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162 of 167 found the following review helpful:
Take it for what it is and enjoy it!Jul 23, 2004
By David S. Jenkins
Hey, fellow ABBA fans, let's relax a little bit! You're being WAY too hard on this DVD. Remember it's a 25 year old DOCUMENTARY, not a concert, and it was shot by a network that didn't religiously archive the footage because nobody at the time expected people 25 years later to care! There's plenty of full length numbers, and they rip! Having been lucky enough to have seen ABBA at the Music Hall in Boston during this tour (as did most of Aerosmith, the Cars and the J. Giels Band down in the front rows), I'm delighted now to own this DVD because it proves a point I've long tried to make to my sceptical friends. ABBA WERE UNDENIABLY A GREAT, GREAT LIVE ACT.
I've been professionally involved in the concert business for three decades, I've seen everyone pretty much, and though my personal tastes run more towards The Beatles, The Cramps and Garbage, I rank ABBA as one of the best live bands I've EVER seen on a stage. The vocals were spot on, the band rocked and were very tight, the energy level was through the roof. The group, especially Frida and Agnetha, were very lively, generous and vivacious with the audience, and the songs were just great. Frankly, it was an incredible, indescribable rush to see them live, especially if you'd waited five years for it.
For ages ABBA have been a guilty pleasure for those of us supposedly hip rockers, but unless you're a frigid snob you'll have to admit upon viewing this show that ABBA weren't a corny plastic disco machine - they absolutely delivered the goods. A totally legitimate act with nothing to apologize for. What's also great is that ABBA were based not just on unforgettable hook-laden songs and astounding voices, but there was a genuinely warm and mature sexuality exuding from that stage. Agnetha and Frida were women, not little girls. There bodies may not have been perfect (J-LO fans, you'll see a startling similarity between she and Agnetha in a certain way) but their talent and their sensuality knocks Britney's lip synced teasing schoolgirl trip right off the stage. ABBA actually sang every note live, mistakes and all - what a concept.
As to the extras, "Thank You For The Music" is probably my least favorite ABBA song, but on this disc Agnetha is just incredible, she nails it. Frida was the darker, more european side of things, handling more mature themes, and my fave, but if God ever put a more attractive woman on a stage than Agnetha in this film, I've never seen her. As to the sound complaints, if you run the disc through a good amplifier and speaker system there's no problem, if not some of the bottom is admittedly missing. But on the plus side the clarity of the vocals is astonishing, and within the instrumentation lots of little surprises I'd never heard.
Visually it's incredible - you can count eyelashes and pores, and the color is rich and true. So c'mon - lighten up everyone - a very well directed documentary, a very well edited piece of history at a pretty low price. It's a great disc of a truly brilliant band. Let's be happy for a very nice little gift to us all.
66 of 68 found the following review helpful:
Thank you for the Abba! Wonderful!Mar 26, 2005
Wow! I purchased this dvd as an impulse buy before reading any reviews. Before opening it I browsed here and after reading the reviews I almost returned it. I'm glad I didn't! This DVD is a spectacular, enjoyable time capsule that captures one of pop music's greatest groups at their pinnacle of success. Those reviewers who pan the sound quality don't realize that this is the raw sound captured live at a concert. Too many of today's artists either can't sing or overdub their soundtracks after the fact to enhance the sound quality of their recordings. Abba, in releasing this disk, has rightfully chosen not to.
What is this DVD? It is a re-release of a documentary film done about the group's 1979 tour of the US and UK. When reviewing it, you must take it for what it is. It was done before even vcr's. The documentary producers didn't film every minute of the concerts from five different cameras. They captured what they wanted to make a compelling documentary. And they succeeded wonderfully. It is important, though, to remember that 1979 music video style was very different than today. The filmmakers could never have dreamed of 5.1 audio...they produced for 2" mono speaker in the average 1980 tv set.
The first third or so shows the group traveling, hanging out, eating meals, and warming up before a show. Abba songs are the soundtrack, but they are not shown as full concert pieces. The behind the scenes part is great watching of the late 70's lifestyle. The rest of the disk is concert footage, and although it would have been nice to have two hours of a full concert, history has left us with about 7 or 8 songs. Extras include additional songs captured on film but not included in the original documentary.
The video quality on this disk is spectacular. It was obviously done with film as the quality is comparable to a film of the same vintage. It is notably better than many newer concert dvds I own, including Fleetwood Mac's "The Dance." The camera angles are often not what a more modern concert video would show, but they make for an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Audio I'd rate as good. When evaluating it, again it is important to consider the source. Abba preferred to make music in the studio and make it perfect. When old music is remastered for modern re-release, the engineers have access to the original studio tape. This was a live concert. There are no redubs or overdubs. Concerts also, in my opinion, are NOT in general enhanced by surround sound. When you watch a concert live, the speakers are at the stage in FRONT of you, not behind you. I've found that 9 out of ten concert videos are much better in stereo mode than in surround. This one is no exception. The surround tracks are presented in dolby and dts but I agree that the mix on these is distracting, with loud crowd ambience detracting from the music. Played in dolby 2.0 mode, the sound is superb. This makes sense, because it is probably how the original movie was recorded and meant to be heard. When considering the audio, it is important to put it in context...this is a 25 year old documentary audio soundtrack master. There is only so much restoration can do. That being said, the audio 2.0 track is as good as any other live recording of a similar age. There is no hiss, noise, or other distractions. Comparing it to modern 5.1 soundtracks is an unreasonable expectation.
To summarize, this is a terrific production. The group gives a great show and they seem to be having a great time entertaining enthusiastic crowds. Video is superb and audio is excellent in the 2.0 mix (I'd recommend not using the 5.1 mixes). This dvd is a thoroughly enjoyable trip back to ABBA's heyday.
21 of 22 found the following review helpful:
Great Concert Dragged Down By A Decent RockumentarySep 21, 2005
By Anthony Nasti
I love ABBA. I have all their dvds available. I brought "ABBA In Concert" last Christmas but haven't found the time to review it until this morning. What can I tell you about this 25 year old tape? Well, let me just say that the perfromances are nothing short of excellent. The remastering job is superb, both visually as well as audio. You feel, for the mos part, like you're at the concert. However, there's one porblem: too much documentary, not enough concert. I was hoping we'd get a full concert rather than a few complete performances and a ton of documentary footage. So while I do recommend this dvd, keep in mind it isn't a complete concert dvd.
21 of 24 found the following review helpful:
A TV Production Never Meant For DVDJun 10, 2004
By E. Golden
I have have been a ABBA fan since 1974. It would be very easy for me to say great things about this long awaited DVD. When you wait so long for anything new that is available from a group that split-up 22 years ago..ANYTHING is a blessing.
This DVD though is a pretty poor. To be honest, they did not have much to work with. The original footage was designed for a limited television program and was edited very tightly. The sound on the DVD is pretty bad as well. I realize that it was a live concert, but the sound was better on the original TV produced version. All the new sound enhancement did was to make the sound extremely uneven and sounding like someone is turning the volume up and down at different intervals. I am surprised that this DVD was allowed to be sold because of the awful sound quality. With all the technology availabe today ... a MUCH better job could have been done than was shown in the end result. A person could have re-worked the original sound better on their home computer with very little expertise.
The only plus to this DVD are the bonus tracks. Let us all hope that when ABBA THE MOVIE makes it out on DVD, we get a bit more attention to the sound than we got on this one. Someone really dropped the ball here.
10 of 10 found the following review helpful:
Great Picture Quality/Very Poor Sound...But Still EnjoyableJun 20, 2004
Most ABBA fans know this was originally filmed for Swedish televison back in 1979. At one time it was available on VHS. Bootleg copies have been traded, sold, etc. for years. Now it's finally available on DVD.
As my review title states, they did a great job with the picture quality, but really screwed up badly with the sound. It's a little less noticeable in mono, but in stereo it is very irritating. It does indeed sound like someone is constantly fooling around with the volume control. The original VHS sound was fine. How they screwed up the sound and released it this way,
is beyond my comprehension. I would've given this DVD 3 1/2 stars if it wasn't for the poor sound quality. Hopefully, one day they will re-release this with the audio problem fixed.
And yes, it is not a "complete" concert. You only get about half the songs ABBA performed onstage during this tour. The first 30 minutes of the DVD in mainly a lot of behind-the-scenes type stuff with a few snippets of concert footage. It is not until the get around to their performance at Wembley do you get to the true concert footage, but as stated before, it's only about half the show.
Fans who recommend "ABBA: The Movie" over this, forget that it too also does not show a complete concert either. It also has songs cut off, and even during some of the complete songs, it often cuts away from the stage performance to the idiotic subplot of the dj trying to get and interview with ABBA.
What is so frustrating is that is that we know complete concerts of ABBA were filmed for both of these, but the extra footage is problem long gone or lost in a vast vault somewhere. I doubt if we will ever see a complete ABBA concert on DVD.
I'm just happy that what little there is of ABBA in concert is available on this DVD and ABBA - The Movie (which hopefully will be released on DVD soon). They are both enjoyable despite their flaws and are "must-haves" for any true ABBA fan.
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