Neil Diamond

Greatest Hits Live

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1988 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 59:54 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Dwight Hemion
Columbia Music Video
Sony Music
Starring Neil Diamond
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Neil Diamond

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s) 
English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision No Smoking No
Subtitles English Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Whenever I come across Neil Diamond, I am always reminded of the story that used to circulate around North Lake Senior High School during my year there. The story involved one of the physical education teachers at the school who apparently was out on the Swan River, with her husband, indulging in a reception for Neil Diamond during one of his many visits to Perth. The story goes that Neil Diamond was so taken by her, that he basically offered her the world to come live with him in the States. Whether the tale is true or not, I have no idea, but I always admired his choice in women!!! What has this to do with the DVD? Nothing at all really, but it is a constant reminder that even today he has a powerful attraction to women - just look at the reaction of some of the women in this video!

    Recorded live at the Aquarius Theatre in Los Angeles, this is basically a put together effort especially for the video and to be blunt does not include all of his greatest hits, which is a pity because there is plenty of space for a lot more than what we got here. The tracks on offer here are: America, September Morn, I'm Alive, Cherry Cherry, Sweet Caroline, I Am I Said, Headed For The Future, Hello Again, Heartlight, Jungletime, You Don't Bring Me Flowers, Forever In Blue Jeans, Teach Me Tonight, Golden Slumber/Carry That Weight/The End (medley) and Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show, together with the bonus video This Time.

    Overall, this is an okay concert experience, but really fairly limited in its scope.

Transfer Quality


    Usual disclaimers: "This is a concert video so we have to make the usual allowances for the lapses in focus and the problems of trying to cope with the stage lighting" and "this is an NTSC format disc and you will need a display device capable of accepting and displaying the data in order to see anything meaningful when watching this DVD".

    The concert is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and of course it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Well, the source material is over ten years old so that we have to accept that sharpness and detail is not going to match more recent efforts, and the fact that this is presented in the inferior resolution of NTSC guarantees to compound the situation. The main problem is the extremely intense stage lighting which highlights Neil Diamond, to the detriment of everything else. This creates a very ghostly background that is anything but natural - and really diminishes the detail. In many respects this captures the very worst of this sort of event. Still, even though sharpness and definition can best be described as reasonable, this comes up quite well for its age. Shadow detail is respectable enough although obviously not in the same league as more recent efforts. There did not appear to be any low level noise in the transfer and this is another clear transfer.

    The colours have come up fairly poorly in the transfer, as a result of the extreme lighting that really creates a wishy washy effect across the backgrounds. Still, when the lighting subdues slightly, what we are left with is decent enough if not exactly the most vibrant transfer you have ever seen. The saturation was reasonably well handled throughout, although there were a couple of instances where the intense stage lighting really worked against the transfer and the red and blue colours started to flare a little.

    There was no hint of MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There was a very minor and barely noticeable problem with aliasing during the transfer, but I would suspect most will find no complaint here at all. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer.


    Every so often a DVD comes through your player that really makes you sit up and ask what sort of quality control procedures, if any, are employed by the manufacturers and other persons along the route that produces a DVD. This is one of those occasions, for the simple reason that this DVD contains a laughably bad Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that should never have passed even a cursory listening test.

    There are two English audio tracks on the DVD, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 track. I listened to (nay, endured under sufferance) the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack whilst briefly sampling the Linear PCM track, which is actually the default track on the DVD.

    The music and vocals came up pretty well in the Linear PCM soundtrack, but the Dolby Digital soundtrack is an entirely different matter. Whilst you can certainly hear the vocals, there is something terribly awry when you are watching a DVD and the main lead vocal track is blaring into your ears from the rear speakers! Yes folks, the vocal track plays out of the centre channel and the rear surround channels, with absolutely no vocals out of the front surround channels. The result is a terribly weird sound balance that I found almost unlistenable, it was that unnatural. I am no expert, but it would seem to me that either the front and rear surround channels have somehow been reversed in the mix or, more likely, the vocal track has been completely omitted from the front surround channels. The problem is that no matter how it arose, it is so readily apparent that I would have thought anyone barring a profoundly deaf person would be able to notice it. There is no way that this should have managed to get through even the most cursory of quality control inspections.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with either of the soundtracks.

    Since the surround channels of the Dolby Digital soundtrack appear to have been reversed or are otherwise somewhat deficient, resulting in a completely unnatural and unrealistic sound picture, further comment seems pointless. About the only thing of value in the soundtrack is the rather decent bass channel which rocks along quite nicely. Other than that, this is a Dolby Digital soundtrack that should be avoided at all costs. The Linear PCM soundtrack is nice and bright, a little too forward in the vocal track perhaps, but infinitely more listenable overall. Obviously lacking any sort of surround or bass channel usage, after listening to the Dolby Digital soundtrack, it is a pleasure to listen to this CD-like soundtrack.


    Even less is contained here than in a doughnut hole, unless you count the bonus video.


R4 vs R1

    This is the Region 1 release so we have an instance where R4 = R1, in all respects bar one: both the Internet Movie Database and list the US release as having only an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Even if this is correct, with the badly mastered 5.1 soundtrack, the decision would still be R4 = R1.


    There is nothing too special here, and in reality Neil Diamond - Greatest Hits Live is quite a disappointment, even before taking into account the shockingly poor Dolby Digital soundtrack. In all honesty, give it a miss, even if you are a die hard fan.

    A reasonable video transfer for its age.

    A poorly mastered audio transfer.

    Nothing in the extras package at all.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
21st April 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL