Free - Inside Free 1968-1972 DVD, ...my critical review:

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by R. Cat Conrad, Aug 24, 2005.

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  1. R. Cat Conrad

    R. Cat Conrad While the moderators jest... Well, you know Thread Starter

    Location:
    D/FW Metroplex
    This entry in the Critical Review series, FREE 1968-1972 AN INDEPENDENT CRITICAL REVIEW, is exactly what Free's fans should want from a documentary about this supurb British blues-rock group. As before, I've shared this review with a few other sites, but I figure that the music video connoiseurs here will probably appreciate it the most. :D

    [​IMG]

    The documentary is an excellent overview of Free that doesn't drag or get caught up in too much debate over the minutiae; there's very little padding here as is present in some Critical Review titles. The documentarians have wisely focused on the music & backgrounds of individual members without omitting relevent production data or candy coating the historical information.

    Focus is maintained on the talent and creative energy that brought these guys together and allowed them to create the legendary songs that fueled their brief ascendence into worldwide popularity. The clips contained in the documentary are okay and some are fairly rare. While varying in quality, these clips serve the interviewer's requirements for providing examples of what's being discussed at the time.

    :sigh: Note: If you watch the documentary in it's WS anamorphic mode all of the clips shown are 4:3 academy stretched to 16:9 WS aspect ratio. Unless, you have the means and desire to quickly shift back and forth between 4:3 & 16:9 modes just resign yourself to watching the WS; besides, you can shift back to 4:3 for to watch the BONUS footage which is most of what the clips are taken from in the documentary.

    :whistle: More importantly and of interest to music performance mavens, this DVD includes 4 complete unedited BONUS tracks presented in proper aspect ratio sourced from Granada Television, and these are indeed rare. To my knowledge only a couple from this live set have appeared before in a digital format, and that was from an import LD release (Japanese) from the early 90's. Included on this DVD are: ALL RIGHT NOW, MR. BIG, RIDE MY PONY, & SONGS OF YESTERDAY. These full length performances are what make this Critical Review release almost indispensible, IMHO. :thumbsup:

    :righton: The quality of the footage is extremely good, in consideration of it's age and source, and the sound, which thus far I've only heard as Dolby stereo, is excellent, MUCH better than it should be, in my estimation. Andy Fraser's bass is clear and deep, Paul Kossoff's vibratto and twisted runs are fluid, Simon Kirke's drums are crisp and Paul Rodger's vocals are lush and bluesy. Overall, the Bonus footage has an excellent sound mix for being sourced from a TV broadcast.

    The bottom line: It's amazing and just a little perplexing how much the Critical Review series varies from one title to the next, but based solely on the content provided and knocking off perhaps a 1/2 star for the documentary's aspect ratio shifts, I'd rate this release at 4 1/2 to 5 stars.

    :cheers:
    Cat

    PS: One more thing about Classic Rock Direct and it's many sub-entities: it has come to my attention that since CRD titles are dispensed as dual inventory items (PAL & NTSC) mistakes can & do occasionally occur even when the DVD's are purchased from U.S. vendors! My copy. purchased from an Amazon.com vendor (Import CD Specialists) is NTSC, but that's no guarantee that an error can't occur elsewhere and a PAL format DVD slip through..

    Of course, it doesn't matter for those who already own region FREE :hide: players if such a format dispensing mishap occurs, but if you don't have a multi-region player you may at some point find yourself returning a title for exchange. I know that can be frustrating, but if you're like me, some of these DVDs are worth the hassle.

    This is just a heads-up, not meant to impede anyone from purchasing this title.
     
  2. R. Cat Conrad

    R. Cat Conrad While the moderators jest... Well, you know Thread Starter

    Location:
    D/FW Metroplex
    CORRECTION:

    :confused: This title is currently being marketed with this cover...

    [​IMG]

    ... and now titled ROCK REVIEW - FREE 1968-1972 A CRITICAL RETROSPECTIVE.

    THIS is what I have based upon closer scrutiny of the cover! From everything I've been able to research the DVD bearing this cover and the earlier issued DVD are absolutely identical except for the repackaging (i.e., variations in the covers, cover copy and apparently licensing credits, the latter is marketed by Angry Penguin Limited productions).

    :idea: If anyone has additional information that these releases differ in any way please share it here; it will be greatly appreciated! In the meantime, my recommendation stands for the title & image listed in this addendum.

    Thanks!

    :cheers:
    Cat
     
  3. jblock

    jblock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    I'd love to see those four live tracks, but I have a hard time supporting this label.

    Jonathan
     
  4. R. Cat Conrad

    R. Cat Conrad While the moderators jest... Well, you know Thread Starter

    Location:
    D/FW Metroplex
    :confused: Please be more specific, Jonathan.

    I know that there is some controversy over apparent exploitation and misleading copy in regard to what material is actually included on some discs, but it isn't all justified. I even read a rather defamatory comment from King Crimson's Robert Fripp directed at Bob Carruthers, the gentleman behind this series, which someone chose to post on another site in support of his contention that Classic Rock Direct's releases are a rip-off, but Robert Fripp apologized to Mr. Carruthers within a week, retracting his statement completely. So, don't trust everything negative you read about CRD and it's licensed sub-entities.

    These DVDs do need to be accurately reviewed for content and subjectively appraised for that content's value, which is what I've tried to do whenever acquiring a new CRD release.

    To be entirely fair, one should keep in mind that everything sold to the public exploits someone or something; that's just the nature of advertising, the idea being to move your own product while the other guy's remains on the shelf. Exploitation isn't a problem AFAIC, but deceit is another matter. BTW, proper payment & the accompanying acknowledgement credit is a separate issue that involves international copyright law and contract negotiation.

    When all is said and done, the Bob Carruthers of the WORLD are at the very least responsible for focusing attention on an under-appreciated market (live performances on DVD) and classic rock groups, along with their record companies are starting to take notice. If nothing else, Mr. Carruthers has made a number of highly regarded classic rock groups aware of the need to locate, restore, remaster, license and properly market their archived performances to nostalgic baby boomers, music historians & aspiring musicians. Is that such a bad thing? :winkgrin:

    :cheers:
    Cat
     
  5. jblock

    jblock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Fripp is not the only one who has complained. He just did it too publicly without forethought to the ramifications. His public apology was in no way an endorsement or approval of the disc itself.

    Besides being made without the approval of the bands, they don't get any payment or royalties from these. Fine. They don't get them from books either. My main gripe is about the fine line they tread around false advertising. Yes, they say they are unauthorized. But for most of them you get short little clips that are pretty worthless, as well as the dronings of so-called "experts." For instance, the Pink Floyd and Genesis sets.

    As for your last paragraph, I don't think most of these bands need Mr. Carruthers help. And your point about properly licensing is the crux of the matter.

    Jonathan
     
  6. R. Cat Conrad

    R. Cat Conrad While the moderators jest... Well, you know Thread Starter

    Location:
    D/FW Metroplex
    :tsk: Well, Jonathan, I've criticized some of CRD's offerings for deceptive practices myself, but the bottom line is:

    a) Are the DVDs being sold legally, and...

    b) are they worth the investment.

    If a person wants to refuse to buy something on principle, rumor, whatever, that's fine, more power to 'em. I just want folks to be properly informed about what they may have a strong urge to buy.

    As for musicians being unfairly exploited, I dislike that just as much as everyone else, but one should NEVER forget that many record companies have "legally" exploited groups for years and folks never think twice about buying those group's albums. The issue here boils down to one of who is really being exploited and whether a given group and/or their management has been slow out of the gate to acquire the performance rights for footage THAT OBVIOUSLY HAS AN AUDIENCE. Some groups have responded to this demand rather forthrightly (Deep Purple, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Experience Hendrix family estate, ELP, etc.). :thumbsup:

    Other's have been slow to respond, failed to acquire the film rights to their own music and missed their opportunity. :thumbsdn:

    As interest in peak era performance footage continues unabetted and extends to lesser known groups with rarer performances Bob Carruthers and other music entrepreneurs are going to exploit the opportunities available to them, especially when groups, for whatever reasons, fail to respond to the market's demands. Note: This is very much an "if you snooz, you lose" situation for rock musicians, but a good indicator is the high price some fans are willing to pay for bootlegged film footage of their favorite group(s) on ebay. :eek:

    This is just my opinion; YMMV. As far as reviewing any CRD title goes, I'm not going to base my criticisms on whether any musician, record company and/or group's management is unhappy, outraged or makes claims of fraud that I'm in no position to confirm or deny. I'm merely the messenger, trying to keep these folks honest about how they promote they're products. :nyah:

    :cheers:
    Cat
     
  7. jblock

    jblock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Cat,

    Regardless of what I've said, I do appreciate your in-depth reviews of these discs.

    Thanks,
    Jonathan
     
  8. HOTBURRITO

    HOTBURRITO New Member

    Location:
    St.Louis
    I think i have this dvd with a different cover. This is a different question about this footage than you are discussing but does Paul Rodgers look very uncomfortable as a lead singer?I have seen Bad Co. on the Desolation Angels tour when Paul was playing guitar mostly and this is the first Free footage i've seen.
     
  9. R. Cat Conrad

    R. Cat Conrad While the moderators jest... Well, you know Thread Starter

    Location:
    D/FW Metroplex
    Greetings, Hotburrito!

    Of course, it's just my impression, but I don't think Paul Rodgers looks uncomfortable at all. His stage demeanor seems more like a style-thing to me. If he seems a bit uncomfortable in the footage you're referencing it could be because he was constantly concerned about Paul Kossoff's condition during this period, since the legendary guitarist had a severe drug dependency problem around the time the band started receiving heavy media attention (with their 3rd album, Fire and Water).

    FTR, I also caught Bad Co. on the Desolation Angels Tour; this is on my Top 10 list of best concerts I've ever had the fortune to witness. At the venue where I saw them they were called back for four or five encores, and obliged the fans! nearly everyone in the audience was totally blown away by this withering performance and I'm sure that the group was worn out, but it was quite memorable!

    More recently, I caught them on the Reunion Tour, which unfortunately sucked due to Mick Ralph's lackluster performance, but this was made up for by a more recent Bad Company concert with Dave "Bucket" Colwell on lead guitar & Jaz Lochrie on bass that was absolutely fan-friggin'-tastic. In each case, it should be mentioned that Paul Rodgers was in top form; he's always been a serious, professional performer..

    Paul Rodgers apparently doesn't play much electric guitar any more. Paul played a strat back during the Desolation Angels days when he and Ralphs would trade leads or perform dual leads on some numbers that were a precursor to Thin Lizzy's manic twin lead style. BTW, Paul Rodgers briefly played solo lead guitar in Free when Paul Kossoff was no longer competent enough to perform live due to his drug addiction.

    :cheers:
    Cat
     
  10. Ski Bum

    Ski Bum Happy Audiophile

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I saw Bad Company at Madison Square Garden around the time that Bad Co. and Straight Shooter were out (IIRC, Desolation Angels would have been a couple of years later). I remember Paul Rodgers as being out front, comfortable and in command of the stage. Mick Ralphs was in good form during that concert, and I don't recall Paul doing much guitar work at all. They put on a good show, although I don't think it was necessarily a top ten performance as described above for a later tour.
     
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