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DVD ReviewForming in 1978, the pioneering English goth band Bauhaus achieved remarkable success and a devout cult following. Unfortunately they disbanded five years later and formed various new projects. When only three of the four original members were interested in reuniting in 1984, Love and Rockets was born. Daniel Ash (vocals/guitars), David J (bass/vocals), and Kevin Haskins (drums) retained elements of Bauhaus’ detached tone while expanding the sound into pop and rock 'n' roll avenues. They even scored a major hit with So Alive, a straightforward and very dull ode to women. Although their music fell short of anything groundbreaking, Love and Rockets did create a few memorable songs and managed to develop a significant cult following in the process.
Sorted: The Best of Love and Rockets includes virtually all the videos ever released by the band and their other solo projects. The main feature contains The Haunted Fishtank, a collection of 11 classic videos stretching across the band's career. Interspersed throughout the tracks are odd interludes with the Bubblemen, who serve as a type of mascot for the band. These odd figures resemble strange aliens with big white heads and silly faces. Dressed in black and white, they ramble slowly across the rooms while smashing pillows and throwing around globes with playful delight.
Following the Bubblemen introduction, Love and Rockets jump into a rocking version of The Temptations' classic Ball of Confusion, which actually converts quite nicely to their less funky sound. This song falls a bit short of the original, but it still works as an effective cover. Next comes Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)—a quick acoustic number that showcases some flashy black and white boxes across the ground. After several less memorable tracks, No New Tale to Tell cranks the energy back to the earlier level. Released in 1987, this college radio hit gives more prominent time to David J, who often retreats behind the flashier Daniel Ash. Mirror People follows and recalls the distinctive guitar sounds of Joy Division while utilizing hazy video effects.
Love and Rockets retain small aspects of their goth past, including some serious makeup and black leather outfits. Most are worn by Ash—a flashy front man who definitely spends a significant amount of time in front of the mirror. As their career progressed into the late 1980s, the band lost some of their distinctiveness and began to sound too much like their contemporaries. This duller sound is especially true of the hit single So Alive, which received tons of airplay for being sexy but really offered little substance. It precedes the gimmicky The Bubblemen are Coming—which showcases the odd guys playing guitars, swimming in a fake ocean, and just acting goofy. Concluding the The Haunted Fishtank, this silly video culminates an uneven collection of both unique and drab material.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: This release's picture quality varies considerably between each video based on the age and effectiveness of the source material. Certain songs are very dark and grainy, while others utilize a basically clear transfer. It does not appear that much digital enhancing was performed on the original images. While the quality generally is acceptable, the overall effect is only mediocre.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Fans of Love and Rockets will definitely hope for a top-notch audio transfer, and this release may disappoint them. Instead of offering a premier DTS or Dolby Digital track, this disc includes only a PCM stereo version. While it is missing the complexity of the technological leaders, the audio does provide a worthwhile listening experience. The sounds are surprisingly clear for a PCM transfer, and the music does exude significant power. This makes the overall product acceptable, even if it falls short of the better releases.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu
Music/Song Access with 10 cues and remote access
Packaging: test disc
The next section includes four solo tracks from Daniel Ash and one number from David J. The lead singer's videos feature plenty of attractive women, but the lyrics aren't too noteworthy. Walk This Way does provide a melodic beat and upbeat sound, and Here She Comes includes a powerful female voice. David J.'s lone video for I'll Be Your Chauffeur is a more straightforward song and contains an accordion. It does generate some foot-tapping, but takes few chances.
The goofy Bubblemen receive more screen time with three audio tracks playing behind simple animation. The Bubblemen Rap is very silly, but it quickly becomes tedious after a few minutes. The other tracks are the remix Dub Rap and B Side, which basically plays a buzzing sound for four minutes. Finally, the Bubblemen comic shows black-and-white stills for three minutes while their theme plays in the background.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsDevout fans should rejoice at the release of Sorted: The Best of Love and Rockets, which spans their entire career and includes countless videos. The picture and sound quality are not excellent, but they should remain acceptable for viewing. I may not be a huge fan of Love and Rockets, but I cannot argue with the value of this release.
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