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Music Video Distributors presents

Butthole Surfers: Blind Eye Sees All—Live In Detroit 1985 (1985)

"Something she said to me last night/Something she said to me/I saw the sunrise over my daddy's grave/And I ate some rice and cheese today."- lyrics from Something

Stars: Gibby Haynes, Paul Leary, King Koffey, Jeff Pinkus
Director: Unknown

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, adult humor)
Run Time: 01h:20m:55s
Release Date: 2002-09-17
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- BCC+ C+


DVD Review

The Butthole Surfers are a musical phenomena not particularly easy to describe. In the early 1980s, they carved a comfortable niche for themselves in both the full-on punk and new wave scenes with their unusual blend of chaotic rock, nonsensical lyrics, and very strange personal image, despite the fact their music didn't fit in either genre. They earned a reputation with their bizarre live performances and utterly silly attitude towards their own music with albums like Cream Corn From The Socket Of Davis, Hairway To Steven, and Locust Abortion Technician. Still going strong today, the Butthole Surfers are virtually impossible to ignore as a memorable rock'n'roll act. Like many great bands that are their peers, another factor defining this band are is their ever-changing lineup. While the core members remain basically the same, all sorts of faces come and go, resulting in a very varied texture to their albums. And of course, who can forget singer Gibby Haynes lending his vocals to Ministry's overnight classic, Jesus Built My Hotrod?

The Blind Eye Sees All DVD reaches a gloved hand back into the recesses of history (1985 to be precise), pulls out their first "concert film", and hoses off the gunk. In this era, the Surfers were on Alternative Tentacles (the label started by Dead Kennedys' lead singer Jello Biafra) and were enjoying quite a bit of popularity. The performance, located in Detroit, is one that few viewers will forget. The set includes:
The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey's Grave
One Hundred Million People Dead
Bar-be-que Pope
Cowboy Bob
Dum Dum
Mexican Caravan
Lady Sniff
Mark Says Alright

Between the songs are rather strange interview segments with the Surfers themselves (in bed) in which they discuss many incoherent subjects with appropriate detail. The energy of the concert is about what you'd expect from the band, including some strange vocal interludes, singing through a loudspeaker, an on-stage tuba performance, and Gibby tying multitudes of tampons into his hair. Tasteless? Perhaps, but 100% Butthole Surfers, and I guess that's what counts. One of the most interesting things is the presence of two on-stage drummers, whose antics lend an almost ritualistic tone to the proceedings and create a powerful rhythm that's strangely addictive.

While most of the vocals are completely unintelligible and the music is often purposefully atonal, it's still an entertaining bit of musical history, especially for anyone who's even a casual fan of the Surfers. It's also a rare bit of history for the band that has long been unaccounted for, but now given a sort of resurrection on DVD. Bands like this just don't really come along anymore, and it's reassuring to see the Surfers doing their thing in any age.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Filmed on what appears to be ordinary home video back in 1985, the video quality is obviously weak and eroded. The transfer copes with the poor quality very well, however, and compression issues are minimal, if at all. Running at a regular 9.5-10mbps, the disc does have some source issues with bleeding colors, scanlines, and general analog transfer problems, but again, these are kept as a source issue rather than something that makes the program difficult to watch.

Image Transfer Grade: C

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Despite a Dolby 5.1 remaster, the audio really hasn't fared much better than the video. While the expanded range of the audio is apparent, there is little in true surround detail. The difference between the 5.1 and 2.0 soundtracks seems to largely be one of preference. The 2.0 sounds slightly more natural, but the 5.1 has improved clarity and more subtle enhancements. Neither audio is better or worse, they seem to just be slight alterations on presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 13 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Butthole Karaoke
  2. Photo Gallery with Audio Track
Extras Review: A few interesting things are contained here, starting with the 'Butthole Karaoke' feature, which is basically just some tracks off the disc presented with subtitles so you can sing, wheeze, and scream along with 5 songs from the performance. A photo gallery of various rare promotional flyers and old artworks used for various Butthole Surfers events and garage releases is also included. Accompanying the gallery, an audio track of the Surfers' remake of American Woman, from a rare single of theirs. There is an additional live video of Negro Observer, this one dating to 1991. The disc itself is nicely presented with elements of older Butthole Surfers artwork and there are two separate chapter menus, one for the songs and one for the weird interview segments.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

Surfers fans will love the glimpse into their earlier days that Blind Eye Sees All offers. It's also a great look at a band whose experimental nature was easily apparent, putting them in a class of their own way before they got major label support or were easily spotted on a record store shelf.

Dan Lopez 2002-09-15