Teddy Pendergrass, one of the lesser known soul rebels of the seventies, comes to DVD in this lackluster edition, which purports to be 80 minutes – but that’s only true if you factor into the running time the one bonus feature. This fact could be a detriment to fans of Teddy’s music. For me, however, it was a relief to discover the actual concert only ran about an hour. There was nothing here to justify the man’s status as some kind of legend, as his audience interactions and movements on stage were limited in scope …nd creativity. Also, his raspy voice doesn’t translate well to the performance setting. Not that I’ve heard his studio work, but it seems that would be the most effective venue for him.
Still, he seems to enjoy performing – he just doesn’t bring anything remarkable to the table. Some of the tracks on this disc will be familiar, but it’s pretty much just Teddy conducting someone else’s orchestra – and a couple of songs, which do ring familiar, have been performed better by other artists. This disc includes the following tracks: “Life Is A Song Worth Singing,” “Only You,” “All By Myself,” “Medley: If You Don’t Know Me By Now / The Love I Lost / Bad Luck/ Wake Up Everybody,” “Easy, Easy, Got To Take It Easy,” “Close The Door,” “When Somebody Loves You Back,” and “Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose.”
The 1.33:1 full frame transfer lacks any gusto or inspiration. It looks like an early VHS tape – well preserved, but still weathered by time. There are even a few instances of the picture rolling. It seems all Shout Factory wanted to do with this presentation is save the existing tape and prevent it from getting any worse. There certainly wasn’t a solid effort involved. As for the image itself, it’s too dark, and suffers from frequent bouts of spotlighting – where darkness surrounds the primary image, and any attempt at viewing is hindered by the fading presence of the primary shot’s focal point.
5.1 alone does not a good track make. Even though that’s what you get here, there are zero attempts at dusting off the sound, so to speak. It still has a bad case of video hiss, plus the muffled quality I’m sure it first started out with – along with deterioration from nearly thirty years of rust. And the louder the volume goes, the more the track’s flaws stand out – in a phrase, worse than the already poor video transfer.
Only an interview, conducted in 2002 with the now disabled Pendergrass, and a few trailers for other Shout Factory releases, supplement this disc. While the interview has a few worthwhile snippets in its 25-minute long running time, most of it consists of the interviewer narrating whole portions of Pendergrass’ life and career, then asking his agreement. While he doesn’t always give it (this does invoke some conversation), he never really ventures too far out of the box. It’s a largely uninteresting piece, but a better inclusion than the concert itself.
I feel badly for the fans of Pendergrass. For one, there’s very little chance of the man making a comeback in light of his tragic accident, which resulted in paralysis. He does entertain the possibilities of a comeback, but four years removed from the interview, you’d think he would have put forth some effort if he was really going to give it a go. I wish him the best; unfortunately, this disc doesn’t show signs of a well worth revisiting. To fans, I say remember him as he was, and stick to CDs.
Special Features List
- 2002 Interview with Teddy Pendergrass
- Shout Factory Trailers