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  • Animated menus
Backstreet Boys - All Access
Zomba Video/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 78 mins . G . PAL


In the fickle and completely of-the-moment world of teen pop music, very few acts, whether they be solo artists or groups, tend to have an enormous amount of staying power. This year’s hot flavour becomes next year’s forgotten side dish with alarming reliability, as record companies strive again and again to keep pace with their kiddie market which, obviously, sees so many abrupt changes in taste that an indecisive goldfish would probably make a better marketing target.

A Florida-based “boy band” (this is, a male vocal group with marketable looks and an intrinsic ability to pout), Backstreet Boys has managed to stick around a little longer than most. Constantly churning out the hits and the over-the-top music videos, the Boys are still hot property five years after their formation, even if their original kiddie market has moved on to this year’s model. Undeniably talented in the vocal department, Backstreet Boys have plundered the history of soul and R&B, taken out all the rude bits and come up with a product that’s safe and consumable by everyone under 15. Those above that age, though, will likely find the concept of spending a night with three Backstreet Boys DVD releases to be an even less tasteful prospect than dinner and drinks with John Howard. But these are the sacrifices we make each day for you, the readers.

The first of Zomba’s three Backstreet Boys discs is a compilation that dates back to 1998, and hence it includes no material from their more recent albums Millennium and Black And Blue. What the Boys’ US label has done here is basically just grab every bit of available footage and assemble it into a 78 minute package to throw to the fans. And the fans will no doubt be delighted; along with the two clips for Everybody and As Long As You Love Me they also get a pair of making-of featurettes, one for each clip, with the two mini-docos running to about 38 minutes total. There’s also a “sneak preview” of an at-the-time upcoming single, some live footage and, tellingly, a solid dose of marketing at the end, where Zomba try and sell you t-shirts, bandannas (!), caps and videos - as long as you live in the USA. Then they go further, with blatant plugs for fellow teen-fodder bands Solid Harmonie and Imajin via video clip excerpts. The kids may be used to it from Saturday morning TV, but to this reviewer such blatant marketing on a bought product is nauseating and disturbing.

Still, die-hard fans will be plenty happy with this grab-bag of Backstreet Boy worship.


Quite obviously converted to PAL from an NTSC master, the full-frame video here is watchable but decidedly sub-standard, with sharpness, colour resolution and detail seriously lacking. It won’t bother the kiddie target market, but anyone used to the clarity of good DVD will find themselves checking to make sure they haven’t inadvertently played a VHS tape. The MPEG compression is reasonable but underwhelming, with some tell-tale signs of low-end encoding very much in evidence.

Audio comes in two flavours; the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is ludicrously mastered with voices during the documentary sections flying around the channels for no apparent reason other than to say “we have lots of channels, look, see?” The “Dolby Surround 2.0” track, meanwhile, is comedy itself. It’s in mono, something that’s obviously an authoring cock-up. The 5.1 track is the default, and most will listen to it in downmixed mode - which makes it a shame that almost all the low bass frequencies have been filtered to the subwoofer track, as it is not included in a 2-channel downmix and as a result, the music here sounds very, very thin and reedy.

There are no extras, though the animated menus are nice enough; this disc is most certainly only for fans that aren’t fussy about quality.

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  •   And I quote...
    "...die-hard fans will be plenty happy with this grab-bag of Backstreet Boy worship..."
    - Anthony Horan
      Review Equipment
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