Despite claims from Joe Camilleri (also known as Jo Jo Zep and Joey Vincent) that The Revelators are not like The Black Sorrows, in many ways the two bands are very similar. They feature a similar line-up, play the same style of music (although The Revelators are essentially a covers band), they play one or two of the same songs and most likely appeal to a similar audience.
The Revelators have been together for a little over ten years, but only recently released their second album. The first was even more like a Black Sorrows album because, back then, Linda and Vika Bull (and Jeff Burstin) were a part of The Revelators, providing those distinct vocal harmonies and guitar respectively. They have since departed to further their own careers and both The Revelators and The Black Sorrows continue without them.
The Revelators is a "holiday band" for Joe Camilleri (and friends), and allows him the opportunity to perform songs by artists such as Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons and more traditional bluesmen such as BB King and Muddy Waters. These are songs that simply would not fit into The Black Sorrows' show; besides, they have many fine originals to choose from. The Revelators also allows Camilleri to work at a more controllable pace, for as he says himself, The Black Sorrows were very demanding.
The Revelators: Floating Bridge - Live At The Basement is part of the Live At The Basement series (there are more coming) and originally aired on ABC TV in December 2001. The show begins with The Black Sorrows number, Chosen Ones, which is given a smooth, groovy reworking. From here, the band works its way through a further eleven numbers all performed with similar groove and enthusiasm. This would make for great late-night viewing with a whiskey or two to compliment the mood.
Joe Camilleri proves his musical versatility not only by singing most of the songs, but playing guitar, clarinet, saxophone and harmonica (in the extras) and has two co-writing credits as well - is he Australia's answer to Phil Collins? Several other members get to show their versatility as well, by singing and playing more than one instrument throughout the performance.
Cypress Grove Blues
True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
(Give Me Back The) Key To My Heart
Turn On Your Love Light
Beast Of Burden
Ruler Of My Heart
Except for the first minute of opening credits, which appear to be in a ratio of 1.66:1, this is a full frame concert with a running time of 79:08 and not 1 hour 35 mins as stated on the case. It is a very clear and detailed transfer recorded onto video tape and several small, white, horizontal lines flash on screen occasionally (16:30, 35:48 and 58:05 are three examples), but these are quick and if you aren't looking for them you probably won't notice. Colours are over-saturated but there is no colour-bleeding, and black levels are good. Shadow detail is generally good depending on the performers position in relation to the studio lighting, but this is not a fault of the transfer. There are also some small instances of aliasing, particularly on guitar strings, but nothing that should diminish viewing pleasure.
Also included at no extra cost are two fade-outs, and I was half expecting a commercial break. I am not sure why they are there but it suggests there may have been more than twelve songs performed that night and this is a way of editing out the 'duds'.
The only audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1 and it's a very good one. All vocals and between-song banter are loud and clear. The music is front heavy with the crowd noise mostly placed along the back - giving a traditional 'pub' feel to the show. I was even able to hear some crowd chitchat while sitting up close to the surrounds. Question: Why do some people go to these intimate shows and almost ruin it with their incessant talking throughout the whole show? It's rude and disrespectful to the performers and fellow punters. Fortunately, you have to really listen very closely to hear it. (OK - rant over!)
The separation is good, and all instruments can be heard clearly, as can quite a bit of electronic crackling Claude Carranza caused by faulty guitar leads, this is especially audible during Ride On, but thankfully was quickly sorted out.
The low levels are rich and really fill out the sound nicely. The subwoofer is not heavily utilised, but does the job when required.
The extras are minimal but interesting. There is a video of the song What Does It Take To Win Your Love? from The Revelators' first album, Amazing Stories. It is presented in widescreen Dolby Digital 2.0 and is black and white.
There is also a 16:46 minute documentary consisting mainly of edited footage of several "on-the-run" interviews with Joe Camilleri at Sydney Airport, in the back of a taxi, in the back of a van and at several radio stations. It is presented in full frame Dolby Digital 2.0 and although a little disjointed, is an interesting insight into one of Australia's musical legends. It is a shame that it doesn't run longer as it is not possible to cover this man's career in 17 minutes.
Lastly there are two live songs, one from the same show as the feature, Oh Darlin' - no, not The Beatles song - and a live on-air rendition of Turn Me On, which is basically an acoustic version - sweet! As both are included as part of the documentary, I would hardly call them 'Bonus Material' as stated on the case.
Overall, fans of Australian music should well know the name Joe Camilleri and just about everyone would be familiar with at least a few of his songs. If the names Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons or The Black Sorrows mean nothing to you then you haven't been paying attention. Throw in his work with countless other Australian acts and you have a man who has had as big an influence on Australian music as any other. The Revelators may be just a holiday band - but I find it hard to believe the guy even knows what 'holiday' means.