Band, The-The Last Waltz (DVD-Audio) (1978) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1978|
|Running Time||134:06 (Case: 105)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Robbie Robertson|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English MLP 48/24 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
You could perhaps be forgiven if you have never heard of The Band. No, this is not the same band as in the Blues Brothers (although there may be some similarities in terms of musical style!).
The Band consisted of five Canadians:
Robertson wrote most of the songs, and Manuel, Danko and Helm did the singing, sharing vocal duties.
They originally were the backing musicians for Ronnie Hawkins, and called themselves The Hawks, then became Bob Dylan's backing band during his 1966 World Tour before deciding to call themselves simply The Band in 1967. They released eight highly acclaimed albums, including Music From Big Pink (1968), The Band (1969) and Stage Fright (1970).
In 1976, after 16 years of performing, the band members decided to retire and gave one final farewell gig. What was originally envisaged as just a normal concert suddenly became the biggest event in rock and roll history as a multitude of famous guests were invited to sing along, including:
The band was also augmented by a 7-piece horn section and an orchestra.
The final concert, entitled The Last Waltz, was held on Thanksgiving Day (25 November 1976) at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. The concert lasted for over four hours and was filmed by none other than Martin Scorsese for eventual theatrical release as the ultimate rock and roll documentary.
Selections from the concert (including some studio tracks) were released as a 3-LP set in 1978. All 30 songs on this set were then condensed into a 2-CD version in 1988. A 4-CD bootleg of the entire concert was released in 1995 and an enhanced 4-disc remastered and remixed version of the album was released in 2002. The film version was also released as a DVD in R1 in 2002.
This DVD-Audio contains the same 30 tracks as the original 3-LP and 2-CD editions (so we don't get the additional songs on the 4-CD version) completely remixed into 5.1 channels. Given the theatrical release of the film features a surround mix, I would hazard a guess that this disc might feature the same surround mix. In any case, the surround mix has been supervised by one of the original band members (Robbie Robertson) so presumably reflects the intent and wishes of at least one band member.
Curiously, the tracks are not presented in the same order as the 2-CD set but slightly rearranged. It's closer to the "correct order" (i.e.. the order the songs were played in the concert) so I think that's probably a good thing. What would have been nicer is perhaps the entire 4-CD set on a dual layered dual sided disc. Maybe that will come later. In the meantime, I think this version will satisfy fans of The Band and the concert.
Not all songs are from the concert. The Last Waltz Suite (the last 6 tracks of the album) contains a number of studio performances, which also include guest performers such as Emmylou Harris and The Staples.
|1. Theme From The Last Waltz - with Or|
2. Up On Cripple Creek
3. The Shape I'm In
4. It Makes No Difference
5. Who Do You Love
6. Life Is A Carnival
7. Such A Night
8. Down South In New Orleans
9. Mystery Train
10. Mannish Boy
12. Further Up On The Road
|16. Dry your Eyes|
17. Tura Lura Lural
19. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
20. Baby Le Me Follow You Down
21. I Don't Believe You
22. Forever Young
23. Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Repris
24. I Shall Be Released (Finale)
25. The Well
27. Out Of The Blue
28. The Weight
29. The Last Waltz Refrain
30. Theme From The Last Waltz
Like most of the Warner DVD-Audio discs released to date, the video content on this disc is in full frame NTSC. We get four photo stills per song that also includes the song title. In addition, we also get several stills containing song lyrics.
This is a single sided dual layered disc. Unfortunately, I was not able to determine where the layer change is as the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is entirely contained on Layer 1 and there were multiple places in the MLP 5.1 track where the player pauses in between songs.
There are two audio tracks on this disc: MLP 5.1 48/24 on the DVD-Audio portion, and Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) on the DVD-Video portion. The packaging also mentions the existence of an MLP 2.0 48/24 audio track - this appears to be a downmix of the 5.1 track as there is only one Group on the disc.
I am quite disappointed that Warner/Rhino has chosen to remaster this historically significant recording into PCM 48/24 instead of a higher resolution such as 96/24. Also, the lack of a separate stereo track is also a significant omission and makes it harder to compare this release against LP and CD versions. Finally, only the tracks from the original 3 LP/2 CD release have been included, which seems strange given that Rhino has taken the trouble recently to release a 4 CD version.
In mitigation, this is a very long album and obviously compromises have been made to try and fit it onto a single sided double layered disc. I would have preferred that they release this in a higher resolution audio format on multiple discs.
Well, enough of the disappointments. How does this release sound compared to the 2 CD version?
The 2 CD edition was released in the 1980s and feature a mediocre digital mastering. Although not as bad as other CDs from the era, the mix is decidedly strident in the mid-range, somewhat glassy, and lacking in either extreme low or high frequencies. I don't have the remixed and extended 4 CD version on hand, and it would be interesting to hear any improvement.
The MLP 5.1 audio track is stunning in comparison, though still not as dynamic and natural as a recent recording. It appears to be a new discrete surround mix from what is presumably the original multitrack tapes. I imagine that this mix is the same as in the newly re-released version of the film, but I am unable to verify that.
All six speakers are fully utilized in the mix. The music is spread across all front channels, and the instruments occasionally bleed into the rear speakers as well. The audience noises are decorrelated across all speakers, but is more prominent in the rear speakers as you would expect. The subwoofer channel is used to enhance the low frequencies, but even with the subwoofer turned off the mix still sounds more "bassy" than the CD version.
Voices sound more natural on the MLP track, as well as cymbals and audience noises.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track definitely does not sound as crisp and punchy as the MLP 5.1 audio track. It also seems to be a bit lighter on the bass, and the cymbals sound more "fuzzy" and less distinct.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are minimal and replicated on both DVD-Audio and DVD-Video portions of the disc.
The menus are full frame and static.
This is a sixteen page colour booklet containing a lengthy essay by David Fricke, colour photographs, track listing, and credits.
Each track is accompanied by several stills containing lyrics of the song (apart from the opening instrumental overture).
Each track features three accompanying photo stills from the concert.
This is a set of nine stills listing musicians, production team and dedications.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This disc appears to be identically featured across all regions.
The Last Waltz contains a selection of songs from The Band's farewell concert in 1976, originally released on 3-LPs and now remixed into surround sound. It includes a number of famous musicians as guest performers, and serves as a useful complement to the film of the concert which will be released on DVD-Video later in the year.
Unfortunately, in order to fit the 30 songs onto a single dual layered disc, we only get an MLP 2.0 48/24 audio track and Dolby Digital 5.1. I would have preferred if they split the songs onto two discs (or a double sided disc) and used a higher resolution such as MLP 2.0 192/24 or MLP 5.1 96/24. The audio quality also reveals the less than stellar nature of the original masters.
Extras are minimal, which is somewhat disappointing considering the amount of additional material available.
|DVD||Denon DVD-A1, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|