I was looking forward to the DVD of the RAH Reunion shows – bonus – 2 DVD’s! Having heard the boots of the shows (there are different tapes of most of the shows in circulation). The DVD has taken the approach of presenting the best take of each song from the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday shows plus some alternates. Quite correctly no take from the Monday night are included except for some words from Eric. Correction: NO Alternate takes are included on the CD’s and Sitting on Top of the World is not included - the DVD PCM stereo is better.
The interspersing of different nights to create the full set list has the potential to be visually jarring but they are dressed non-descriptly ie jeans/t-shirts/plain shirts, just like most of the old geezers in the audience, and it is not really a problem. In fact your concentration on the music basically overcomes any such issues – it always was the music and the playing.
Visual quality is excellent showing how far Hi-Fi digital has come – proportion is an excellent 16:9 full screen if you have a 16:9 TV. Interestingly one of the cameras on one of the nights had a fault and some vertical marks are visible like scratches. Resolution is good with lighting having little impact except when they cut to dark areas of the hall.
Sound is available in 5.1 Surround DTS (yeh!!! – I much prefer this to Dolby which has a lumpy bottom end and seems more compressed) and PCM Stereo. Both are excellent with the PCM preferred for the better clarity and dynamism of the cymbals in particular. I have to admit that I can cheat on stereo and can mix it into 3.1 – a subby can add that lovely physical bottom end without blasting my tired old ears.
(click on the photos for BIG versions -1.3-1.8Mb)
Courtesy of Rhino/Reprise
The performance – simply GREAT. The superior sound quality brings out all the subtlety of their playing the guitar tones and the drums in particular. On the boots we mainly hear the hammer blows but now we can hear the playing especially the cymbal riding. But it is the interaction, the way it all fits together and they were working hard! It is not the Cream of 37 years ago – it cannot, never could be and shouldn’t be. This is a group of mature experienced musicians who have replaced raw energy/power with subtlety. They show that each of them remain at the pinnacle of players of each of their respective instruments. In combination they remain, unassailably, the best.
Ginger’s playing is simply magnificent – more emphasis on maintaining a strong core beat but lots of magnificent tom-tom, cymbal and bass drum work. Jack starts on a dark brown [not cherry red as I first thought - the lights] Gibson EB-1 (NOT EB-0 as stated on the cream2005 site!!!) – 1950's [not 1970/72] model with long scale (34") neck and changes to Warwick after Rollin'. The sound of the EB-1 is perfect for Badge but I prefer the ‘wick (note Jack’s equalisation – lots of high boost for the Gibson). Eric plays his Blacky signature strat – some Gibson tone would have been nice but he’s been a strat man for a long-time.
Standout songs – well they’re all good but:
Pressed Rat – had to be done and Jack plays the trumpet melody on the ending coda
Sleepy – the best blues trio ever – only they can pull a slow blues off like this
Sweet Wine – group improvisation like old
Stormy Monday – Eric’s best ever rendition, magnificent.
We’re Going Wrong – both versions, brilliant, the best ever
Crossroads – a blend of the original and newer approach, pretty good – the bass.
Toad – relatively short but one of the best.
Sunshine – only they play it right – the drums – great codas on
Jack shows he remains one of the great singers in Rock
with, these days, Eric not far behind.
I could go on but…
Buy, enjoy and enjoy
it at lunchtime the day of release in Aus (Monday), went home early and watched,
stayed home next day and watched it again and just watched it yesterday
(Saturday). Interestingly its
actually getting strong promotion in Australia with plenty of advertising in the
newspapers and promo give-aways on the radio.