DC Talk made the jump from playing small churches and clubs to playing arenas following their Dove and Grammy award winning album, “Free At Last”. Though some of the songs sound a bit cheesy and dated now, they were right on target when released in the mid nineties, as evidenced by the packed arenas shown during the performances on this disc. The band was getting so big, in fact, that they decided to release a concert video/documentary to major movie houses nationwide. The footage was shot, the project was edited, t…ailers were assembled and sent out to the marketplace, and… nothing happened. For reasons not fully examined on this set, the artists, labels and studios never saw eye-to-eye, and the project was shelved in its nearly-complete form.
On the 10 year anniversary of this groundbreaking project, ForeFront Records returned to their archives, re-mastering and re-releasing the album and dusting off the old film project for new life on DVD. This two-disc set contains both the re-mastered CD and its DVD film counterpart. For better or for worse, the film is Free at Last.
This is an unfinished documentary, including the audio. Dolby Digital 2.0 is the only option available to viewers. The sound is bright and very unpolished. This is a project that could have benefited greatly from a visit to the mastering studio. In fact, the commentary track actually sounds much better than the feature itself. Granted, it’s more of a documentary than a concert video anyway, but the large amount of concert footage would have been better served with a healthy dose of 5.1, nonetheless.
The video quality on this title is downright horrid. The reason for this, of course, is that the project was never completed, so the footage is still in its raw form, complete with the various time codes stretched across the bottom of the screen. Much of the footage is in very grainy black and white, and some dark scenes are difficult to see. The color shots have no definition, and they are blurry and flat. Still other shots are heavily pixilated. Be forewarned that the footage is raw. It’s not pretty, but it has a certain charm all its own.
One place where this Limited Edition really shines in when it comes to added content. Upon opening the package, the most obvious extra is the inclusion of the full length “Free At Last” CD. This is a fantastic bonus, as it is nice to be able to go back to the album that spawned the tour and subsequent documentary in the first place.
A commentary track with the band is also included. Since there is so much music in the feature, I actually preferred the commentary track to the normal audio. It is fun to hear them make fun of their clothing and hairstyles, while still holding on to the same basic beliefs that they had at the time of principal photography.
Music videos for “The Hardway” and “Jesus is Just Alright” are also included. Two trailers, a photo gallery and five deleted scenes are here as well. Last but not least is a “Making Of” featurette, which is about 15 minutes of interview footage intercut with scenes from the feature. This is a full plate of extras for a release such as this.
This documentary would certainly have been a hit if it had made it to theaters in the nineties. Going back to view it now, however, the songs and trends are outdated, making some of the performances much more comical than they would have been at the time. If you are a fan of DC Talk, however, you should pick this one up for the commentary track alone. As I said before, it is better than the feature is alone, and that’s not a bad thing.
Special Features List
- Full Length Audio CD
- Music Videos
- Deleted Scenes
- The Making Of
- Photo Gallery