Influential and powerful rap group Public Enemy, lead by the duo of Flavor Flav and Chuck D have been going strong for countless years now, with similar politically-charged groups like Rage Against The Machine following in their footsteps (I believe Chuck D. guest stars on a track from Rage's live "Live & Rare" album). This new Image Entertainment release captures an amazing live performance from the Los Angeles House of Blues. I've seen a lot of concerts in the past, but rarely have I seen one so energetic and spirited. It's also captured well by the filmmakers, who keep the focus tightly on the group so that the least amount of energy possible is lost in the translation between live and the DVD.
Public Enemy #1, 911 Is a Joke, He Got Game, Give It Up, Don't Believe the Hype, Rebel Without a Pause, By the Time I Get to Arizona, Fight the Power, Bring the Noise, Common Thread, What What, 41 19, Shut Em' Down, Do You Wanna Go Our Way?, Here I Go, Crayola, Crash, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.
VIDEO: "Public Enemy: Live From the House of Blues" is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. The presentation is not anamorphic, but as with Image Entertainment's usual efforts, the picture quality is still very enjoyable. Sharpness and detail does tend to vary a bit throughout the concert, as many of the shots focused on the stage appeared well-defined and sharp, while some fo the wider shots and some of the shots towards the audience were visibly a bit softer in nature. I didn't see any instances of edge enhancement, but caught a few stray traces of pixelation. Colors looked superb throughout the presentation, with the stage lighting appearing bold and vibrant, with no instances of smearing. A very nice effort.
SOUND: "Public Enemy: Live at the House Of Blues" is presented by Image Entertainment in DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. Although generally enjoyable, the sound mix in general caused some conerns. The presentation made some rather uneffective use of the surrounds. Usually during a concert peformance like this one, surrounds provide some musical re-inforcement and crowd noise. Here, they seemed to simply be offering what the front speakers were offering - vocals came noticably from the surrounds, rather than having them focused from the front speakers.
Audio quality was generally strong. There was a little bit less low bass than I'd expected from the material, but there was still a fair amount of bass powering the sound. Vocals came through clearly for the most part, although there were a few moments where they sounded a bit less than crisp. Still a very enjoyable sound presentation, despite some problems.
MENUS:: Solid main menu with clips from the show playing in the background.
Commentary: Commentary is provided by Public Enemy leader Chuck D, who discusses the history behind four of the songs on the presentation. The commentary, interestingly enough, is presented in 5.0 audio, with Chuck D's discussion coming from all speakers. There's some very interesting and informative discussion throughout the commentary, such as Chuck D's comments about the history of "Fight The Power", a song that was worked on for director Spike Lee. Comments are provided for "Give It Up", "Rebel Without A Pause", "Fight The Power" and "Do You Wanna Go Our Way?".
Architects Of Rap: This is a well-done documentary that runs a little under 20 minutes, discussing how Public Enemy changed rap music and were really one of the first groups of the genre to discuss political issues in their songs. Public Enemy lead singer Chuck D goes back to his old neighborhood and takes us on a tour of where he came from and his first gigs, as well as where the first gigs of other famous rap stars took place. We also learn how Public Enemy started. The documentary is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1
Also: Three outtakes from the show, credits.
Final Thoughts: Although there were some minor concerns about the presentation, the performance overcomes it all by leaps and bounds. Public Enemy's performance here is dramatic, funny, lively and supremely entertaining. There's some interesting supplements, as well. Definitely worth a look for those interested.