Elton John-Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Classic Albums) (Warner Vision) (2001)

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Released 4-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Bonus Interviews (10)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 49:22 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bob Smeaton
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Elton John
Nigel Olsson
Davey Johnstone
Gus Dudgeon
Bernie Taupin
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music Elton John


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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
Dutch
Italian
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking Yes, it was the '70s!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I have, for years, been an enormous Billy Joel fan. As such, Elton John was to be respected, but ultimately looked upon as "not quite" Billy. But then there was the Face To Face tour, and Elton John was Good (with a capital G). It was from this point that I really started looking into Elton John's music, and the albums from his first few years were the ones that really struck me as being the most outstanding. While my personal favourite Elton John album is Madman Across The Water (largely thanks to the sublime Levon, and the orchestral scoring of Paul Buckmaster), it is undeniably Goodbye Yellow Brick Road that is the perfect candidate to be Elton John's entry into the Classic Albums series. Not only did this album spawn four of the most famous Elton John songs in Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, Bennie And The Jets, the title song Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and the famous Candle In The Wind, but it was also Elton John's entry into the world of the double album. As a side note, those of us who are entirely CD aged may comment that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road only comes on one CD - the double album refers to the fact that the original presentation was on two vinyl discs, making a total of four sides.

    As with previous entries in the Classic Albums series, this presentation features interviews with all of the people involved in the production of the record. Not only are there interviews here with Elton John and Bernie Taupin, but band members Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone also get to have their say. Producer Gus Dudgeon and engineer David Hentschel are also featured, as are latter-day Elton collaborator Tim Rice and many record company executives and journalists. Even the president of the Elton John fan club gets an interview. The only person missing is bassist at the time Dee Murray who passed away in the early '90s.

    The information presented is a fascinating look into the production of the album, and the general way in which albums were produced in mid '70s Europe Probably the most interesting sequences are those that involve Gus Dudgeon and David Hentschel at the mixing desk revealing the many layers that went into the forming of the tracks, and highlighting some of the background work that is not particularly obvious when simply listening to the album.

    All that I can really say here is that this DVD is a must buy for anyone who owns a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and is still worth a look for anyone interested in how albums are put together in general. This presentation shows exactly why Elton John is as successful as he is - he is simply a genius.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The quality of the image presented here is neither consistent nor of a particularly high quality. This is really to be expected however, as the feature contains a mix of archival session footage from the mid '70s combined with more recent interview footage.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the transfer differs vastly between the archival footage and the new interviews. The archival footage is extremely blurry, often making it difficult to make out even medium detail, let alone fine detail. The newer footage however, is quite sharp (although still not overly so). The archival footage is almost uniformly afflicted with a serious grain problem, the screen coming alive at times (such as at 8:29-46), and is so noticeable as to draw obvious attention. The new interview footage does not escape the grain problem either, although it is the interviews with Elton John and Bernie Taupin that exhibit the worst of the problem. Fortunately, the problem in the new interviews is not anywhere near the levels reached in the archival footage. Shadow detail fares considerably better, being very good for the new interview footage. The archival footage is all brightly lit, and shadow detail never really comes into play. There is no low level noise in the transfer.

    Colours are, as with most of the other problems, dependent on the source. The older footage ranges from luscious and vibrant (the snippet from the Jamacia Jerk-Off video) to quite washed out. The new footage displays nice colour rendering, although there appears to be a problem with the intensity levels on a green light behind Bernie Taupin's head during his interview, resulting in a constant throbbing of this light which becomes quite annoying as the feature progresses.

    Impressively, the high grain levels cause no real problems in terms of MPEG artefacts, as there were none to be seen in this presentation. There are only two major causes of aliasing in the transfer, but they are both quite major. By far the worst problem occurs with the rows of knobs and dials on the mixing desk during the interviews with Gus Dudgeon that, while subtle, cause the entire desk to shimmer slightly. This can become quite annoying once noticed. The other major instances of aliasing are caused by Davey Johnstone's guitar. The archival footage is also heavily marred by film artefacts. While they occur throughout the transfer, the worst cases are to be found during the sequence 6:25-7:15. The newer footage is thankfully free of film artefacts.

    There are no English subtitles present on this disc.

    This is a single-layer disc and is therefore free of a layer change.

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

Audio

    The audio presentation is of a very high quality, and is perfectly suited to the type of release this is. The lack of a full 5.1 soundtrack is not really missed as the majority of the presentation is focused on dialogue, not music.

    There is only a single audio track on this disc, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track encoded at the higher bitrate of 224 Kbps.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. The music, when presented, has a very good presence and is certainly not lacking for missing out on a full surround mix.

    The only issue with audio sync on this disc occurs when pre-recorded music is faded over the top of performance footage - and given that the two are obviously not meant to match, this is not a problem at all.

    Being a straight stereo mix, this disc obviously made no use of the surround channels.

    While the subwoofer did receive some re-directed bass at times, it was only a minimal effect at best, and really did not come into play at all.

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

Extras

    There is only one extra on this disc, but it is worth more than the plethora of heartless extras present on many new discs.

Menu

    The menu features an animated introduction and animated transitions, but is itself static. If also features snippets of Elton John tunes spliced together. Strangely enough, for a disc concerned exclusively with one album, the songs used span much of Elton John's early career.

Bonus Interviews

    This extra is simply more interview footage filmed during the making of the documentary. As such, it features the exact same video and audio, in terms of both specifications and quality, as the new interview footage from the main feature. While these extra interviews are divided into 10 individual topics, the "Play All" button is really the only one that should be used. The information presented here is fascinating, and it must have been an agonising process for the producers to cut out as much as they did. This is as good as the main feature, and to my mind, is simply an extension of it.

R4 vs R1

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

    The versions of this disc available both locally and in America (our disc is actually encoded for all regions) appear to be identical, apart from the PAL/NTSC formatting.

Summary

    Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a wonderfully in-depth look at the creation of one of the most iconic albums from one of the most successful and talented performers in the world. It is a must buy for any Elton John fan, and is still worthy of a look for almost anyone.

    The video quality is extremely variable, thanks to the combination of archival footage and new interview footage. None of it is of spectacular quality, and some of the older footage is quite ordinary.

    The audio quality is much better, carrying the interviews with perfect clarity, while delivering the music perfectly as well.

    The single extra is really an extension of the main documentary, and is just as interesting, if not more so in some parts.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Sunday, January 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayRCA 80cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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