Joe Satriani is the master axeman that many people pick out as the representative for the electric guitar. Heís made a name for himself outside of a band much in the same way as people like Kenny G. (is that a reasonable analogy?)
For this set of discs, heís simply ďLive in San FranciscoĒ. There are 25 tracks and it must be taken from over two nights, given the variety.
Even thought vocals are limited (some would say Ďthank godí given Joeís voice), the music is strong with a speed rock beat Ė all screaming guitars and neck work. There is also a touch of blues in there. There are a few youíll always hear on commercial radio, but for most people itíll be all new.
- Devil's Slide
- The Crush of Love
- Satch Boogie
- Borg Sex
- Flying in a Blue Dream
- Ice 9
- Cool #9
- Until We Say Goodbye
- The Extremist
- Summer Song
- House Full of Bullets
- One Big Rush
- Raspberry Jam Delta-V
- Crystal Planet
- Love Thing
- Bass Solo
- Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing
- Always With Me, Always With You
- Big Bad Moon
- Surfing With the Alien
The feature is full framed and of very high quality. The colours are accurate where they can be and garish like you would expect of a high energy concert. Sharpness is consistently outstanding, except in some places where it could be better; the few flaws are glaring when there is such high consistency overall.
There are some isolated flaws as expected. You see the usual aliasing on diagonals. There is also some pixelisation/blocking on large areas of colour like when the camera points down at the stage and the red carpet seems a maze of compression artefacts. Joe is alright though, and so are the instruments, itís some of the masses of colour being dealt a blow. Perhaps the reasonably low compression rate (~5Mb/s) and the extended range PCM track has something to answer for?
There are two tracks, Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448k/s and 24-bit PCM at a massive 2,304k/s. The Dolby track is quite good, with limited use of surrounds for audience and the guitar harmonics. LFE is used quite extensively to accentuate the lower registers and the kick of the bass in the guitars.
It does not have the final timbre and accuracy of the 24-bit stereo track, which has some remarkable fidelity. Those of you without large fronts may miss the bass response of the Dolby track.
The only flaw detected is a major mastering error on the second disc. This has some of the nastiest synch problems Iíve ever seen on any disc. The PCM track lags behind the visuals to the order of something like 1.5 seconds. I was able to allow for this on my processor, but strangely it is not there on Dolby track. The lag is consistent throughout the disc, but itís glaring on the lyrical tracks. This is a horrid problem, perhaps more so if you look out for it. Even with this flaw, however, the PCM track is preferable.
Extras are limited, but since this is a 25 track, two disc extravaganza, this can be overlooked. On the first disc, thereís a three track multi-angle setup. The songs chosen are Time, Devilís Love and The Crush of Love. Like most multi-angles, this is mostly frill work and in some bits it's hopelessly without merit, given the odd camera angle choices. Be that as it may, it is refreshing to see it used outside of pornography (or so Iíve been told...)
There is a nine-minute featurette, in which Joe gets technical with his guitar setups. Iím not sure I understood all of this. This would be of best use to actual guitarists rather than most fans. Itís in PCM stereo and the picture is a bit worse than the main feature.
I like the last bit and I wish it was on more DVDs. Thereís a discography with extensive notes on each album. I guess I like reading Rolling Stone style articles on albums. Here is some of that sort of analysis...
There is certainly a lot of music here for the money, and for guitarists this is a no brainer. For many people the music will be highly accessible and if you like hard rock with sizzling guitars, this is all killer, with no filler. To use another analogy, if it were porn, it would be all money shot, none of the lead up. Joe is easily a step above many of the lead guitarists in those guitar driven speed metal bands. Because of the mass of good music here, I can overlook the glaring flaw on the second disc. Even with this flaw and the lack of truly compelling extras, itís a good purchase.