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review added: 8/21/02



Weird Al Yankovic: Live!
1999 (2000) - BMG Music

review by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

Weird Al Yankovic: Live!

Program Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/B+

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

Originally 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.

Unlike Al's video 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.

Jeff Kleist
jeffkleist@thedigitalbits.com




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