Friday, 24 September 2010

The Beatles are no. 1 on Billboard again

The Beatles are chart toppers yet again thanks to the release of the 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows starring the band, which debuted this week at #1 on Billboard’s DVD music video chart. This is not the first time these Ed Sullivan shows have been out, but it's the first time they get this wide distribution. Hooray for The Beatles!

But let's take a closer look at this release. Are they any better than before they were "remastered"? Here's a review by "Beatle Bob":

"Sofa Entertainment has re-released and remastered all four complete Beatles Ed Sullivan shows on DVD—this time offering bonus material not included on the first issue in 2003, consisting of 13 minutes of rare moments from “The Ed Sullivan Show,” including Ed’s interview with the Beatles from London for the release of A Hard Day’s Night. These historic shows are presented in a 5.1 Dolby mix for the first time as well as the original mono mix. The image is presented in 4:3 Pillar Boxed."

"This newest issue is problematic: The February 9, 1964 show still looks like it’s from a 3rd generation copy of the 2” master tape. The remastering team also readjusted the contrast giving it a washed out appearance. It still suffers from ghosting images. The mono audio also suffers for the Beatles’ introductory set. It plays too low; not matching their 2nd set. I had to adjust the volume. Very odd. Quality control seems to have lapsed. After the Beatles first set, when Fred Kaps appears, the video improves; it suddenly appears 2 generations better with much better contrast on the grey scale. The mono soundtrack improves too, and stays consistent for the rest of the discs. Though the mono soundtrack feels a bit flat and lacks punch. Almost like a slight touch of limiting was involved."

"The 2nd disc suffers from contrast issues but not as noticeably as the premier show. The mono audio is consistent throughout this disc, but on the first issue of the DVD, Ringo’s cymbals are brighter for the 1965 show. The audio for this show feels livelier on the first issue. My system does not include a 5.1 so I can’t comment on what they were able to accomplish working from a mono videotape soundtrack."

"The bonus material is disappointing. I’m glad we have Ed’s interview with the Beatles (from London) to promote A Hard Day’s Night, but why couldn’t they include outtake from the movie singing 'You Can’t Do That,' that was broadcast, as well as the Miami rehearsal that circulates in collector’s circles? A missed opportunity! I can understand not including the promo videos such as 'Paperback Writer,' 'Rain' and others - that were shown over the years on Ed’s show - being Apple owns them. I’m sure Sofa Entertainment knows this meant getting more lawyers involved. The rest of the bonus material contains moments that Ed, mainly mentions the Beatles by name in some sort of fashion or via a sketch."

"A disappointing release that’s not worth double dipping. If you want to have the Ed Sullivan Shows that look much better and sound better in comparison, I suggest searching out the Mirror Spock release, The Ed Sullivan Shows. No contrast issues; the video image is also cleaner. The mono audio comes to life with a punch and a kick lacking from both Sofa releases. You’d think with Sofa having access to the master tapes they could present a package that is superior to a bootleg."

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