Santana: Legends of Rock Review
Firstly, apologies to anyone who was really looking forward to this review (wishful thinking, I know, but a guy can hope) and has been waiting for me to post it. The reason for the delay is that I have just come out of shock. When did I go into shock? The moment this DVD started to play. This is without doubt the worst disc in my collection. Thank God I didn’t spend any money on it.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. Or its title for that matter. The same is true of DVD. You might expect this DVD to feature a Santana concert. But you would be wrong. His set lasts a mere eleven minutes – just over ¼ of the total run time of 40 mins (not the 45 as advertised). Before him, we are ‘treated’ to sets from Taj Mahal (no, not the building), Johnny & Edgar Winter and It’s A Beautiful Day (no, not the U2 song). The first song, Riverside is pretty dire and the remainder is typical guitar rock music, which the exception of It’s A Beautiful Day who are more folky. Santana, when he finally emerges, plays just two songs, both of which are instrumentals. Not an enjoyable watch, it is an experience worsened by the appalling way in which the concert was recorded and edited.
Riverside – Taj Mahal
Sweet Mama Genise – Taj Mahal
Oh Susannah – Taj Mahal
Johnny B. Goode - Johnny Winter
Tell the Truth – Johnny Winter (featuring Edgar Winter)
Soapstone Mountain – It’s A Beautiful Day
White Bird – It’s A Beautiful Day
Medley - Santana
Soul Sacrafice - Santana
After watching this disc the whole way through, I can now totally empathise with my colleague Alexander Larman who was subjected to Wishbone Ash. In fact, I think I had it worse. I didn’t think it was possible for a presentation on the DVD format to resemble a VHS cassette which has been put through a washing machine a few times, but apparently it is. The picture really is that bad. I realise that the source material probably wasn’t up to much (it was recorded in 1971) but the image is so soft that it makes satin look like diamond. Black levels are practically none existent (the concert is very poorly lit), so much so that I often found myself wondering what I was actually supposed to be looking at. The transfer is full of specks, sparks and scratches. We have shimmering, ghosting, and some truly horrible artefacting. But that’s not all. The very subtitles which introduce the songs are fuzzy. Then, just to be extra special, we are also treated to an ever-present vertical line (like a join in to pieces of film) just off centre. Shockingly bad.
The Sound, Side A
The DVD sound is not in Dolby Digital 5.1, despite what the box says. It is 2.0 Stereo. There isn’t much to say about it except that it sounds weak compared to other DVDs which utilise the full 5.1 potential. But, at least its better than the CD side.
But this disc is not just a DVD. It’s (drum roll please)… it’s (wait for it)… DVDPlus. That means that on side A we have the concert in visual form and on side B in audio form. But not DVD-Audio. This is DVD on one side and CD on the other. It’s a novel idea but one which I feel is rather on the silly side. Inevitabley, one side is going to end up with fingerprints or worse (I recommend tar and feathers). If Classic Pictures wanted to give us the concert on CD, why not make it a double set. So what if it means a higher price tag – anyone stupid enough to buy this deserves to be ripped off.
Sound, Side B
The CD quality is terrible. There are constant ‘sparks’ and overall it feels very muted. It feels like you are listening to an old cassette through an old car stereo as opposed to a CD on a DVD player.
Dire, dire, dire. On the left-hand side of the screen we have a slanted screenshot of Santana in action, and on the right screenshots of the four featured artists. Each of these leads to the track list of the artist in question. Along the bottom is a ‘Play’ button. Everything is static, set against a blue background. And, for a music DVD, selecting from the menu leads to audience cheers but the menus themselves are totally silent. Go figure.
I would write a few words about the extras on this disc, except there aren’t any.
Avoid, avoid, avoid. This disc is unfathomly bad. You might be thinking It couldn’t be that bad. Believe me, it’s worse. Don’t buy this if you like music DVDs. Don’t buy this if you like Santana. Don’t buy this full stop.
As I was doing a final check on the disc before I posted this review, it refused to work on my PC. Now, if only I could convince my two stand alone players to do the same…