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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 7/11/01

Bruce Springsteen and the
E Street Band: Blood Brothers

1996 (2001) - Thrill Hill/Automatic Productions (Columbia Music Video)

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Blood Brothers Program Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A-/C+

Audio Ratings (DD/PCM): B+/A

Specs and Features

90 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 46:26, at the start of chapter 8), Amaray keep case packaging, music videos (for Murder Incorporated and Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), song lyrics, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (14 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and PCM stereo), subtitles: English

Blood Brothers is a documentary filmed when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band reunited to record several new tracks for their 1995 Greatest Hits compilation album. The audience is given a very in-depth look at the creative process of the songwriting, and how Bruce and his band collaborate and riff off of each other to find the ideal orchestrations for the songs they're recording. Filmed largely at The Hit Factory recording studios in New York City, the documentary takes you on a day-by-day chronicle of the recording of the new songs, and even spends some time in a small club where Bruce and the band film the video for Murder Incorporated, directed by Jonathan Demme.

Blood Brothers is a good documentary from a technical perspective. It's informative, and does a wonderful job of preserving this reunion, which was almost 10 years in the making. Fans of Bruce and the band will have fun watching the musicians hang out in the studio between takes, discussing their own opinions about how to make the songs better and simply enjoying the company of old friends. However, the film feels a bit too long in certain areas, and some of the candid footage doesn't feel as candid as it probably should. Overall though, fans of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will find plenty to like about this documentary.

Filmed with what looks to be 16mm film stock, Blood Brothers is presented on DVD in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The image is appropriately grainy, with toned-down colors - a natural by-product of 16mm film. But given its lineage, the transfer looks quite good. The source is clean and defect free, and detail is about as good as it will get.

Columbia Music Video has offered two soundtrack choices on this DVD: full-on Dolby Digital 5.1, and a 2-channel PCM stereo mix. Both sound great, with the Dolby Digital track spreading the sound out all around the listener. Still, I much preferred the PCM track. The uncompressed PCM version is much more natural, with tighter, more articulated bass and a more open, natural-sounding soundstage. Dialog during the film sounds appropriately documentary-like, however during the actual recording sessions, the audio from the PCM track sounds like an excellent compact disc recording, while the Dolby Digital track sounds a bit more veiled in comparison. Give your center and surround speakers a break, and stick with good ol' stereo for this disc.

As for extras, look for two music videos (for Murder Incorporated and Secret Garden - both new songs recorded for the Greatest Hits album). Both videos are presented in full screen with either of the aforementioned Dolby Digital 5.1 or PCM stereo variations. Also, there is a "Lyrics" option on the disc that simply turns on English subtitles for the entire documentary - dialog, song lyrics and all.

For fans of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Blood Brothers is a disc that will definitely appeal to you. It's chock-full of behind-the-… uh… stage footage of the band in their natural habitat, a recording studio, and with all of their creative juices flowing. Columbia Music Video has also included a good Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and an even better PCM stereo track that will rock your living room with Springsteen goodness. The documentary's length will undoubtedly turn off those who are not Springsteen fanatics. But it's a great disc for fans.

Greg Suarez
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