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Image Entertainment presents
The Brian Setzer Orchestra Live In Japan (2001)

"Well my baby and me went out late Saturday nightI had my hair piled high and my baby just looks so right"
- Brian Setzer from Rock This Town

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 18, 2002

Stars: Brian Setzer
Other Stars: Bernie Dresel, Mark Winchester, Ray Herrmann, Tim Misica, Don Roberts, Jim Youngstorm, Matt Zebley, Alex Henderson, Robbie Hioki, George McMullen, Craig Woods, Will Murillo, Kevin Norton, Kye Palmer, Kevin Richardson, Joie Shettler, Julie Reiten
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: 01h:25m:46s
Release Date: February 19, 2002
UPC: 014381133622
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B+A- B

DVD Review

As a guy who had his own hair piled high for a spell back in the early 1980s during that brief rockabilly boom, I have to admit to having always been a fan of Brian Setzer. As the frontman for the leading edge rockabilly trio The Stray Cats, Setzer not only had the rock star looks going on, but he had the chops to back it up. The whole twangy guitar bit wasn't an act for him, and he seemed to be a genuine incarnation of the legendary Gene Vincent, as opposed the countless pompadoured imitators who followed. As I moved through the underground music scene back then, I watched The Stray Cats move from unknowns to stardom to disintegration by 1984, as have so many bands before and since them, until the unlikely and risky commercial merger of big band and rockabilly brought Setzer back into the limelight in 1994, including a surprising Grammy® win in 2001. The Brian Setzer Orchestra Live In Japan was captured on a February 2001 tour, and was recorded at the Akasaka Blitz in Tokyo. Backed by a swinging fifteen-piece band (plus two backup singers), Setzer rips through a healthy cross-section twenty tracks in 86 minutes, all with the same brand of duck-walking energy he had back in the distant hey day (in rock terms, that is) of The Stray Cats. I don't expect this concert disc to win any new fans, as Setzer's boogie-woogie musical stylings seem to split listeners cleanly in the "love it or hate it" camp, but for the faithful this is a nicely assembled set of music.All of the staples are covered here, with the highlights spanning from the solitary guitar of Duke Ellington's Caravan to Setzer's The Cramps-worthy Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder). Stray Cats hits like Stray Cat Strut are reincarnated with the horn section, and includes an unexpected Pink Panther Theme sax solo break. In middle of the set the horn section is temporarily ditched, and he digs into into a stripped down five songs, beginning with the melancholy I Won't Stand In Your Way featuring just Setzer on guitar, lit by a single spot. Mystery Train easily recalls The Stray Cats era, with a stand-up bass and drums accompaniment, and the sweet guitar work on Sleepwalk is nostalgically well done. He offers up two takes on the hit Rock This Town, in both big band and original rockabilly trio versions.A number of different camera angles were incorporated in the shoot, preventing this disc from being simply a series of predictable and static shots. During a number of Setzer's solos, the camera zooms in just his hands and the guitar. Audience reactions and stage chatter are kept to an absolute minimum, with the focus here being the band. The whole performance seems very relaxed and natural, with even some of Setzer's vocal shortcomings doing little to tarnish the festivities. The horn section and their rhythmic choreography just add to the mood, which seems miles away from the usual bored disdain that most rock bands convey. I just might have to go dig out my big jar of hair gel.Track List:Hawaii 5-0This Cat's On A Hot Tin RoofThe Dirty BoogieJumpin' East Of JavaThe Footloose DollDrive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder)CaravanAmericanoI Won't Stand In Your WayMystery TrainGene & EddieGuitar RagSleepwalkStray Cat StrutJump Jive An' WailPennsylvania 6-500Gettin' In The MoodGet Me To The Church On TimeRock This TownRock This Town ('68 Comeback Special)

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, this concert disc presents Setzer's show with an image transfer that doesn't offer much in the way of a varied color palette, but what's here looks generally good. The reds of his horn section do tend to get a little oversaturated at times, however, but the blue lighting over the crowd looks especially sharp in contrast to the bright crimson that dominate the stage set. During a couple of songs, when it's just Setzer under a single spot, the image looks excellent. Some of the stage backdrops show off some fine grain, and there are few minor compression issues during some of close-ups of the various guitars.The flaws here are minor enough to not distract from Setzer's energetic performance.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: A concert disc lives or dies by the audio transfer, and Image has loaded this one with 5.1, DTS and 2.0 surround. The DTS track bests the 5.1 with a noticeably heavier bottom end, and a generally fuller mix that makes the brass sound especially crisp. The 5.1 track is good in it's own right, but is not quite as robust. Crowd noise is used sparingly across the rears in both mixes.The 2.0 surround mix is dramatically flat in comparison to the beefier 5.1 or DTS, and should only be use in cases of extreme emergencies.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 22 cues and remote access
2 Multiple Angles with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Image has included an unimaginatively titled 11m:37s featurette (The Documentary Of The Brian Setzer Orchestra Live In Japan) that was recorded during Setzer's tour of Japan in February of 2001. It consists primarily of Setzer, in voiceover, discussing typical rock star blather about how much he enjoys playing live, etc. The footage is made up of backstage shots, and features quickie comments from some of the band members. While not high in useful content, it is engaging fluff. It's interesting to note that this documentary features a snippet of the band performing The Stray Cats nugget Rumble In Brighton, that sadly does not appear as part of the disc's set list.Two songs (Caravan and Sleepwalk) feature the rarely used multiple angle option, though on my player it did not appear to working properly.Each of the twenty songs are chaptered, which makes it easy to click right to your favorite track, and the keepcase insert booklet includes all of the lyrics, too.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

If you're a fan, then you'll no doubt want this disc. The audio mix, which includes DTS and 5.1, is very good, and really gives the big band sound a lift. Setzer gives a spirited performance, and he mixes a nice blend of straight rockabilly (sans brass) along with the crazy horns.Recommended


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