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Inak presents

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown in Concert (1995)

"Now I'd like to take you back to a time when rock and roll began."- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

Stars: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Other Stars: Joe Krown, Eric Demmer, Harold Floyd, David Peters
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 00h:58m:13s
Release Date: 2003-04-08
Genre: jazz

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DVD Review

It's a shame that our American musical heritage isn't always as appreciated at home in the manner that it should beŚwe're a country with a short memory, and if your song isn't on the radio rightthisminute, you might as well be filed away with Wagner or Tommy Dorsey. But Europeans, surprisingly enough, frequently have a keener appreciation for our music, and one representative instance of that would be the German television show Ohne Filter, which brings over the best of American jazz, blues, funk and R&B, and lets the musicians do their thing in front of a receptive audience for an hour or so.

This disc features the appearance on the show of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, whose leathery skin, worn cowboy hat and well-tended guitar give him the indelible mark of a Mississippi delta blues man. For this gig he's got a backup crew of four—sax, drums, keyboard and bass—and Brown leads them through a set of ten songs for a Bavarian audience that, either by choice or design, stands for the whole concert.

Brown looks, plays, sings and acts very, very cool—he's so cool that he even smokes a pipe during some of the numbers, when others onstage are featured in solos. Highlights include a bluesy rendition of Duke Ellington's signature song, Take the 'A' Train (which Brown inexplicably calls Take an 'A' Train), and you can hear still more of the Ellington influence on the opening notes of C-Jam Blues, which sound suspiciously like the first bars of Duke's Place. Brown plays guitar most of the time, though he busts out a violin for Stop Time, and a battered old fiddle it is, too. Other highlights include numbers associated with Ray Charles (Early in the Morning) and Muddy Waters (Mojo Workin').

The full set list:

Bits And Pieces
There You Are
Early In The Morning
Take the 'A' Train
Honky Tonk
Long Way Home
C-Jam Blues
Stop Time
Born in Louisiana
Mojo Workin'

The song titles are flashed on screen with animated graphics at peculiar moments, not at their beginnings or ends, but arbitrarily, in the middle. That small distraction aside, this is a nice set by a man who has spent many years and traveled many miles preaching the gospel of the blues.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The stage show seems overlit, with purple, red and yellow filters spilling on and off the musicians; it can be a little distracting, but most of the camerawork is good and clean and unobtrusive.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track sounds richer and has more resonance than the PCM offering, but the music sounds pretty good on both, with little ambient noise. Occasionally the dynamics are a bit off, though, and the sense of where the musicians are in the space can get a little muddled.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
Cast and Crew Biographies
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. roster of past performers on Ohne Filter
Extras Review: In a brief interview (05m:32s), Michael Au, producer of Ohne Filter, reflects on the more than 300 episodes that have been filmed since 1983, and avers that "good handmade music is what this show is all about." A featurette entitled Sound Tuning (02m:57s) is little more than an ad for the company that manufactures the cables of choice for the TV show. A bio of Brown is offered in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and there's also an alphabetical roster of all the previous performers on Ohne Filter, from Airto & Flora Purim to Edo Zaki.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

Brown may not have the notoriety of B.B. King or Ray Charles, but he's without doubt a solid blues man, and it's good rockin' tonight as he puts some classic songs through their paces.

Jon Danziger 2003-04-09