Customer Reviews: Roy Orbison: Black & White Night [Blu-ray]
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on December 6, 2001
Simply put, a perfect concert DVD. I could blabber on and on about each title on the disc and how expertly crafted Roy Orbison's classic music is, but if you are considering this DVD for purchase you no doubt already know about the songs. What stands out next would be the live re-interpretation of Roy's music featuring an all-star supporting band and vocalists. The song arrangements and musical scoring are perfect. Perfect with the exception of one of the concerts lighter moments; an inpromtu keyboard "solo" by Tom Waits in the song "Ooby Dooby" that goes a little of base, which is followed by the amused glances of the other members of the ensemble. Technically the DVD is a total hit. The DTS 5.1 surround is awesome. The mix is top notch and as a listener you are missing nothing. The classic black and white film in which the concert was shot is a very nice touch, and I can't imagine the show presented any other way. But it is Roy Orbison's Vocal performance that will lead you to near tears...and I mean that. I get chills every time I listen to and watch this DVD. I shake my head at the range he displays and wonder in amazement how this man did it. We should all feel grateful that we were left with this testament of Roy Orbison's legacy. The world lost Roy Orbison not long after this performance, and it is a performance that defines Roy Orbison.
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on July 8, 2002
I am a member of that star-crossed generation that was 15 years-old when they saw "A Hard Day's Night." The raw power of the Beatles and their music defined "cool" for me and started me on the bumpy road to being a bar band musician. Little did I know at the time that ground zero for 'cool' was a wonderful artist who was already up and running with a voice from God and beautiful, almost cinematic songs. Roy Orbison simply strapped on a guitar, stood there in front of a microphone and....sang. That was all he had to do to bring down the house, and I did not realize that fact until the first time I watched the "Black and White" concert filmed at the Coconut Grove. Goosebumps and tears flowed freely for me, for I had never seen or heard a more shatteringly emotional body of music. I grinned alot, too, as master Telecaster jockey James Burton traded licks with a surprisingly good Bruce Springsteen, and even Roy himself bent the strings of his Gibson with the essence of 'twang'. The gals singing backup were simply the very best singers in the business--the killer crew of Ms. Raitt, Warner and Lang...If I could have been up there playing with Roy on that stage, in that company of artists, 30 years of bar band gigs would finally have some meaning. I feel that God granted Roy this performance for all of us to see and hear him for what he truly was--a legend and an icon for an era when music was still really good, and 'cool' did not require on-stage histronics, so-called alternate life-styles and stupid clothes.
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on June 6, 2003
We saw part of this dvd at a party at friends house last week and bought it from Amazon. We just watched it all at home tonight. Fantastic! I was never 'into' Orbison in my youth when he was first popular, but after watching this cd I have to recognize him as one of the greatest. What an amazing, unusual, voice. You feel as if it is going to 'crack' at any moment from those long, high notes, but never does--it's always perfectly controlled. As if Orbison doing Orbison's great repertoire wasn't enough, the "Friends" doing backup for Orbison doing all his great songs are, among others: a young Bruce Springsteen [looking star struck the whole night b/c he was playing with Orbison], Jackson Brown, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, with Bonnie Raitt, k.d. Laing, and Jennifer Warnes doing the female backup vocals. The Orbison/Springseen duo on "Sweet Dreams" alone would be worth the price of the album but all the songs are great. Play it in SurroundSound if you have it--can't beat it.
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on August 16, 2007
There are few concert DVD's that I feel are essential purchases. Roy Orbison Black & White Night is just such a concert DVD! The picture and sound are just the beginning of what's great about this DVD set and show. I'm so glad they did this before Orbison passed away. I never realized what a talented song writer and performer Mr. Orbison was! The concert is filmed in glorious black and white and that is fine by me! There is an intimacy on this stage that is rarely captured and the big name performers playing with Orbison, show their obvious admiration and respect for this talented man. A great DVD set and there are several versions with DVD and Super Audio or DVD audio. Treat yourself and buy this set! You won't be disappointed!
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on December 17, 2004
You look at the dorky glasses and hair and wonder how that voice ever came from that body. But it did. Roy's voice was a miracle.

To me the greatest tributes come from one's peers. "Black and White Night" is filled with musicians who have heavy duty reputations of their own and basically showed up to be Roy's backing band and vocalists that night. As they say in "Goodfellas", it's tribute. k.d. lang, Ronnie Raitt, and Jennifer Warnes sha-la-la-la their hearts out in the back corner. Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, and T-Bone Burnett play their parts and keep their heads down, other than a quick bit where Elvis gets a piano solo and bangs his elbow on the keyboard. James Burton will be a revelation to those who don't know him. Like Roy, he looks nothing like a rock star, but he sure can play. The only one who really comes up front, and has the stage presence to pull it off, is Bruce Springsteen. They are terrific together. Roy Orbison and Bruce Springsteen singing into the same microphone -- whoa!

An early scene shows the star-studded audience laugh and gasp in delight when Roy hits the first high note. There is another great moment later on when Tom Waits, who didn't just fall off the turnip truck, reacts the same way to a gargling thing Roy does near the end of "Mean Woman Blues". ("I got a woman, mean as she can be...." -- if your toes are tapping already, buy this!)

Here is what Bruce said about Roy in his speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction: "I carry his records with me when I go on tour today, and I'll always remember what he means to me and what he meant to me when I was young and afraid to love. In '75, when I went into the studio to make 'Born To Run', I wanted to make a record with words like Bob Dylan that sounded like Phil Spector, but most of all I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now everybody knows that nobody sings like Roy Orbison."

I have probably watched "A Black and White Night" more often than any DVD I own. It's almost nothing but highlights.

PS to William Ritter -- "Dream You" was on Roy's last studio album, "Mystery Girl".
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on September 22, 2004
This album is a must if you are a fan of Roy Orbison, rock-a-billy, or early Rock'n'Roll. It is the best DVD I have seen of this genre. Orbison was a very early influence in Rock'n'Roll; somewhat underappreciated in the USA but well-received in Britain where he did a lot of his early concert touring. Believe it or not, the Beatles used to open for Orbison concerts. The Beatles music, as well as later British musicians learned from Orbison's music and style.

Orbison was an early role-model for Bruce Springsteen, who also appears on this DVD. In his and Roy's duets, their voices are virtually indistinguishable. The guitar playing of James Burton (former lead guitar for Elvis Presley), Bruce Springsteen, and Roy would make Les Paul proud and Duane Eddy envious.

Because of the contributions from some of Roy's "friends" this DVD is far superior to any Roy Orbison studio CD. k.d. lang, Bonnie Riatt, and Jennifer Warnes, all musical talents in their own rights supressed their egos to sing back-up vocals. Contributions from Springsteen, T-bone Burnett, Jackson Brown, Elvis Costello and Burton distinctively add tremendous appeal to this work.

Buy, buy, buy! This is a once-in-a-lifetime performance that you will play over and over again.

LATE THOUGHT-OF NOTE: This DVD is masterfully engineered and the Dolby version is excellent. However, its DTS audio tracks are absolutely superb.
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The music is timeless, the performances are historic, the cast of characters is legendary, and the star is at the top of his game...and, the footage is gorgeous; the sound spectacular. In short, what's not to like about this beautiful Roy Orbison concert presentation.

Recorded in 1987 with a stunning, stellar cast of backing musicians that would make any music hall of fame proud, BLACK AND WHITE NIGHT deserves its reputation as one of the finest concert documents ever released. Roy Orbison, much-loved, but under-honored in his all-too-short lifetime, performs some of his biggest and best-known hits spanning his 30 year career.

At the time of this recording, he was enjoying something of a renaissance in popularity and artistic recognition. Backing him up, in a truly all-star tribute band, were people such as Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, T-Bone Burnett, Jennifer Warnes, J.D. Souther,k.d. lang, and Tom Waits. Every musician and vocalist are in fine form, and their love for Roy and his songs is quite evident.

Many of Roy's classics are, including "Only the Lonely," "Dream Baby," "Oh, Pretty Woman," alongside newer cuts like(destined to be classic) "The Comedians" and the unparalleled "Crying." Centuries from now, when somebody asks, "What was it like when great music was actually made by real people," they will be handed a copy of this DVD.
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on October 18, 1999
When Springsteen wrote and created his Born To Run album he explained to critics that he wanted "to have an album with lyrics like Dylan, singing like Roy Orbison, and a sound like Phil Spector." If you're 25 or older and you can only give your children one snapshot of popular music, circa '60-'90, buy them a copy of this tape. Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, k.d. lang, John David Souther, Jackson Brown and Steven Soules sing backing vocals. Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and T-Bone Burnett, among others,play instrumental second fiddles. And they all do it for The Man. Roy Orbison. The architect of the symphonic, Ravel-like love song. The singer of singers. Just weeks before he died he played a concert in Boston and the local critic said, (I paraphrase) "he repeated that last line, in his falsetto voice, over and over and over as if to say, 'I'm still here and can do it...anytime.'" The videotape is revelatory. Stephen Burton (gtr) shows, over and over again, why he is to studio musicians and especially to guitar players, an icon non-pareil. He is Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, Bucky Pizzarelli, all in one. The tape does a tidy review of Orbison's hits. More remarkable than the performance of those hits is the reverential looks and obvious excitment of Springsteen, Costello, lang, Raitt, Browne, etc. as they accompany him on his tour of transistor radio hits. Forget the Wilbury's. This is Roy's night. Deservedly. Roy knew how to constrain all that emotion behind his words until he was ready to release it. In the last moments of the tape Roy sings "Pretty Woman" and it opens up into a jam-for-all. Noteworthy is how Springsteen acquits himself in a mano a' mano guitar trade with Burton. First they trade twelve bar solos, then they raise the stakes and trade four bar exchanges. Springsteen shows that all those hours spent in his bedroom paid off, ("..well I got me a guitar and I learned how to make it talk...") not topping Burton but filing a tasty, even nasty, testament of his own licks and sources. Perhaps most easily, and unjustly, overlooked in a star studded vid like this is Elvis Costello who plays, no, contributes in a huge way, turns as a harp (harmonica) player, guitar player, singer and pianist. But instrumentally, Burton, Springsteen and Alex Tutt (long-time Orbison drummer) truly set themselves apart. And...It's a real hoot to see k.d. lang and Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Warnes doing "steps" and singing "sha la la la" and "doo wah doo wah doo wah" and obviously loving it. It is a video to love. And that doesn't even begin to address Orbison's lyrics: "A candy colored clown they call the sandman; tiptoes to my room every night; just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper: "go to sleep, everything is alright." Dylan, Springsteen, Orbison, ..... Quick. Name three more lyricists of that stratum. Buy the tape. Re-learn what was good and true (men "do" cry") about popular music in the sixties and the seventies.
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on February 5, 2007
I confess to having the CD soundtrack to this most special of performances and it laid around for more than a few years, like a stored piece of jewelery-which it is.The LEGENDARY Roy Orbison - live at the Cocoanut Grove in 1987 with big name music stars supposedly helping the man who didn't need any.When one views the DVD you are mesmerized by Roy's voice and ease of performance.The full on string section and six person vocalist backups( all music stars)add such splendor to this wonderful salute to Roy's life and music career.Springsteen et al seem to be admiring the MASTER rather than contributing to an already perfect base nucleus of Orbison sound.Only The Lonely, Crying, Blue Bayou, Oh Pretty Woman and the deliriously rich rendition of DOWN THE LINE just draw out such emotion from one's soul that evoke pure bittersweet memories of life and love.Roy Orbison spoke very little in this concert- but his aura was at full volume.He still is THE BEST...
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on March 14, 2000
The sound and picture of this video presentation are simply breathtaking. It is a great treat that this video was produced in both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1. As the video starts you hear people (mainly high profile celebrities) all around you waiting in anticipation for this musical legend to begin crooning. As the music starts, the crowd behind you quiets, and the sweet live sound of Mr. Orbison's music surrounds you. When he finally begins to sing, the hair on the back of your neck will stand on end. Truly amazing! This is one of the best sounding DVD's I own. If you like good music give this one a try. If you are a Roy Orbison fan, simply buy it. You will not regret buying this DVD, especially if your home theater is equipped with digital surround capabilities(DTS or Dolby Digital).
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