the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Image Entertainment presents

Earth vs The Radiators: The First 25 (2004)

"All hell gonna break loose now!"- Ed Volker

Stars: Camile Baudoin, Frank Bua Jr., Dave Malone, Reggie Scanlan, Ed Volker
Other Stars: Gregg Allman, Theresa Andersson, Karl Denson, Craig Klein, Mark Mullins, Maceo Parker, George Porter, Jr., Michael Skinkus, Steve Suter
Director: Geoffrey Hanson

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:26m:52s
Release Date: 2004-06-08
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-B+ B


DVD Review

The Radiators, with a long career spanning over 25 years, are a veritable New Orleans music fixture, spewing a heady blend of blues, R&B, jazz, rock, country, Zydeco, soul, and swing, all lumped under the unique identifier known as 'Fish Head Music.' In recent years they have come to be somewhat wrongly lumped under the growing subculture of the broader 'jam band' category, but in reality The Radiators have been making their own distinct brand of Nawlins party music that actually bears little similarity to the post-Dead doodlings of bands like Phish or The String Cheese Incident.

In this concert disc from Image, recorded January 31, 2004 on the somewhat cramped stage of New Orleans' legendary club, Tipitina's, the band churns through a show that runs nearly two-and-a-half hours, alternating lead vocal duties between guitarist Dave Malone and keyboardist Ed Volker. It is kind of a rare and wonderful thing to see a band play that long these days, but The Radiators have always made their mark with their live shows, and their incessant touring has earned them a loyal following that have come to expect nothing less. And these are not young guys, mind you, and they could definitely teach the so-called younger generation a thing or two about rock and roll endurance.

By the time the band is well into their second set, the stage is so crowded that it is a wonder that they could all fit. The number of supporting players seems ever growing, like the sax of Karl Denson or trombone of Mark Mullins, all the way to New Orleans-via-Sweden vocalist Theresa Andersson, who joins the group to sing background on the Allen Toussaint classic I Like It Like That, and in general add to the overall sweaty craziness by even doing a little bit of party-friendly hip-shaking.

Like a glob of mercury, The Radiators are kind of hard to pin down and run the gamut of musical expression here, moving effortlessly from jazzy-blues instrumentals like the opening Monkey Meet to soulful moments like Lila and into thundering covers like the aforementioned I Like It Like That, which all seem to feed and build off each other as part of some of swirling bouillabaisse.

Seeing them live is where The Radiators are at their finest, and though it may have only taken 26 years to do it, we now have a permanent record of it.

Set 1 Track List:
Monkey Meet
Let's Radiate
Last Getaway
Waiting for the Rain
Little Sadie
Long Hard Journey Home
Jack of Diamonds
Like Dreamers Do

Set 2 Track List:
Smoke and Dust
Lovely You
Shake It Loose
I Like It Like That
Turtle Beach
Lost What They Had

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in nonanamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, Image has once again come through with an outstanding looking transfer of a live concert, something they seem to have quite a handle on. Image detail is sharp and crisp, and it is possible to clearly make out every solitary drop of sweat that runs off Ed Volker, who at one point is literally dripping like the guy in Airplane! Grain is kept to a minimum, and there are no problems whatsoever with blooming stage lights, which is often the death knell of many a concert DVD.


Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The backcover mentions that audio is available in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround AND 2.0 Stereo, but for what it's worth, the only option here is 5.1. That minor typo aside, the itself mix is well done, offering a faint mix of crowd noise in the rear channels, enough to add some ambience, but leaves the fronts open for an evenly balanced and clean presentation that offers excellent instrument separation. As an added plus, I was impressed by the deep, resonant rumble from my sub, enough so that I knocked it down a click or two to keep things from falling off my shelves.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 16 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
6 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: If you're not completely drained by the live set, the extras include a couple of bonus performances, including The Radiators with Gregg Allmann (06m:05s)(performing Midnight Rider together) and the lengthy jam footage entitled B.B. King's with Maceo Parker (11m:22s), featuring the funk-master saxophonist.

Other supplements include a pair of random peeks behind the scenes—Backstage With Karl Denson (05m:34s) and More Backstage Footage (05m:46s)—are random collections, somewhat loosely structured, and are of moderate interest, but the Ken Dashow Interview (17m:38s) offers an informative little backstory on the band, from the guys themselves. An automated photo gallery (04m:59s) of candid shots taken during the concert itself is also included.

Set 1 is cut into ten chapters, with Set 2 consisting of six (each representing an individual song).

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

This is Hurricane-drinking, jambalaya-cooking New Orleans party music, seen as close as one can to the only it way it should be seen—live. Sure, some of the solos and jams go on a little long for my tastes, but the band and the crowd seem to have been having such a good time I didn't mind all that much.


Rich Rosell 2004-06-07