Big Picture Big Sound reviews IOW Blu-Ray

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Wed Feb 4 12:08:25 UTC 2009

Full review at:

The Picture

I'm not certain why Eagle Rock have chosen to transfer a performance originally captured on film at only 1080i, but they have. So, Live at The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 comes to Blu-ray Disc in a 1080i/60 AVC/MPEG-4 transfer that certainly shows its age. The source itself shows some signs of wear and blemishes in the form of scratches and dirt and the low light photography imparts some softness and graininess to the image that is not a byproduct of the transfer itself. 

Although the source itself could have used a bit more touching up, Eagle Rock's transfer doesn't add any unwanted artifacts due to compression and post processing.  Also on the positive side, there are strong flesh tones and steady, inky blacks throughout, which is exceptional for a release of this age. 

The Sound

The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 features DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (96kHz/24-bit), LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mixes.  There should be no doubt to anyone who listens that the 96/24 DTS-HD MA mix is the star attraction on this disc. Mixed from an audience perspective, the 5.1 mix widens the soundstage allowing for a true live feel. Pete Townsend's guitar crunches with authority, Keith Moon's drums pound relentlessly and John Entwistle's bass guitar is deep, round, and robust.  Roger Daltrey's vocals are balanced into the fray decently and only occasionally get buried beneath The Who's louder passages.

By contrast, the 2.0 LPCM 48/16 mix sounds a bit claustrophobic and squeezed dynamically, but it still maintains a very solid midrange and deep low frequency response. Pete Townsend's guitar, however, is scaled back a bit in the stereo mix, making it sound like The Who-lite.  Meanwhile, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounds remarkably similar to the DTS-HD MA mix, but the high frequencies are a bit harsher in tone and the ambience sounds a little tighter.

The Extras

There isn't an overabundance of extras offered up on this release, but what is available will surely be appreciated by Who fans. Kudos to Eagle Rock for scrounging up, in particular, the two bonus performances cut from the original film and including the rather lengthy sit-down interview with Pete Townsend reminiscing on the Isle of Wight show and his days in The Who.

The extras available on this release are:

    * Bonus Tracks: 
    * "Substitute" (1.78:1/high definition) 
    * "Naked Eye" (1.78:1/high definition) 
    * Pete Townsend Interview (4:3/standard definition) -- This lengthy sit-down interview is a treat and should not be missed by fans of the band as Townsend gives the lowdown on the Isle of Wight Festival as well as the history of the band and some insight into the troubled life of Keith Moon.

Final Thoughts

Eagle Rock's release ofThe Who: Live at The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is not to be missed by any serious fan of classic rock. The Who put on one of their greatest performances of all time that night, and this Blu-ray Disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix captures that live sound brilliantly.
-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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