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Police – The Best Of What’s Still Around (Apocalypse Sound AS-124)

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The Best Of What’s Still Around (Apocalypse Sound AS-124)

New York, USA, Giants Stadium, “Live Earth”, July 7, 2007

1) Driven to Tears 2) Roxanne 3) Can’t Stand Losing You 4) Message In A Bottle (featuring John Mayer & Kanye West)

New York, USA , Hotel Waldorf Astoria , “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction”, March 10, 2003

1) Roxanne 2) Every Breath You Take (featuring Gwen Stefani, Steven Tyler & John Mayer)

Vina Del Mar, Chile, Quinta Vegara Anfiteatro, “23rd Festival Internacional De La Cancion”, February 19, 1982

1) Introduction 2) Message In A Bottle 3) Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic 4) Spirits In The Material World 5) Regatta De Blanc [actually Hungry For You] 6) When The World Is Running Down 7) The Bed’s Too Big Without You 8) De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da 9) Demolition Man 10) Shadows In The Rain 11) Walking On The Moon 12) Roxanne 13) Don’t Stand So Close To Me 14) Can’t Stand Losing You

COMPARISON with Ghost In The Machine Tour ’81-’82 from Way Of Wizards

The content of this Apocalypse Sound DVD is very similar to the content of Ghost In The Machine Tour ’81-’82 from Way of Wizards (see previous review). 

The Way of Wizards DVD has superior content.  At nearly double the length, it contains:  a) the February 19, 1982 performance which is found on both DVDs, including two songs not found on the Apocalypse Sound disc; b) the February 20, 1982 performance not found on the Apocalypse Sound disc; and (c) the 2007 Live Earth performance found on both DVDs.  In fact, the only performance the Apocalypse Sound DVD brings us which the Way of Wizards disc doesn’t is a two-song performance from the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Having superior content does not automatically make the Way of Wizards DVD the superior product.  The two songs missing from the February 19 show on the Apocalypse Sound DVD (Bring On The Night, One World (Not Three)) were also missing from the primary source used by Way of Wizards (it is not known why these two songs should be missing from multiple sources).  They only appear on the Way of Wizards DVD from a secondary source which is of marginal audio and video quality.  Accordingly, their absence on The Best Of What’s Still Around is not a great loss. 

As for the February 20, 1982 performance found on the Way of Wizards DVD, the audio of is of such marginal quality that its absence from the Apocalypse Sound DVD is not a great loss.

The Best Of What’s Still Around from Apocalypse Sound has noticeably superior video and audio of the most significant performance – the February 19, 1982 Ghost In The Machine concert.  This means, as between the two, the Apocalypse Sound DVD is more likely to merit multiple viewings. 

Either DVD would be worth getting.  They both preserve a quality and enjoyable performance from the Ghost In The Machine tour, as well as a short but enjoyable performance from the reunion tour. However, as between the two, I give the nod to The Best Of What’s Still Around from Apocalypse Sound.  Its version of the Ghost In The Machine performance is simply more enjoyable to watch. 

REVIEW

The Best Of What’s Still Around DVD runs nearly 1¾ hours and includes 3 performances pro-shot for television broadcast:  the most significant is from the Ghost In The Machine Tour in 1982; the other two are from the 2007 Live Earth concert on the reunion tour, and the band’s performance at their 2003 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The DVD comes in a very attractive tri-fold digipack.  The front sides contain reunion-period band photos, while the insides contain a montage of historic photos of the band.  The DVD menus are clear and easy to navigate both among concerts and songs, and great-sounding snippets of album cuts play while you are debating your choice of concert or song. 

New York, USA, Giants Stadium, “Live Earth”, July 7, 2007

The audio of this performance is good, but the video is not clear as it should be.  In this age of high definition and digital recording, there is no reason a 2007 performance should not have crystal clear video. 

A Live Earth logo stays in the lower left and the Bravo logo stays in the lower right.  An annoying crawl sometimes occurs between the two.  A very annoying advertisement for Queer Eye also occurs during Can’t Standing Losing You. 

Stewart now sports a full head of white hair and wears gloves (instead of only duct tape) to support his hands/wrists while drumming.  Sting is still in great shape (so is Stewart), but it is sad how much hair he has lost.  Andy is a little soft in the middle (but still plays wonderfully), and sports an “O my God they killed Kenny” guitar strap. 

All of the songs have been slightly reworked for reunion tour, but still sound great.  Only a couple of quibbles:  the synth (wich Sting plays with his feet) is too loud on Driven To Tears.  Also, Sting’s voice sounds a bit ragged at times. 

John Mayer joins the band on stage at the beginning of Message In A Bottle, then Kanye West joints after the 2nd stanza.  Usually I find guest artists very annoying; here they are only slightly annoying.  At first, Mayer mimics Andy; later, it sounds as though they are playing in harmony.  As for Kanye, it is true what they say:  he is a great artist, but not a great rapper. 

[In comparison to the Way of Wizards DVD, Apocalypse Sound wisely omits the annoying intro and outro of the band by VJs and former Vice President Al Gore.  Here, we get the music and only the music.] 

New York, USA , Hotel Waldorf Astoria , “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction”, March 10, 2003

The Police’s performance at their induction into the Hall of Fame didn’t exactly garner rave reviews.  One can guess Sting did not relish performing with his former bandmates.  In fact, the performance was so weak that Message In A Bottle, arguably The Police’s best song, which is usually great live, was cut from the television broadcast.  The DVD only contains the two songs which were actually broadcast. 

As for later-day performances of Roxanne, the Live Earth rendition clearly outshines this version, which is also suffers from the presence of female backup singers (the only tour on which The Police used backup singers was the Synchronicity tour; they wisely chose not to repeat this mistake on the reunion tour).  Every Breath You Take starts out lethargically, but picks up energy with the late entrances of Gwen Stefani, Steven Tyler and John Mayer (again!), though their singing doesn’t really add much to the song. 

The only interesting things about this performance are that Steven Tyler insists on singing into Gwen Stefani’s mike, and Stewart plays his snare drum so hard that he smashes right through the skin. 

Ghost In The Machine Tour – Chile – February 19, 1982

The quality of the video of this performance is not great.  However, given the technologies of broadcasting and recording back in 1982, it could be that the source was actually pretty close to original.  There is significant audio and video disturbance during about 20 seconds of Walking On The Moon.  [Interestingly, in the Way of Wizards DVD, the concert looks like a television broadcast, whereas here it looks like it was shot on film.  Also, the colors are much brighter here than on the Way of Wizards DVD.  It is not known whether Apocalypse Sound applied digital effects to the video to give it this appearance.  Whatever the reason, the result is largely very pleasing.]  Close-ups are relatively clear (close-ups of Sting are the best; it is interesting to see the young blonde egomaniac in his energetic youth).  Wider shots lose significant detail, making it somewhat difficult to appreciate the band’s musicianship.  The audio sounds pretty good, especially given the age and technologies of the source tape. 

Throughout the concert there are a lot of slo-motion replays of video footage, including over other footage.  There are also repetitive close-ups of the mirrorballs which hang over the stage.  The broadcaster was attempting to be artistic, but succeeded only in being annoying.   

Sting plays a Steinberger bass (distinctive with its lack of a guitar neck), and sports a hoop earring in his right ear.  He wears a black form-fitting athletic shirt with shiny shoulder pads sporting “Police” on the front, and what appear to be dark blue sweatpants.  Stewart is wearing an “XTC” t-shirt and his customary white short shorts.  Andy is wearing an ugly black and white striped sweater and black pants.  The three horn players wear matching red track suits (The Police used the horn section throughout the Ghost In The Machine tour). 

There are a number of interesting occurrences and comments during the concert.  Near the beginning of Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Sting yells “Down” in Andy’s direction, then bends towards Andy and yells something off mike.  After the song ends, Sting goes over towards Andy and again yells something off mike.  Either he is yelling at Andy to turn down his guitar or he’s yelling at someone off stage about the mix.    

During De Do Do Do De Da Da Da (where the band really hits its stride), Andy starts sustaining portions of his staccato guitar licks.  Sting holds up his hand to Andy, apparently telling him to stop.  Andy does. 

Following Demolition Man, someone comes running up on stage and hands something to Sting.  He can be heard saying:  “What the hell is this?  Oh.  What the fuck is it?”  A close-up then shows Sting drinking from a cup. 

During Can’t Stand Losing You, a guy comes on stage, taps Andy on the back, and proceeds to stand next to him for a good 30 seconds.  Sting can be heard to comment:  “who’s that?”

Sting introduces a number of songs.  For example, Sting says:  “this song is called Shadows In The Rain.  It’s about nuclear holocost, isn’t it.”  Then he giggles impishly.  During the song, Sting’s facial expressions are priceless when he sings:  “he claims I suffer from delusion … Me?” 

Before Spirits In The Material World, Sting comments:  “It seems all the noisy people are up there, all the quiet people are down here.  Maybe you should change places.”  Then, at the beginning of the first encore (Don’t Stand So Close To Me), Sting revisits this notion:  “We’re glad all the old people have gone back to bed.  It’s about time.  I was getting worried about them.  I thought they were going to die off.”  Andy adds:  “Yeah, the old ones down in front.”  Sting then gestures for the upper section to come down, saying:  “I think you should come a bit closer.  No, really.”  Perhaps in response to Sting’s entreaties towards the crowd, the camera shows Chilean military entering the ampitheater later in the song, ringing the VIPs near the stage and forming a barrier between them and the riffraff up high.  Sting comments:  “here come the troops.  Can’t get too exited can you?”  Recall the concert occurred during the regime of the brutal Chilean dictator, Pinochet.  The band normally would have done So Lonely as a second encore.  It is not clear whether they did the song and it wasn’t preserved, or whether the concert was ended prematurely following the entrance of the military. 

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Police - The Best Of What's Still Around (Apocalypse Sound AS-124), 2.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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