Radio City Music Hall Deluxe Edition Review

Well, folks who have been following the Heaven & Hell tour this year have known that a DVD and CD of the tour were released back in August. Around the same time orders were being taken for a “Deluxe Edition” package which Rhino was going to sell exclusively from their website. Time went on, and it was delayed. And delayed. Oh, and delayed some more. Folks ordered it, and were getting numerous regular emails from Rhino saying that it was still on backorder, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, right before Thanksgiving, folks started emailing me telling me they had gotten emails saying they finally were shipping. And indeed, they started arriving in people’s hands this past week. Why do I point out all of the delay? Because the time spent seems to have been worth it.
Now first off, I have to admit I didn’t see the point in the package originally. I’m not a collector of “stuff” – I prefer the tunes. But a copy ended up in my hands this week from a friend, and now that I’ve had a chance to check it out, it’s a very well put together package. I’m not going to review the music behind this, because let’s face it. If you’re reading this, you know the music. No point in rehashing that issue here. :)
A few general notes about the package. This is again being sold by Rhino Handmade here in the US. These are the same division of Rhino that produced the Live at Hammersmith CD earlier in the year. As with that release, this one is a limited edition of 5,000 copies. Only 5,000 of these were produced, and once they sell out, that’s it. The Hammersmith CD’s were individually numbered. These are not. I checked with my contact at Rhino, and she informed me they are not numbered. The package is being sold for the comical price of $66.66 here in the US, and Rhino will only ship to North & South America. If you’re on the other side of the pond, they won’t send it to you, so I’m sorry about that.
I’m going to break this review down into a few sections, each with pictures of all the bits inside the overall package. These pictures were taken at my home office. They’re not the most professional pictures, but they get the point across. Sorry for my Wendy’s cup making an appearance in one. :)


The Packaging

Above is a picture of the package itself. As you can see in the picture here, it’s fairly substantial. I’ve included the existing RCMH DVD & CD’s in front so you can gauge how tall the package is. Let me say that the DVD & CD in this picture are NOT part of the deluxe package. They are only here as a size comparison. The package itself is just what you see in this picture. It’s rather shiny, and you can see that by my reflection being in the shrink wrap outside of the box. The various sides of the box have no writing on them – the only writing is what you see on the front.

The outer shrink wrap is unremarkable. On my copy at least, there was no sort of sticker or anything else – taking that off lets you pull two booklets out of the side. One large, and one small. You can see both of them in this picture above. We’ll examine the individual books below in detail.


The Smaller Booklet

This is a closer look at the smaller booklet. As you can see, it has the four band members’ names on it, plus the title. Like the larger box, the spine and back have no writing on it. Opening the book, you get the concert DVD. The next page has the track listing for the DVD, but it’s got black on black writing. It’s next to impossible to take a picture of. I tried that a couple of years ago when Black Box came out, and the CD’s had the same kind of writing, but it doesn’t come out well. Anyway, moving past that, you get the first piece of memorabilia, a ticket stub. I have no idea if each of the packages have the same replicated ticket or not. For folks who were ACTUALLY at the show, I wonder if they’ll put their real ticket in the slot where you get it. :)
The next several pages are the usual liner note stuff. In fact, it’s the same liner notes that came in the CD version of RCMH back in August. The pictures and text are much larger, but it’s the same stuff that was in the other release. Not surprising really, as this Deluxe Edition is meant to be a “Deluxe” edition of the other release, not a “new” release as such.
After that you get to the next bit of memorabilia. In this slot are the backstage pass and the 10 black and white postcards. The postcards cover several subjects, from the band, to live concert shots, to promo art, etc. I don’t know if I’d actually MAIL the postcards, but they appear to be ones you could if you really wanted to. :) The pass looks familiar. I was backstage with the band back in May when they were in Dallas, and this looks like those passes, only much smaller in size.
Finally are the two audio CD’s. Again, they’re the same content as the release from last August. One minor quibble here. They’re both in the back cover – they use that sort of packaging where you have to remove one CD to get to the other one. I don’t like those, because it involves more disc handling then I like. I don’t know about you, but I handle my CD’s as infrequently as I can, because I like taking care of my stuff. I know a lot of people don’t care, but I do! I like to keep my things in as good quality as I can. Anyway, it’s a minor quibble, I admit, but I would have preferred some other packaging option for that.
Here’s a shot of all the material from the smaller booklet together.


The Larger Booklet

The larger booklet has a “felt” kind of feel to it. If you remember 2004’s Black Box, it’s kind of like that. The “Radio City Music Hall Art” (the one with the cross, 666, etc) is the only thing on the outside of the larger booklet. The rest is all felt. As a note that same art also is seen through on the exterior box. The exterior box has a hole in it, to show the cover of the larger booklet.

As you can see when you open it, there are things on both sides. The left side contains the tour programme, and the right side contains the larger color pictures. The tour program is quite nice. The middle of the program is a trifold piece of paper. It has a promo photo of the band, and a mirage of the band from years past, going back to 1980. None of the mirage appears to be from 2007, though. Even Geoff Nicholls makes an appearance in a couple of the mirage photos. Here’s some smaller pictures from the program to show you what I’m talking about:

As for the tour program content itself, it has the usual stuff. A page for each of the band members, a story about the tour, and many pictures. It seems like a pretty standard tour program. I will say this though. In Dallas, I don’t recall seeing this on the merchandise table. Did anyone else see this in their respective stops on the tour? The writing in here is from April of 2007, I doubt they made it that early, and just had it sitting around just for this package.
The other side of the larger booklet has as I said the nice color photos. There are five in all. One of each band member, and an onstage concert shot. Each of these color photos are essentially the same size as the larger exterior box, so that can give you an idea of how big they are.
The photo above shows a white piece of paper, that was some sort of protection in the package, and had nothing on it – I discarded it.


Summary

In all, this is a very nice looking special edition. But let’s not forget what is the most important part, the music! I didn’t even write about the tunes, and you get the concert DVD, plus two CD’s, so that’s all good stuff. When I first took this out of the box it was shipped to me in, it was impressive looking even before I opened it. I got it at like 11AM from the Fedex guy, and I didn’t open it until around 9PM. I sat there looking at it. The package has this nice “heavy” feel. It’s one of those silly unquantifiable things that just “feel right”. I can’t put it into words, but when you hold this in your hands it just feels substantial.
The tour program is cool – I love looking at photo collages like that. The postcards are nice, although I would never actually MAIL them. The large pictures are EXTREMELY nice – they’re almost good enough to frame, IMO. It’s definitely a very well put together package, something I’m having a hard time finding a lot of descriptive words, because I’m sitting here looking at it, and I go “this is really cool looking”.
Negative stuff: There are really only two issues I have with this set that could be considered negative. One is with the larger booklet. If you look at the picture above showing where the tour program is held, those pieces of cloth which are holding the book in came loose. It was easy enough to stick them back in, but I shouldn’t have had to do that. It’s a minor issue, I admit, but it’s about the only real negative I can find in the package other than that packaging choice of the 2 CD’s I mentioned above.
If you have already bought the CD’s and the DVD, whether this is worth it for the extra memorabilia and packaging is up to your personal choice, and how much the extra “stuff” means to you. If you have NOT bought the CD’s and DVD, then you should take a stab at this package.
Oh sure, it is more money than buying them separately, but Rhino has put together something nice for you with lots of cool extra bits, so take a shot and order it, before the 5,000 are all gone. You can order it over at the Rhino Black Sabbath page here.
How do I sum up the package?

A bit silly, I admit, but it is a very nice package. By the way – all the pictures here can be viewed in larger versions (plus a few others I didn’t use in the article) in the photo gallery here on this site.


Giveaway

As a special thanks for reading through this review of the package, I’d like to offer you, the reader a chance to win yourself a free copy of this package! I have ONE copy to give away of the Radio City Music Hall Deluxe Edition package.
As per most of my contests in the past, you’ll need to answer a few trivia questions about the band. If you get them all right, you’ll be put into a drawing for the package. Here are the questions you need to answer:

  1. How many “official” Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell albums has the song “Heaven & Hell” appeared on? Name them.
  2. Which Beatle did Vinny Appice record for in the studio?
  3. Heaven & Hell keyboardist Scott Warren also was in another band with a singer who tried out for Black Sabbath, but didn’t get the gig. Who was that singer?
  4. Of the three Dio era Sabbath STUDIO albums, which was the only one to have cover art that was designed specifically for the album?
  5. Are you excited about the new 2008 studio album by these guys? ;)

You need to send your answers for the questions and your name and address to rcmhdeluxe@black-sabbath.com. There’s a few important things here. First the email must go to this address. Second, you have to include your name and address. If you don’t do these things, your submission won’t be considered and WILL BE DELETED!. These are simple requests – I’m quite frankly stunned at the number of people who ignore these requests and send anyway. The contest will run through Tuesday the 4th of December at 9AM (my time, which is the Central Time Zone in the US). Don’t flood the inbox with requests and only enter once – when I go through the submissions, any duplicates will be deleted. If you try entering more than a couple times, I’ll probably get irritated and delete all your requests, so please honor the request, and enter just once.
One thing about the contest. Anyone can center. You don’t have to be in North or South America to win this (like Rhino is doing with the shipping). Please be aware though that the DVD is a Region 1 DVD, and may not play in your DVD player if you don’t have one of those.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Joe Siegler – Webmaster
Black Sabbath Online

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