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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

Average White Band

Live At Montreux 1977 DVD

Review by Gary Hill

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for funk, and therefore Average White Band. This Scottish outfit had a killer funky sound and always managed to entertain. This DVD captures their 1977 appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

This one is a mixed bag - but none of the negatives have anything to do with the music. The band was on top of their performance, and while seemingly putting in extended takes on their set (it was after all a JAZZ festival), they pulled it all off with style and finesse. Unfortunately, at least for this reviewer, it was also the time of the season for terrible clothing choices and hairstyles. The video looks incredibly dated due to those factors - and I'm not talking just the band - get a look at some of the people in the audience. Fortunately most of us who lived through those days don't remember them - and this blast in the past can be a bit hard to swallow. For that reason in some ways I think I would have preferred just a CD release of this killer music. I'm almost embarrassed to watch. There is also a bit of problem with the video quality, the lighting at points really messing with the camera - but again, this was the 1970's - and technology wasn't what it is today. The sound fared much better - although still not up to today's standards. They even include a bonus of a few tracks whose quality wasn't up to their standards - so, frankly that to me makes it a plus for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that this set was not just thrown together, the quality was the best that could be made of the source video. Secondly it does give you the chance to see those clips, but warns you of the difference up front. That shows class.The band's performance also shows class. These guys were on top of their game performing such songs as the obligatory "Pick Up The Pieces", "Person to Person" and even a cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". If you can ignore the dated look provided by the clothing and hair, this one is a killer live performance with only some fairly minor technical problems. That dated texture alone makes it a bit hard for this reviewer to sit through, but the strength of the show makes it well worth the effort.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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