This review is sponsored by
|Category||Music||Main Menu Animation
Biographies - Cast
Gallery - Photo
Notes - from Roy Orbison Jr
Notes - Credits
DVD-ROM Extras - Discography
|Running Time||64:35 minutes|
Warner Vision Australia
A lot of friends
|RPI||$39.95||Music||The Big O|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448
English (DTS 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, during credits|
If you had not already guessed from my previous reviews, I am something of a fan of Roy Orbison and so after to some extent suffering the previous DVD releases from Massive - Roy Orbison - The Anthology and Roy Orbison - In Dreams - I immediately stuck my hand up for this particular DVD, were it to be released in Region 4. Well, after some months of waiting, the release is imminent and a-reviewing I must go!
This was a special made for television, and brought
together Roy Orbison and a collection of decent enough session musos,
presenting a collection of some of his eternal standards. The actual track
|1.||Only The Lonely||10.||Crying|
|2.||Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)||11.||Candyman|
|3.||Blue Bayou||12.||Go, Go, Go (Down The Line)|
|4.||The Comedians||13.||Mean Woman Blues|
|5.||Ooby Dooby||14.||(All I Can Do Is) Dream You|
|7.||Running Scared||16.||It's Over|
|8.||Uptown||17.||Oh, Pretty Woman|
I guess there is nothing much to say about the actual music. Since these songs are all pretty much Roy Orbison standards, and have been treasured for decades and will continue to be treasured for decades more I suspect, they are all probably well-known to anyone with even just a passing interest in rock music. For those like myself with an almost reverent regard for the era of great rock and roll, through the 1950s and into the 1960s, these songs are so much more than just standards. These are the songs and a performer that in many ways helped define an entire genre of music. This is music the likes of which we will be unlikely to hear again and that is the greatest shame about the current state of rock and roll.
Standards they may be, but these are somewhat different performances of them that in some ways define the return of Roy Orbison to the forefront of rock music in the 1980s, as well as demonstrate exactly why the man will be forever missed. The difference is pretty much due to that bunch of session musos to whom I referred. How about the backing vocalists? Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes and K.D. Lang - about as good a trio as you could possibly assemble. Twanging away on guitars are the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, James Burton, J D Souther and T Bone Burnett. Add into the mix Tom Waits, Steven Soles, Ron Tutt, Jackson Browne, Jerry Scheff and Glen Hardin, and you have assembled a damn fine collection of musicians. Roy Orbison doing these songs acoustically would have been special - but doing them with this superb collection of musical luminaries, some legends in their own right, is almost guaranteed to produce something not just special but immortal.
If you have even a passing interest in great rock and roll, this is an essential purchase for your collection, before anything else is even considered. The only thing making this an equivocal essential recommendation is the fact that the video transfer does have some problems. However, after watching the DVD three times in a row, I can live with the video problems!
Since the video was shot for television, it naturally is presented in a Full Frame aspect ratio and it is not 16x9 enhanced.
The general look of the transfer is quite decent although it should be noted that the shots of the performers are generally quite sharp and clear, whilst those of the audience (which does contain some luminaries too) are generally much more diffuse and intentionally grainy. In other words, what it looks like is entirely intended even if it does get a little grating at times. There are the odd lapses in focus here and there but nothing too distracting. Detail is pretty good overall, especially of the stage area, and is as intended. Clarity gets a bit iffy at times with the intentional grain, but there is nothing really bad about the presentation. Shadow detail is deliberately restrained, highlighting the black and white nature of the programming and as a homage of sorts to a man famed for his black rimmed glasses and dark suits. There did not appear to be any significant low level noise issues with the transfer.
Since we are talking about black and white here, obviously colours are not much of a concern per se. However, it has to be said that there is not an overwhelming depth to the black and white tones and the whole show really is presented in nicely detailed grey scales in the middle of the spectrum. Obviously this is the intended look of the transfer and there certainly is nothing at all wrong with it. Just don't expect deep, solid blacks and whites here.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The main problem with the transfer, though, is a constant and difficult to ignore aliasing that plagues the sharp edges of the stage and instruments. Shimmer also occasionally affects the background a little. This is the real disappointment about the transfer as it really does detract from what is otherwise a great performance on a good DVD. Apart from this, there are no other real film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. There are some film artefacts in the transfer and they are quite noticeable: however, by the looks of them, they appear to be almost intended "pretend" damage to the image to create an artistic impression of this being presented from a night club of the late 1950s. I could well be wrong though.
This is an RSDL
formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 52:23,
just after the end of Claudette. You cannot miss it as the
song finishes - there is a distinct pause and then the audience start clapping
and cheering. I know that music DVDs are always problematic as far as layer
changes are concerned, since they invariably have a pause in the audio
stream to highlight the change, but this one is a little more obvious than
There are three soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English DTS 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Not wishing to be seen to be biased, I listened to all three soundtracks. Well, not really because I did not want to be biased but rather because I wanted to watch the DVD several times and it killed two birds with one stone by watching them with all the different soundtracks.
There is nothing seriously amiss with the vocals in the soundtrack, other than as noted below, and there did not seem to be any audio sync problems.
Apart from sounding positively wimpish in comparison with the 5.1 soundtracks, there is not much wrong with the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at all. Perhaps just lacking the ultimate in sparkle that perhaps a Linear PCM soundtrack would have provided, the overall balance is quite good and the sound quite reminiscent of a CD. The only real complaint I guess would be that it just seemed to lack just a bit of clarity in the mix, but nothing that really detracts from the overall presentation of the songs.
The gem of the soundtrack on the DVD though is the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Whilst not as bright and glossy as the DTS effort, it is much better engineered and the overall balance is quite excellent. The surround channels get a good workout as does the bass channel, but without overpowering the vocals at all. Certainly this effort can be cranked up quite loud and the balance still remains great, meaning that you can rock big time but also hear everything that magnificent falsetto voice has to offer. There really is nothing much wrong with this soundtrack as far as I can hear.
One thing that stands out immediately with the DTS
soundtrack is the utterly superb definition of the sound. There is no leakage
at all between the channels and backing vocals come purely (and I do mean
purely) out of the rear channels, like you were standing on stage next
to the vocalists. You very rarely get to hear sound with this sort of definition
and it would have been a treat of a soundtrack except for the second thing.
The bass channel has been mixed far too prominently in the mix, resulting
in an unnatural balance that at times threatens to drown out the vocals.
If only the bass channel had been slightly more restrained in the mix like
the Dolby Digital soundtrack... I would have rated it amongst the best
soundtracks I have ever heard. The problem for me is that I cannot ignore
the prominent bass, for the simple reason that it does not really suit
the music too well. It really is a great shame for otherwise this is a
|Surround Channel Use|
That review also suggests that the audio transfer is very similar but the video transfer may be a little better on the Region 1 release. All things considered, I would suggest that there is no real preference either way.
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
23rd January 2001
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. 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 C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|