorphic. This was nothing but a dub of the jumbotron footage. Would you have been happier if they had digitally "upscaled" it with fake 16:9 (some early DVDs did this) so that you could use nifty the 16:9 button on your projector?

    Otherwise, nice review of a good set that is a must for Who fans.
     
  25. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    If the aspect ratio of the footage is 16:9 (actually wider than that in this case), then what does it matter whether the original elements were anamorphic? The DVD should be encoded for convenient viewing on widescreen HTs.
     
  26. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Are you serious? You're a DVD reviewer and you're asking this question? I'm flabergasted.

    Answer:

    Let's assume the original video elements are 4x3 native NTSC 480 lines with a 2.35:1 image with black bars (Which I'd say there's about a 99% chance). Specifically produced for a jumbotron, the quality is fairly poor to begin with.

    If you digitally crop the center of the 4x3 image then "expand" the lines to make for a 16x9 (DVD anamorphic) image, you're going to introduce scaling artifacts, which is going to significantly degrade the picture. Sure it'll be "anamorphic" on your DVD reviewer check box, but in reality the image will be badly compromised, and even worse than the original very limited elements.

    If you have the capability to deliver to the customer the picture at it's native originally recorded signal you don't mess with that! If the video is native 4:3 NTSC (which it almost assuradly is), don't screw it up with digital scaling and processing so some people don't have to hit buttons on their remotes. Just give us the cleanest transfer possible from the original elements. In this case the cleanest transfer possible is a 4:3 native NTSC picture.

    I can't believe I'm reading that you (and others) are actually complaining about Rhino doing the right thing and presenting the picture in the best possible way.
     
  27. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    double post.
     
  28. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Philip, with respect, we will have to agree to disagree on this.

    - Steve
     
  29. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Are you serious? I simply can't believe this. You would rather have a rescaled artifact ridden picture just to have it be "16x9"? I know you are very knowledgable on the subject of home video, I'm shocked that you would prefer a degraded image.[​IMG] Now I've read everything I suppose.....
     
  30. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I aims to flabbergast! [​IMG]


    It sounds as though there were issues with the encoding anyway (Steve mentioned moire patterns in Townshend's shirt).
     
  31. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Elton John was always the odd one on this
     
  32. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    When Keith Moon hits your eye
    Like a big pizza pie
    That's a moire! :p)
     
  33. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    AAAAAARGH!!! [​IMG]
     
  34. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    When the eel twists and swims
    With a threatening grin
    That's a moray!
     
  35. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    What Quad concert is this? I remember a celebrity ridden version of this, with Gary Glitter (yeah, THAT Gary Glitter)and others, performed for Prince's Trust (or some such) in Hyde Park (or someplace) in the afternoon (early evening?). An edited version of this aired on "Much Music" (cut to an hour, or so). Is this the same concert on this disc? If so, than the above statement is bullshit. I think the Hyde Park show (or where ever) was shown complete on BBC. If so, the elements should be fine, as opposed to off a jumbo tron or some such.
     
  36. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    It's from Ohio - it's not the same English concert to which you refer...
     

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