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Music Video Distributors presents
REO Speedwagon: Real Artists Working (2002)

"My high school band director, Leroy Kersh, taught me the most important thing of all. If you're in front of an audience and you make a mistake, don't let it show on your face."
- Neal Doughty

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: August 19, 2002

Stars: Kevin Cronin, Neal Doughty, Bruce Hall, Dave Amato, Bryan Hitt
Other Stars: Alex
Director: Greg Pineda

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (no objectionable material)
Run Time: 01h:17m:12s
Release Date: August 20, 2002
UPC: 663300701192
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C B-C-B- D

DVD Review

I must begin this review by stating that I have never been much of an REO Speedwagon fan. I will say, however, that I enjoyed watching the concert footage on REO Speedwagon: Real Artists Working , or RAW. The band displays an incredible amount of professionalism on stage. Even at ages typically unbefitting of rock stars, the members of REO perform with tremendous physical energy and an innate sense of cohesive musicianship. If this DVD were strictly a concert video, I would most likely honor it with a positive review. Unfortunately, these concert clips only encompass roughly 10 minutes of RAWs 75-minute running time.

The concert footage is merely filler for the heart of the matter, which consists of interviews with each of the five band members. The interviewer is simply referred to as "Alex" of the Hollywood Music Store. I am unaware of Alex's background, but I would be interested to discover how she landed this job. She interrogates each band member with a puzzled look on her face, reciting pre-rehearsed questions that she seems to be struggling to remember. At her worst, she flashes a bewildered glance at the camera, as if to say "What do I do next?" Alex apparently has no musical background, which makes her technical questions sound awkward. She seems to have little REO Speedwagon knowledge as well. When bass player Bruce Hall tells her that the band has been together for 30 years, she attempts to sound adept by exclaiming her tender feelings for all of REO's 1980s ballads.

Despite these terrible interviewing skills, the band does well at describing what makes them tick. Guitarist Dave Amato and bassist Bruce Hall discuss their gear and show off their various instruments, while drummer Bryan Hitt offers a candid look at the intricacies of his drum kit. Keyboardist Neal Doughty and lead singer Kevin Cronin also discuss technical details, while offering additional insight as to their backgrounds in music. This information is interesting but plays much like an instructional video without any hands on instruction. The band members give tips on how to get started in music but do not offer any demonstrative advice to back up their words of wisdom. The ultimate lesson learned is practice makes perfect.

RAW is a hard sell, as musicians will find it boring and redundant, while non-musicians will likely not want to listen to any technical talk. I like the concept of a well-established rock band offering tips on how to flourish in the music industry, but in more capable hands, RAW could have been a success. Ultimately, these noble intentions fall flat and the entire piece comes across as generic. Incorporating more live footage could have been a good way to balance out a video that is overly prevalent with mildly entertaining interviews. A small amount of learned information and a whole lot of music would have been a much better way to cater towards a larger fan base.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Shot on video, the image has its share of deficiencies. The picture is very gritty throughout, partially due to blazingly overblown contrast. All of the expected video imperfections are evident, including jagged edges, shimmering, and a gross lack of detail. This is not a pleasant visual experience, yet also not necessarily the type of DVD one expects to exhibit sparkling picture quality. REO fans should not find this satisfactory presentation terribly distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: I was initially delighted to find that the sole audio track is uncompressed PCM stereo. However, while acceptable, I found it to be sonically disappointing. The most impressive audio comes from the concert performances. These sections of live music boast a strong presence that generously fills the soundfield. The interview segments sound significantly less enjoyable. Dialogue is heavily distorted with an emphasis on the mid range, which causes voices to sound "chesty." Bottom line: the concert footage sounds great, the interviews do not.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 8 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes
Extras Review: The one extra is a collection of five brief segments, which (I suppose) could be considered deleted scenes. These one- to two-minute pieces consist of additional footage from the interview segments seen in the main feature. I am guessing that the only reason these were included as "Bonus Footage", rather than incorporated into the main feature, is to give the illusion of special features.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

The overall enjoyment of RAW will depend on one's appreciation of REO Speedwagon. Beginner musicians will certainly find an abundance of good advice, and casual viewers should enjoy learning about the band's roots. However, with the significant lack of concert footage, I believe even the most dedicated REO fan will ultimately feel letdown.


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