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The Secret Policeman's Third Ball - The Music
Umbrella Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 48 mins . M15+ . PAL


Now this would have to be the most curious release so far in the Secret Policeman’s... series.

As the title rather blatantly suggests, it features only musical performances from the third ball, held at the London Palladium in 1987. Strangely though, especially considering its less than value for money running time of only 48 minutes, it is rather incomplete. Avoiding musical value judgements, gone are Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good? and one of the instrumental collaborations between Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins - I’ll See You in My Dreams – which are both featured in this disc’s sister release, The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball. This is made all the more disturbing by the DVD case’s claim that this allows you to, “hear all the music from...”. Perhaps the word “all” has been redefined of late and nobody bothered to inform me?

Anyway, added to the mix for this DVD is Vince Clarke’s band that followed his days in Depeche Mode, Yazoo with Alison Moyet, The Assembly with Feargal Sharkey (and others) and his dalliance with Paul Quinn that is Erasure, featuring the vocals of Andy Bell (not the one from shoegazers Ride, either) and their track Victim of Love; Kurt Wallinger’s fabulous World Party with the equally fabulous Ship of Fools (which ironically was also the title of a song by Erasure) and Mr Lou Reed himself teaming up with Andy McKay and Youssou N’Dour on Voices of Freedom.

The remaining seven tracks from Duran Duran, Kate Bush, Joan Armatrading, Bob Geldof, Peter Gabriel and the aforementioned Lou, Mark and Chet all also feature on the longer The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball release, surely leaving this disc to only appeal to rabid fans of either Erasure, World Party or Lou Reed – and considering the lack of quality on offer here they would have to be diehard, foaming at every orifice must-have-every-single-thing-they-ever-farted-on fanatics at that.

Just because something is for charity, and in fact the packaging makes no mention whatsoever as to whether any proceeds from sales of this actually go to Amnesty International, doesn’t mean that value for money or quality should be overlooked. Sadly, however, both have been detoured entirely with this disappointing release.


Treading the same path as the other releases in the Secret Policeman’s... series, this is another full frame presentation, and another fairly average one at that. Obviously the source print left a lot to be desired, and so we get mucho grain and numerous speckles throughout. It all has a rather washed out appearance, and lacks anything remotely resembling decent detail.

Being a music-only disc, you may expect some clean-up work to have been done on the sound. Sadly though, this extremely monaural "Dolby Digital" mix leaves a LOT to be desired. It all sounds extremely flat, has hiss throughout which gets almost unbearable between songs, and generally is of nowhere near sufficient quality to warrant purchase in order to receive a pleasing musical experience.

Extras-wise, it’s just another recoloured rehashing of the animated menu from previous releases in the series, with an identical set of extras to The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball. These amount to five pages of background on the balls and Amnesty - rather irrelevantly (in this instance) referring to the comedic aspect of the shows, an Amnesty International commercial and Umbrella propaganda, which simply amounts to trailers for Malcolm, The Natural History of the Chicken and Woody Allen's re-dub-fest What's Up, Tiger Lily? plus a still screen displaying the five Secret Policeman’s... discs that are available.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Cows have a habit of going “moo!”, but what does a concept for a DVD release do when it’s milked? Well, this one just kind of hisses..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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