Paul Simon


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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 76:13 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Movie
Region 0 Director Jeremy Marre

Warner Vision Australia
Starring Paul Simon
Case Amaray
RRP $39.95 Music Paul Simon

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages German (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s) 
English (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
French (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Italian (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Spanish (MPEG 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    When one considers controversial albums, one normally thinks of albums of the ilk of Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols. It is difficult to grasp in the light of the post-apartheid era, but around the time of its release, Graceland was an extremely controversial album. Accusations of breaching the United States embargo of South Africa, exploitation of the indigenous population of South Africa and collaboration with the apartheid regime in South Africa were thrown at Paul Simon. But despite the controversy, there is one undeniable fact that was never in dispute: this was and is a stunningly original album that above all else brought the joy of African music to the wider audience of the world. The album remains as fresh today as the day it was released and there are some gems of songs based upon the intoxicating rhythms of the music of South Africa. Who can honestly deny the catchiness of tunes such as You Can Call Me Al, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes and The Boy in The Bubble? The 1986 Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year was bestowed upon the album, but probably more important was the fact that the album brought to the wider global audience such wonderful talent as Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba.

    This is another instalment on DVD from the Classic Albums series, bringing together recently recorded interviews with Paul Simon and Roy Halee, as well as with some of the recording personnel from the album, interspersed with archival video footage taken during the visit of Paul Simon and Roy Halee to South Africa to record the sounds of African music; these recordings formed the basis of the album that eventually sold over 14 million copies. Also included is video footage taken during the Graceland concert tour. And if a definitive answer is required as to the importance of this album to the musicians of South Africa, just listen to what they have to say.

Transfer Quality


    Whatever else you can say about the transfer, it is at least interesting that they managed such a consistency in the video between the various issues in this series.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The more recent, interview portions of the transfer come up very well indeed, sharp and quite well detailed. With the live concert footage being of far more recent vintage than others in the series, it generally comes up very well, nicely detailed and well defined, although perhaps a little soft in the focus at times. This contrasts with the recording studio footage which is not especially well defined and lacks somewhat in detail, if not vitality. However, it was shot mainly for personal purposes I would presume and was not necessarily intended for rebroadcast.

    The colours again come up quite rich in tone, although not over saturated, in general. This is again not an especially vivid transfer, although the results are natural and very consistent in the rendering. The live concert footage is nicely contrasted, with a nice colour tone, whereas the recording studio footage is quite washed out colour-wise and not especially well contrasted; this however is the fault of the source material and not a DVD mastering problem.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer, nor were film-to-video artefacts a problem: it should be noted however that the archival footage did have some minor inherent problems, which cannot be blamed upon the DVD transfer. There did not appear to be any film artefacts present in the transfer.

    It should be noted too that there are no chapters on the DVD, which is quite unusual and also mildly annoying, especially when you try to locate your favourite songs off the album.


    If one particular issue in the series really highlights the lack of a full 5.1 remastered soundtrack, this is it. It would have been a joy to hear some of those wonderful underlying bass rhythms in full 5.1 sound!

    There are five audio tracks on the DVD, all MPEG 2.0 soundtracks: German, English, French, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the English soundtrack. It should be noted that the languages are not flagged to your player, as we are used to with most DVD releases, but rather are flagged to the player as 1-5; for instance, the German soundtrack is flagged to the player as 1 rather than as German.

    The music and vocals are very clear and understandable in the soundtrack.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with the soundtrack.

    The MPEG 2.0 soundtrack does not make much use of the surround channels and completely ignores the bass channel. Whilst this is not a concern per se, as the resultant sound is very good and nicely detailed, this music would have shone with a 5.1 soundtrack.


    Nothing at all, apart from an initial language selection screen.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 and Region 4 releases appear to be identical, therefore Region 4 would have to be the marginally better choice, owing to the inherently superior PAL system.


    Whilst the album came a little out of left field as far as what most would expect from Paul Simon, there is no doubting that this is a truly superb album, fully deserving of classic status. Enjoy the music and enjoy this DVD release; it is well worth investigating. Of the three releases in the Classic Albums series I have seen so far, this is the most enjoyable.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    But no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
11th November 1999

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