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Roy Orbison - Black & White Night

Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 64 mins . G . PAL


So, should a music title be reviewed by a devoted fan of the particular artist and risk being a little too subjective, or by a person indifferent to the actual music, so as to be a little more objective?

I sit somewhere in the middle of the pack. I'm not what you would call a huge fan of Roy Orbison, not owning a single track of his music in my collection of LPs and CDs. But I don't detest him, either. I've always admired that he does have a great soulful voice that makes his singing sound like on the one hand that his heart is broken and he can't go one and on the other hand that he's way too cool to get all emotional about it, so deal with it yourself please.

When I was recently watching the DVD of In Dreams, I really liked the way Roy Orbison's song of the same name was used over the ending credits, as it perfectly in name and style suited the ending of this film. In fact, much to the annoyance of my wife, I played just the song about 20 times because I liked it so much. Then, when the opportunity arose to review this DVD of Roy Orbison playing with a little supergroup type of arrangement of friends (who between them seem to be entrenched in rock history in one way or another), I jumped at the chance.

When I got the DVD home after work, my wife looked at me and said, "Why'd you get that rubbish?" I quickly reminded her of the night I played Orbison's song In Dreams 20 times over, how cool it sounded in the film and that this dvd had that particular song and on the whole the DVD was meant to be pretty good. She simply muttered "You're an idiot…" and left the room.

So I put on the DVD, switched to DTS audio and I can happily say that within 10 minutes, she had dropped what she was doing and joined me in the lounge to listen to the fantastic sounds of Roy Orbison and his backing band of legends to rip through a collection of his music (Only The Lonely, Dream Baby, Blue Bayou, The Comedians, Ooby Dooby, Leah, Running Scared, Uptown, In Dreams, Crying, Candyman, Go, Go, Go, Mean Woman Blues, Dream You, Claudette, It's Over, Oh Pretty Woman). At one stage she even started to dance in front of the television for me.

She tends to do that kind of thing every now and then. I've learned to live with it.


Now this wasn't filmed recently, so don't go expecting a Hi-Def type transfer. Actually, in hindsight, I haven't seen many really great music dvd video transfers, they all seem to be sort of functional and acceptable at best, and that's normally a reflection on how the performance is filmed, rather than a reflection on the transfer, asides from the typical aliasing issues, of course. This probably best describes the transfer we have here. Shot in nice black & white, with a studio stage set, the footage is personal and adequate in relaying the feeling that you're one of the few privileged guests asked to share an evening with the great bespectacled man himself. Yes, there is the ever-present aliasing as there is on most music dvds, but other than that it all comes across quite fine. Best thing is that if you like the music, like I did, then you really tend to dismiss the flaws in the picture and just get on with enjoying a great performance.


Catering for every taste, we get audio in DD2.0 stereo, DD5.1, and DTS5.1. I sampled all of the tracks and found that the DTS was easily the best, but not by the kind of huge margin that people sometimes expect and exaggerate. Compared to the DD5.1 audio, the DTS stage was a little broader, with instruments slightly more defined and placed. It still had the minor problem of tending to place instruments and other sounds where they wouldn't naturally be in a live show setup, but that's a minor concern to some. The clarity was excellent, and Roy really had some great presence in the room, with some of his songs beautifully haunting with that amazing voice resonating above and beyond the music. On a second listen with the music piped to outdoor speakers while I was ripping a few trees out of the ground in my backyard, the audio was switched to the two channel track and the results were just as pleasant for the type of environment. A third listen to the dvd in DD5.1 mode in another room using my second setup proved just as enjoyable again. I can happily recommend any of the audio tracks on this dvd, as it happily provides for needs of his fans.


The extras consist of biographies of Orbison and his support band (made up of people such as Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, K.D. Lang and Jackson Browne to name just a few), a few notes from Roy Orbison, Jr. and best of the lot a selection of B/W photos taken during rehearsals and production of the show. Some of these pics would look great enlarged and framed on a wall.


I have no problems at all recommending this DVD to anyone interested in his music. Whether you get it to see the big lug himself strumming away in front of a select audience, or to wallow in the delightful DD5.1 and DTS5.1 audio, you'll be in old rocker heaven. Just keep it away from your wife or your girlfriend if she's anything like mine.

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      And I quote...
    - Vince Carrozza
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