'America - Live In Central Park'
(America / DVD / NR / (1979) 2008 / Eagle Rock Ent.)
Overview: Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek formed in London in 1970. With their easy-flowing folk rock, bountiful harmonies and long string of George Martin-/Geoff Emerick-produced albums, they have maintained a consistency of excellence that continues to the present day. Despite Peek leaving at the height of their fame in 1977, America has earned its reputation, practically inventing “soft-rock” in the process. This 1979 Central Park, New York concert was filmed as a movie, and first released on DVD in 2005.
DVD Verdict: Realize this is from 1979, and it's great to see Dewey and Gerry look like teenagers (almost). And it's shot on film, better than the video of the day but not sharp at all. But there is no excuse for the soundscape. It has little dynamic range, Willie Leacox (among the finest live drummers you will ever hear) is neither seen nor well heard. Think of your first stereo as a kid and you'll get the idea.
Directed by documentarian Peter Clifton, the film contains the only filmed concert that exists of America, along with footage of New York and California during the late '70s, thereby chronicling not only the band but also the cultural time and place that influenced it.
Also it is a documentary; cheesy shots of surfers during "California Dreamin'" and guess just guess which song is played whilst we watch the boys racing their Porshes in the desert, and a few wild horses just happen by? Moreover you see (and hear director brag about if you care to) the band re-dubbing the voices and guitar in the studio after the show for the film. It does NOT sound it. Now if you are an America fan to the core like me, it's genuinely wonderful to own this DVD and cherish it for the snapshot (2 dimensional at best) that it is. This is a Full Frame Version (1.33:1) and comes with the Special Feature of a Documentary.