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Tommy James & The Shondells
Live! At The Bitter End

review by Zach B.

 

Not Rated

Studio: BMG

Running Time: 60 Minutes

Starring Tommy James... and the Shondells!

Retail Price: $13.99

Features: Song Commentaries, Discography, Full-Length Interviews, Biography

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English Stereo, Song Index

I'll be the first to admit I'm not really into music. Don't get me wrong, I love music, I love lyrics, but as far as following singers, groups and bands, knowing songs and who everyone is, that's not really me. I'm more into film, but I have my bands which I enjoy and listen to them, as well as soundtracks and that sort of thing.

I really have no idea what to say about this disc, because I'm not a Tommy James fan, since he was really long before my time. To be honest with you, I never even heard of Tommy James & The Shondells before recieving this disc to review. He is mainly from the 1960s, but when you think of that era, Tommy James doesn't exactly come to mind. We think more of "The Beatles" and the British pop rock invasion.

This disc has a really hard plot to follow. You see, it involves Tommy James & The Shondells performing live at New York City's Greenwhich Village's Bitter End. The disc opens with a giant alien spaceship crashing to Earth, and then this government conspiracy--- alright, forget it, that was a tad bit stupid, but it's just James and The Shondells performing all their classic favorites.

After viewing this disc and listening to it, I do admist Mr. James is not that bad (and I realized he's the dude who did "Draggin' The Line"). Sure, he's not something I'd go right out and buy and listen to, but his lyrics and music are decent, and this disc from BMG is sure to please any Tommy James & The Shondells fan out there. And for you 1980s music fans (I know you're out there!), you may or may not have known that Mr. James penned the original version of Tiffany's mall circut hit "I Think We're Alone Now". I prefer Tiffany's faster and more upbeat version, but listening to this in retro fashion makes it sound pretty interesting.

The transfer is 1.33:1 full frame, and it really suffers. The video is somewhat grainy at times, and the compression suffers due to artifacts. Still, it's watchable. It's just plain old video tape. As far as the performance itself, the editing is awful and the camera is not stablizied. Angles can also be horrible.

Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, this is a great soundmix which will show off your speakers quite well. Whether it is guitars strumming, drums kicking in, the rear channels are made to really good use, and the channels in front sound perfect. It is easy to hear, though most of the time the music overpowers the singing.

This disc does offer an impressive amount of features, and I feel more artists should do things like this for their music and DVDs.

Probably the highlight of this disc is the Commentary with Tommy James. Right off the bat, he's pretty talkative, and explains why he performed at the Bitter End, as well as the inspiration for his songs. I do think his commentary is pretty good, better than some of the ones I have heard for films. Die-hard fans will eat this up.

Interviews last for about 25 minutes, and it's basically Tommy James explaining his origins with music. It is pretty interesting, with some old photographs and stuff, and you may be shocked to learn Mr. James has never learned to play a guitar correctly until this day, and that he taught himself.

A Discography lists Tommy James & The Shondells singles, 45s, albums, you name it. Whatever he released, it's on the discography.

Finally, there is an extensive Biography. It gives some background on Tommy James, so for newbies to him like me, I picked up some info.

On a side note, there is a Song Index so you can jump right to your favorite song (there are thirteen) and some pretty nifty interactive menus, complete with some basic dissolve effects. A lot better than the standard stills I am so used to seeing.

 

BMG is offering a really nifty disc of a classic performer. With some great audio and interesting features, this is a good addition to any music fan's collection. Especially for such a low price!

(3.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(4.5/5)

(2.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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