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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Earth, Wind & Fire-Now See Hear (Live by Request DVD/Greatest Hits CD) (1999)

Earth, Wind & Fire-Now See Hear (Live by Request DVD/Greatest Hits CD) (1999)

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Released 20-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Animation
Menu Animation
Bonus Track-Exclusive Encore Performance - Keep Your Head To The Sky
Audio Commentary-Band Commentary - Shining Star, Fantasy, Let's Groove
Web Links
CD-Greatest Hits
Booklet-CD Booklet only
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 88:44 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lawrence Jordan

Sony Music
Starring Philip Bailey
Verdine White
Ralph Johnson
Sheldon Reynolds
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI ? Music Maurice White
Philip Bailey
Verdine White

Video 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 576i (PAL)
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

    Earth, Wind and Fire were a seminal band of the Seventies. Founded by Maurice White in 1970, they went on to have a string of hits during the middle of that decade. I can still remember seeing their video clips on shows such as Sounds Unlimited and Countdown, which reminds me of how old I am... Their music is a mix of R&B, jazz, soul, funk, even disco, with some upbeat spirituality thrown in.

    Though Maurice White suffers from Parkinson's Disease and no longer tours with the band, Earth, Wind and Fire still perform live. On 17 July 1999 they appeared on the US cable network A&E show Live By Request. The premise of this show is simple:  the performers play on a studio set in front of an audience, and they play songs requested live by viewers over the phone or via the internet.

    This sort of unrehearsed show has the potential to turn out disastrously, if the performers are not on the ball. Happily, Earth Wind and Fire are more than equal to the task. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their live performance. The songs sound not dissimilar to the original recordings, and are played with verve and conviction. Despite the core of the group being together for almost 30 years, they still seem to enjoy playing their music together, and this comes across in their performance. There is no sense of staleness, or irritation at being asked to perform their old stuff yet again.

    While he does not appear in person, Maurice White is still a significant presence, having written and arranged most of the songs. Philip Bailey, a founding member, supplies the daunting falsetto vocals; Verdine White (Maurice's brother) plays bass and Ralph Johnson, who joined the band in the mid-70s, plays guitar. The band also features the Earth, Wind and Fire Horns and the Earth, Wind and Fire Dancers. The latter's contribution to proceedings is, shall we say, somewhat dubious.

    Unlike many of the artists of the 1970s who have continued to perform (one of whom makes a pre-recorded cameo appearance), Earth, Wind and Fire still look fit and well, and capable of going on for many years to come.

    One of the drawbacks of this type of programme is that the better songs tend to be the first ones requested. Fortunately, Earth, Wind and Fire produced enough gems in their heyday that the show only drops away slightly towards the end.

    The show is hosted by Mark McEwan, who keeps the banter between songs (and his own contribution) down to a minimum. Originally a two-hour broadcast with commercials, the breaks have been skilfully removed so that there are no obvious joins.

    This disc has been previously been released as a DVD-only pack. It is being reviewed again as it has been re-released in a combination DVD/CD pack, in a series Sony have called Now See Hear. The CD included with the DVD is the Earth, Wind and Fire Greatest Hits CD first issued in 1998. Most of the 17 tracks on the CD are also present on the DVD. This disc has been successfully remastered and is probably the main attraction here. Most Earth, Wind and Fire fans would already own it.

    The tracks included on the CD are:

    Shining Star, That's the Way of the World, September, Can't Hide Love, Got to Get You Into My Life, Sing A Song, Gratitude, Serpentine Fire, Fantasy, Kalimba Story, Mighty Mighty, Reasons, Saturday Nite, Let's Groove, Boogie Wonderland, After the Love Has Gone, Getaway.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Shining Star
2. Fantasy
3. Let's Groove
4. Devotion
5. September
6. Sing A Song
7. Reasons
8. Boogie Wonderland
9. That's The Way Of The World
10. Mighty Mighty
11. Got To Get You Into My Life
12. After The Love Has Gone
13. Getaway
14. In The Stone
15. I'll Write A Song For You
16. Serpentine Fire

Transfer Quality


     The video was taken from a live cable television broadcast. As such, the quality is obviously not as good as if it were recorded on film or high definition video.

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is the original aspect ratio, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is very soft. Very, very soft. The softness is roughly comparable to VHS quality. This for me is the most disappointing aspect of the transfer, and is most likely due to both the source material and the NTSC to PAL conversion. Considerable noise is present throughout the entire disc.

    Shadow detail is adequate. The lighting of the set is quite well done. Flesh tones are lifelike, although the colour is somewhat muted. Black levels are good.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc. The layer change occurs at 53:48, and while it is noticeable, it occurs during applause immediately prior to a song and is therefore not disruptive.

    In my opinion, this is an adequate video transfer, reflecting the quality of the source material. The video problems did not prevent my enjoyment of this disc. Michael C, however, has previously reviewed Earth, Wind and Fire - Live By Request in its DVD-only incarnation, and expressed strong reservations about the video quality, about which he has gone into significant detail (and to which I cannot add) . That review should be consulted as an alternative opinion for those interested in purchasing this disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD: a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix and a Linear PCM stereo mix.

    The 5.1 mix is generally well done. The surround channels are used for adding to the ambience, and no loud signals are presented through these channels. Similarly, the subwoofer is used subtly to enhance the bass, not to overemphasize it. The one issue with the 5.1 mix is that the vocals are recessed in comparison to the instrumental backing, which sometimes makes the lyrics difficult to hear. This affects all of the singers, in particular Sheldon Reynolds, who is almost inaudible at times.

    I listened only to selected songs with the Linear PCM track, but this was enough to confirm that the problem with the audio balance was present here also. This suggests that the issue existed in the original recording.

    There were no audio sync problems noted.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu

    This is an brief animated menu with music, and looks and sounds very good.


    The booklet included with this set is the CD booklet. The booklet supplied with the original DVD-only release is not included.

Exclusive Encore Performance - Keep Your Head to the Sky (3:38)

    This seems to have been an encore performed for the studio audience after the live show had finished. It is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Band Commentary

    The members of the band provide a commentary for three of the songs, each of which is selectable separately. The songs are Shining Star, Fantasy and Let's Groove. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. Rather than provide information about the origins of the songs, the band merely comment on their performances, and the difficulty in performing the songs on request. Philip Bailey particularly notes his worries about singing Fantasy so early in the show, given that he had not had a chance to warm up his voice. I imagine that most people would only listen to the audio commentary once.


    This shows recordings available on CD, with a picture of each cover and a track listing. This would be useful for reference purposes.


    This extra lists 3 websites, which are an Earth Wind and Fire website that is no longer available, the Live By Request website and the Columbia Records website.

R4 vs R1

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

     The original DVD-only version is available on an NTSC disc in Region 1. As this transfer has not been converted from NTSC to PAL, the video quality is potentially superior to the Region 4 version, though I have not been able to locate any reviews that confirm this.

    The Now See Hear edition with the Greatest Hits CD included is not available in Region 1, so on that basis Region 4 is the winner.


     A excellent live performance of most of Earth, Wind and Fire's hit songs. The bonus CD makes this a bargain.

    The video transfer is adequate.

    The audio transfer is good, though not ideally balanced.

    The extras are satisfactory if not exceptional.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XS29M33 68cm Trinitron Wega. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

Other Reviews NONE