Randy Newman-Little Criminals (DVD-Audio) (1977) (NTSC)

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Released 23-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Bookmark
Music Video-Short People
Lyrics
Gallery-Photo
Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 39:39 (Case: 175)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lenny Waronker
Russ Titelman
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Randy Newman
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Randy Newman


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (2304Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English MLP 192/24 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

    These days you could perhaps be forgiven if you have never heard of Randy Newman (if you are young enough) or know of him mainly as the composer of the music scores to Disney computer animated films such as A Bug's Life, Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc. (if you are even younger still).

    However, for some of us who are old enough, we remember a period of time when he was actually famous, or perhaps infamous, for the biting humour and irreverence of "Short People." There was a time when you couldn't escape hearing this song on the radio, and it was even featured on television.

    Well, Little Criminals is the album that contains this song, along with many other gems that are now nearly forgotten. Some of the songs, particularly the quiet numbers, are actually quite nice and don't deserve to be overshadowed by the attack on vertically challenged people.

    On this album, Randy sings and plays keyboards, including piano and synthesizers. He is also joined in many of the songs by some great LA session musicians, including none other than most of the members of The Eagles. In particular, members of the Eagles provide background vocals for Short People and Rider In The Rain. In addition, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh also played guitar parts in some of the other songs. Finally, eclectic guitarist Ry Cooder contributes by playing the "mandola" on track 11 (Kathleen).

    I love some of the grandiose titles on this album, such as "Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father" and "Sigmund Freud's Impersonation Of Albert Einstein In America."

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Track Listing

1. Short People
2. You Can't Fool The Fat Man
3. Little Criminals
4. Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Fa
5. Jolly Coppers On Parade
6. In Germany Before The War
7. Sigmund Freud's Impersonation Of Al
8. Baltimore
9. I'll Be Home
10. Rider In The Rain
11. Kathleen (Catholicism Made Easier)
12. Old Man On The Farm

Transfer Quality

Video

    Like most of the Warner DVD-Audio discs released to date, the video content on this disc is in full frame NTSC. We get one photo still per song that includes the song title.

Audio

    This is a recent DVD Audio release, and features an expanded set of audio tracks (instead of just MLP 5.1 in the DVD-A section and Dolby Digital 5.1 in the DVD-V section as in earlier releases). It is also a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL).

    The audio tracks on the DVD-Audio portion of the disc are:

    The audio tracks on the DVD-Video portion of the disc are:

    The only audio track missing that I would have liked to have seen is a Linear PCM 2.0 96/24 track in the DVD-Video section. If you are a stereo listener and want to listen to high resolution audio from this DVD, you'd better have a DVD Audio player!

    First of all, I listened to the MLP 2.0 track in its entirety. The source material is not fantastic and has that typically bleary 70s solid state sound, and the high resolution stereo audio track captures every single nuance of it. The bits that grabbed my attention were the clarity of the cymbals and the sparkling notes from the piano.

    Next up is the MLP 5.1 audio track. Compared to the MLP 2.0 track (which is about as close to "reference quality" as you are able to get) this sounds duller and more "muffled" though still better than CD quality.

    The surround mix appears to be a discrete one mastered from the original multi-tracks. Randy's vocals are located precisely in the front centre because they have only been mixed to the centre channel. The other instruments are spread across the other speakers. Background vocals emanate from the rear speakers. I also noticed several instances of instrument positioning between front and rear speakers which is somewhat unusual.

    The subwoofer was used lightly to support the low frequency portion of the music.

    The Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 track on the DVD-Video portion of the disc lacks the presence and sense of detail present in the MLP 192/24 2.0 audio track - but still sounds quite decent.

    The full bitrate dts 5.1 audio track (1536Kb/s) on the DVD Video part of the side sounds very similar to the MLP track except possibly sounding slightly duller. I don't think I would be able to reliably tell the difference between the two.

    Finally the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (448Kb/s) is also similar but slightly harsher and recorded at a fairly loud level (dialog normalization +4dB). Compared to the other tracks, the loss of high frequency detail in the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is quite noticeable.

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

Extras

    The extras are exactly the same no matter which part of the disc you select (DVD Audio or Video, Stereo or surround) which means there are two copies of everything (well, in reality maybe just the one as it is possible that both DVD Audio and Video portions can link to the same content on the disc).

Menu

    The menus are full frame and static, but include an animated introduction and menu transitions.

Music Video - Short People (5:31)

    This features Randy Newman in the recording studio talking about and performing Short People. The video is full frame and the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The video is slightly pixelated and features lots of composite video artefacts. The audio has numerous instances of clipping distortion.

Song Lyrics

    These are displayed as several stills for each song. The lyrics are available as a separate menu item on the DVD-Video portion of the disc, but integrated with each song in the DVD-Audio section.

Booklet

    This is a 12 page booklet that includes black and white photographs, a lengthy essay by David Wild, track listing, and musician/production credits.

Photo Gallery

    This is a set of six black and white/colour stills of various photos of Randy Newman.

Credits

    This is a set of four stills listing musicians and production team.

R4 vs R1

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.

Summary

    Little Criminals is probably one of Randy Newman's most notorious albums because of a single track - Short People - that irked quite a few vertically challenged people when it was first released.

    This disc contains a full selection of audio tracks, including MLP 96/24 5.1 and MLP 192/24 2.0 on the DVD Audio portion, plus full bitrate dts 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 on the DVD-Video portion. The quality of the audio is okay.

    Extras include a music video (from a recording session) and interview excerpt.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Short Stuff - John