Unwritten Law-Live in Yellowstone (Music in High Places) (2003)

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Released 21-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Stupid Intern Tricks,Rocky Mountain Oysters & Naked Fly Fish
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Drumming With The Locals
Music Highlights-"Just The Music" - 8 songs
Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 56:40
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alan Carter
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Rob Brewer
Patrick Kim
Steve Morris
Scott Russo
Wade Youman
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
German
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Music in High Places is the continuing series of specials made for MTV that takes some of the world's top recording artists to some of the more exotic and ancient locations on the earth. This is the sixth disc I have taken a look at in the series and they are still as enjoyable as ever. They offer a real stripped down and completely unpretentious look at a top artist immersing themselves in a foreign or local culture. The previous titles I have had the pleasure to check out have seen rockers Collective Soul travelling to Morocco, The Deftones wandering around Hawaii, solo artist Ryan Adams in Jamaica, India.Arie in Brazil, and the best of the lot so far for me, the Goo Goo Dolls travelling to sunny and stunningly beautiful Alaska. Quite a few of the others in the review team have checked out many of the other discs, so have a search through the database if you want to track them all down.

    This disc features San Diego pop-punk band Unwritten Law travelling to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Formed in 1990, the Californian based band has gone through so many line-up changes that only one member (drummer Wade Youman) is an original member and there are apparently 16 former members floating around the place in addition to the five-piece line-up they are today. Youman is joined by Scott Russo on vocals, John Bell (bass), Rob Brewer (guitar) and Steve Morris (guitar).

    They released their first album called Blue Room in 1994 on an independent label before signing to Epic Records. Their second album was released in 1996 and was called Oz Factor. A self-titled album was released in 1998 and followed up with last year's Elva which contained a more mainstream rock sound and a hit on MTV with the track Seein' Red.

    The band perform a couple of songs in the famous national park, in amongst the geysers and the forests, in addition to performing at a small local bar in Cody Wyoming. They also visit a rodeo and mingle with a few of the locals at what looks almost like a gypsy-style hippie camp. Stripped down to the barest of musical essentials, the band's tight performance and solid lyrics really work well in this surrounding. The acoustic nature of these performances does not always work (the Deftones in particular sounded out-of-place to me) but these guys seem to work well together and the unplugged style suits them well.

    As with many of the other programmes in this series, the first 40 minutes or so are dedicated to following the actual band around the place, while the remaining 15 or so minutes are more of a behind-the-scenes look following some of the crew around. As a result, the video quality drops off significantly with lots of shaky camera shots and a generally more blurry look to everything.

    The boys play the following songs in the 56 minute programme:

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Track Listing

1. Rest Of My Life
2. Before I Go
3. How You Feel
4. Geronimo
5. Elva
6. Blame It On Me
7. Seein' Red

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced. It was obviously made for commercial television, as scattered throughout the programme are a series of Music in High Places logos that pop up obviously designed to bookend either side of an ad break. These don't detract from the enjoyment much - they are just a little annoying after the fourth or fifth time.

    This is as sharp and as detailed as any of the other transfers in this series. Grain is evident on only a handful of scenes, most notably the clear blue skies, but doesn't distract and there is no low level noise.

    The colours are superb, being extensive and rich. The deep blues of the cloudless skies are a highlight. There is no bleeding or oversaturation evident.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. There are no other video artefacts at all.

    There are three subtitle streams present. I was unable to test the accuracy of these as they are presented only in French, German, and Spanish, all languages with which I am unfamiliar.

    Although this is a dual layered disc, I was unable to detect a layer change. I am assuming the main feature is on one layer and the extras are on another.

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

Audio

    Like all the recent Music In High Places discs I have reviewed there are three audio tracks available. These are Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 and dts 5.1 soundtracks.

    I listened to both 5.1 soundtracks and briefly sampled the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Both surround tracks offer pretty much the same separation and spread across the front speakers, though there is only a little surround use. Both tracks are clear and concise, with a nice reach to the lower end of the scale. Naturally enough, the soundstage is dominated by the centre channel for much of the dialogue, but when a song is performed, the audio opens up nicely to both left and right channels - and it is here, as with many of the other discs in this series, that the audio really shines.

    Dialogue is clear at all times during the interview scenes, and as mentioned the vocals during the songs are the highlights. There are also no audio sync problems.

    Like the other titles in the series, there is not a whole lot of surround activity, except on the Music in High Places logo which pops up several times during the documentary.

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

Extras

Featurette-Behind The Scenes - Stupid Intern Tricks, Rocky Mountain Oysters & Naked Fly Fish

    A 10:31 behind-the-scenes featurette with an incredibly stupid name, this is really just a bunch of footage that didn't make the main programme. Some of the crew are larking around in the river, while drummer Wade Youman thinks fly fishing naked is a good idea.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes - Drumming With The Locals

    An 8:13 featurette that contains some more behind-the-scenes style footage that was not used in the main programme. This one has the band drumming with some locals in the forest.

Music Highlights

    Selecting the music highlights allows you to watch just the songs (either individually or as a play-all option) that were recorded.

Biographies-Cast

    Several static pages of text summarising, not so much the band's career but their thoughts about travelling to Yellowstone to perform.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 and Region 4 titles are exactly the same. Pick it up where you can get it the cheapest.

Summary

    The Music In High Places series of discs are a great way of finding out a little about a culture you may never have heard of and a little about a band you also may only have a passing interest in. The series put these musicians in exotic locations without all the publicity and hype, and this is often quite revealing of the true nature of people.

    Unwritten Law in Yellowstone is a visually stunning documentary that sees a band stripped to their barest musical essentials and play a series of decent rock numbers.

    The video is excellent. The audio with both Dolby Digital and dts 5.1 options is also of superb quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, December 06, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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