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  Directed by
    None Listed
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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
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  Extras
  • Interviews
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Friends - 70th Birthday Concert
Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 123 mins . E . PAL

  Feature
Contract

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers are blues legends that have been the cornerstone of British blues since the '60s. Led by singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist/mouth organist John Mayall, the band have recorded countless albums and played innumerable live shows, with an ever evolving line-up that has included such legends as Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Peter Green, Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor, amongst others. This 70th birthday bash sees the current Bluesbreakers reunited with Clapton and Taylor for a two-hour run through of various forms of the blues including Chicago, Delta and almost radio friendly rock/blues.

The event was held in Liverpool in a huge circus tent of all places, but you would not know it judging by the look of this DVD. The stage really looks like it is situated in a proper and permanent venue. Mayall also looks bloody good for 70 years of age, especially when you consider the life of most bluesmen and rock and rollers; after all, many fail to reach half that age.

The DVD kicks off with the band already on stage and jamming up a vibe, when Mayall is announced and a couple of up-tempo numbers get the crowd in rockin' mode. A very moody and groovy Dirty Water comes next with some very nice guitar work from the band. Mick Taylor is then brought onstage for a few numbers and he gets plenty of opportunity to play some hot solos and trade licks with current guitarist Buddy Whittington. Taylor is no slouch with a slide either; fans of slide guitar are going to love this.

Half way through the show, Mayall brings Eric Clapton to the stage and, for the first time in 38 years, the two perform together, first with a few very stripped back guitar/piano numbers, then with some more bluesy numbers, then the whole crew assemble to play the show out and yes, everyone is happy. Slide trombonist, Chris Barber, is also trotted out to perform a few numbers and is an unusual addition to a blues show, but works in nicely.

There are no dud songs in this show, nor are any of the players short on talent or feel. There is some rockin' piano, drums, organ and grooving bass lines throughout. The vocals are handled mostly by Mayall, but Clapton chips in with a couple of numbers. There are some well known standard songs in the set and even casual blues fans will know of Hoochie Coochie Man and Talk to Your Daughter.

The camera work is pretty damned good too, and those looking for some pointers on playing and tips on style will also be pleased with the end result. Those wanting to just sit back and soak it all in can do so too. It's not a fancy and elaborate stage show by any stretch, but a solid musical evening of great blues.

Track listing...

Southside Story
Kids Got the Blues
Dirty Water
Somebody's Acting Like a Child
Blues for the Lost Days
Walking on Sunset
Oh, Pretty Woman
No Big Hurry
Please Mr. Lofton
Hideaway
All Your Love
Have You Heard?
Hoochie Coochie Man
I'm Tore Down
It Ain't Right
Talk to Your Daughter

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

What a lovely video transfer! The aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is 16:9 enhanced and there is almost nothing to fault. The colouring is spot on, even under the sometimes troublesome stage lighting, and black levels are very good. There are no issues with shadow detail, noise, colour bleeding or grain. There is some very minor and infrequent shimmer, but the overall look is sharp and clean. There are no marks, dirt or speckles to speak of, in a video transfer that will please all but the most fussy. It's a shame that more DVDs don't look this good.

If you thought the video looked good, then the DTS 5.1 audio is an absolute ripper. There are two alternatives, being Dolby Digital 5.1 and a 2.0 stereo, but more on them in a moment.

The DTS 5.1 is about as good as it gets. It has a very full sound with a great warmth and fidelity. Low frequency sounds through the subwoofer and front channels are very full, but not intrusive. High-end sounds such as piano and percussion could not sound clearer or sweeter. Vocals are mostly centred and loud, clear and well synchronised.

The rear channels are used mainly for crowd response and for some slight echo to give a stadium feel, but are very nice indeed. There is some very obvious separation across the front, particularly of guitars, and generally all instruments are well placed and well balanced.

By comparison, the Dolby Digital 5.1 falls well short of expectations. It sounds less clear than the DTS and lacks the punch and cut. It has been mastered at a lower volume, sure, but even when nudged a few decibels it fails to match the DTS track. The stereo track is less dull, but can't compare to a surround experience. It does have clear sound and good separation however.

The only extra included is a 12-minute Interview With John Mayall that includes snippets of the show as Mayall tries to sum up almost 40 years of playing the blues in a few minutes.

Oh yeah, if you select Track Selection be aware that when you go to the second page of tracks, the highlight does not show when you navigate to Main Menu, Back, or Next but it is there and works if you navigate to where it should be and press "Enter".

Blues fans should find more than enough in the overall quality of this DVD to feel they have purchased wisely. Mayall has been playing the blues so long there is every likelihood that he could play in his sleep, and he quite possibly does.


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  •   And I quote...
    "Proof that white men can play the blues..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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