Wednesday, March 29, 2017

RE-UP: Roger Waters & Eric Clapton live in Montreal 1984 - 1DVD - July 31

Roger Waters & Eric Clapton
The Pros & Cons Of Early Bootlegs
7/31/84 - Montreal

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Welcome To The Machine
Have A Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Pigs On The Wing (part 1)
In The Flesh
Nobody Home
Hey You
The Gunners Dream
4:30AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)
4:33AM (Running Shoes)
4:37AM (Arabs With Knives And West German Skies)
4:39AM (For The First Time Today, part 2)
4:41AM (Sexual Revolution)
4:47AM (The Remains Of Our Love)
4:50AM (Go Fishing)
4:56AM (For The First Time Today, part 1)
4:58AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)
5:01AM (The Pro's And Con's Of Hitch Hiking)
5:06AM (Every Strangers Eyes)
5:11AM (The Moment Of Clarity)
Brain Damage

Name: The Pros & Cons of Early Bootlegs
Format: DVD
Discs: 1
Recording: audience
Lineage: Beta master > S-VHS submaster > Digital8 clone > DVD
Taper: Pierre
Length: 129 min

Review from Spare Bricks:

Some fans and critics have long labeled Roger Waters 'misogynist', as his lyrical content in The Wall and The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking suggest that women in his life have caused him great harm. Whether it was his mother or his wife, they were castigated as controlling bricks in his personal wall. While The Wall was very blatantly biased against women, Pros and Cons wasn't nearly so, but it got near- universal condemnation for its cover showing a naked woman hitching on the side of the road.

For his first tour apart from Pink Floyd he assembled Eric Clapton's band, basically calling it "Pink Floyd but with Eric Clapton on guitar". He had recruited Slowhand for his bluesy story of betrayal, isolation, and (eventually) redemption. At the time, Clapton wanted a break from being the leader of his own band, preferring to play in the shadows as part of someone else's; he later found the experience "stifling" and only particpated in the first leg of the Pros & Cons tour during 1984, playing nineteen concerts.

Only three performances from this tour were captured by video bootleggers, and all suffer from the limitations of camcorder technology at the time. In 1984, video cameras were a far cry from the palm-sized Handicams of today. The early video bootleggers had very bulky equipment to sneak into the venue, their cameras required quite a bit of light to produce a decent image, and the zoom lenses were very limited at 4-10x. The huge staging for the tour also presented a challenge to the tapers in that there were three large projection screens that depicted a bedroom where the dream occurs and also showed films which told the story of Reg's dream and his family's adventure into the backwoods of Wyoming. These projections weren't bright enough to come across clearly on the video, and thus a good portion of the visual storytelling is hidden from the viewer.

Bootleg videos of this tour have surfaced from East Rutherford (New Jersey), Toronto, and Montreal. Unfortunately, the East Rutherford and Toronto shows were recorded from the side of the stage and didn't offer much view of the projections. The only video filmed from the back of the venue was the July 31, 1984 show at The Forum in Montreal. A typical version of this show on VHS would be extremely dark with very little viewable footage of the backdrop films. There isn't much detail seen in the musicians, due to the distant shot and limitations of the camera. With the advent of computer video editing and correction some of these images could be adjusted, making a slight improvement on the VHS versions that had been in circulation. The result was a bootleg DVD called EC Was Here, released by the veteran PF bootlegging outfit Pigs On The Wing Productions. While this was a functional release, it still left much room for improvement.

Recently, an upgraded version of the Montreal concert entitled The Pros & Cons of Early Bootlegging appeared in the trade circles. The source tape for this show was a major upgrade, as the only S-VHS submaster from the original Beta format camera was cloned to Digital8 tape and used for the new DVD release. The improvement is quite noticeable but the video still does suffer from the technology limitations of the time. The original video was shot hand-held, resulting in some shakiness, so the video was run though 'steady shot' software, resulting in a much smoother video to watch. Some brightness and contrast was added to help bring some detail previously unseen out of the video, however there is still a glowing halo effect around the musicians that apparently couldn't be corrected.

The DVD initially opens to a menu screen that has a background picture of the stage before the concert begins but there is a motion video inlay of the band playing which gives the background a clever appearance of the live concert. Background music is a shortened edit of The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. The main menu offers the choice of playing the video, going to a song selection menu, viewing a photo slide show, or reading additional information about the DVD. The song selection screen is only one page long with no motion menu or backing audio track and all 24 songs played at the concert are accessible from this screen. The additional info screen lists the original filmer, as well as the person who performed the digital transfer and the DVD authoring. Credits are given to websites where tour information and pictures were acquired. The Photo Slide Show option shows a four-and-a-half minute collection of photographs taken at the concerts, as well as album covers from various album pressings, single sleeves, and bootleg covers. The photos are shown with a backing audio track playing the full version of The Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking.

The full concert is a definite upgrade over previous versions, however it is a shame that a better video of this incredible live spectacle isn't available. This video will give you an idea of the stage presentation but the bottom line is that much of the video is still dark. The audio is from the camera but is able to get a decent recording as the camera was away from the crowds of people who could ruin a recording (like most of the 1977 Floyd audio boots). Overall, I would have to say that despite its flaws this should be a must-have bootleg DVD in any good Waters/Floyd collection. It does represent the best Pros & Cons video from either the 1984 or '85 leg of the tour. Even though you miss quite a bit of the show due to darkness, it is still a vital document for collectors of both Roger Waters and Eric Clapton, and I would definitely recommend this version over EC Was Here.

John Waters is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.

Download part 1 here
Download part 2 here
Download part 3 here
Download part 4 here

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