Stevie Ray Vaughan-Now See Hear (Live Austin Tx DVD/Live Carnegie Hall CD) (1995) (NTSC)

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Released 20-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music CD-Live At Carnegie Hall
Booklet
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 62:29
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Gary Menoti
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring Stevie Ray Vaughan
Reese Wynans
Tommy Shannon
Chris Layton
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Stevie Ray Vaughan


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Yet another incarnation in the Sony Now See Hear series sees the rather apt coupling of the previously released DVD Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - Live From Austin, Texas with the compact disc release of Live At Carnegie Hall added as the "hear" component of the package. As I have previously reviewed the DVD component of the release, I have basically just borrowed my previous review and updated it to reflect any changes necessitated by the passage of three years and some changes in equipment.

    For those who don't know, Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of the greatest blues guitarists of the twentieth century. A categorical statement maybe but one that would hardly be denied by those who know the blues and know the guitar. Whilst I may not be amongst those, there is no doubt that watching this man play a guitar is an experience indeed. If you are looking for a charismatic guitar player, players who can really make the guitar sing, then to my mind there are only two choices - Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Yet coincidentally, both of these great guitarists were destined for very short life spans: Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash on 27th August, 1990 at the age of 35. However, the influence of both will be felt as long as people are around to pick up the instrument and start to strum.

    The DVD is the combination of the two appearances made by Stevie Ray Vaughan on Austin City Limits, a television show obviously made in Austin, Texas. The first was in 1983 as a slightly unsure, raw talent and the second in 1989 as an assured performer, comfortable with his talent. The track listings are:

from 1983 and:

from 1989. In addition, the closing credits are accompanied by the song Tick Tock, whilst the posthumous video Little Wing is included as a bonus.

    It might have been just over three years since I reviewed the original DVD release, and precious little has changed with respect of what I wrote back then, but the impact of the man's music has not diminished in any way. This is great guitar playing of the highest order and if you have any interest in great guitarists, this is essential stuff.

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Track Listing

1. Pride And Joy
2. Texas Flood
3. Voodoo Chile
4. The House Is Rockin'
5. Tightrope
6. Leave My Girl Alone
7. Cold Shot
8. Crossfire
9. Riviera Paradise
10. Tick Tock
11. Little Wing

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is the previously released DVD with nothing more than new disc art to distinguish it from the original release. That means we get the same NTSC transfer, that whilst pretty good considering the source, will be unwatchable unless you have the equipment to deal with the signal.

    The concert is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and of course it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Given the age of the source material, we have to accept that sharpness and detail is not going to match more recent efforts. This is not helped by the fact that it suffers the inherent inferior resolution of NTSC as well as (presumably) being shot on videotape. That said however, this is generally of good quality throughout, although obviously the more recent concert footage shows a noticeably higher degree of sharpness and definition. This is due in part to the more subdued stage lighting used compared to the earlier concert. The transfer is very clear throughout whilst shadow detail is respectable enough, although again obviously not in the same league as more recent efforts. There did not appear to be any low level noise in the transfer, and grain was nothing much to worry about.

    The colours have come up very well in the transfer, although the earlier concert does exhibit some washout and flare problems as a result of the more intense (blue) stage lighting. However, in comparison to other transfers I have seen, this is overall a much more acceptable looking transfer. The later concert footage is better than good and displays a very nice rich tone to the colours that totally belies the source of the concert footage. The saturation was reasonably well handled throughout, although there were a couple of instances where the intense stage lighting really worked against the transfer and the blue colours in particular started to flare a little.

    There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There was a very minor and barely noticeable problem with aliasing during the transfer (such as at 7:12 in the top of the speaker), which in all honesty is probably more due to the inherent lack of solid resolution of an NTSC transfer rather than actual aliasing as a result of the transfer process. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is a single sided, single layered DVD, meaning there is no layer change.

    There is just the single subtitle option on the DVD, and they are generally very good. However, you should note that subtitles (or more correctly the song lyrics) are not available for all songs, Voodoo Chile missing out on the treatment: since this is a predominantly instrumental track, this is not of real concern though.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Not when you are talking about rubbish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks like the one blighting this DVD. Okay, it might not be quite as terrible as I indicated in my original review, but it sure is not that far away. On a percentage scale, if I previously thought it 100% rubbish, I now think it more like 99% rubbish.

    There are two English audio tracks on the DVD, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 track. I again attempted to listen to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but again simply gave up after a while as I found it completely unlistenable and thus stuck to the default Linear PCM track.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with either of the soundtracks.

    The music and vocals came up pretty well in the Linear PCM soundtrack, but the Dolby Digital soundtrack is an entirely different matter. The problem with the Dolby Digital soundtrack is that the sound mixer obviously thought that this was not a DVD featuring a master guitar player and decided to mix the bass so strongly in the mix that it persistently drowned out not just the vocal track but also the instrumental tracks. If you like to crank up bass purely to annoy the neighbours, then this DVD is for you. However, if you actually want to watch and listen to music from a master guitarist, you have no option but to listen to the Linear PCM track. Despite my best efforts I was simply unable to screw the bass contribution down enough to get anything even closely approximating a decently balanced Dolby Digital soundtrack. Quite why Sony engineers seemed to be generally incapable of consistently producing a decently balanced Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at the time this was originally released I have no idea, but the only thing that saves this DVD from the scrap heap is the fact that the Linear PCM soundtrack is an entirely different matter altogether and is actually a d*** good soundtrack.

    Since the bass channel so utterly drowns out everything else on the Dolby Digital soundtrack, it is very hard to say anything about the surround channel contributions on the Dolby Digital soundtrack! And, since the Linear PCM soundtrack is pure stereo, there is nothing to say about either surround channel or bass channel contributions in that soundtrack. I would certainly recommend avoiding the Dolby Digital soundtrack (which thankfully is quite easy since the Linear PCM is the default). The Linear PCM soundtrack is quite nice and reasonably bright, a little too recessed in the vocal track perhaps, but infinitely more listenable and pleasurable overall. The only issue is that just occasionally it is perhaps a bit more congested than I would normally expect from this format - most obviously in the later material as evidenced by The House Is Rockin'.

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

Extras

    The original release as we all know had nothing in the way of extras, so the only way to get extras is add another disc to the package - which is the entire point of the Now See Hear series - one disc for home and one disc for the car.

Menu

    The DVD has one but you don't really need it. The DVD starts straight into the programme and at its conclusion just simply stops.

CD - Live From Carnegie Hall (61:36)

    Recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York on 4th October, 1984, this makes an interesting and apt companion to the DVD. Obviously splitting the years of the video material on the DVD, the only problem (and a minor one it is) is that there is little commonality between the track listings. This means that the chances for direct comparisons are rather rare. Some might see that as a good thing, others might see it as a bad thing. On the whole, I tend towards the latter. For the record, the track listing on the CD is:

    When talking about one of the great blues guitarists, a master of the instrument, everything he ever recorded is virtually essential listening. That's what the CD is all about - listening. Crank this up and listen to some of the finest modern blues you will ever hear. This just goes to prove the only way to listen to music is live, and if they ever release this in a decent six channel surround sound format...

Booklet

    The minimalist booklet from the CD release, designed to fit a CD jewel case of course.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as the DVD component of the package is concerned, there is nothing essentially different between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases.

Summary

    This is a very pleasurable look at one of the great guitarists of the twentieth century, ruined by a shockingly bad Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. If Dolby Digital 5.1 is essential for you, this had better be avoided unless previewed first, but if you have no sound preferences then this is still a worthwhile buy as the Linear PCM soundtrack is very good. The DVD + CD package is quite a worthy one to indulge, although the price point could perhaps be a bit more competitive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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