The Pretenders-The Isle of View (1995) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1995|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||David G. Croft|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.59:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
One of the highlights of the 1980's from a music point of view was a band that never seemed to have much going for it - but which ended up turning out more enduring music than just about every band that flickered into existence in the 1970's. Most of the bands had that brief flickering of life before being snuffed out by the inevitable change in musical moods - as well as an obvious lack of talent. Not so The Pretenders. Whilst the band might have gone through more line up changes than Jennifer Lopez has had fiancées, they rolled on through the 1980's and the 1990's. Of course the band was essentially one person - Chrissie Hynde. Almost the antithesis of the marketer's dream, she had one asset that made her distinctive and ensured her endurance - one of the most unmistakable voices of the rock era. It came to prominence with the debut single Brass In Pocket and shone like a beacon through many fine singles.
The ultimate demonstration of how fine an instrument that voice is would have to be when called upon to work in an acoustic environment. And that is precisely what we have here - The Pretenders presenting some of their best music in front of a small crowd at Jacob Street Studios in London back in 1995, with only the aid of The Duke Quartet to help them.
This programme records that session in all its glory. With Chrissie Hynde in fine voice, we take a trip down memory lane as she presents the work of The Pretenders in a way that few have ever heard. The song list features some of the very best music the band ever committed to vinyl and the fact that nearly all stands up extremely well in the acoustic environment is testament to just how d*** good the songs really are.
This is a good, if somewhat shortish, programme that presents sixteen of the best songs from The Pretenders in a way that really shows how good the songs really are and how good the band really are. Fans will lap this up but even non-fans will find some pleasant memories of the 1980's being evoked by the different interpretations of familiar material. Unfortunately, the DVD itself is not quite so good.
|1. Sense Of Purpose|
2. Chill Factor
3. I Hurt You
4. Back On The Chain Gang
6. Private Life
|9. Brass In Pocket|
10. 2000 Miles
11. Hymn To Her
12. Lovers Of Today
13. The Phone Call
14. I Go To Sleep
16. Night In My Veins
The transfer is presented in the rather unusual aspect ratio of 1.59:1, and it is not 16x9 enhanced. I am baffled as to the choice of ratio but no doubt someone will explain all to me as soon as the review is published. The video is also in NTSC format so if you cannot handle the format, don't go buying this DVD.
Since we are talking about a live performance, albeit one in a smaller venue, there are the usual disclaimers regarding taping and stage lighting issues. Overall the transfer is definitely a bit on the soft side, mainly because Chrissie Hynde is constantly backlit and this really adds too much softness to the image. Everything else is actually quite sharp, and generally well detailed, so the softness is well and truly noticed. Shadow detail is not terrific and the transfer has a tendency towards a slightly darker contrast that compounds the lack of shadow detail somewhat. There is little if anything in the way of grain in the transfer and low level noise is not an issue.
The colours really hold up pretty well all things considered, as once the focus moves away from Chrissie Hynde the colours are well saturated and have a little vibrancy to them. Unfortunately, the lighting washes out the colour somewhat whenever the camera points at Chrissie Hynde. There is some near-over saturation in the blue tones in the more intensely lit scenes but nothing more than we usually expect in such circumstances. There is no obvious colour bleed. Skin tones seem to be a little underdone, but whether this is purely a lighting issue I would not like to hazard a guess.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacting is reasonably constant in the form of generally modest aliasing in the usual suspects: guitars, microphones, music stands and so on. There did not appear to be any film artefacts.
This is a single layered, single sided DVD, so there is no layer change.
There are four subtitle options on the DVD, but don't get too excited. They are not for the song lyrics but just for the incidental dialogue after songs. From that point of view they are fine but really that is a dreadful waste of an opportunity for full song lyrics.
There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
The vocals and dialogue intended to be heard come up well in the soundtrack and are quite easy to understand. The dialogue not meant to be heard is of course a little harder to understand. There did not appear to be any audio sync issues in the soundtrack.
Overall, this is a completely unremarkable soundtrack, although it does have some surround encoding in it. It is not the clearest sound that you will ever hear but it is free from any significant blemishes.
|Surround Channel Use|
Nothing at all despite the available space on the DVD. Not even a discography or some production notes? Geez.
Some reasonable audio and animation enhancement at least lifts the main menu and song selection menus out of the mundane.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
It would appear that this is pretty much the same as the worldwide releases, so go with whichever is cheapest.
A slightly disappointing release in some respects, mainly as you really would want something better than this in the way of audio at the very least. Still, anything from The Pretenders is welcome news indeed and fans of the band should certainly be adding this one to the collection, simply because this is a good concert showcasing their music in a slightly different way.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|