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Koch Vision presents
Soundstage: Peter Cetera (2003)

"I could get used to this."
- Peter Cetera

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: January 20, 2005

Stars: Peter Cetera, Amy Grant, Bruce Gaitsch, Tony Harrell, Kim Keyes, Gene Miller
Other Stars: Tim Akers, John Hammond, Gary Lunn, Mark Oakley, Will Owsley, Melodie Crittenden
Director: Joe Thomas

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:55m:13s
Release Date: January 11, 2005
UPC: 741952625292
Genre: pop


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+AA B

DVD Review

When bassist and primary lead vocalist Peter Cetera departed the celebrated band Chicago in 1985, most industry observers thought he'd become an instant case study in Bad Career Moves 101. Excepting a brief lull bridging the late 1970s/early '80s, the pop-rock-jazz ensemble consistently hovered about the upper rungs of the top 10 with hit singles that defined their generation (Feelin' Stronger Every Day, 25 or 6 to 4, Just You 'n' Me, Hard Habit to Break, etc.) taken from numerically designated albums that sold in the millions.

If you were in his shoes, would you have dared to walk down the solo road?

But the gutsy move paid off as Cetera scored two consecutive number one singles in the summer of 1986 with The Next Time I Fall in Love (a duet with Christian pop crossover artist Amy Grant) and The Glory of Love (the solitary saving grace of the tacky Karate Kid sequel; please, no hate mail from middle-aged moms still hot for Ralph Macchio). At decade's end, the high chart placing of After All and One Good Woman hinted at continued prominence for the Windy City native with the 1990s approaching. However, as the public's taste in popular music gravitated toward hip-hop and grunge, Cetera and many similar adult contemporary stylists found themselves relegated to soft rock stations, which in turn deflated their record sales.

In recent years, a slow but steady return to recording studios and concert stages reached a high point with the singer's 2003 appearance on an extremely popular PBS music program. Soundstage: Peter Cetera presents that performance, which collects virtually all of his most notable solo hits with some blasts from the past.

On a quick cursory listen, I must admit I was more than a little underwhelmed. Though the arrangements were indeed pretty, I missed certain aspects of certain songs—the Abbey Road-ish guitar on the playout of Hard to Say I'm Sorry and the heartbeat feel of that classic '80s drum sound on Glory of Love. Being a major Chicago fan and a longtime Cetera admirer, I couldn't believe an impending negative analysis seemed to be in the cards. But I opted to give the disc another listen with a more open mind, and I'm glad I did.

Still boyishly charming at the age of 60 (no misprint; I checked his bio) with his high tenor voice in wonderful shape, this "unplugged" setting gives the most beloved chestnuts of his back catalog a chance to shine in new ways; minus the drum kit pounds, electrical keyboard flourishes and guitar solos, you can better appreciate the wonderful brass and orchestral arrangements originally conceived by the likes of James William Guercio and David Foster, not to mention the sincere, heartfelt lyrics of Have You Ever Been in Love and You're the Inspiration among many others.

In a pleasant bonus, longtime friend Amy Grant not only guests on a reunion duet of Next Time I Fall, but also opens the show with a three song mini-set featuring her pop radio breakthrough Baby Baby and El-Shaddai, (the latter coming from her classic Christian Music album, Age to Age), musically revisited in an awe-inspiring orchestral arrangement that showcases the warmth of a truly heaven-sent voice. Cetera backing vocalist Kim Keyes is equally worthy of mention; in addition to handling the same duties during Grant's tunes where needed, she also takes a well-earned spotlight by tackling Cher's harmony part on After All and making it all her own.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1:66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Conceived with high-definition audiences in mind, the new and improved 2000-era Soundstage has looked exceptional in every DVD release I've seen thus far; this is no exception. Luminous color, perfect skin tones, sharp as a knife and excellent clarity rank amongst its virtues. But I still find myself baffled by the lack of anamorphic enhancement on these discs. Otherwise, a near-perfect rating is more than deserved.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Perhaps the best-sounding Soundstage DVD issue to date in this category, this has a wonderful warmth and clarity to the vocals, a very pleasing stereo spread emerging from the fronts with nicely isolated instrumental solos alternating between the left and right speakers. Rears are a little bit more subdued than I would have preferred, but better this than having overly enhanced screams and shouts from the crowd like I've experienced on over-the-top mixes that had me looking backwards for neighbors that came into the house without knocking first.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Three Additional Performances
  2. Text Biography/Interview
  3. Photo Gallery (18)
  4. Discography
  5. Backstage Pass/Meet the Band
Extras Review: If there's any disappointing aspects to the Soundstage releases, it's the practically useless sections devoted to Interviews and Biographies, which are unbelievably brief and lack any sort of useful information on the performers; if you're looking for something more extensive, you're better off going to the artist's official web site.

Thankfully, the vaults of the program are explored; the bonus performances contained on every disc are always a treat, and sometimes better than those that make the final cut of a given show. That's the case here with three additional tunes from Cetera, including two great Chicago classics: an unlikely mellow version of 25 or 6 to 4 that proves a great song remains so (just like Eric Clapton's acoustic take on Layla), no matter how you dress it up, and Hard to Say I'm Sorry, which spotlights the excellent Chicago-based orchestra in the homestretch as they blow the roof off the joint in a thunderous finale of the song's album version (a.k.a. Get Away) that even takes Cetera's breath away.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A nice trip back to the old days for Chicago fans and its original lead singer, Soundstage: Peter Cetera may not hook you instantly with its orchestral revamped treatment of '70s and '80s radio classics, but if you give it a chance on its own merits, you'll be pleasantly entertained.

 


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