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Supertramp Live in Paris '79(1979)
From the Pavillon de Paris. The audio formed the basis of the 1980 live album Paris but the film was never released. Video transferred and restored from the original 16mm film. Audio remixed in stereo and 5.1 surround by Peter Henderson and Russell Pope, Supertramp’s original sound engineer. Tracklist (1) French Touch (intro) (2) School (3) Bloody Well Right (4) The Logical Song (5) Goodbye Stranger (6) Breakfast In America (7) Hide In Your Shell (8) Asylum (9) Even In The Quietest Moments (10) Give A Little Bit (11) Dreamer (12) Rudy (13) Take The Long Way Home (14) Another Man’s Woman (15) Child Of Vision (16) Fool’s Overture (17) Two Of Us (18) Crime Of The Century (19) From Now On (credits)
For more about Supertramp Live in Paris '79 and the Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray release, see Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Roger Hodgson, Rick Davies
» See full cast & crew
Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 21, 2013
There's no arguing that the Fender Rhodes was the "cool" electric piano back in the 1960s and 1970s. The Rhodes starting appearing on recordings in the mid-sixties and seventies (even though it had been around in one form or another for at least a decade before that), really coming into mainstream prominence for the first time with Sergio Mendes' Rhodes solo on his Top 20 reworking of "Scarborough Fair" (for more information on this fantastic single, see our recent Heavy Traffic Blu- ray review). The Rhodes really exploded into jazz eminence a bit after Mendes' heyday when such artists as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea started using it, something that established that particular keyboard as the instrument of choice for pop and jazz pianists wanting the fuzzy, warm, vibe-like sound of an electronic instrument. But there was another electric piano out during this era, and I know because I had one since I was unable to afford the much more expensive Rhodes until much later in my musical career. The relatively lowly Wurlitzer Electric Piano, which keys players tended to call a Wurly, was a much less bulky instrument and it had a similarly more scrappy sound than the relatively smooth and elegant Rhodes. Though the Wurly had been featured on a number of relatively high profile hits in the 1960s, the keyboard always had a kind of low rent reputation for one reason or another, something that again I personally experienced when musician buddies of mine would come over to my place to jam or rehearse for gigs. "You have one of those?" would be a recurring refrain, but I always had one salient comeback for these musical snobs. Supertramp used the Wurly almost exclusively for their string of Top 40 hits in the 1970s and 1980s. If it was good enough for a band that was raking in untold millions and regularly landing singles in the Top 10, it was certainly good enough for me. (That didn't stop me from buying a Rhodes when I could finally afford one.)
One of the best barometers, albeit in microcosm, of some the sweeping changes pop and rock underwent from the sixties through the eighties is encapsulated in the history of A&M Records. The sixties saw the label mining a sort of easy listening ambience courtesy of its flagship Tijuana Brass albums, then branching out slightly into a nascent world and light jazz sound with Brasil '66. The early seventies saw a move toward the soft rock sounds of Carpenters, but there was also a reach out to bands across the pond as well, and in fact Supertramp was an early artist signed by A&M's British branch. Interestingly, it took a few years for the group to really take off, at which point A&M had signed another British group which became one of the label's all time hit makers, The Police. The Police were actually fairly new to A&M when Supertramp had its crowning year on the charts, 1979, a year which saw their album Breakfast in America shatter sales records and become the bestselling album of the year.
Aside from that chunky Wurlitzer electric piano song, perhaps Supertramp's most distinctive musical feature was the almost cartoonish voice of Roger Hodgson. Tenors have often done better in rock than baritones and basses, but Hodgson's particular tenor was especially unique sounding, almost as if the singer had inhaled copious amounts of helium before recording. This aspect actually helped deliver some of the songs' fairly dry humor, as in the Hodgson penned "The Logical Song", one of Supertramp's most enduring hits and one of the highlights of this 1979 Paris concert.
This is one of those fairly rare concert videos that captures a band at the absolute height of its popularity, and Supertramp plays before a very vocally adoring crowd (a crowd who, it might be added, needs a little help in clapping along in time to the music). There is quite a bit of reportage about the band in the recording studio that indicates Hodgson and Rick Davies didn't always get along very well, but based on the visual evidence on display here, there's at the very least absolute professionalism here, and perhaps a good deal more than that. One thing that may be either annoying or exemplary, depending on your point of view, is that this live concert was intentionally sound designed (much like Supertramp's 1980 live album, culled from this same tour, if not this same performance) with at least some of the microphones in the audience. That may in fact give a visceral aural recreation of what it was like to be there, but some fans may wish for a "cleaner" sound that isolates the band a bit more.
Supertramp's set list includes:
Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Supertramp Live In Paris '79 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Eagle Vision (an imprint of Eagle Rock Entertainment) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. The concert was evidently originally filmed in 16mm, and for that small scale format, things look remarkably good here. In fact, they might look a little too good, especially in some isolated shots. While there's quite a bit of grain and fuzziness in the wide shots and even midrange shots (as should be expected of this format), some of the close-ups look awfully clean, which makes me a little suspicious that perhaps some DNR has been applied. I could be wrong, since things are never at the totally waxy level that usually belies such digital tweaking, and also because there definitely is noticeable grain, but it's a little odd that some individual shots sometimes seem to have somewhat lesser grain compared to the bulk of the concert. This perhaps over-cynical qualm aside, the image here is quite sharp, at least for 16mm. Blacks are really deep and solid. Colors look just a tad faded, but generally this is a very solid looking high definition presentation that should easily please Supertramp's legion of fans.
Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Supertramp Live In Paris '79 features both a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix as well as an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo fold down. If you come to this concert without reading the liner notes, you might think, as I initially did, that the audience is really loud. As discussed above in the main body of the review, this was an intentional sound design choice, meant to put the virtual concert attendee in a sonic ambience much like they would have experienced had they been there in person. This is at least a debatable, if not a downright questionable, gambit, but individual mileage will vary on how you respond to it. For the bulk of this concert, it wasn't too annoying, since Hodgson's plaintive tenor wail easily cut through the mass screams (and arrhythmic clapping) of the audience. But personally I could have stood more of the band and less of the audience overall in this mix. The 5.1 mix does nicely separate the instruments, but it also augments the crowd noises. Fidelity is excellent throughout both tracks.
Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Supertramp Live in Paris '79 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Breakfast in America had a number of huge hit singles, and it's fun to hear them performed live here. The vocals aren't quite as polished as they are in the studio versions, but that perhaps only adds to the charm of the live concert setting. Instrumentally, Supertramp is in top form here, doing their patented eight to the bar chunktastic keyboard oriented pop-rock, something that no doubt served as the soundtrack for many Baby Boomers. This Blu-ray offers excellent video and audio, and the audio supplements will be welcome to Supertramp's fans. Recommended.
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