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Thread: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

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    600 Club - QQ All Star dr. simple's Avatar
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    Default Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Let me begin by stating that this is NOT a thread about high resolution or discrete surround mixes! That being said...

    I'm guessing I'm not the only one of us who is mesmerized by those infomercials for Time-Life CDs - not because we don't already own the songs we want on CD, but because we get those 3-second clips of the original performers from "back in the day." Like how often do we actually see what the group PILOT looks like?!?!?

    So one night back in November I saw an infomercial for The Midnight Special on DVD - here was my chance to actually get complete songs from these often faceless artists. So I took the plunge - here's my report.

    First of all, this collection is "not available in stores." But it IS available at http://www.midnightspecial.com/. Apparently some are capitalizing on the fact that people aren't aware of this, because the set is selling for ridiculous amounts on Ebay. So go to midnightspecial.com and get it for $129.90 after shipping.

    I've been having a blast watching this stuff. MOST of it is 100% live, but there are exceptions, especially when you get into the later years of the show (the show ran from 1973-1980, and the collection is one 15-performance DVD for each year, plus a "Million Sellers" DVD). Those that aren't live are either:
    • A live vocal performance with backing tracks
    • A live recording with the vocal re-done in the studio
    • A 100% lip-sync'd performance

    The highlights, for me, include two performances from Heart in 1976 - "Crazy On You" and "Magic Man". 100% live, and killer. Ann Wilson proving she's one of the best rock singers of all-time at 25 years old.

    There's also a killer performance of the Edgar Winter Group doing "Frankenstein." To me, the studio recording sounds nearly impossible to duplicate live, but they take it to a new level that removed any doubts I had about spending $130 for this set.

    And, O.K., maybe REO Speedwagon became a cliche in the '80s, but there's a live performance of "Roll With The Changes" that will remind everyone that they used to be a ROCK band. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole thing.

    How could I forget the rare Steely Dan video?!?!? "Reeling In The Years" with Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter on guitars - and Skunk wasn't sitting down, either! And they NAILED it.

    I admit I'm a sucker for pure '70s pop, and "Smoke From A Distant Fire" is one of my favorites. I'm sure back in the day people saw the Sanford Townsend band and thought, "Hm, yeah. They could be another Steely Dan." Who knew? Here today, gone tomorrow! But they nailed it, too.

    The sound of this collection is O.K. - it's like watching TV in the '70s, O.K.? Imagine that - and the Dolby 5.1 option is a joke.:thumbsdow But watching these groups in their hey day is a blast.

    I'll stop here. By all means, if you have any interest in this at all don't hesitate to ask. Unfortunately, Pilot isn't on this collection!

    Paul
    "You gotta always remember, the name of the game is 'What does it sound like?' That's always the end result - I don't care if you got 90 tracks. What does it sound like, baby?" - Ray Charles

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Although I have not seen the DVD set yet, I'm with you on how fun these shows we're for the 1970s. I remember seeing a diverse variety of musical groups - Hard rock, Pop and R&B all on the same broadcast - which was rare for a major network (NBC) at the time. They even had the Sex Pistols on one of their shows. There we're no 500 channels at the time, maybe a dozen or so TV stations in your local area if you we're lucky. I suppose that's why I have much affection for these shows.

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Oh no. More things to spend money on. Thanks for the review.
    :-jon

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    This eBay'er bought 5 copies and is selling them for $100 over what he paid. Buy wholesale, sell retail, I always say.

    Anyway, at least his eBay ad gives a breakdown of what's on every disc in the set.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=170064207434

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    Just another radio loser Dylan Berichon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    What, exactly, does the 5.1 sound like?

    I was wondering that my self.
    Boss Jock in training

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    How long is each DVD?

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Quote Originally Posted by Dylan Berichon View Post
    What, exactly, does the 5.1 sound like?

    I was wondering that my self.
    Dylan:

    As I said, it sounds like you're watching TV in the '70s, so I put this theory to test. I listened with headphones so I could really zero in on what I suspected. Well, I confirmed that the 2.0 Dolby is actually MONO, and the 5.1 Dolby is more of a fake stereo. Don't even bother with the rears. But keep in mind that the fun here is in seeing these vintage performances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Romano View Post
    How long is each DVD?
    Bob:

    According to the DVD cases, here are the lengths of each:
    1973: 80 minutes
    1974: 76 minutes
    1975: 76 minutes
    1976: 84 minutes
    1977: 80 minutes
    1978: 79 minutes
    1979: 77 minutes
    1980: 70 minutes
    "Million Sellers": 93 minutes

    As I mentioned, there are 15 performances on each, plus 2 performances by a stand-up comic. I haven't watched most of the comics yet, but what I have seen proves to me that humor isn't timeless. Also, between every song you get the Midnight Special logo with audience noise.

    If anyone has a specific question about a performance, please let me know!

    Paul
    "You gotta always remember, the name of the game is 'What does it sound like?' That's always the end result - I don't care if you got 90 tracks. What does it sound like, baby?" - Ray Charles

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Goodness me, 1/3 third great, 1/3 ho-hum and 1/3 tune out factor. Not enough for me to shell out the bucks IMHO.

    Disappointing to not see listed: King Crimson - Easy Money, Genesis - Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, David Bowie - 1984 and several other great performances.
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    I just checked the Midnight Special website, probably the least informative website I've ever seen, aside from BecauseSoundMatters

    Aside from the price for the set being $10 more than it was in January for the OP, I saw this interesting piece of information listed for the set:

    The Midnight Special Legendary Performances Complete 9-DVD Collector's Starter Set for only $139.95 plus $9.95 s&h. About every 4-6 weeks, you will receive 2 new Midnight Special volumes containing even more fabulous live music performances for just $19.95 per DVD plus $3.95 s&h. The volumes will be automatically charged, at the time of each shipment, to the same card you provided today. You may cancel future shipments at any time, or return the volumes within 30 days of delivery to receive a full refund of the purchase price less shipping and handling.

    Does this mean that there are more performances available, perhaps some of those missing gems others mentioned? Did the OP ever get any additional volumes sent to him?

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Quote Originally Posted by Odys View Post
    Does this mean that there are more performances available, perhaps some of those missing gems others mentioned? Did the OP ever get any additional volumes sent to him?
    No - I just bought the whole set outright for $129.90. I'll be the first to admit the set is hit-and-miss, but when you've got friends over and a few beers and you put on the completely live video of the Edgar Winter Group doing "Frankenstein" it's a lot of fun. Would I get it again? I doubt it. Would I sell it? Heck no!

    O.K., I just went to the website and I see the deal has changed. Apparently there are more volumes only available by buying this set... no, I never received additional volumes. The only way I could confirm that there are other discs is to search on eBay, where I found discs not included in the set I have.

    Paul
    Last edited by dr. simple; 05-31-2007 at 01:38 AM.
    "You gotta always remember, the name of the game is 'What does it sound like?' That's always the end result - I don't care if you got 90 tracks. What does it sound like, baby?" - Ray Charles

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Paul - You inspired me to research the Edgar Winter Group's other MNS appearance when Free Ride was a big hit. Do you remember the "other" guitarist with them? Found this:

    'Rick Derringer, a star in his own right, had been part of White Trash but was originally the producer of the Edgar Winter Group, not a member. He assumed the lead guitar duties in 1974 after Ronnie Montrose quit to form his own band and initial replacement Jerry Weems didn't work out.'

    I'd heard that Jerry did okay but ended up in the Army or something....

    Tim
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Quote Originally Posted by timbre4 View Post
    Paul - You inspired me to research the Edgar Winter Group's other MNS appearance when Free Ride was a big hit. Do you remember the "other" guitarist with them? Found this:

    'Rick Derringer, a star in his own right, had been part of White Trash but was originally the producer of the Edgar Winter Group, not a member. He assumed the lead guitar duties in 1974 after Ronnie Montrose quit to form his own band and initial replacement Jerry Weems didn't work out.'

    I'd heard that Jerry did okay but ended up in the Army or something....

    Tim
    You wanna know something that will REALLY alter your perception of reality? The guitarist with Edgar Winter on the MNS doing "Frankenstein" is Dan Hartman. Remember that disco hit "Instant Replay", by Dan Hartman? Same guy. That really messes with my head, man!!!
    "You gotta always remember, the name of the game is 'What does it sound like?' That's always the end result - I don't care if you got 90 tracks. What does it sound like, baby?" - Ray Charles

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Yes he does play guitar, but then who was playing bass on MNS Frankenstein?
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Has to be the same Dan Hartman that had the top 40 hit with "I Can Dream About You", remember that song from the soundtrack of the Streets of Fire movie? That must have been around 1983 or 84.....didn't buy the 45 but couldn't avoid it on the radio either. John S.

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    It is one and the same. Dan Hartman and Ronnie Montrose were in a band together before joining the Edgar Winter Group in 1972.

    Can anyone name it? hee hee
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Quote Originally Posted by timbre4 View Post
    It is one and the same. Dan Hartman and Ronnie Montrose were in a band together before joining the Edgar Winter Group in 1972.

    Can anyone name it? hee hee
    Is it Van Morrison?

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    That would be a no.

    It's pretty obscure; never saw an album in a store but was listed in the Schwann catalog.
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    You left us hanging Tim! ........ Beaver & Krause??

    I have a couple of these shows coming myself as my curiosity finally got to me. I see there is one website that lists all the shows and guests in chronological order. I immediately spotted a couple of shows that I remembered seeing in the 1973 opening year. Not the best shows but they certainly were varied in their guests. Kind of like the group Pilot, I gotta see if they have Jigsaw doing "Sky High" in 1975. John S.

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Not to bump a REALLY old thread - but why did they not use the L+R/L-R mixes that were on the original 2-inch videotapes? 99% of that show's run has a Mono mix on the Audio track and a MMO (Music-Minus-One) mix on the Cue track. This was irregardless of whether it was a 100% playback, a playback with a live lead (live lead by itself was on the Cue track) or completely live.

    I know because we had a few syndication dubs of that show in our junior-high TV department at school in amongst the donated tape we would always get onto which our productions were recorded.

    Of course the Playback Only tracks would be the easiest - just drop in a stereo playback from a more modern re-mastering.

    For Playback with Live Lead - either keep the isolated lead from the Cue track - or do as above.

    And for Completely Live - just do a Mid-Side to Stereo extraction.

    Any ideas as to why they didn't check the other audio track?

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    I bought these when they were first announced, perhaps it was '04. All the volumes have a second installment, called more "73 to more '80. In addition, there are two flashback volumes, one each for '73 & '74. It looks as though they're only offering the Million Sellers & first volumes (9 DVD's.) I have a total of 19 discs. Covers on the two Flashback volumes look very different:

    Midnight-Special-Legendary-Performances-Flashback-to-1973.jpg

    More '75: 41AVU9jqB3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    Among the 10 additional discs are performances by Al Green, Roy Orbison, Bee Gees, Sam & Dave, Byrds, Journey, Weather Report, O'Jays, Glen Campbell, KC & Sunshine, Steppenwolf, Billy Joel, Doobie Brothers, Barry Manilow, Kinks, Bill Withers, Gordon Lightfoot, Rufus, Joan Beaz, Hollies, Curtis Mayfield, Tammy Wynette, Steely Dan, Seals & Crofts, Todd Rundgren, Lou Christie, Jerry Lee Lewis John Denver, Sly & the Family Stone, Badfinger, Jim Croce, Marty Robbins, New York Dolls & more...
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Good info Linda, I have several of the "More" DVDs and the sampler called "Million Sellers", but have never seen the "Flashback" ones. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled, but not pay stupid money for what is not very great audio quality. John

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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Those two Flashback volumes are the very last editions on the first go-round. I asked the woman in customer service when there would be more. "Not for a long time, I'm afraid." If any more came, they never notified me. It appears those are the rarest of the bunch.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Svensson View Post
    Good info Linda, I have several of the "More" DVDs and the sampler called "Million Sellers", but have never seen the "Flashback" ones. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled, but not pay stupid money for what is not very great audio quality. John
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Quote Originally Posted by John Svensson View Post
    You left us hanging Tim! ........ Beaver & Krause??
    ohn S.
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Sawbuck was on Bill Graham's Fillmore label.

    71230.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by timbre4 View Post
    Forgot to answer this: SAWBUCK on a custom Columbia label that escapes me now.
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    Default Re: Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" on DVD

    Hey All,

    I purchased this set right off the infomercial at inflated rates. I think it was $45 per installment for 10 installments, so a total of $450, but I wanted the material so I said "*&#% it" and paid. I got a total of 20 discs, which was everything they sold. This included one that was all comedy.

    There are enough great performances in here to make me happy. It is also a cultural time capsule because the set covers post-psychedelia like a somewhat biased rock history lesson. We get all that disco had to offer (check out Labelle doing Lady Marmalade - a curiosity in modern times) and through the punk era (which this show never embraced) into early New Wave. It is largely a record of "popular music" of the time, and fortunately for me there is a big enough dose of what is now called "classic rock" to satisfy my jones. And also enough guilty pleasure from my early adolescence that I might cringe about being associated with in print, but at the time it was my music world.

    So I can actually recommend the set - well recorded and mixed for mono, but keep in mind that the delivery destination was the mono speaker of 1970s broadcast television, so this is this is to be expected. I do have a vague recollection of the competing "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" being simulcast on local FM in stereo, so maybe if they do a set of those we can get stereo mixes. I do not recall this being true for Midnight Special.

    If it was recorded in multitrack that would afford the opportunity to go back and remix, but I suspect that either the masters are long gone or they are selling enough in the current format to disuade them from the added expense. Too bad the music is not the most important thing, but that's the biz. In the end I am glad these surfaced in excellent quality at all.

    Ken
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