I was at that concert and lusted for a video copy for 26yrs
Chris Mogford | Noble Park, Victoria Australia | 02/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a fan of Wakeman and so I went to that Feb '75 concert at the Bowl and loved it. I still remember being stunned by hearing the new 'Merlin" number. By coincidence I had just started working for channel 7 a few months prior (as a technician) although I didn't work that night, I saw the concert. Afterwards I went back to the Outside Brodcast Van and chatted about the night's production.
Colour tv didn't start in Australia till March 1975 in Australia so the amount of colour gear was very limited. a lot was still in boxes or being installed. The entire video and audio mixing was done in the OB van using a CDL vision switcher and a neve audio mixer of possibly about 12 to 18 channels. There 'may' have been another optronics audio mixer being used near stage but I can't be sure. The cameras were our brand new Marconi Mk8s, probably 3 on the night. I think the Marconi van was initially only 3 cameras, they were very expensive. This was one of the very first OBs done by the new van and it was excitement plus. There would have been almost no post production on the vision because I don't think any colour editing suites were up and running then. Only a recording VTR(2in) in the videotape room at the main studios in Sth Melbourne fed by radio microwave link directly from the Bowl. No video recording was done in the van.
I'd tried to get a vhs copy for ages but never managed to get one. Remember that vhs didn't take off until about 1980. I worked at ch7 but still couldn't get a copy, I kept asking.
In 1995 I was at the Isle of Man bike races and Wakeman was signing books for his little book called Yes. I spoke to him about that Melbourne night and he was amazed to find out that I was there and all the way from Australia. He lives on the IOM.
Anway, he said he remembered that night in Melbourne and said that it was one of his best concerts and that he had a great time. It was nice of him to say that but I think he meant it. He did say that he's amazed that he survived it all through the alcohoic haze. He doesn't drink now. Rick Wakeman was a thoroughly nice person to talk to. Anyway, he put me onto his secretary who could get a vhs video for me. I never got around to following it up. When I found that this DVD was available, I ordered a copy immediately and have not regretted it at all. I'd like to think that I might have had a small part in making this DVD happen because of my questioning him, I can dream.
In the opening credits it was neat to see the crew who I used to work with back then such as gilbs and wally gator. I worked with ch7 from 1974 to 1985.
I hope this little bit of history has interested the reader of this review.
An unfortunate disappointment
Larry D. Brickey | Arlington, WA United States | 09/21/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"When this DVD/CD combo arrived I was really excited. I have the reissue of the original live London concert. However, once I had it in the player my heart sank. The video quality is mediocre at best. Well, I thought, it is twenty-plus years old so maybe the audio will make up for it. Not so. It's not even in stereo! Why bother to go to the expense of making a live recording of what was then a superstar and not do a good job? For those who just want to collect a view of Rick Wakeman in his prime, this will add to your collection. For the rest of you....save your money."
A Piece of un-retouched History
Amanda Bartels | Eltham, Victoria Australia | 12/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm just so glad this live recording was not revisited, resampled, retouched, digitised or anything else, as it is a little piece of musical history from an era we'll never see again. There is nothing to be ashamed of here - a faithful preservation of a unique musical event way back in Melbourne on a cool night on 4 Feb 1975 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, an outdoor shell which spills into the Botanical Gardens and so can hold as many as want to come along, really. And they did - in the thousands. One forgets just how huge this event was and what a unique experience it became for those who went along and those who saw it on TV broadcast by the Seven Network (this DVD comes from the TV broadcast.)Of course you don't get 5.1 surround or even decent widescreen or picture quality. In 1975, Australia had only just got around to colour tv! Having accepted that I was in 1975 and not 2003, it was much easier to enjoy the performance, and I must say I am very glad I bought this DVD. You really do relive a piece of history, with all the cheesiness and corn of the 70s lovingly preserved, even down to the blow up dinosaurs, which have their moment and then sort of deflate behind the orchestra as the music leaves them behind (I wondered if they made a fart-type noise as they collapsed - also wonder how the orchestra kept a straight face!)It must be said that there are quite a few fluffs and mistimings from both the band and the orchestra throughout the evening - horns, strings, and choir seem to get tangled up and lose direction on more than one occasion and Rick's Mellotron goes horribly out of tune towards the end - but these are the ups and downs of a live recording (for the record, it was a cool and dry night, rare for Melbourne in February). These stumbles aside, it's a very enjoyable concert. The entire Journey is performed along with excerpts from Henry VIII and a couple of Arthur tracks such as Guinevere and Merlin. Rick improvises quite a lot of these, some well, some not so well - he seemed to be having the usual equipment problems and at times the band seemed to lose its way and you could almost feel the exhaustion of their tour catching up. Merlin felt a little flat to be honest, but the Catherines were spot on and lovely to listen to on the old analogues instead of that horrible Yanni-ish Kurzweil synth on the Legend DVD. The cameras do get annoying occasionally in that people walk in front of them and we get the usual irrelevant close ups of Rick's ears when we want to see his hands, but there are some lovely shots of Moog runs, and we do see a lot of the Hohner Clavy which Rick plays on with dazzling skill during the second part of Journey. We don't get the piano keys, unfortunately as they are hidden from the camera angle, but we get an excellent view of three cans of VB perched on top of the cabinet, a reminder of the good ol' days when Rick used to `drink for Great Britain.'Some of the orchestra seem a bit bemused and one of the trumpet players in particular is seen gazing at the caped wonder in a kind of dazed disbelief. It's little touches like that which give this DVD a unique quality. Nothing is edited out, it's all there, warts and all, for you to pick over, reminisce and wonder how far we've all come since then - in 1975 you could get away with making racist remarks against Japanese choirs because nobody thought back then that they WERE racist. However, this was all part of the culture of the time and it's a good thing nobody decided to PC-it for modern audiences, but just show it as it was.I finished watching this with a kind of amazement and renewed appreciation for what Rick achieved at his age then - only 25 - not only to take on, alone, this kind of massive musical venture, but to pull it off as successfully as he did. Whatever it cost Rick in terms of money and health, nothing can take that away. Musically it is still very strong and even though it seems dated now, it is still one of the great achievements of 20th century popular music."
Not near the quality of the '74 recording
Larry D. Brickey | 08/09/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"OK, the photo quality was pretty poor (especially the "special effects") and every one looked like they were burned out at the end of a long tour, but I was expecting to get a DVD that at least had the same sound quality as his '74 recording in London. This was far from it. It sounds like they just put a mike out in the audience. My high school concert band recordings' during the same era had better sound. And the orchestra and chior didn't seem to be very good (but it could have just been the sound quality). Many times, they didn't seem to even be in beat with him.It was interesting to see though. I do wish that they would have shown more of his hands on the keyboards, but this was also kept to a minimum. Well, at least I could show my daughter what an old synthesizer looked like."