Al Yankovic: Live!
(2000) - BMG Music
by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
84 min, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no
layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, 2 music videos (The
Saga Begins and It's All About
the Pentiums) with hidden commentary by Al Yankovic,
promotional stills, 2 educational shorts (Germs
and You and Crimes of
Carelessness), animated program-themed menus with sound,
scene access (17 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0),
subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
shown as a one-hour VH-1 special, Weird
Al Yankovic: Live! captures the Running
with Scissors incarnation of his show. For those who have
never been, Al's shows are a flurry of costume changes and all-star
multimedia presentations, most of which are not presented here due
to the absolute nightmare of getting legal permissions for even half
the material. But here on the DVD, you get mostly the full show and
it's a hoot.
For a program shot on video, Weird Al
Live presents outstanding color depth and detail levels.
Never is there smearing or artifacting and all of the multicolored
lighting is bright and vibrant. Detail is fantastic. The threads of
costumes, beads of sweat and droplets of water gargling from Al's
mouth are all very well defined and jump off the screen in an almost
3-D display. Al's never looked so... well, Al before.
This show was the first modern concert I watched in full Dolby
Digital 5.1, coming off of the VHS version, which was released
first. I was totally blown away by the great separation of Steve
Jay's Bass into the LFE, Jim West's Guitar mostly hanging in the
left and right, and Al in the center channel. Rubén Valtierra
and Bermuda Schwartz's keyboards and percussion travel through the
Left/Right and surrounds in about equal amounts. All around, this
careful separation successfully recreates the sound field I've
experienced at many an Al show. The DD 2.0 track is like going from
stereo to mono - even with Pro-Logic decoding applied it pales in
comparison to the robust 5.1 track. I highly recommend the 5.1.
DVD, this concert is packed with extras. First, you have the 2
missing music videos from the aforementioned collection that are on
the new album: The Saga Begins
and It's All About the Pentiums.
From the looks of them, these videos were shot on 16mm film, and
there is some inherent grain that goes along with that format. But
these DVD presentations look a lot better than they did on MTV. If
you hit the audio key of your remote, there is an Easter egg
commentary for each video. Not only does Al successfully give you a
lot of info about the making of these 2 complex videos (by becoming
a pseudo-Scatman Crothers), but it's good stuff and he really ties
together his thought processes while directing. Filling out the
package are a host of promotional photos (including a picture of
Jake Lloyd in full Jedi regalia singing The
Saga Begins with Al) and 2 educational shorts that are a
regular part of Al's multimedia lineup. Both parody the sort of
self-help shorts for schoolchildren made in the 1950s. Using library
footage and a new narration track, these are hysterical. If you
enjoy MST3K's shorts
collections, this is right up your alley.
While no DVD can possibly capture 100% of a concert experience,
this disc comes about as close as possible. Well photographed and
with killer sound, if you're looking to recreate the Al experience
at home or just get a taste of what his shows are like, this disc is
for you. For many others, and myself, it serves as a nice
placeholder until Al comes back around on tour again.