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  • 9 Music-only track
Long Way to the Top - Behind the Scenes
Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 80 mins . M15+ . PAL


We’ve had the ABC TV series (available on DVD), we’ve had the juggernaut arena spectacular (available on DVD), and now we have Long Way to the Top – Behind the Scenes and it's a classic case of ‘milking the fatted calf’. The series was interesting, the arena show was great fun and very professional, but this “…Documentary… Rockumentary if You Will” will struggle to find a big audience.

Long Way to the Top was the brainchild of veteran rocker Billy Thorpe, who acquired the help of successful promoter, Michael Chugg. Enlisting further help from some of the best producers, stage directors and roadies in the country, the idea was to present a three and a half hour show featuring more than 30 of Australian rock history’s more successful acts from the ’50s, ’60s and the ’70s. Each act would sing their hits (or in some cases, hit) on a revolving stage while the other side of the stage was being prepared for the next act. Most of the solo acts would perform with a house band, and the show would travel form Perth to Sydney with numerous stops along the way.

This look at the show from backstage includes input from many of the relevant players, both on stage and off. There are no full performances as such, but there is much music to be seen and heard from backstage, after show parties and small but regular snippets from the concert.

It seems everyone involved had a great time and there were genuinely felt displays of raw emotion when the show wrapped up in Sydney, where two shows were filmed for the resulting concert DVD.

There are some amusing anecdotes, stories of the ‘good old days’ and plenty of laughs and pranks that will get a smile, but much of the 80 minutes is fairly pedestrian. It is somewhat interesting to hear from the likes of John Paul Young, Billy Thorpe, Dinah Lee, Col Joye, Jim Keays, Little Pattie, Judy Stone and many others who had fleeting moments of fame.

If you have not seen the series or, at the very least, the live show, then this DVD is going to challenge your level of interest and you would be best served by checking out the other releases first.


There is mostly good to report when it come to the quality of the video image. It is a full framed feature and subsequently not 16:9 enhanced. Colours are natural and there are no problems with bleeding or noise, and the image is really quite sharp. Black levels are good and shadow detail is excellent, though most of this production is well lit. There is no evidence of grain or marks and specks, and even aliasing and shimmer was noticeably absent, even on items that normally wreak havoc like striped shirts and microphones. There is no layer change. In fact, there aren’t even chapter points, so once you've started watching, don't stop or you'll need to forward scan your way to the point where you stopped.

The Dolby Digital stereo audio is more than adequate for what amounts to little more than a series of interviews and backstage footage. There are no problems with volume, clarity or synchronisation and every one of Michael Chugg’s colourful expletives will leap from your system. When the video camera gets too close to a loud source such as in a rehearsal room, there is some obvious distortion as the small microphones fail to cope with the levels. There is nothing here for the rear channels, centre speaker or subwoofer, and even the few musical pieces are quick and quite irrelevant in the context of this documentary.

There are nine Bonus Songs recorded on the tour that have not previously been released, all in Dolby Digital stereo but not accompanied by vision. These are...

Yes Sir - Col Joye
Splish Splash - Lucky Starr
Penny Lane - Glenn Shorrock
Don't You Know it's Magic - Brian Cadd
Dear Prudence - Doug Parkinson
To Love Somebody - Marcia Hines/Brian Cadd/Doug Parkinson
Try a Little Tenderness - Max Merritt
Hush - Russell Morris
Come Back Again - Ross Wilson

The Long Way to the Top spectacular was great value and brought back many fond memories for the cast, crew and, of course, the punters. This doco has some interesting light to shed but there is no bitching, infighting, major dramas or diva tantrums to inject any real life into proceedings) well, other than the odd outburst from "Chuggie") and I can’t help but feel this would have made a fantastic extra for the live show DVD rather than being released on its own merit.

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  •   And I quote...
    "A great series and concert, but a whole DVD dedicated to the ‘making of’? - I’m not so sure about that…"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
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    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
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    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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