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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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on 6 July 2010
People don't seem to realise that the best thing about music Blu-rays is that due to the additional space available on the disc the soundtrack does not have to be compressed. This menas that the sound quality is considerably higher than DVD's. However unless you have a good sound system you are not going to be able to appreciate the difference.

If you have a good cinema surround sound system then this is well worth the money. The picture quality is poor, but it is worth remembering this was filmed almost 30 years ago in non-studio conditions. The sound quality is excellent, even when turned up loud; this is why I bought it. If you want the pleasure of hearing Dire Straits in the best possible quality, whilst also being able to enjoy seeing them perform on stage then look no further than this Blu-ray.
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on 12 May 2010
Well I must admit this was one hell of a Blu Ray I was looking forward to, especially with non other than Dick Carruthers being behind the restoration of the picture, and Chuck Ainlay being in charge of the sound. For those of you who are not aware of these 2 guys I would like to briefly fill you in. Dick Carruthers was the very same chap who worked on the restoration of the film footage for Led Zeppelins double DVD which contained concert film footage from 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1979. All of which are a lot older than Dire Straits Alchemy Live concert from London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1983. The work done by Carruthers on Zeppelin's restoration for there DVD was top notch first class quality, he baked the actual reels of the film footage in an oven for 3 months to restore the colour in the film. The DVD ended up looking very much like it was made today, rather than all those years back in the 70's. It was a complete marvel to say the least, which gave me a tremendous amount of respect for Carruther's work.

Carruthers work on Dire Straits Alchemy Live is very disappointing I must say, the 4:3 aspect ratio is hardly fitting for today's technology of Blu Ray, and the grain in the film is perhaps the major factor as to why Carruthers could not of done a lot to the actual film footage. If anything at all it's hardly any better than VHS quality, which is rather a shame. But then again one can only work with what they have in the first place, and one must remember that the Hammersmith Odeon can be a very dark and dismal place to be quite honest, I've been there myself on a number of occasions. So it's far from the best place to film an actual concert especially with what equipment they had back then. If there are area's Carruthers as touched up, they are certainly in the lighting department, which does come out very good at times during the show. However over all its all rather disappointing.

Chuck Ainlay is the very same sound engineer who was behind the 5.1 SACD mix of Dire Straits Brothers in Arms album, the work he done on that album was tremendous, and for that I have a lot of respect for this guy. Ainlay's work on the sound for Alchemy Live here presented on Blu Ray in a DTS HD 5.1 Master soundtrack is once again shear top notch, it's pure class and by far way better than the vinyl album or any CD release of this album. It plays back at 96khz with shear perfection of great detail to every instrument upon the stage. I have never heard Alchemy Live sound so good, you would have to have been at the actual concert itself to better it. The sound is pure and direct and panned very well with great warmth in putting you directly with the audience, and gives one the sense of actually being there. This alone makes up for the rather poor picture quality, and adds great value to the Blu Ray disc itself. I take my hat off to Chuck for doing yet another marvelous job.

Dire Straits Alchemy Live may have it's downfalls regarding to it's 4:3 picture quality, and in all fairness I would have give this Blu Ray a 1 star here for this. But the sound is totally marvelous and quite breathtaking and worth every one of its 5.1 stars. The concert itself is worthy of its 5 stars no doubt, and the bonus features are once again superb especially with the Arena Documentary giving one some good insight into the bands early career.
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on 5 July 2004
I've already written to counter what was the only review of this video by someone who must be either stone deaf or brain-dead to have awarded it half a star. Why my contribution was disregarded is a matter which only Amazon dot whatever can figure out. This Concert is awesome. Dire Straits are performing at their most brilliant best. the sound quality, filming and editing is excellent. Why has it it has not been released on DVD?
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on 3 July 2004
This is the video of one of my all-time favourite albums. On video, you are reminded that Dire Straits are more than just Knopfler's sublime guitar playing. Hal Lindes is fantastic in a supporting a role - I especially like his trousers! - and we get to see the often forgotten John Illsley, who is superb on bass, taking "Private Investigations" to new heights. Best of all though is Terry Williams. It's worth buying this video just to watch him on drums - amazing. Like the vinyl, the video doesn't contain "Love Over Gold", but then I didn't even know it was missing until the CD came out. Hopefully they'll bring "Alchemy" out on DVD so we can enjoy it again in all it's glory. Don't think - buy it.
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on 10 May 2010
For starters, having not seen this amazing live concert since my old VHS copy got chewed up years ago, simply seeing it and hearing it again on a modern home cinema set-up was a real treat. It is simply one of the best live performances by any band ever.

I'm sure fans of this timeless gig need no more convincing to upgrade to DVD/Blu-Ray, but the Blu-Ray version left me a little underwhelmed. The 5.1 surround mix simply seemed to be a more subtle remix of the standard PCM Stereo mix, and the rear speakers were totally under-used, some could say even absent.

The picture quality, although a vast improvement from the original VHS, nicely cleaned up and fairly crisp - is hardly 1080p reference material - and the 4:3 format with the black edges does little to bring the concert bang up to date in terms of modern TV's.

The hidden gem on this Blu-Ray however is the BBC 'Arena' Documentary from 1980, which I had never previously seen. It contains some nice insights into how obviously draining the two years of constant touring had been for the band, and captures the time in the run up to the release of the third album, 'Making Movies' just before David Knopfler and Pick Withers left the band. The documentary contains some amazing rare live footage from the early days of the 'Straits including versions of 'Where Do You Think You're Going', 'Down to The Waterline', 'Les Boys' and a version of 'Making Movies' which is radically different from the version which finally made it onto the album itself.

So all in all, anyone who is an avid Dire Straits fan will lap this release up. Those of you without Blu-Ray, don't get too hung up as the DVD contains all these extra goodies - and the jump in picture quality on the Blu-Ray is perhaps for purists only.

In summary I give this 5 out of 5 for the concert and documentary, but 3 out of 5 for a less then perfect Blu-Ray presentation.
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on 17 July 2010
Let's get the bad out of the way, Alchemy was filmed on video. What you see here on this Blu-ray is likely the best this will ever look, it's limited by the source material. No amount of baking, scanning and what-have-you is going to do this source material any favours.

This is also presented in the original aspect ratio of 4:3, meaning on a high definition TV you will have black bars on the sides. This is perfectly normal. If they were to re-scan the source material to present it in 16:9 you'd be now stuck with around 400 lines of source resolution and it would be ugly, so either zoom in on it or please hold your tongue...this is as good as it gets.

Now for the juice - Chuck Ainlay has gone back to the original master tapes and done an amazing re-mastering of Alchemy as well as an amazing multi-channel surround mix, mastering to 24-bit/96kHz and encoded using the dts Master Audio codec, which is of course lossless.

The surround mix is enveloping and accurately reflects the feel of a live concert. Every single nuance of the performance seems to come across with delightful clarity, from the subtleties of Private Investigations to the all out rock and roll of Sultans of Swing. Until now the best I've ever heard Alchemy sound is on the original German vinyl pressing, but I have a new favourite and it is this Blu-ray disc.

Whether you kick the lights and TV off and flick your receiver into a PURE DIRECT mode, shut your eyes and float away into this amazing concert or watch it at the same time, this one will be sure to be in constant rotation for a long time to come. Alas this isn't the pristine 1080p24 16:9 35mm transfer that I'm sure people would love to see, but with the elements available I think we're very lucky to finally have such an incredible audio presentation of this truly wonderful performance. Not sure why we still don't have the missing tracks, like Love Over Gold. Would be interested to see an answer to that someday.

Thanks Universal Music and thanks Chuck Ainlay...and of course thanks to Dire Straits, you still rock as hard in 2010 as you did in 1983.
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on 17 December 2015
As others have said - brilliant band at the peak of their powers. Contemporary critics often said that Dire Straits were better on stage than in the studio. Mark Knopfler rightly takes the honours here but I would also pick out drummer Terry Williams, whose performance is stunning. I was there at the concert in July 1983, more or less by accident. I volunteered to take a distant cousin (visiting from abroad) to the concert and before that night knew little about Dire Straits. So it was a revelation and Alchemy (on LP, cassette, VHS tape and now DVD) ensures that I can recall just how good it was. This is the very best of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler, to which I would only add "Brothers in Arms".
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VINE VOICEon 2 June 2010
I have waited many years for this to come out in a digital format to replace my very worn out VHS copy which has been played almost to destruction. It did come as a very pleasant shock to see this released a couple of weeks ago.

When I first started it playing, the sound sounded almost distorted and "overdriven" through my TV set. Not only the concert, but the music accompanying the copyright messages and the menu sound. This is the only disc I have which does this so I was a bit suspicious. A few minutes into the actual concert I changed the audio to DTS 5.1 and within a couple of seconds my jaw was hanging open at the amazing quality of the sound. I have listened to Alchemy Live on CD, vinyl and the VHS copy probably hundreds of times over the years, and it has never sounded like this. Every instrument (especially the guitars of course) and every note of song is as clear and crisp as when it was sung. Brilliant!

The picture quality is a bit of a letdown for a blu-ray. It is in 4:3 aspect ratio, and it is very grainy in places. But it is many times better than the VHS copy - and you have to remember that this is nearly 30 years ago now.

But the bottom line for me is that it isn't about the picture, it is about the sound - and for anyone who thinks they have heard Alchemy Live, they need to listen to this and think again! Well worth the wait
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on 11 January 2016
To say that this was recorded in 1983 the music quality is excellent.....even by todays standards would take some beating. Blu-ray quality is well worth the purchase. The CD is also excellent and if you like Dire Straits worth the purchase.
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on 11 December 2011
This must be the laziest Blu ray transfer ever made and likely just to cash in on the format. I can't warn people enough the quality of the visuals is so poor as to be ridiculous, at one point there even looks to be a pube across the lens. The film grain is aweful. If they can clean up Dr No/Goldfinger/Gone with the Wind etc then there is no excuse not to have done so here. Your better off with the DVD, or perhaps even just the audio CD, as the concert is not much of a visual feast anyway. Sadly disappointed.
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