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    Rock Icons
    Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 145 mins . E . PAL


    Why oh why are these shoddy, NTSC, crappy audio and video, insulting collections even allowed out of the vault, let alone released en masse to a probably unsuspecting public? These collections can be great fun and good value for money, but listen up distributors, it requires a little effort.

    So what does this collection, Rock Icons, consist of? Well it is three discs running about two and a half hours all up, and is a showcase of 1960s and 1970s superstars and wannabes. Some of the choices are quite good, but very few will inspire repeat viewings. The selections seem mostly to come from television performances, many from a show called Beat Club and are a mix of live performances, lip-synch efforts and the odd film clip. Some are in colour and some in black and white, but that is acceptable given the age of some of these clips.

    So let's look at who is here and, perhaps, who shouldn't be here. This triple pack is divided into three categories, and in Region 1 was released as three one-disc collections. When you look at the recommended retail price of this collection, you may wish that we in Region 4 also had this option. The three discs are Guitar Gods, Psychedelic High and Hard Rockin'.

    Guitar Gods includes performances from Santana (Jingo), The Grateful Dead (One More Saturday Night), a rare treat from Johnny Winter (Johnny B. Goode), Jimi Hendrix (Hey Joe), and The Who (Happy Jack). The performances range from average to shoddy. The camera work varies from clip to clip, but the editing is atrocious. While no song actually cuts out early, there are some harsh, rough stops and starts here and perhaps some fades might have been nice. Like the other two discs, some of the bands have their names plastered all over the screen as they play, listing the band members in cheap, wobbly, 1970s fashion. Many songs and bands are subtitled along the bottom of the screen, but when Johnny B. Goode is written as Johnny Be Good, well it casts doubt over the accuracy of the package.

    The second disc kicks off with Canned Heat (Let's Work Together), and includes hits from The Byrds (Eight Miles High and So You Wanna Be Rock And Roll Star), Thunderclap Newman (Something in the Air), The Moody Blues (Nights in White Satin), and The Who (Happy Jack) - again, and using the same performance as the first disc! The shoddy editing, cheap camera effects, subtitles and full-screen size text overlays are all there, and just as annoying. Oh, Mannfred Mann (Mighty Quinn) listed on disc two is not there, and is actually The Kinks' (Muswell Hillbilly). Tut tut!

    The third disc, Hard Rockin', is more of the same, and includes The Byrds (So You Wanna Be a Rock And Roll Star) - again the same piece of footage as on disc two - Mountain (Don't Look Around - the same footage as disc one, AGAIN!!!), Black Sabbath fronted by a very young and almost unrecognisable Ozzy Osbourne (Iron Man and Black Sabbath), Alice Cooper (Eighteen), Deep Purple (Highway Star) and the Spencer Davis Group (Keep On Running). By now, the cheap television presentation look is well and truly passe, and the errors, shoddy quality and mixed bag of performances really begins to bite.

    There is not a lot to recommend this three-disc collection. It could have been a little easier to recommend had the editing been sharper, the subtitles been accurate, the performances been more thoughtful and not regularly doubled up, the audio and video been significantly better, and the price been more reasonable. Too much to ask do you think? It would seem so.


    The only consistency in this package is the full frame aspect ratio, oh, and the NTSC formatting so ensure your hardware is NTSC compatible. There is both colour and black and white selections depending on the source, but all are of dodgy quality at best, which should come as no surprise. All are very soft in appearance and the image breaks up when the camera pans. Coupled with the shonky camera effects, you will find yourself doing double-takes to work out what you are looking at. If you can see past the soft image, you will also have to try and see past the flares and cometing that plagues the image, as well as the noise, poor black levels, and a significant number of artefacts, plus regular and significant microphony. There is not a great deal of grain to be seen, and shimmer seems to be minimal, but as a whole the picture quality is a long way from being impressive. The number of tape glitches and pixellation breakups cannot be counted. Sure, it can be attributed to the original source material, mostly, but when the content is not earth shattering, the technical qualities become more important, and this DVD fails to measure up.

    There may be a choice between a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a Dolby Digital stereo, but trust me, there is no choice. The 5.1 mix is simply not a mix, and sounds like a mono signal pushed 5.1 directions, especially to the rear channels which are unrealistically loud and unbalanced. Some of the 'newer' tracks sound a little better than the 'older' ones, but still come up lacking. Mostly, they sound thin, with no separation and crying out for some sort of bass signal. However, when the stereo option is selected, the tracks sound a little 'fuller' with less echo and more bass response. There is still not a lot of noticeable separation, but there is less hiss. There are a few dropouts on disc three, and some crackles and pops. The lack of fidelity is not inspiring. There are no problems with synchronisation, but there are some volume fluctuations, especially during The Byrds' So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star on disc two, that spike from nowhere and drop back just as quickly.

    There is nothing in the way of extras across these three discs.

    There are a lot of fans of most of the bands featured across this three-disc collection, however few will be jumping for joy if they shell out their hard earned dollars for this lot. The mostly well known acts perform mostly well known songs, but as a whole package, with its shabby audio and video quality, this is not as attractive a collection as it appears on the surface.

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  •   And I quote...
    "A shabbily thrown together collection of dodgy performances - spread over three discs and at a premium price? Get real!"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
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