Written by Hombre Divertido
On October 13th Eagle Records released what is being heralded as the definitive John Denver DVD Release. “Definitive” is one way to describe it. “Eclectic” is another, and “excessive” is also an option.
Consisting of four live concerts, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” live in Australia 1977, “Rocky Mountain High” live in Japan 1981, “Country Roads” live in England 1986, and “Solo Acoustic Show” live in Japan 1984 as well his Farm Aid performances from 1985, 1987, and 1990 and two documentaries, Earth Day 1990 and Day at Bighorn (1972), the collection has 592 minutes of material on five discs.
Around the World Live is definitive in that it spans more than ten years of live performances. It is eclectic in that it includes such things as the Earth Day documentary, which may have been one of Mr. Denver's passions, and is briefly hosted by him, but it really has little to do with him, and the material is outdated. It is excessive in its repetitiveness. The collection includes no less than six performances of “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and numerous performances of other Denver Classics as well.
Though it is interesting to watch how the technology to film a concert advanced over the years, eventually the footage becomes more enjoyable to listen to, rather than to sit and watch an incredibly talented man stand in front of a microphone and strum his guitar over and over. The concert from Australia in 1977 is awkward from the opening where it fails to properly capture Denver’s introduction, and remains awkwardly filmed throughout. As technology improved over the years, so does the footage of the concerts.
The documentary Day at the Bighorn lends the most insight into Denver, his personality, and his passion for animals and the great outdoors, but it is clumsily edited, and generally results in poor storytelling.
The gem in this release is the acoustic performance in Japan from 1984, as it truly displays the immense talent and vocal range of Denver.
The sound quality of all segments is excellent, and most of the footage looks great if you are so inclined to watch all of it.
Recommendation: Around the World Live seems thrown together, as the Earth Day documentary seems out of place. A documentary on John Denver’s life would have made for the perfect conclusion to the story attempted to be told here. Even the addition of the made-for-television movie Take Me Home: The John Denver Story from 2000 with Chad Lowe as Denver, would have made for a more well-rounded release. The true fan may enjoy sitting and watching all of this, but most will simply enjoy listening to some of it.