Classic Albums: Rio appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, I thought the DVD offered decent but unspectacular visuals.
For the new material, sharpness appeared reasonably crisp and detailed. The picture looked consistently clear and accurate. Focus was more problematic in the older clips, however, as they demonstrated issues. Some of the videos and concert footage also came across as rather indistinct.
The program seemed to display no significant jagged edges or moiré effects in the new bits, though archival pieces could look ropy. I also saw no evidence of edge enhancement. The older footage appeared reasonably decent; the video footage tended to have that blurry, blocky feel typical of the era, though. As for the modern shots, they demonstrated a bit of grain but otherwise lacked flaws.
Most of the Classic Albums releases feature fairly subdued colors since they take place in studios and other indoor settings. Rio followed along those lines, as the tones looked fine but not terribly dynamic. Black levels looked fairly deep and rich for the new stuff, while shadow detail appeared clear and accurate. Overall, you won’t view Rio for its dynamic visuals, but it adequately represented the original material.
Similar feelings came with the Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack of Classic Albums: Rio. Not surprisingly, this mix stayed with a front-oriented presence that largely hewed to the original stereo presentation of the music. Virtually everything other than the songs stayed in the center; I detected no evidence of effects or dialogue from anywhere other than the middle speaker. The music showed good stereo separation, though I expect some of that may have resulted from the original production of the album. Overall, it seemed like the music provided clean spread across the front, and the track used the rears for decent reinforcement of the songs.
Audio quality was somewhat erratic but generally positive. Dialogue was reasonably natural and distinct. As for the effects, well, there really weren’t any; this production featured music and dialogue almost exclusively. Of course, the songs were the most important aspect of the mix, and they came across well. The original tracks from Rio fared best of all, as they showed decent clarity and depth. Archival footage worked acceptably well, though of course it displayed a fair amount of variation. Those segments were usually clear but somewhat thin and flat. As a whole, the audio seemed good but unexceptional, largely due to the variety of source materials.
The disc’s extras break into two categories. We find six Additional Interview segments. These run between three minutes, 21 seconds and 15 minutes, 40 seconds; taken together, these last a total of 54 minutes, 28 seconds of material. I think that’s a first for Classic Albums: the “additional interviews” run longer than the main program!
We get notes from band members Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Simon Le Bon, and Roger Taylor, video director Russell Mulcahy, journalist Beverley Glick, co-manager (1980-1987) Paul Berrow, Capitol Records VP of A&R (1976-1982) Rupert Perry, musician Bob Geldof, fashion designer Anthony Price, EMI Video managing director (1980-1987) Geoff Kempin, MTV co-founding executive John Sykes, EMU Records A&R (1980-1987) Dave Ambrose, US remix producer David Kershenbaum, graphic designer Malcolm Garrett, and New Sounds New Styles editor (1981-1982) Kasper de Graaf. The clips cover music videos, elements of “Save a Prayer” and “The Chauffeur”, the band’s early days, succeeding in the US, and the album cover.
These clips help flesh out some areas covered in the main program and they add new subjects as well. I wish the “Additional Interviews” would cover the Rio songs not discussed in the primary show - Classic Albums really should examine every tune on an album – but even with that shortcoming, we still find plenty of good details here.
The disc also includes five songs Live from Boston. We hear versions of “Rio”, “Save a Prayer”, “New Religion”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “The Chaffeur”. Should you expect vintage footage from the 1980s? Nope – and you shouldn’t even hope to see DD in front of an audience. Instead, these takes are shot live in the studio and feature the current incarnation of the band. I like the fact we get the full versions of the songs, since we hear only minor snippets of them in the full program. They’re not great performances, but they’re worth a look.
Some folks will quibble with the inclusion of Duran Duran in the Classic Albums series, but I admire the producers’ willingness to look beyond 1960s/1970s staples. The show provides a nice look at the album and the band. The DVD presents perfectly acceptable picture and audio along with some useful added footage and live performances. I love the Classic Albums series, and Rio becomes another winning entry in that line.