Blondie - Live By Request Review

This is a strange gig. 'Live by Request' isn't just a groovy name for a concert, it's some sort of cable type thing in which the live vibe is constantly interrupted by a typically witless presenter who hassles poor Debbie Harry between songs with 'live requests' from the fans which have come in via email or phone lines. Poor the fans for not actually being there, of course, as the audience seems made up of industry types who sometimes wiggle themselves a bit in an awkward sort of way when the camera points at them. In other words DON'T buy this if you're expecting a genuine, honest to goodness concert type thing. It's an American TV special, filmed in a studio, which looks like a studio, and the drummers' CBGB t-shirt rubs your nose in that fact a bit. At least it's original drummer, Clem Burke, though.

Having said all that, it's still Blondie, the poppiest punk that there's ever been and it still sounds good. and the sound is where this disc becomes winner rather than sinner. There are three sound mixes, each of which does the job in sterling fashion. The standard stereo mix is workmanlike, but the 5.1 and DTS mixes give the thing an extra breath of life. The ambience is subtle and rewarding; the bass is clear and never booming and the whole mix is done to perfection. This, really, is the only reason to buy this and, seeing as this is a music title, it might just be enough.

As a concert, this fails completely. Swooping cameras and the considerable efforts of the band can't escape the fact that this is a TV show. The presenter, Jules, becomes annoying after a few seconds screen time, and don't be fooled by the fact that the packaging might promise exclusive interviews. The interviews are carried out by Jules, and she's about as interesting as a bus stop. She brings new and horrible meaning to the word 'fawning'. Honestly, unless you count telling Chris Stein he has lovely eyes and a preening over the amount of albums Blondie have sold as revelations, then you'll be skipping these little irritations and getting on with the business of listening to the thing.

Debbie Harry is a great performer, but here it seems she's bound by the format. The fan request thing is clearly a gimmick and not a very good one at that. It just slows the whole thing down and interrupts the flow of songs. As with all music videos, it all depends upon your tastes.

Picture
Excellent. Sharp and clear and probably looks better than when it was broadcast.

Extras

14 minutes of songs not already broadcast seems a bit mean and it is, really. There's no DTS track for this bit, either, which doesn't help in the defense of meanness, does it? It's not bad, though, depending upon how you feel about the rest of it. If you want more, then this is for you. There's also a video for 'Good Boys' directed by Jonas Akerland, which runs for three and a half minutes and is notable only for it's use of the dreadfully clichéd circus motif. It even focuses on a clown, so the clown-phobic should steer well clear of this. You also get a Photo Gallery which is quite possibly the least exciting feature ever, but here it's even worse than usual. You get tiny, little images and lots of them. Mostly from the main feature, so if you don't know how to work the pause button and thus get big images of your own choosing, then this is the feature for you. Honestly, what's the point?

Conclusion

It's really difficult to recommend this to anyone other than the die-hard Blondie fan. As a concert video, it just doesn't cut the mustard. It would have been great to have a genuine concert released, but until that happens we have to make do with this. It does have excellent sound, though, so that's a plus point and a very important plus point. The extras aren't much of a selling point, either, and the whole thing carries with it a feel of missed opportunity. There's a much better Blondie DVD waiting to be released.

Film
6 out of 10
Video
9 out of 10
Audio
9 out of 10
Extras
2 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

Last updated: 03/05/2018 07:52:33

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