|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||118:23 minutes||Other Extras||Featurette-Interview (48:15)
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Personally, I think George Michael reached the pinnacle of his career with one of the most amazing albums I have ever heard, Older. This was an intensely personal and honest album, and showed a maturity that up until that point in his career had not even been glimpsed from George Michael. It was an album filled with raw emotions, ranging from extreme sadness to intense rage, and it felt like it all came straight from the heart. It was almost like George Michael was reaching out and saying "this is who I really am, take it or leave it". It is still to this day one of my favourite albums of all time and still gets a regular play on my system.
Ladies & Gentlemen - The Best Of George Michael is the DVD version of the double CD of the same name. As the name suggests, this is a compilation of his greatest hits, though there is quite some considerable variance between the track listing on the DVD and on the double CD compilation.
The tracks included on this DVD are; Outside, Fastlove, Spinning The Wheel, Freedom 90, Killer/Papa Was A Rollin' Stone, Too Funky, Faith, I Want Your Sex, Jesus To A Child, Waltz Away Dreaming, Father Figure, Older, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Kissing A Fool, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), Somebody To Love, Monkey, One More Try, Star People 97, I Can't Make You Love Me, A Different Corner, You Have Been Loved, and Careless Whisper.
Inspection of the track listing of the double CD shows that fully nine songs from the CD have been omitted, with three additional songs added onto this DVD to partially compensate. The compilation is variable in its quality, ranging from the sublime Jesus To A Child and Father Figure to the relatively forgettable Monkey and Somebody To Love. Nonetheless, it is a worthy addition to any fan of George Michael's DVD collection.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. Older was very oddly presented, and looked anamorphically distorted. Engaging 16x9 mode on my display device did not fully correct this anamorphism, so in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I must assume that this particular music video was deliberately shot in this fashion.
The transfer is variably sharp, ranging from razor sharp to quite softly-focussed. As you would expect, the most recent footage is also the sharpest, with Waltz Away Dreaming and the MTV Unplugged clips standing out as particularly good in this respect. Shadow detail is reasonable without being remarkable. Low level noise was not usually present, but it did appear from time to time in the older clips which were clearly sourced from analogue video masters. It was never particularly distracting, but was definitely noticeable from time to time, such as in I Want Your Sex, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me and One More Try. In contrast to this, A Different Corner, which was predominantly white in colour was extremely clean, clear and free of noise.
Colours were always well-rendered according to the directors' intentions, with a great variety of colour palettes on display during the course of this DVD. Tracks from analogue video masters announced themselves by exhibiting chroma noise which the newer, digital video sourced tracks did not suffer from. Particularly notable for chroma noise was I Want Your Sex which exhibited quite marked chroma noise on any and all shots of red lips. I Knew You Were Waiting also exhibited some chroma noise, as did One More Try.
Remarkably, there were no MPEG artefacts noted in this transfer. I say remarkably because the total running time of this video-based transfer is 166:38. I have found from watching many transfers of music video-based material that they very rapidly fall prey to exhibiting MPEG compression nasties as soon as much more than 60 minutes is crammed onto a single layer, presumably because of the typical rapid-fire editing that this type of programming entails and the subsequent havoc that this plays on MPEG encoding. One thing acting in this transfer's favour is the fact that a lot of slow cross-fades are employed within the transfers, as opposed to rapid-fire cuts, which would have eased the burden slightly in regards to MPEG encoding. Nonetheless, the MPEG encoding has been done extremely well.
Video artefacts were few and far between, with some trivial aliasing and moiré effects during Spinning The Wheel and the odd video drop-out seen during the older analogue music videos. There were no film artefacts seen - this entire compilation appears to have been sourced from video.
English subtitles defaulted to ON, which was mildly annoying. Due to the nature of the programming, this is in fact a good thing at the very start of this DVD (Outside), but once the music proper starts, it very rapidly becomes a bad thing. It would have been very good if the subtitles turned themselves off automatically at this point, but they didn't and had to be turned off manually.
This DVD is the least gold-coloured dual layer DVD that I have ever seen, and given the absence of any notation on the packaging, I initially thought the DVD was single-layered. The observed quality of the video soon changed that opinion, and I confirmed with Windows Explorer that the disc has a total of over 8Gb of data on it, making it undoubtedly dual layer. The RSDL layer change is placed at 80:40, in between Somebody To Love and Monkey during a black-out. It is fundamentally undetectable and causes no disruption whatsoever to the flow of the programme.
The 5.1 mix of this DVD starts off LOUD. Really LOUD. Really LOUD and extremely shrill. The instant the music started, I thought my head was going to be blown off by the treble in this mix. The first 5 tracks or so are really dreadful 5.1 mixes, with extreme levels of treble and little bass and are all but unlistenable in 5.1. Fortunately, this trend does not continue for the remainder of the album, and the 5.1 mix settles down to a more reasonable sounding mix after this point on the DVD. I personally suggest that the optimum way of listening to this DVD is to start off listening to the much warmer-sounding default Linear PCM track and then switching over to the 5.1 track at Too Funky. Either that, or keep the volume level down for the early part of this DVD.
The vocals are generally localized front-and-centre, though the vocal for Older is inexplicably mixed to the left of centre. The vocals are always clear and easy to hear. The older audio tracks have some hiss present, but this only becomes evident right at the very end of these songs when the hiss disappears in between tracks.
The great majority of this DVD did not have any audio sync problems at all. One track, Waltz Away Dreaming, was marginally out of sync.
The surround channels were variably used, from ineffectually early on, to very aggressively later on, such as the very pleasing mix of Waltz Away Dreaming and Father Figure. The extent of envelopment was very variable from song to song which marred the overall presentation of the audio somewhat.
The .1 channel was used lightly and I felt that it should have had more emphasis in this mix. The first five tracks saw little to no action from the subwoofer, and then it reached a more balanced level for the remainder of the DVD.
The video quality is remarkably good overall.
The audio quality is a little disappointing, with some excessive brightness present early on.
There are only a few extras, but they are very good.
© Michael Demtschyna
22nd March 2000
|DVD||Palsonic DVD-2000, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer|