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Spectacle: Elvis Costello with… — Season 2 Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English LPCM 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 2
  • Studio: MVD
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 7, 2011
  • List Price: $39.95

[amazon-product]B00437IESQ[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Elvis Costello: Spectacle: Season 2 (2 Disc)

Purchase Elvis Costello: Spectacle Season 2 on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:5/5]

Ladies and gentlemen, forget about every other series you have ever seen dedicated to music, and I mean every other one. Soundstage? Forget it. Austin City Limits? Love it, but, nope, forget it. Storytellers? Please. You see a pattern developing here? Spectacle: Elvis Costello with… is without a doubt the most brilliant series dedicated to music ever produced for television, and that is not hyperbole. I could just kick myself for not actually knowing about it until now, being the huge fan of music that I am; I mean, I eat and breathe the stuff, yet the series somehow flew under my radar. When I had the chance to review it, all I knew was that it was a series hosted by Elvis Costello, which was enough to have me interested. Man, have I been amazed by what I have seen.

This isn’t just a typical performance show where artists are ushered on and off politely, Costello is an interactive host, beginning each episode with with a musical homage to the artist or artists being “made a spectacle of” that night. When he sits down to interview them, you can not only tell that there is a mutual respect, but that Costello knows his musical history and honors it. As a result, what you get is an honest conversation between musicians that offers a deep and intellectual understanding of these artists, what drives and inspires them, and how they arrive at their art.

Season 2 is captured at New York City’s famous Apollo Theater and Toronto’s Masonic Temple. Its episodes feature Bono and Edge (Episode 201); Sheryl Crow, Jesse Winchester, Ron Sexsmith, and Neko Case (Episode 202); Levon Helm, Nick Lowe, Richard Thompson, and Allen Toussaint (Episode 203); Elvis Costello with Mary-Louise Parker (Episode 204); Lyle Lovett, Ray LaMontagne, and John Prine (Episode 205); and Bruce Springsteen (Episodes 206 and 207).

Each episode features Costello playing along with the artists as well as the artists performing some of their hits and more obscure material. For instance, in the first Springsteen episode, The Boss performs “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” from his second album, The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle and singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester comes on and goes all the way back to his eponymous debut album to perform “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz.” As much as I love Springsteen, however, my favorite performer in Season 2 has to be the passionate and eccentric Ray LaMontagne who, among other songs, performed his beautiful ballad “Jolene.”

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

There’s a very good native high definition 1080i/60 transfer in AVC/MPEG-4 that looks very clean, with little video noise, hardly any artifacts, and lots of detail in the image. One can pick up the smallest scratch on a guitar or vibration of a string. Blacks are pretty deep, shadow detail is nicely extended and flesh tones are spot on.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

High-quality music deserves high-quality audio and Spectacle does not disappoint in that regard on this new Blu-ray release. Both the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and the uncompressed PCM 2.0 stereo mix are reference quality for live performance, popular music programming. Vocals are clean, low frequencies are nicely extended, yet tight and musical, midrange is punchy and natural and instrumental separation and clarity is quite strong. The 5.1 mix uses the surround channels subtly, but wisely to open up the spaciousness and place the listener in the performance space. The 2.0 mix sounds just a little bit more claustrophobic in comparison, but still very good.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Apart from the rather interesting behind-the-scenes documentary on the background of how the series came to be, there are three bonus performances that are all strong enough to have been in the series proper.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Behind-the-scenes documentary, Spectacle: Elvis Costello with… Inside Notes (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:42.11)
  • Elvis Costello & The Imposters – “Dirty Day”
  • Bono, Edge, and Elvis Costello – “Alison”
  • Elvis Costello & The Imposters – “I Want You”

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

The perfect music series has been born. Hosted by probably the best one to hold the job, Elvis Costello, and filled with appearances by some of the most superb musical artists, some familiar, and some not so much, Spectacle is pure musical joy. No self-respecting music lover should be without this in their collection.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B00437IESQ[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Elvis Costello: Spectacle: Season 2 (2 Disc)

Purchase Elvis Costello: Spectacle Season 2 on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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