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Music Video Distributors presents
Buju Banton Live!: Island Life (2002)

"Are you ready for Buju?!"
- Announcer

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: October 30, 2002

Stars: Buju Banton, Super Beagle, Wayne Wonder
Director: unknown

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (impossible to determine)
Run Time: 01h:00m:07s
Release Date: September 10, 2002
UPC: 026617951092
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Reviewing Buju Banton Live!: Island Life is quite a predicament. While I was basically appalled by this presentation, I am not entirely certain if I can place any of my criticism on the featured bands. Quite honestly, I did not hear or see enough of them to pass judgement. The problems are almost exclusively related to the horrendous production values. The video quality is slightly worse than an umpteenth generation bootleg. The audio is so plagued with distortion that I wanted to cover my ears. The coverage of this event reminds me of footage shot by an overzealous parent at a high school variety show, only it is not nearly as entertaining.

Island Life offers no information on exactly who these performers are or where and when they are performing, so I have to guess. From what I can gather, this was a reggae festival in Jamaica with Buju Banton as the headlining act. A house announcer occasionally takes the stage to introduce upcoming acts, but between the distortion and the ridiculous amount of reverb effects on his voice, I could barely discern what he was saying. The first act is simply a DJ accompanied by overweight dancers who appear to have just risen from a coma. Next is a band called Super Beagle, who are followed by Wayne Wonder, and finally, Buju Banton himself. All of these reggae musicians seem to possess talent, but I could not find any attributes in their performances due to the shabby audio and video quality. The poorly calibrated sound system reminded me of the atrocious sound systems I used to hear at the local carnivals. Instead of focusing on the stage, the filmmakers decided to force the cameras into the faces of the crowd members. This backward approach is about as interesting as watching grass grow.

I almost wanted to submit Island Life as a one-word review, marked "Unreviewable." I do not believe I would have been singing praises of joy had the audio and video quality been better, but I at least feel as if I would have been able to offer a little more constructive criticism. As someone who used to collect unofficial recordings, I can honestly say that Island Life is one of the rattiest presentations I have ever experienced. When it comes to entertainment value, I struggled but found none.

Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: In case someone skipped the main review and came right here, let me reiterate—the image transfer is unforgivable. First of all, the disc is falsely advertised as a "widescreen edition" when it is merely full-frame. As far as the image quality, it can best be described as a VHS tape of unknown generation. My guess is that the copy from which this DVD has been mastered falls about 20 copies from the original source recording. The image is plagued with every imaginable deficiency known to the video world and perhaps a few that I have newly discovered. At its worst, the entire screen looks as if it were melting. I hope to never see another transfer like this again.

Image Transfer Grade: F


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is not much better than the video. I have never before heard a DVD soundtrack infested with so much noise. Even at low volumes, the amount of distortion is intolerable and, perhaps, system threatening. While the entire track is excruciating, the most painful moments occur from the occasional blast of deafening noise that sounds as if someone poured liquid on the mixing console. This is the type of audio mix that professionals are trained to avoid at all costs.

Audio Transfer Grade: D-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Static menus and eight chapter stops is all Buju has to offer.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Buju Banton Live!: Island Life gets my vote for the most unusual DVD release of all time. Is DVD not a medium for which the viewer should be allowed to appreciate enhanced audio and video quality over VHS? Quite frankly, Island Life looks and sounds far worse than any official VHS release I have seen. Even diehard fans of Buju Banton should stay away from this release.


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