***Plus Photos of Japanese “Get Back” Laserdisc with 12-Page Booklet***
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and that’s certainly the case with Paul McCartney’s 1989/90 Tour documentary film “Get Back”.
I’ve had a love hate relationship with “Get Back” since I first saw it in the 1990s. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good film but there are some things about it that kind of leave me in the cold.
First off “Get Back” doesn’t include the entire show just a small selection of songs that were performed on that particular tour. Secondly there are several staged shots of McCartney and his band that were shot in a studio to get better close-ups, etc. Directed by famed Beatles movie director Richard Lester, the “Get Back” film while fun is flawed as a complete document of the tour.
Fast forward a few decades, say over three or so, and what seemed like a minor film at the time has become much more enjoyable – at least for me. Sure the flaws are still there but Paul McCartney hasn’t toured with a lot of the members of this line-up since the early 1990s and I personally really enjoy this band of musicians.
Watching a recently released Blu-Ray I just received of “Get Back” I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. Of course McCartney’s 1989/90 World Tour was the first time I had seen McCartney, or any Beatle for that matter, live so that particular tour holds a lot of memories for me.
I remember the excitement clearly as McCartney and his band took to the stage on Sunday, December 3, 1989 which my first Paul McCartney concert in Chicago, IL at the Rosemont Horizon (now called Allstate Arena).
It was memorable show in many ways including the fact that there was supposed to be an opening video that preceded the band walking on stage that night but it wasn’t working (much to my displeasure). McCartney and his band strolled out to the stage calmly without any fanfare waving to the crowd as they proceeded to rip into the opening song “Figure of Eight”, one of my favorite songs from McCartney’s then current LP “Flowers in the Dirt”.
As the song played I was suddenly overcome with a feeling of awe – Paul McCartney was here “IN PERSON, RIGHT NOW!” I remember thinking over and over again that night. It was heady stuff for my twenty-three year old self.
Though the thrill of seeing McCartney live that night was undeniable for the first half of the show McCartney’s voice was a bit rough in spots. Songs like “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” were particularly horse sounding but miraculously by the second half of the show McCartney almost fully recovered.
Luckily I also managed to see another show on this tour in Indianapolis in February of 1990 on Valentine’s Day and McCartney was in much stronger voice. Even though the 1990 show was better the excitement at a McCartney show has never been topped by that first time I saw him in 1989.
Anyway, back to the new Blu-Ray of “Get Back”. This newer Blu-Ray has been available for a few months online as it has been released in some overseas markets but not in the US. I’m guessing that’s because the DVD market in the US has pretty much stalled and sales are way down vs streaming.
As a physical media person though I’ve been tempted a few times to buy this particular Blu-Ray so last week I took the plunge. For those few Beatles freaks out there who are interested here are my comparisons of the previous DVD I own of “Get Back” to the new Blu-Ray version:
Packaging: C+ – average, decent cover, standard looking DVD but nothing special
Picture: C – very average, kind of dark and murky, pixelized in spots and blurry. Almost looks like a bootleg copy at times. Not horrible but nothing that makes you want to watch this DVD very often
Screen format: 4:3 so the picture is stretched on Widescreen TVs, if you want the image to fill your entire screen this particular DVD doesn’t look very good stretched
Sound: C – again average sound, kind of low and not a lot of bass. Okay but again nothing to get too excited about
Packaging: B+ – nice cover with nice small box that holds the Blu-ray. I like this cover way more than the DVD – very appealing. I like the dark look of this cover versus the white side panel of the DVD which makes it look cheaper
Picture: B+ – very nice picture, slightly soft but nice color and less murky and way more detailed than the DVD version. Could be better but now is very watchable. You can see the film grain so it’s not overly processed which is nice. An obvious improvement over the DVD
Screen format: 1.66.1 (European widescreen standard). There are small black bars on each side of the screen and the picture looks fuller to me than the DVD and no stretching on widescreen TVs
Sound: A – the sound of this Blu-ray is top notch even though it only has a 2.0 stereo mix and not a 5.1 surround mix. It has a lot of nice bass and jumps out of the speakers without sounding compressed. The sound is so improved over the DVD that it makes me want to watch the disc over and over. I’ve watched it twice so far and have really enjoyed it.
(Note: I bought this Blu-Ray from Amazon and it says Region B on both covers – the cardboard and the actual disc cover. It’s not region B though as that would mean it wouldn’t play on US Blu-Ray players and obviously it plays just fine. I think this version of the Blu-Ray is sold in Australia but if you want to buy it it WILL play on US players so no worries about compatibility)
There you have it. The Blu-Ray is definitely worth getting over the DVD version, at least the one that I own. I never wanted to watch this documentary DVD much because it looks very average and comes across as sterile and plodding with the poorer picture and sound.
The improved picture and sound of this new Blu-Ray helps to get me into the concert footage and really jogs my memory about the shows I saw on the tour.
It’s not the perfect presentation of the tour by any means, I can do without the staged shots, but as time has gone on it’s a terrific document of McCartney’s band at the time which I think is one of his better post Beatles lineups.
I’ve also thrown some photos up of the Japanese laserdisc verison of this film that I also own. It’s been ages since I had my laserdisc player hooked up but as memory serves I thought the picture quality of the laserdisc was good but I’m guessing I liked the DVD a bit better.
Looking at the DVD today I can’t imagine why as the DVD is a grainy, dark mess at times and not a very good presentation of the film. Take a look of the different screen shots I took of the DVD and Blu-Ray and I think you can tell that the Blu-Ray’s picture is definitely superior.
(Note 2: Check out the groovy 12-page booklet that comes with the laserdisc, it has some great photos and is a great souvenir of the tour)
So if you want to dip your toes into the waters of Paul McCartney’s 1989/90 World Tour the best place to get a nice sampling on video is this splendid new Blu-Ray release. The release I bought from Amazon is from Australia I believe and there looks like there’s another Blu-Ray version available as well from another country but it’s a few dollars more, not sure why though.
As usual there are plenty of photos above and below of the DVD, Blu-Ray and Japanese laserdisc versions of the “Get Back” film that reside in my collection.
Until next time be safe and well and see you soon!