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Rhino presents
The Sugarcubes: Live Zabor (1988)

"Deus does not exist."
- Björk - Deus

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: February 07, 2006

Stars: Björk
Other Stars: Einar Benediktsson, Siggi Baldursson, Thor Jonson, Magga Ornolfsdottir, Bragi Olafsson
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:58m:46s
Release Date: February 07, 2006
UPC: 603497047024
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+C+B D-

DVD Review

It's difficult to get a true feel for what Icelandic singer Björk is all about until you've seen her perform live. While her solo tours are rich in costumes and lavish stage production, her performances with the Sugarcubes are full of an intense energy that's difficult to top, let alone describe. The band was only around for a few years at the dawn of alternative rock, but their daring, often difficult music set the pace for that era, serving as a mere glimmer of what was yet to come.

The 20 tracks on The Sugarcubes: Live Zabor capture the band during a few of its finest live performances. The footage is culled from concerts in Reykjavik Akureyri in May 1989, London Astoria in May 1988, and Auburn, Georgia in October 1988. This wide range of settings makes for an interesting study in how an excellent band knows exactly how to play to a specific audience. Björk, especially, seems to give us a preview of her US solo success by ramping it up during the Auburn performances. She's always a ball of energy and charisma regardless of where she's performing, but she seems to be trying a bit harder to get this American crowd on board with the Sugarcubes' quirky music.

All three albums are covered across the 20 tracks, including interesting versions of Planet, Cat, and Delicious Demon. We get the rare cut, Luftgitar (which is also available on Sugarcubes: The DVD, but none of the albums), Mamma, Cowboy, Cold Sweat, Birthday, Plastic, and the always strange Eat the Menu. There's also a collection of interviews with the band members, including a typically strange segment where Björk takes apart a TV to show us its inner parts. This all makes sense when it eventually leads into the song TV, but this is Björk at her goofiest.

If the Pixies can reunite after all of these years and a ton of turmoil, why the heck can't an arguably better, more revolutionary band like The Sugarcubes do the same? I was ecstatic to finally witness the Pixies in concert a couple of years ago, but before they came on stage, I couldn't help thinking that a reunion of Björk and her Icelandic comrades would be even more exhilarating. Still, Björk was the key to the band's brilliance, and her excellent solo work over the last decade has kept fans more than satisfied. So, while a full band reunion looks very unlikely, a new Björk album and subsequent world tour sounds like a grand idea to this rabid fan.

There is one discrepancy between the DVD's track listing and what is actually available on the disc. The packaging shows a chapter 21 for Birthday (Icelandic version). Unfortunately, this track is nowhere to be found.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The concert footage is presented in its original full-frame format, with the quality of the different shows ranging from decent to incredibly grainy. Some of the video is choppy and full of dirt and debris, but live concerts don't always transfer well from the event to home video of any kind. The band's colorful costumes are well-rendered during most of the program, and the black levels generally hold up nicely.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Both the live and interview material is in Dolby Digital 2.0. The crowd noise is kept to a minimum, keeping the sound quality high above that of most bootleg live audio, and closer to what we might hear directly from a soundboard. The dynamic range is very limited and the rears are used sparingly, but fans of the Sugarcubes should be pleased that these old events have been sonically reproduced as well as they have.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There aren't any extras at all on this disc.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Rhino Home Video has really stepped up to the plate for Sugarcubes fans, thanks to their simultaneous releases of Sugarcubes: The DVD and this disc, The Sugarcubes: Live Zabor. Similar to the other disc, the audio and video are adequate, but nothing flashy. This release has absolutely nothing in the way of extras, and with no future Sugarcubes DVDs planned as of now, this is even more unfortunate.

 


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