In this Robben Ford Ohne Filter 1993 DVD review, I break down the performance highlights and discuss the musical equipment used in this incredible concert from Robben and his band, “The Blue Line.”
If you have never heard Robben play, check out this review for his 1993 TV show appearance. Robben is truly a master guitarist in every modern style of music.
Ohne Filter 1993 DVD Snapshot
- Release Date: April 7, 1993
- Concert Length: 49 Minutes (Made for TV)
- Video Format: Full Screen
- Starring: Robben Ford, Roscoe Beck, and Tom Brechtlein
- Producer: Michael Au
- Director: Ohne Filter Studio
Main DVD Disk Menu:
- Start Concert
- Biography (written)
- Ohne Filter Shows (Alphabetical listing – no video)
- Interview With Producer (5:39 video) – about Ohne Filter, not Robben
- Sound Tuning (2:59 video) – a generic documentary about Ohne Filter’s recording process
- Web Link – Not Enabled
- Language – English and German
- Subtitles – French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese
Robben is a west coast studio-recording-ace turned live performer who is legendary in the blues, rock, and jazz-fusion community. Robben has played with Miles Davis, George Harrison, Charlie Musselwhite, and a list of other artists too numerous to mention in its entirety.
His 1992 recording, “Robben Ford And The Blue Line,” was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Blues Album and won a W.C. Handy Blues Award.
In 1993 Robben and his band made one of several TV specials at Ohne Filter Studio in Baden-Baden, Germany, to support his album in Germany. Unfortunately, because of the made-for-TV format, which included commercial breaks, the setlist was limited to less than one hour in length.
Robben’s band lineup included Roscoe Beck on 4 and 6 string bass guitar and Tom Brechtlein on drums. Roscoe has also played with Eric Johnson, Stevie-Ray Vaughn, and Jimmy Vaughn. Tom has worked with Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, and Jean Luc Ponty.
DVD Packaging And Cover
The DVD comes in the original all-plastic single disk packaging configuration, which is sturdier than the more recyclable digipack format that is mostly cardboard with a plastic liner for the disk. No booklet is included with the DVD.
The cover layout for is DVD is in the typical Ohne Filter format. A photo of Robben is on the front cover. The back cover contains the setlist, a summary of Robben’s career, and the recording’s usual technical specifications. Nothing of any special significance, just the usual “run-of-the-mill” info.
Tracklist For Robben Ford Ohne Filter 1993
- The Brother
- You Cut Me To the Bone
- Worried Life Blues
- Start It Up
- Step On It
- Prison Of Love
- Tell Me I’m Your Man
- Talk To Your Daughter
Musical Performance Highlights
You Cut Me To The Bone
This is a great up-tempo tune. Robben does some really fantastic rhythm and solo work with his wah-wah pedal. He wears his guitar pretty high-up, typical of jazz players. I really like the way Roscoe holds down a very tight bottom groove and walks his bass line while Robben wails away.
Start It Up
Robben breaks out his vintage Tele for this tune and uses it to great effect. It really gives the guitar parts a lot of spank.
This is a dazzling tune loaded with syncopated arpeggio-driven fills that will have you sitting at the edge of your seat!
Robben is a real master at this playing style, which he has redefined to make it uniquely his.
Check out this video from the concert (it’s much clearer than the out of focus thumbnail you see below).
Step On It
This is a great power chord and double-stop rocker with sustained string bends in all the right places. It shows just how much you can do with a simple opening riff. I really love Robben’s tone on this song. Check it out!
Tell Me I’m Your Man
This tune sits on top of Roscoe’s strong thumped-bass beat. Roscoe creates the perfect foundation for Robben’s soloing expedition, which even includes a short hat-tip to Jimi Hendrix with a few bars of Purple Haze in the middle of the song.
For more info on Jimi (as if you didn’t know), see Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – The Killer Guitar Players!
Interviews And Backstage Footage
Unfortunately, there are no interviews with the band. There is a generic interview with the producer that speaks about Ohne Filter’s mission and culture, which adds little if anything to the show.
The backstage footage is also a generic look at the recording facilities at Ohne Filter, and ultimately it ends up being a “commercial” about the sound and video recording cables they use. Ohne Filter did have a fairly state-of-the-art recording setup for 1993.
The stage appearance is the typical Ohne Filter generic, no-frills setup, which suits the presentation’s format. This is more than adequate for Robben, who has never relied on impressive lighting technology or special effects to augment his shows’ music.
The stage backdrop is basically a blue curtain and the usual Ohne Filter banner with his name on it. The audience is standing close to the stage, which gives the show a more intimate “club” appearance instead of the more commercial feel of a television broadcast.
Robben uses his Fender signature guitar for every song except “Start It Up.” This guitar was made in collaboration with Dan Smith, who created the Fender Custom Shop and ran it from 1998 to 2003.
It was essentially a “re-work” of the Fender Esprit, which had an alder body that was chambered on both sides and a set neck. Schaller specially designed the humbucker pickups.
Fender got Robben to endorse it and rebranded it as the Robben Ford Signature model.
It was Japanese-made between 1987 and 1993 and then moved to the Fender Custom Shop in 1994, being discontinued in 2002.
Robben’s Fender Signature Series guitar was available in a standard, elite, and “ultra” model. The elite had diamond flake inlays and pearloid-button tuners, while the ultra added a highly figured top, split-block inlays, and ebony-button tuners.
For “Start It Up,” Robben plays his vintage 1960 blond white-guard Telecaster, which sounds great! I like Robben’s Tele sound better than this signature series guitar sound, and I’ve noticed this to be true in his other concert videos.
Robben plays into a Dumble Overdrive Special head that powers a slanted Marshall 4×12 cabinet with Celestion G12-65 speakers. He also is playing through what looks like a Fender Super Reverb and a Fender Twin combo. The sound of this setup is totally awesome!
Roscoe plays his Signature Fender 4-string Jazz Bass with a drop-D flip behind the headstock. It was first actually available in a 5-string version (introduced in 1995) and then a 4-string version (later introduced in 2004). They were both discontinued in 2009.
His 6-string bass was specially designed for him by Michael Stevens and is known as the “Roscoe Beck Model.”
He plays both his bass guitars through a double Trace Elliot stack, which adds excellent bottom-end to the show and really kicks butt during his effects-laden bass solo.
PCM 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
The stereo and Dolby Digital soundtracks could have been recorded better. The stereo mix sounds fine when played back on TV speakers, which in all fairness, was the target audience. The Dolby 5.1 track lacks imaging when heard on a surround sound system.
The DVD is recorded in the 4:3 Fullscreen aspect ratio, which was the standard for movie and TV broadcasting in 1993. The video is well-recorded on-the-overall with grainy areas in some parts of the show. The camera focus is well-done and appropriately placed on each musician.
All of Robben’s guitar solos are captured in their entirety. His hands are filmed to clearly show his technique, which is what guitar players really want to see.
Roscoe’s bass solo on “Talk To Your Daughter” is also well-shot.
My Favorite Moments
Worried Life Blues
Worried life blues is a great example of how picking dynamics can add emotion and excitement to a song, especially in a blues format. Robben uses his volume pedal to great effect throughout the tune. He uses classic finger vibrato and Eric Clapton (non-wrist) vibrato as the situation calls for it.
For more info on Eric see my Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival 2019 Blu Ray Review.
There is a short but killer bass solo from Roscoe on his custom-made 6-string guitar that really adds to the song’s interest level.
The blues is definitely one of Robben’s strong suits, and he knew it when he named his band “The Blue Line.” His blues comes from somewhere down deep and profound!
Talk To Your Daughter
This classic tune from J.B. Lenoir and the final tune in the set really comes to life and features a not-to-be-missed 6-string bass solo. Robben plays a solid shuffle rhythm that fits perfectly over Roscoe’s opening walking bass lines.
The bass solo is a funky mix of “slap-and-pop” lines with a chordal structure that only six strings and a mastermind can produce. Roscoe really pulls out all the stops with his wicked guitar modulation effects and even bends a string behind the nut.
What I didn’t Like
There were no band interviews or backstage footage, again due to the TV broadcasting format’s nature. Still, they could have been filmed for inclusion on the DVD at a later date.
The DVD packaging did not include a booklet about Robben for the show. This may seem like a small point, but any recording artist’s true fans always appreciate it.
Although the video and sound quality could be better, they were professionally done and more than adequate for the time period. Perhaps someday, the video will be remastered for blu-ray with remixed sound.
This is definitely one of the best Robben Ford concerts in the Ohne Filter made for television series, although they are all well worth watching! The setlist really works well together, and Robben’s band is very tight, although I wouldn’t expect anything less.
I personally learn something new each time I watch Robben play because his technique is so unique. I love his chord voicing and his approach to soloing!
The video is pro-shot, and the sound recording quality is more than adequate by 1990’s recording standards. If you like a fluid fusion-centered approach to rock and straight-ahead blues, then this concert will definitely take you there.
Contrary to popular belief, Robben was never a part of the LA studio musician recording group “The Wrecking Crew.” For more info on The Wrecking Crew, see Who Were The Wrecking Crew? – America’s Top 40 Hit Machine!
Tell Us What You Think
Please let me know what’s on your mind in the comment section or if there is anything I can help you with.
- Have you watched this video, heard the album that the tour was based on, or ever seen Robben Ford live?
- Did you enjoy the concert?
- Who are your favorite songs or guitar parts?
- Would you buy this DVD after reading this article?
For more info about Robben, see Best Telecaster Players – These Tele Masters Will Shock You!