Movie: From the late 70's to the mid 80's, one siren ruled the airwaves above all others and her videos played constantly on MTV. That singer was, of course, Pat Benatar. Perhaps more than anyone in history other than Madonna, the new cable television network pushed her career to the peak of pop culture, making the diminutive singer an icon for hordes of fans. Her vocal abilities were vastly superior to the rest of the singers of the time (she was a trained opera singer) and the initial body stockings and leotards she wore during concerts didn't hurt either. In short, the combination of sound, visual appeal, and stellar production, backed by her band (including the lead guitarist who became her husband, Neil Giraldo), were exactly what MTV needed to grow into the mega-corporation it is today.
Over the course of the last 24 years, Ms. Benatar has released 26 videos and there have been a couple of earlier collections of her videos on tape. Thanks to her company, Bel Chiasso, we now have almost all of them on a single dvd for the first time, Choice Cuts: Pat Benatar. From her earliest releases such as You Better Run to multi-platinum sellers such as Love Is A Battlefield to her jazz-pop single True Love and most recent release, Christmas In America, all of her videos except the classic Hell Is For Children are collected here. In the case of the Children, there was a live performance in the extras section so even that is represented here. If you're a Pat Benatar fan, you're going to want to get this collection of her work.
Now, all the cheerleading is out of my system and it's time to discuss the weaker portions of the collection. The number one problem here is the picture quality (or lack thereof). Most of the videos looked like they were being viewed through a veil. I'm sure that some of you out there would suggest that I'm waxing nostalgic over what I "think" I remembered in terms of the picture quality of some of the videos but I even have a VHS (shudder) tape of many of these videos that was released in the late 80's and aside from the dropouts present, some of them look better than they do here. The sound wasn't optimal either but it was about as good as I would expect for the older material.
I know the market for older videos is probably not the biggest in the world but I would've hoped some care would be taken with such a huge star from my past. Ever since I saw the singer play on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert in 1979, wearing her trademark blue and black leotard, snarling like she was the one in charge (and she was), I was hooked with no going back. Over the years, I've never thought of her music as anything less than great, for all the tunes that were designed as bubblegum pop to the more socially relevant songs used as anthems for various causes, and my appreciation is not weakened by this great collection of videos (however marred by the poor picture quality). If the picture had looked better, I'd be rating this dvd as a Collector's Classic without hesitation since my past is so firmly tied to enjoyment of the music videos contained here but as it is, I feel obligated to rate it as merely Recommended.
You Better Run
I'm Gonna Follow You
Fire And Ice
Promises In The Dark
Shadows Of The Night
Anxiety (Get Nervous)
Little Too Late
Love Is A Battlefield
Ohh Ohh Song
Invincible (Theme from The Legend Of Billie Jean)
Sex As A Weapon
Le Bel Age
All Fired Up
One Love (Song For The Lion)
Don't Walk Away
Let's Stay Together
Christmas In America
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. This was the biggest disappointment for me. Most of the videos had a number of issues, including grain, motion artifacts, a soft focus, print scratches, moiré, and saturation effects. Some of the problem was obviously due to the source material since some of the videos were over 20 years old and never intended to be archival quality. Other problems lay firmly with the dvd transfer and could have been fixed with better mastering. The best videos were the concert oriented ones, like Fire And Ice, but the edge enhancement on those was off the scale.
Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of either Dolby Digital 5.1 (remastered) or 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 track was the better of the two but it was not nearly as strong as it could have been. I compared some of the songs to my CD's and found the dvd to be lacking in each case.
Extras: The best extra was probably the audio commentary by Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo where the two discussed a variety of themes, production problems, and anecdotes about the videos being made. You could also choose to have a small window of the couple open up where you'd see them but that was overkill to me. The other great extras were live versions of Heartbreaker and I Need A Lover from 1980, and Hell Is For Children and Heartbreaker from 2001. She can still belt out the songs as though she never left the music scene although her stage presence was a bit different (Neil seemed remarkably the same with his performance though-very edgy and aggressive). There was also an Easter Egg for Love Is A Battlefield.
Final Thoughts: I've missed seeing so many of these videos over the last decade that perhaps I expected too much, given the source material limitations. I know that for whatever limitations the dvd has, I'm keeping my copy until something better comes along. It was likely released to correspond to the August release of Pat's latest album, Go, which is very well made and I also recommend for fans. Hopefully, by the time the next collection of her videos is released, she'll have made another 26 of them and they'll all look sparkling fresh. Until that time, I'll have to hope I don't miss out on their next concert (I missed them on tour recently).