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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Roy Orbison - Black & White Nights [Blu-ray]


(Tony Mitchell, 1988)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: Image Entertainment



Region FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:04:45

Chapters: 13

Feature film disc size: 21.6 Gig

One single-layered disc

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 30th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1


English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 PCM 2.0



• Blue Angel (3:14)




1. Only The Lonely
2. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
3. Blue Bayou
4. The Comedians
5. Ooby Dooby
6. Leah
7. Running Scared
8. Uptown
9. In Dreams
10. Crying
11. Candyman
12. Go, Go, Go (Down The Line)
13. Mean Woman Blues
14. (All I Can Do Is) Dream You
15. Claudette
16. It's Over
17. Oh, Pretty Woman


Product Description: A special one-time event documenting one of rock and roll's greatest and most unique performances. Recorded live at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles Roy Orbison is joined by an eclectic ensemble of rock 'n' roll superstars. Highlighting this all-star line-up are Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, J.D. Souther, Jennifer Warnes, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. Orbison and fellow performers spend a scintillating hour performing many of his greatest hits...




The Concert:

Few early rockers were more gifted or less honored in their prime than the late Roy Orbison, whose vaulting tenor and vulnerable love songs conjured heartbreak and desire with operatic intensity. This 1987 concert special, originally broadcast on Showtime, came two decades after Orbison had retreated from pop's front lines, yet neither Orbison nor his music coasts on mere nostalgia: in every respect, A Black and White Night survives as a triumphant performance and a superb video production, as well as a first-rate retrospective of Orbison's hits.

Filmed in black and white against the streamlined art deco stage of the since-demolished Coconut Grove in downtown Los Angeles, the concert is buoyed by a remarkable cast of A-list Orbison fans who signed on as his accompanists. Under the direction of producer T-Bone Burnett, the stage band thus includes Jackson Browne, Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, and Jennifer Warnes, along with the rhythm section from Elvis Presley's fabled late '60s and early '70s touring band. That astonishing lineup is all the more noteworthy for the restraint with which they collaborate--it's evident that those superstars came to honor Orbison, not upstage him, resulting in a gratifying cohesion to the performances.




Orbison himself sounds as powerful as ever, his soaring falsetto cresting as dramatically as it did on the studio versions of the hits that inevitably dominate. Those songs meanwhile confirm that his blue chip admiration society came as much for the caliber of his writing as for his ravishing voice: if he remains best known for the jaunty come-on of "Pretty Woman," Orbison was first and foremost a rock balladeer, capable of bringing lumps to our throats with such classics as "Crying" and "Only the Lonely," or conjuring romantic trances through such gentle charmers as "Dream Baby." On this night, he handled all of them with fervor and finesse.

Excerpt from Sam Sutherland's revie at Amazon located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I believe the SD-DVD release of this was full-frame but also came out in, the now dead, HD-DVD in 2007 in a 1.78 ratio. It's actually been around for a while and has also been on LaserDisc. In obtaining the screen captures from this Image Entertainment Blu-ray I noted an issue of every third frame being somewhat hazy (akin to 'ghosting') but playback on my system was pretty strong without this flaw showing up. Contrast was not totally pure looking - a slight bit of sepia at times - but my general impression is that it was still impressive and fine for enjoying the concert and greyscale had decent strength. There is a bit of noise, a lot of grain in certain close-ups and the scattered crowd (as an intentional artistic 'look' this works quite well), a few speckles but none of those imperfections deterred my enjoyment of the iconic performer's presentation. I've watched it three times now and counting. There is so much backlighting it's hard to confirm the presence of edge-enhancement. I don't have any hard comparative evidence but suggest that this single-layered Blu-ray - (the feature takes up 21.6 Gig) - is probably the best looking of all the digital incarnations this amazing concert has cycled through. It was shot with a modest budget 20 years ago so - taking that into account it looks fabulous for home theater enjoyment. Hopefully the captures below will give you an idea of how it will look on your system.













Audio & Music:  
I sampled all three tracks offered -
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 PCM 2.0 - but kept the DTS-HD on for the majority of my first viewing (and completely on the next 2). It separates applause and crowd noises effectively to the rear speakers as well as some background vocals. I'll admit I am impressed although my ears are not the best for judging this music experience audio. To me, it sounded fairly perfect with true stereo coming from the fronts and the gentler orchestral percussions, drums and guitars surrounding the room. There are no subtitles available but chapters selections allow you to choose the specific track you want.




On this
Blu-ray there is only one supplement - Orbison does Blue Angel for 3+ minutes from the same concert. I don't know the reasoning behind why it wasn't on the feature unless it was some strange licensing thing. Anyway, that is all you get.





Bottom line:
'This is my first 'music concert'
Blu-ray review and I felt I couldn't have mad a better choice. Orbison's support from other musicians, who turned out here, is unparalleled. The only weakness is that it seems too short - but even if it was twice as long you'd still never want it to end. This video has caught a wonderful night of cherished music performance and the Blu-ray is the best way to see it unless you had the rare privilege of actually being there. This probably only touches the surface of what this format can do in this regard. If this sounds like a big endorsement - you are correct!

Gary Tooze

September 26th, 2008






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