Hootie and the Blowfish-Cracked Rear View (DVD-Audio) (2001) (NTSC)

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Released 24-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Credits
Discography
Music Video-Drowning (Live)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 46:45
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Sided
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Gloria Gabriel
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Darius Rucker
Mark Bryan
Dean Felber
Dean Sonefeld
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Hootie and the Blowfish


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 96/24 2.0 (4608Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English MLP 96/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    You might think you don't know of any of the music of Hootie and the Blowfish, but anyone who's listened to the radio in the past 10 years couldn't fail to recognise the distinctive voice of lead singer Darius Rucker with its rich texture and characteristic tremolo. Formed in the early 90s by 4 graduates from the University of South Carolina, their early performances consisted of covers of inspirational bands REM and The Allman Brothers. Their music could be described as being a variant of rolling, harmonised, country rock, injected with a hint of gospel from the soulful lyrics of the lead singer. Basically a 4-piece band with Rucker on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Mark Bryan on guitars, Dean Felber on bass and Jim 'Soni' Sonefield on drums they are frequently partnered with Lili Haydyn on violin and John Nau on Hammond organ.

    Cracked Rear View, released in 1994, was their first and most successful album and singles released from the album include "Only Want To Be With You" and "Let Her Cry", which won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance. Since then they have released 3 further albums and Mark Bryan released his solo album "30 On The Rail" in 2000. This is an ideal album to undergo the high-resolution DVD-Audio treatment which fills the gaps of timbre and definition that more 'lossy' compression systems leave open - I have found that this latter quality is most important for acoustic material, especially vocals and stringed instruments. Electric guitars and synthesisers seem to fare better with Dolby Digital and DTS, perhaps because their sonic signature is less complex than their acoustic equivalents. This album is rich in acoustic guitar, piano and high profile lead vocals from Rucker often with minimal accompaniment as on Goodbye. The playlist on Cracked Rear View has been  well constructed - starting with the unremarkable Hannah Jane we are quickly followed with Hold My Hand which starts off with some nice acoustic guitar, counterpointed (in surround) by its electric partner. The slightly downbeat Let Her Cry is followed by a sumptuous rendition of Only Wanna Be With You which just sounds gorgeous with rich full-bodied vocals and a delicate mandolin overlay. If you have any doubt of the richness and quality of Darius Rucker's voice then a listen to the uncredited final track (Chapter 12) rendition of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child .." will soon put you right! 

    This disc is dual sided and dual layered. As is usual for this format, direct playback of the feature, without dwelling on the menu or needing a video monitor, is possible by inserting the disc into the player tray and pushing the 'Play' button - initially pushing the 'Eject' button takes you to the menu and requires further input.

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Track Listing

1. Hannah Jane
2. Hold My Hand
3. Let Her Cry
4. Only Wanna Be With You
5. Running With An Angel
6. I'm Goin Home
7. Drowning
8. Time
9. Look Away
10. Not Even The Trees
11. Goodbye

Transfer Quality

Video

   Video is limited on this disc and consists mostly of monochrome stills of crumpled photos of the band taken from the original album release. These are in NTSC and unusually both these and the video clip of Drowning are available to both DVD-A and DVD-V players. The quality of the stills transfer is excellent and the quality of Drowning is reasonable - both are in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The 6:33 live video of the band playing Drowning is presented at 1.33, and is not 16x9 enhanced. The quality of this NTSC video is good and is available on both the DVD-V and DVD-A versions (which is unusual but how it should be).

Audio

    This is a fabulous audio transfer in 4 different formats with something for everybody! The disc is two-sided and both are dual layered - so 1 format per layer. On the surround sound side we have 5.1 high resolution DVD-Audio in PPCM at 96/24 encoding. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is on the other layer on the surround side and is recorded in 48/24 resolution. Turning the disc over we have a stereo DVD-Audio layer in 96/24 PPCM and for those interested in high resolution stereo from their DVD-V player we have an LPCM 96/24 track also (excellent!). Technical note - most DVD-V players will not output 96/24 resolution via the digital output so if you are hooked up to your processor by a digital link you will have to change to analogue outputs or else configure your player to downsample the digital to 48/24. Most Sony and Pioneer players can be set up to output 96/24 digital (software permitting) whereas all Toshibas, Panasonics and Harmon Kardon players will only output 48/24.

    In brief, there weren't any big surprises comparing the differing formats - the surround mixes were immersive with depth to the soundstage whereas the two channel versions sounded flat and confused by comparison. In stereo, some of the fine detail was lessened or lost such as the chink of glasses in Not Even The Trees or the mandolin in Only Wanna Be With You. The surround was imaginatively mixed to provide separation of instruments, notably acoustic from electric. For example, Hold My Hand starts off with a nice acoustic guitar intro from the right rear which is soon counterpointed by electric from the front. Whether you like this arrangement or not is up to you - I find it works very well with some music and not so well with others. Personally, I thought this was a great surround mix!

    In terms of resolution, the DVD-A was superb - this (with SACD & vinyl of course) is the medium for vocals and acoustic. The Dolby Digital surround mix sounded thin and harsh by comparison and on Goodbye, Rucker sounded like he was singing through a mouthful of saliva! The piano on Goodbye sounded like a Grand Piano in DVD-A, whilst in Dolby Digital it sounded more like your upright Joanna from the local pub! I found Rucker's lyrics a little hard to decipher but this is due to his style and diction rather than any shortcomings in the audio transfer.

     For those with 'just' a DVD-V player all is not lost, however, as the LPCM stereo mix is excellent and although losing some of the sound depth of the DVD-A surround mix, it gave the DVD-A stereo version a close run for its money and I think on many home theatre setups would be indistinguishable. If I was a big fan of Hootie and Co I would buy this disc for the LPCM version alone!

    The subwoofer was excellently integrated into the overall soundmix and was supportive, giving depth to the sound without drawing attention to itself. Incidentally, there has been a load of twaddle written on the perceived bass management problems of DVD-A - on over thirty discs that I have now listened to, I have never once had a problem with this. By way of contrast, on the DVD-V audio track on this disc, I had to turn the volume down as it was encoded a good 3 dB louder than the DVD-A mix and also had to turn the subwoofer level down a couple of clicks for comfort and to restore balance.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menus are functional and indicate which format you're in.

Booklet

    This is a confused arty 8 page insert which is difficult to read in red type and doesn't hold much interest anyway.

Photo Gallery

    Though advertised as an extra, these are just stills for each track available from the Page button on your player. Inclusion of song lyrics would have been more helpful.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This multi-region disc is the same in all countries of release.

Summary

    This is a superbly rendered audio presentation of Hootie and the Blowfish's debut and most successful album. No matter what your home theatre setup, if you have a DVD player, you will find an audio track to suit.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Sunday, January 05, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using RGB output
DisplayNEC MP3. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio DecoderNaim AV2. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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