Albert Lee: Tearing It Up Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 (96kHz/24-bit); Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Audience Mix/Stage Mix) (96kHz/24-bit); Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: None
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: AIX Records
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 26, 2012
- List Price: $34.98
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
One tends to forget that the roots of rock ‘n roll owed as much to “rockabilly” music (Carl Perkins, Elvis, Buddy Holly, you get the message) as to rhythm and blues. One of the early guitar heroes of this genre was Englishman Albert Lee also known as “Mr. Telecaster.” Lee has been a perennial winner of best country guitarist and his technique is the stuff that legends are made of. With Tearing It Up, a 2006 studio recording (Lee was only 63 at the time), we get a healthy dose of what made him such a valuable sideman and occasional front artist for four decades. With the exception of “Country Boy,” the remaining thirteen cuts are covers for songs from such stellar songsmiths as Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, Boudreau and Felice Bryant, Gram Parsons, and Richard Thompson. The hour-long concert gives you vintage Lee backed by a dynamite band: Randle Currie (pedal steel), JT Thomas (piano), Bob Glaub (bass), and Don Heffington (drums). As an extra treat, we get a duet between father and daughter (Alexandra Lee) on “Dimming of the Day.” Unlike many popular albums that are stuffed with the vocal filler equivalent of pink slime, there are no throwaway numbers here. Even better, AIX Records offers a choice of soundtracks but more about that later. Considering that this video was shot in a studio without the interaction of a live audience, the camera work gives you a very intimate view of a living legend doing what he does best.
Camera work is outstanding with terrific recovery of detail and an honest-to-reality color palette. The videographers give us a keenly varied series of shots so that the action never becomes static. While Albert Lee has some very visible miles on the odometer of his life, he is treated quite kindly by the crew working behind the lenses.
There are four soundtrack choices here. Two Dolby 5.1 TrueHD (96kHz/24-bit) versions are presented, one called “stage” mix that puts you in the midst of the musicians, the other “audience” mix gives you a good seat in the house. I preferred the latter but the former might appeal to those who desire a truly immersive sonic experience. There is a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of stage and audience and a PCM 2.0 (96kHz/24-bit) track that are quite listenable as the Dolby TrueHD tracks.
AIX gives us a 40-minute interview with Albert himself that covers his career and, unlike a lot of personal inventories, it is actually interesting and revelatory. The highpoint is original video footage of Lee’s biggest hit, “Country Boy,” that is visually dated but still sounds great.
The Definitive Word
Honest to Betsy, I did not think that Albert Lee was still alive, let alone cranking out such righteous music. I was certainly relieved to find that he was and then some. If you have any doubts about how good this performer is, just start out with “Country Boy,” and you will get the point. Cutting to the chase, this is one helluva viewing experience. Even if you are not a C & W or rockabilly junkie, and this reviewer falls about as far from this category as you can get, Tearing It Up provides a musical experience that should satisfy just about any music lover. The musicianship is at the top of the heap and AIX Records does not let viewers down with excellent camera coverage and sound recording. Take this unrivaled opportunity to see one of the legends of guitar play some great oldies just for you.
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