Movie: I'm a big fan of music from the 80's and I make no apologies for it. From the wondrous voice of Pat Benatar to the perky Kylie Minogue, the 80's had it all. In the early 80's was a band riding the new wave of MTV success called Berlin, a band with vocals by a sultry little gal, Terri Nunn, bass and synthesizer by founder John Crawford, and guitar and synthesizer by David Diamond. Together with a number of backup musicians, they launched what was an enigma at the time, a group that fought it's way to success even with a hit song banned in much of the country. They self-financed a 7 track record, Pleasure Victim, and were soon picked up by Geffen Records. With hits like Sex (I'm A…), The Metro, and Masquerade, the band caught the eye of a lot of club goers and casual music lovers alike with the production skills of Danny Patten at the helm.
Mike Howlett produced their sophomore album, Love Life, with a couple songs by the famed Giorgio Moroder. It was even more consistently good then their edgy opener and MTV was playing No More Words in Heavy Rotation (the video was a send up to Bonnie & Clyde). A few more members joined the band, only Rob Brill stayed for any length of time and by the time their third album was released, Count Three And Pray, Only Nunn, Crawford and Brill were left as regulars (and the rooster of backup musicians grew to include such notables as Ted Nugent and David Gilmour as well as many others. Their moment of fame was over as the music world left their sexually charged lyrics in the dust and the band broke up, releasing a best of album to fulfill a contractual obligation.
Those of you who are less familiar with the music of the group should understand that the synthesizer dominated major portions of the airwaves at one time, much like guitar based rock does from time to time. The band had a distinctive sound that you never forget and seeing the little vixen Terri prance about fueled many a fantasy in her prime. Whatever the reason for the ultimate stagnation and breakup of this once popular band, it has arisen from the ashes and reinvented itself yet again. Releasing a CD last year, Voyeur, Terri Nunn is back with a whole new lineup of musicians. From the bizarre looking Mitchell Sigman on keyboards and punker Chris Olivas on drums to the corporate looking Dallan Baumgarten on guitar and attractive Linda Dalziel on backing vocals, the band is still pumping out the tunes, albeit in a little less energetic manner than in days gone by.
The latest project is a DVD concert called, simply enough, Berlin: Intimate. The fourteen songs included a bunch of their older hits, including Take My Breath Away, The Metro, Sex, and others while adding in the newer Drug, Shiny and Lost My Mind, among others. Fans of the older versions of the band's songs may be disappointed at the slower, more playful versions included here. The venue itself was a small club setting (I really liked the acoustic work a lot more than I'd have thought I would) with a group of mostly lame audience members that appeared to be on Prozac or something. Ms. Nunn seemed to be having fun with the whole affair but was certainly not as bouncy as she had been in her earlier performances. This wasn't always a bad thing, just not what the DVD cover described: "Experience the sexy, catchy electricity of Berlin, the pioneering pop group who personified new wave and now redefines music into the new millennium! Fronted by the beautiful, powerful vocals of Terri Nunn, the band takes the stage hot off their first studio album in twelve years, performing a stunning set ranging from the classic hits "No More Words" and "Take My Breath Away" to their latest smash, Voyeur. Fierce, danceable, and laced with equal mixtures of Europop class and American groove, Berlin is back and better than ever!"
The set list was as follows:
No More Words
Lost My Mind
Stranger On The Bus
The Dope Show
Blink Of An Eye
Take My Breath Away
Sex (I'm A…)
With A Touch
Never Let Me Down Again
Okay, I was a fan of the band since they were signed by Enigma (their first indie label) and still listen to their older material from my collection of CD's (you don't think I remembered all that detail off the top of my head from over twenty years ago, do you?). Their music was always energetic, just dark enough to remain interesting, sexy as heck, and compellingly addictive. I hadn't heard about their latest release and I may check it out based on what I heard here but it's not the same band that I fell in love with over two decades ago. Fans might also be interested to learn that Ms. Nunn was interviewed about each song and clips were added between the songs (I'm not sure if I'd have preferred that be done separately, in order to maintain a flow during the concert, or how it was done here but I'm glad it was on the disc). The music, for all the weird looking band members, is more mature now, and Ms. Nunn has aged a lot more gracefully than I'd have imagined. I liked the DVD enough to rate it as Recommended for any fans of the older material but live concerts are a mixed pleasure for me since I like the purity of the recording studio unless the crowd really rocks. The crowd here really stunk and seemed like they were pulled off the street at the last moment and maybe in future projects, the director will find actual fans of the band, or at least people with a pulse, in order to help spread the word: Berlin Is Back!.
Picture: The picture was presented in anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The picture was clear enough that you could see every drop of sweat, every pore on the face of the band, and aside from some minor grain observed in a few brief moments, was crystal clear. There were no compression artifacts that I noticed in repeated viewing and all the colors looked accurate.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of a 5.1 DTS track, a 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital track, all in English. I didn't notice a lot of difference between the DTS and 5.1 Dolby Digital track but both were vastly superior to the 2.0 track in every way possible. The 5.1 tracks did have a lot of separation between the channels, lots of tight bass, and the kind of clarity you'd hope for from such a project. Sonically, you couldn't expect much more than this.
Extras: There was a paper insert listing the songs and a catalog for Image Entertainment. Personally, I'd have liked to see the bands old videos added in (preferably cleaned up and enhanced) as well as more interview material about the band from Terri Nunn as those would have really added value for me.
Final Thoughts: I'm still a fan of the band and I'm not sure if I'll like this newest incarnation as much as the earlier lineups. I saw some potential in this show and have to admit that it looked and sounded good, for all the limitations of live recording. If you're a fan of the group, get the DVD and if you're not, try it as a rental first to make sure you know what you're getting into. Fans might also be interested to learn that Ms. Nunn was interviewed about each song and clips were added between the songs (I'm not sure if I'd have preferred that be done separately, in order to maintain a flow during the concert, or how it was done here but I'm glad it was on the disc).