Heartland Reggae (2001)

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Released 4-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Politricks-Politics in Jamaica late 70's
Featurette-One Love Concert-The Story
Featurette-One Love Concert-Two Sides Meet
Featurette-Singers & Players-Excellent 18 min overview
Featurette-DJs and Sound Systems
Featurette-Rasta-Rasta Roots
Featurette-Rasta-Herb
Featurette-Rasta-Talk
Featurette-Heartland Review - what the film is all about
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 86:56 (Case: 80)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jim Lewis
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Bob Marley
Peter Tosh
Jacob Miller
Dennis Brown
U.Roy
Anthea & Donna
Judy Mowatt
Lloyd Parkes
Junior Tucker
Case Click
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


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

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

Plot Synopsis

    Heartland Reggae presents a DVD music documentary about the formative time of Rock Roots Reggae in the late 1970s and its interplay with the political situation at that time. The film centres around the One Love Peace Concert held to try to bring together the factional political parties of the time. Just 60 miles from Cuba, Jamaica caught the attention of the American Intelligence (an oxymoron if ever there was one) Agencies in the late Seventies when the JLP (Jamaican Labour Party) leader and Prime Minister, Michael Manley, expressed a desire for Jamaica to be strategically aligned with other Third World nations. Fearing that Jamaica would go the same way as Cuba, the CIA started pouring money and weapons into the country to support the opposing Peoples National Party whilst the Cuban intelligence agencies did the same for the JLP. Blood ran on the streets for several years and even Bob Marley was caught up in the violence when gunmen burst into his studio in Kingston shooting his manager and grazing Bob on the chest whilst the remaining Wailers fled upstairs and hid in a tin bath! 

    After his near-death experience, Bob Marley fled Jamaica to London for 15 months until persuaded to return to feature in the One Love Concert, held in Kingston in Spring 1978, with other main-line reggae artists of the day. Against all the odds, Bob, whilst in a seemingly transcendental state, manages to entice opposing factional leaders Michael Manley and Edward Seaga on stage and unite them in handshake accompanied by a flash of lighting and clap of thunder from the heavens (fair dinkum!). Apparently, following the concert, the opposing factions, having seen that their leaders weren't hell bent on killing each other, cooled down the conflict. Manley and Seaga never met again for three years until the time of Marley's death in May 1981. Sadly, last year saw a flare-up of the factional violence to mark the 20th anniversary of his death from cancer.

    The Heartland Reggae film features much of the One Love Peace Concert together with footage from two other venues at Savanna-La-Mar and Ocho Rios and was shot in 1983 by a Canadian production unit. The DVD features a remastered film together with worthwhile extras including commentary on events of the day and interesting insights into Rastafarianism.

    As you will gave gathered by now, (if you've made it this far)!, this is far from a reggae music DVD but for better or worse the music is irrevocably intertwined with religion, culture and politics. For music fans, this features scarce and illuminating footage of some of the founders of Roots Reggae, many of whom are now dead. More than ten artists play extracts and some complete numbers from over 14 songs. A veritable smorgasbord of leading proponents of reggae such as Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller and Dennis Brown are featured in live performances together with one of the founders of rap U.Roy and temporary pop-stars Althea and Donna (Uptown, top-rankin'). The film includes five numbers performed by Marley including Trenchtown Rock, War and Jammin'. Marley uses the stage to try to bring union and Miller and Tosh make an impassioned plea to listening political ears to legalise it - the weed that is!

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Track Listing

1. Peace Treaty
2. Whip Them Jah
3. African
4. I am a Natty
5. 400 years
6. Natty don't fear
7. Trenchtown Rock
8. Natty Dread
9. War
10. Jammin
11. Jah Live
12. Black Woman
13. Enjoy Yourself
14. Soul Rebel
15. Get up, Stand up
16. Legalise It
17. Uptown, Top-rankin'
18. Tired Fe Lich Weed
19. Natty Don't Fear

Transfer Quality

Video

    The present day footage filmed for the documentary side of the DVD is excellent. As most of the feature is made up of aged 23 year old 16mm film stock, which was almost certainly stored in less than ideal conditions, the video quality by present day standards is poor even after digital remastering. Given that such footage must have been hard to come by and that the music and message is of principal importance, I can overlook this technical problem.

    The whole presentation, film, menu and extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced.

    The extra features are high quality with excellent sharpness, shadow detail and no artefacts of note. The Heartland Reggae feature has a coarse grain throughout contributed to by poor lighting and telephoto lenses necessitated by off-stage cameras. There are none of the ninja, in-yer-face cameramen seen in today's concert footage. Grain is particularly severe in the night time excerpts from Marley's Kingston performance. Shadow detail in the night-time shots is poor.

    As befits the sunny climes of Jamaica, colours are bright and well realised even though some of the artists relished in wearing the revolutionary para-military garb of Castro and the like. Colour noise is evident in the low-light shots of Marley and posterization is seen in some of the backdrops.

    Aliasing is almost non existent except for on some of the latter-day footage. There is a hair evident for the latter half of the features probably incorporated into the telecine transfer process. There are frequent small white and black flecks evident throughout the feature but digital re-mastering has made these minimally annoying.

    Subtitles in English are burned into the feature and are of mostly the commentary rather than the song lyrics. The subtitle feature makes no difference to their presence and seems to have no effect.

    The RSDL transition is at 70:54 and occurs between chapters with minimal disruption.

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

Audio

    Thankfully, the audio tracks were of excellent quality and more than made up for the problems with the video transfer.

    There were two audio tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, with the latter being the default. Both were excellent and easy to listen to - on balance I preferred the subwoofer-supported 5.1 track.

    The dialogue was particularly clear and I had no problem understanding the lyrics even though they were sung in fluent Rasta. The audio sync was spot on. The commentary is largely directed to the centre channel speaker and song lyrics to the front mains.

    The surround channels were minimally used to convey low-volume audience noise and faint reverberation which is basically as it should be for a live stage performance.

    The subwoofer played a key part in conveying the bass/rhythm pulse essential to Reggae music ands was appropriately utilised. I found a distinct improvement in musicality when I conveyed all bass from the 5 surround speakers (set to small) to the subwoofer as per THX specs - got rid of a few annoying buzzes!. Interestingly the thunder clap at the meeting of the two leaders was not relayed through the subwoofer, inclining me to think that it was genuine.

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

Extras

   The extras are excellent and provide essential background information to the concert.

Menu

    The menu design looks like it was designed with TurboCAD 3D featuring interesting graphical icons. It is 16x9 enhanced. 

Politricks

    Commentary by journalist Chris Salewicz explaining the politics of late-seventies Jamaica.

One Love Concert

    Two mini-featurettes: The Story (5:46), and 2 Sides Meet (6:16) explaining the background to how the concert was organised.

Singers & Players

    Excellent 18:20 feature on the artists with Chris Salewicz commentary and excerpts from the concert.

Rasta

    Explanation of the origins, talk and the role of marijuana in the religion by contemporary Rasta historian Cosmo Ben Imhotep.

DJs and Systems

    Brief featurette on how the origins of rap are found in the Reggae of the late seventies especially in the music of U.Roy.

R4 vs R1

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

    Scant details are available on the R1 version which was released in Spring 2001 but it seems that the two versions are the same except for regional encoding. Please note that although the cover states that there is no regional restriction it is in fact encoded solely for R4.

Summary

    An important historical documentation of Reggae music origins and its inter-involvement with politic and Rastafarianism. Also features rare, never to be repeated, footage of some of the all-time-greats of Reggae. 

    The video footage based on much archival material is regrettably poor.

    The audio tracks are excellent.

    Combined with an excellent set of extras, this DVD is recommended for fans of Reggae and students of Rasta and Jamaican politics and culture.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Sunday, February 17, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon ACV-A1SE. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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