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HD Talk
Unbiased Coverage Of All Things HD: HD-DVD, Blu-Ray and Beyond

Music on HD
High-Def Revolution
Notes from the Next-Generation Video Disc Format War

The studios backing HD DVD appear to be taking a breather for February as the Blu-ray camp continues its aggressive release slate. Barring any last minute announcements, here's a list of what's scheduled to be released on both formats this month:

Feb. 6th  American Psycho (Blu-ray)
First Blood (Blu-ray)
Hollywoodland (HD DVD)
Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray)
Running with Scissors (Blu-ray)
Tailor of Panama (Blu-ray)
Young Guns (Blu-ray)
        Feb. 20th  Babel (Blu-ray; HD DVD)
The Prestige (Blu-ray)
Vertical Limit (Blu-ray)
Feb. 13th  Broken Arrow (Blu-ray)
Chain Reaction (Blu-ray)
Chronos (Blu-ray)
The Departed (Blu-ray; HD DVD)
Entrapment (Blu-ray)
Ladder 49 (Blu-ray)
The Marine (Blu-ray)
Phone Booth (Blu-ray)
Planet of the Apes (2001; Blu-ray)
Reign of Fire (Blu-ray)
The Sentinel (Blu-ray)
The Usual Suspects (Blu-ray)
        Feb. 27th  Bullitt (Blu-ray; HD DVD)
The Getaway (1972; Blu-ray; HD DVD)
Nine Inch Nails: Beside You in Time (Blu-ray; HD DVD)
Stranger than Fiction (Blu-ray)

Hitting stores at the tail end of February, Nine Inch Nails' "Beside You in Time" is the latest in a steady stream of concerts available in high definition. DVD Talk's review staff has sifted through many of these shows, which have typically focused on established artists with decades' worth of material. We've compiled a roundup of the fifteen or so concerts on HD DVD and Blu-ray, and as always, full reviews for these and hundreds of other titles can be found in DVD Talk's high-definition database.

The Black Crowes: Freak N' Roll
(Eagle Vision // $24.98 // Reviewed by Jeff Paramchuk)

The Black Crowes bookend their performance at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco with incendiary electric guitars, turning the volume down halfway through for a stripped down acoustic set. Seeing the original band back together and tearing through this set of nineteen songs should thrill both casual and dedicated Crowes fanatics.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS 5.1; PCM stereo; Extras: Behind the scenes featurette

View the full setlist | Available on Blu-ray

Chicago & Earth, Wind, and Fire: Live at the Greek
(Image Entertainment // $24.99 // Reviewed by Daniel Hirshleifer)

"Chicago & Earth, Wind, and Fire: Live At The Greek Theater" is exactly what it sounds like: a performance by both bands at the Greek Theater in Southern California. I do wish that both bands had worked out a way to do their entire sets together on-stage because the individual sets are nowhere near as interesting as the combined performances. It also doesn't help that both groups hold on to their best-known material for the finale because the rest of the songs, for the most part, are only going to appeal to those fans who have stuck with the bands all through the years. For someone like me, who mostly knows the bands through their hits, it was sometimes tough to sit through some of the subpar material that unfortunately makes it into the setlist. However, that's not to say that the individual setlists are bad: far from it. They're just slightly handicapped by taking out some integral songs. For the money, though, I preferred Chicago's set to EW&F's.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1; Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 2.0; Extras: A "drum duel"

Available on HD DVD

Alice Cooper: Live at Montreaux, 2005
(Eagle Vision // $28.99 // Reviewed by Jeff Paramchuk)

I was excited to see how Alice Cooper's stage show had evolved since the last time I saw him perform live, considering that he's released no fewer than four additional albums since then. Would his show focus on the newer music that he's created, or would he lean on the classic songs and theatrics that made him famous?

Thankfully, that question can be answered by checking the track listing on the back on the case: it features a good mix of classic Alice tracks like "Under My Wheels", "School's Out", and a great medley featuring "Steven", "Only Women Bleed", and "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" mixed with more recent songs as "What Do You Want from Me", "Dirty Diamonds", and "Between High School and Old School". Rest assured that the theatrical aspect that made Alice Cooper a household name still makes its way into his more recent shows, cane-twirling, sabre-swinging, guillotines, and all.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS 5.1; PCM stereo; Extras: Behind the scenes featurette

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD and Blu-ray

Elvis Costello and the Imposters: Live in Memphis
(Eagle Vision // $24.98 // Reviewed by John Sinnott)

This 2005 Memphis concert draws heavily from Elvis Costello's album "Delivery Man", featuring nine of that album's thirteen songs. Despite not being all that familiar with the newer material, I did enjoy this disc as it also highlights some of Costello's classic songs. Fans of Costello's will surely enjoy this, but those with only a passing familiarity with his music should probably steer clear.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS 5.1; PCM; Extras: Four additional songs; bonus featurettes

Available on Blu-ray

Cream: Royal Albert Hall
(Rhino // $29.99 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner)

There's nothing self-indulgent or exploitative about legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker reuniting after 37 years for Cream's four night stay at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This 130 minute performance reflects the band's mantra that the music is all that matters. A group playing to such massive crowds would typically be surrounded by elaborate, overpriced sets and a couple dozen backing musicians; other than amplifiers, a few instruments, and the three performers themselves, the only thing on-stage for Cream's extended stay in London is a small psychedelic backdrop. The set, which runs over two hours in length, features nineteen songs in total.

Audio Features: DTS 5.1; LPCM stereo; Extras: Alternate takes of 3 songs; an interview with the band (all in high definition)

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD

Eagles: Farewell Tour I - Live from Melbourne
(Rhino // $29.99 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner)

There's no denying that the Eagles give their fans their money's worth. This HD DVD, recorded in Melbourne as part of their smirkingly-titled 'Farewell Tour I', clocks in just shy of three hours. "Live from Melbourne"'s twenty-nine songs were spread across two discs when it was released on DVD in 2005, but the concert has been condensed to a single disc in high-def. The sprawling setlist encompasses pretty much everything the Eagles put out collectively as well as each band member's solo projects. The concert features a lot of solo material, and as uneven as some of these songs are, many of 'em are peppier and upbeat, offsetting some of the slower, more somber songs from the Eagles' catalog. The band has a strong presence on stage, and although some of Joe Walsh's antics fall flat, the rotating vocal duties, continually swapping out instruments, the full horn section and battalion of other backup vocalists and musicians, and a great sense of humor ("This goes out to my first wife, Plaintiff") contribute to a solid show.

Audio Features: DTS 5.1; LPCM stereo; Extras: A high-definition interview with the band

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD

A Guitarscape Planet
(Concert Hot Spot // $29.98 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner and John Sinnott)

"A Guitarscape Planet" features an eighty minute live performance by Muriel Anderson, an accomplished guitarist with a style that straddles the line separating folk, classical, and bluegrass. Joined at times by drummer Paul Wertico, bassist Nicki Parrott, and cellist Julie Adams, Anderson alternates between a traditional six-string acoustic guitar and a thirteen-string harp guitar for these twenty-five instrumentals, the majority of which have not appeared on any of her previous albums.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1; stereo; Extras: None.

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD and Blu-ray

Heart: Alive in Seattle
(Image Entertainment // $24.95 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner)

Originally released on DVD in 2003, "Heart: Alive in Seattle" is part of the opening salvo of live concert HD DVD releases from Image Entertainment. "Alive in Seattle" was recorded on the last stop of the Heart's 2002 "Summer of Love" tour, and this performance captures the band at their tightest. The setlist concentrates on Heart's '70s output, with right at half of the set culled from three of the band's earliest albums. It's not just a "greatest hits, live!" disc, though, also featuring covers of songs by The Sonics, Elton John, and Led Zeppelin.

Despite an emphasis on crunchy guitar-rock, the band also spends around a third of the set with sparse, acoustic instrumentation, focusing on Nancy's nimble fretwork and Ann's powerful vocals. With "Mistral Wind" and "Heaven" as bookending segues with the full band, the remainder of this stretch of the performance is purely anchored around Ann and Nancy. The power ballad "Alone" is performed with just a single acoustic guitar and subdued keyboards, for instance, and "The Battle of Evermore" retains the acoustic guitar and mandolin instrumentation of the original Zeppelin recording.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 2.0; Dolby Digital Plus 5.0; Dolby TrueHD 5.0; Extras: An interview with the band

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD

The Last Waltz
(MGM // $28.95 // Reviewed by John Sinnott)

Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz documents the last concert given by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Band. That name might not ring a bell for a group more popular with critics and fellow musicians than with the public at large, but you'd probably recognize their songs "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Up on Cripple Creek", both of which are performed in this show. This concert, pared down from six hours of material, illustrates the group's talent, energy and love of music.group had.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital 5.1; PCM 5.1; Extras: Audio commentary with Robbie Robertson and Martin Scorsese; 20 minute featurette

Available on Blu-ray

Manilow Live!
(Image Entertainment // $24.95 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner)

Taped in 2000, "Manilow Live!" catches up with the sixty-something schmaltz-slinger during a sold-out show in Nashville. He's shrugged off the sequencers, drum machines, and banks of synthesizers of his usual backing band in favor of a full orchestra, and with thirty musicians on stage, Manilow belts out a couple dozen of his most-loved songs. Too corny for words, as if you needed someone to spell that out.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 4.0; Dolby TrueHD 4.0; Extras: Audio commentary with Barry Manilow

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD

Pat Metheny Group - The Way Up: Live
(Eagle Vision // $24.98 // Reviewed by Daniel Hirshleifer)

Pat Metheny is a certified legend in the music business, but he still continues to grow and change with his art. "The Way Up: Live" is a prime example, a single extended piece that builds on what Metheny has done before while continuously striving for something new. The HD DVD boasts a solid picture but more importantly, great sound, and it's worth a purchase by fans of the group or anyone interested in a new sonic experience.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1; DTS; LPCM stereo; Extras: High definition interview with Pat Metheny

Available on HD DVD and Blu-ray

The New Orleans Concert - The Music Of America's Soul
(Concert Hot Spot // $34.99 // Reviewed by Daniel Hirshleifer and Jeff Paramchuk)

This benefit in the wake of Hurricane Katrina opens with a performance of "It's Raining" by Irma Thomas, accompanied on piano by Allen Toussaint. A perfect way to start the show, Thomas' smooth vocals and Toussaint's accomplished piano playing set the stage for the rest of the evening. Joss Stone then performs "Dirty Man", a track from her first album, and this is where the concert really takes off. Her performance is dynamite; she sings with the passion and technique of someone twice her age, and Stone's song alone makes this disc worth checking out. The real draw of the show is simply the variety of music on display. As the back of the case mentions, there are several different styles that make up New Orleans' musical scene, and they all get a chance to shine. While the special name guests are nice, the real treat is getting to watch the native Orleans players pay homage to the place that inspired them for so many years.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1; Extras: Bonus songs and interviews

Available on HD DVD and Blu-ray

James Taylor: MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute
(Rhino // $19.99 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner)

For the past seventeen years, MusiCares has honored artists for their extraordinary musical achievements and their dedication to humanitarian causes. Singer/songwriter James Taylor received the organization's nod as their 'Person of the Year' in 2006, and the tribute taped during the week of that year's Grammy Awards is now being released on HD DVD. The tribute consists almost entirely of musical performances, featuring covers of Taylor's music by musicians he's inspired in his nearly four decades as a recording artist. There's a warm sincerity to the artists who take the stage to honor the singer/songwriter, both in their heartfelt introductions and their musical performances. Backed by an exceptional group of musicians, these renditions of Taylor's songs are often injected with the artists' own sensibilities rather than by-the-numbers covers. Cheech Marin and Jimmy Buffett also chime in with some gentle quips about Taylor and his extensive career, and the evening is closed out by a set of performances by Taylor himself, including a solo acoustic performance of "Fire and Rain".

Audio Features: DTS 5.1; LPCM stereo; Extras: None.

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD

Toto - Live in Amsterdam
(Eagle Vision // $24.98 // Reviewed by Jeff Paramchuk)

Toto may too often be the butt of jokes when it comes to the music of the 1980s, but it's obvious when looking at the band's track record that they've left their mark on the history of rock. Even 25 years after they started, they're still selling out huge stadiums. This anniversary concert from Amsterdam features twenty songs and several medleys that the band throws into the mix.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS 5.1; LPCM 5.1; Extras: Half-hour featurette

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD and Blu-ray

U2: Rattle & Hum
(Paramount // $29.99 // Reviewed by Adam Tyner and Brendan Surpless)

Phil Joanou's documentary/concert film Rattle and Hum captures U2 as they take the reins as the biggest rock band in the world. Rattle and Hum is at its best when the film focuses squarely on the music. It's welcome to hear the band do more with these songs than just play the album versions note for note; particularly memorable is a rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" with just an electric guitar, a tambourine, a conga drum, and a Harlem gospel choir. Some of the songwriting is strong enough not to have to hide behind heavy instrumentation or overproduction, as seen in a solo electric performance of "Van Diemen's Land" from The Edge. Other highlights include a raucous run through "Desire" in their practice space in Dublin, playing "When Love Came to Town" with its inspiration, B.B. King, a graffiti-tinged cover of "All Along the Watchtower" in San Francisco, and tearing through "Angel of Harlem" in the legendary Sun Studio with the Memphis Horns.

Audio Features: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1; Extras: HD DVD: A high-definition trailer; Blu-ray: None.

View the full setlist | Available on HD DVD and Blu-ray


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