Software drives hardware. Unless you have something compelling to listen to or watch, why bother with the latest format? 3-D…need I say more?
But if a format is semi-successful, like DVD HD was, there are bound to be some releases that were exclusive to that format, which make it hard to dump completely. The DVD HD release of Cream’s 2005 Royal Albert Hall concert was my last reason for keeping a DVD HD machine in my rack. Kayos has finally released a Blu-Ray version, so DVD HD Au Revoir…
But who is Kayos? An obscure division of Universal Music, perhaps? Nope. Kayos is owned exclusively by Carol Kaye. This is a different Carol Kaye than the Fender bass legend who played on so many hits in the 50’s . 60’s and 70’s. Kayos serves as her umbrella organization for these creative pursuits.
Currently Kayos has over 94 titles available on Blu-Ray. They include primarily live concert performances. Montreux, the Isle of Wight, and the Rockpalast, concert series are all well represented. Artists are primarily classic rock, blues, and heavy metal, with a sprinkling of jazz, R&B, soul, roots, and funk. The earliest performance listed is from 1973 (Canned Heat live).
Kayos sent me a half dozen of their latest releases. I’ll give you a lightening-round caption review of each in a moment, but first some observations on the Kayos releases as a whole. All of the Blu-Rays Kayos sent me were from recent concerts and the sound and picture quality was uniformly excellent. As with any production, the better the source, the better the final release will be. Earlier source material, such as Bonnie Raitt Live at Montreux from 1977, or the 1973 Canned Heat concert, won’t be nearly as good in terms of picture or sound as current productions, so don’t expect the same quality as a concert from 2005.
All the Kayos Blu-Rays had easy to navigate menus that included multiple Audio options and bonus footage. Their specifications indicate DTS HD Master as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM stereo soundtracks, 1080i video, and subtitles in all the popular languages. All the discs loaded quickly and played without any issues.
Cream – Royal Albert Hall 2005 – Rhino / Eagle Rock
This disc proves that these three old geezers still got it. Eric Clapton’s playing and singing is as good as ever, maybe better, since his singing during the original Cream days was never terribly comfortable. Jack Bruce, love him or hate him, is also in top form – as melodically busy and as hammy on stage as during the band’s original incarnation. And Ginger Baker…While he might look old and frail, his solo on “Toad” is a muscular as when he looked thirty going on fifty instead of seventy going on ninety.
The sound and picture are both first class, making this disc a strong exception to Holt’s Law.
Peter Gabriel – New Blood – Live in London
Recorded in March 2011 at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, with a full symphony orchestra Gabriel performs twenty-two tunes spanning from his earliest Genesis days to newly penned compositions. Done sans guitar, bass, or drumkit, on a traditional stage, these symphonically styled renditions work beautifully, letting the lyrics and melodies come to the forefront over the rhythms.
Unless you have a strong aversion to Gabriel or symphonic arrangements, this one’s a must-have disc.
Yes – Symphonic Live
This 2001 recording made in Amsterdam of Yes playing live backed by the European Festival Orchestra. In addition to the two and on half hour show the disc includes a documentary entitled “Dreamtime” and a video of the song “Don’t Go.” All the original members are looking a bit haggard, especially Steve Howe, but their performance is virtually flawless. Excellent sound and picture make watching Symphonic Live this a pleasant way to spend an evening.
The Pretenders – Loose in LA
I’ve liked the original Pretenders band, but later incarnations left me cold. In this 2003 performance the band works its way through 26 of their “hits” in what strikes me as a pedestrian manner. All the notes seem to be in the right places, but so what? Adam Seymour is NOT James Honeyman Scott, and the Chrissie Hynde of 2003 is not the same as Chrissie Hynde of 1980. The final results are likely to make you think, “Nice, but so what?” They look and sound like just another semi-prog middle-of-the-road rock band with plenty of gigs but not much new to add to their legacy.
Gary Moore – Live at Montreux 2010
As I was watching this concert for the first time I couldn’t help but notice that Gary Moore looked like he was about to have a heart attack at any moment, which he did, for real in February 2011 when he died from a massive infraction. If British white-boy blues complete with a vintage Gibson bursts and Marshall amps is your thing, you’re probably a Gary Moore fan. He had superb tone and fine sense of musical timing. For contrast Kayos also included four tracks from their previously released 1997 live Montreux set. Personally I like the earlier tracks better – Moore played with more passion when he wasn’t looking like he needed a respirator.
Dream Theater – Live at Budokan
Dream Theater – Live at Boudokan went from “what’s this?” to “reference blu-ray” after only about five minutes of playing time. I was immediately impressed by the opening sequence, which actually uses the rear channels for something more than crowd walla. This disc also has a plethora of added features including five mini-documentaries and a multi-angle option for the tune “Instrumedly.” The sound is sensational, especially on John Petruci’s guitar. If your system can take it, this disc can duplicate the sound of a very LOUD rock band as accurately as any live concert disc I’ve experienced.
If you are partial to rock turned up to 11, Dream Theater Live at Budokan is a definite must-have Blu-Ray concert disc.