Blue Rodeo

In Stereovision

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AllMusic Review by

Blue Rodeo's career retrospective DVD was released in conjunction with the Canadian band's 2005 Are You Ready album. Despite its misleading title (which refers not to the sound but the View-Master reel included in the package), odd snowman graphics and surprising lack of detailed information on the box, the DVD is a terrific summation of the band's history. It is told primarily through a dozen rare live song clips, a leisurely 2004 re-formation of the original five-piece outfit, an acoustic performance around a campfire, and a fascinating 15-minute history lesson entitled Sweet Soul Music -- with imaginative animation -- from writer and fan Phil Quarrington. It's a long yet consistently engaging DVD hampered only slightly by cumbersome menus and the majority of the sound in stereo, as opposed to surround. The 12 live "rarities" clips comprise the bulk of the disc, and follow the band's various hairstyles and lineups from 1987 through the summer of 2004. Only singer/songwriters Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor, and bassist Basil Donovan remain as the band's core, but the country-rock/soul sound hasn't changed much in that time. Even though it would have been a nice touch to include studio videos, the all-live format shows how effectively the members translate their music into a concert setting. The full orchestral backing of "Bulletproof" from the 2003 Juno Awards is just one of the many highlights here. The July 2004 reunion of the original band presents five older songs in crisp surround sound and a vibrant half-hour performance where everyone seems to be having a great time, especially grinning drummer Cleave Anderson and keyboardist Bobby Wiseman, who plays a primitive Acetone organ. Two new songs from 2005's Are You Ready are also introduced, making this a captivating, near 20-year history of Blue Rodeo that is a must for fans and a great introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the band's music and long career.