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BMG Music presents
Lynyrd Skynyd: LYVE from Steel Town (1997)

"I think people identify so much with the music because it's about the common man—the working man. People have actually passed it on to their kids, because it's about real life."
- Gary Rossington

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: April 23, 2000

Stars: Johnny Van Zant
Other Stars: Gary Rossington
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: October 05, 1999
UPC: 060768830691
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

On this date 22 years ago, October 17, 1977, three members of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd band died in a plane crash, including their songwriter and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, It's funny how things become clouded, and you begin to credit songs to the wrong bands. Watching this DVD made me realize what a great songwriter Van Zant truly had been, and the legacy he's left.

After long thought, Ronnie's younger brother Johnny Van Zant took over the lead vocalist duties, his voice eerily similar to his late brother's. After feuds with some band members, and the passing of guitarist Allen Collins, the band looked to beef up the guitar accompaniment to co-founder Rossington, and did so with the additions of Blackfoot founder/guitarist Ricky Medlocke and Outlaw founder/guitarist Hughie Thomasson.

Somewhat skeptical of the reconstructed band however, I fired this disc up. Pretty soon into the concert there was little doubt that this band rocks. Still, there is something missing. Perhaps an energy, or a lurking survivor's guilt. But who am I to speak to such things. The guitarists show their stuff throughout, and if you close your eyes it will almost take you there. Maybe the missing element is the lackluster stage show, but this isn't David Burns, and you shouldn't be expecting as much. The audience seems involved but withdrawn. Johnny has to ask several times if they're having a good time before he gets a response he likes. But from Gimme Three Steps to the victim's tribute and the survivor's anthem, Free Bird the house is a rocking, so don't come a knocking!

The Band:

Johnny Van Zant (vocals)
Gary Rossington (guitar)
Billy Powell (keyboards)
Leon Wilkeson (bass)
Hughie Thomasson (guitar-Outlaws band founder)
Ricky Medlocke (guitar-Blackfoot band founder)
Owen Hale (drums and percussion)
Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase (backup vocalists)

The Songlist:

We Ain't Much Different
Saturday Night Special
What's Your Name
On The Hunt
You've Got That Right
Voodoo Lake
That Smell
Bring It On
Simple Man
I Know a Little
Gimme Three Steps
Sweet Home Alabama
Travelin' Man
Free Bird

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: BMG and CMC International present this concert footage in a non-anamorphic 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Partially due to the low levels of contrast during darker and then floodlight shots, but there is a softness or fuzziness to the transfer. I am not sure if this was shot full-frame or not, I would almost assume it was. There is little aliasing, what I found occurred in chapter 10, 51m:35s, with a bout of graininess following at approximately 51m:46s. Otherwise the colors are nicely rendered, and there is little bleeding to write about.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The disc contains two mixes, a Dolby Surround 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1. The former seems cleaner, but far less powerful than the latter, as if it had its legs cut off. The front stage for the 2.0 mix seems flat, while the backstage is negligent. This concert was taped while DVD was but in its infancy (since it is the fastest growing new consumer technology, do months equate like human-to-dog years?), and the concept of 5.1 discrete channels of sound probably wasn't in mind. It seems as if there were simply different areas in which the mikes were put, which does give some sense of dynamics, but I found the rears to be mostly noise, while the front soundstage is moderately dynamic. The linked placement of sounds to the onscreen stage is generally very good. You have some sense of depth here, but I would have like to feel that the audience was around me with the band in front as if at a real concert.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 0 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single
Layers Switch: na

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. "Lynk to the Web" at http://www.cmcinternational.com
  3. preview of Skynyrd's hard driving rock song Workin' from their newest album Edge of Forever.
Extras Review: The single sided picture disc comes with semi-animated main menu with music, song access (15), "Lynyrd Skynyrd is" names the current incarnation of the band to those not in the know, the band's discography, automatic photo gallery accompanied by the newer Voodoo Lake song, and "On location," a behind-the-scenes featurette with band interview snippets.

The sub-menu "More from the road" (a play on an earlier album) includes more features. There is a Skynyrd history from 1996 forward, "Backstage Pass" contains a snippet from June 27, 1999 at Denver, Colorado, showing the band right before taking the stage, "Lynk to the Web" at http://www.cmcinternational.com, and a music only preview of Skynyrd's hard driving rock song Workin' from their newest album Edge of Forever.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

While I felt the overall on-stage performance uneven and the surround effect lacking, this is still a very good concert with some classic southern rock standards. I think the band may have been more interested but played off of the audience. If it had been my choice I would have chosen a different engagement. Still, these guitarists can throw down a mean riff, and Van Zant's uncanny vocal resemblance make for an enjoyable concert. There are some nice extras on this disc (more than I expected), including some DVD-ROM connectability I couldn't attempt.


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