Los Super Seven-Live: No Borders Canto (2001)

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Released 8-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Studio Moments
Featurette-The History Of Los Super Seven
Music Video-La Sirena
Music Video-La Morena
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 124:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:42) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wayne Miller
Michael B. Borofsky
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Susana Baca
David Hidalgo
Raul Malo
Rubén Ramos
César Rosas
Rick Treviño
Caetano Veloso
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music Los Super Seven


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/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 Yes, closing titles over end of concert

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

Plot Synopsis

    The original Los Super Seven consisted of a group of Mexican/American musicians (featuring Tex-Mex music legends Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez, David Hidalgo and César Rosas from Los Lobos, Texas country-rocker Joe Ely, country star Rick Treviño, and Tejano music veteran Rubén Ramos) who gathered together to record an album of mainly traditional Mexican songs performed with a "Tex-Mex" or even "East LA" flourish. Originally intended to be a one-off project by artist manager Dan Goodman, the critics took notice and the album eventually won a Grammy award for Best Mexican/American Musical Performance.

    Well, as they say in Hollywood, if you're on to a good thing, make a sequel! And make it bigger, better and flashier!

    Four of the original members of the band got together again (David Hidalgo, César Rosas, Rubén Ramos and Rick Treviño), but now they are joined by Brazilian singer/guitarist Caetano Veloso, Raúl Malo from the Mavericks and Susana Baca the Peruvian singer. The scope of the band has also expanded to "world music" (if you consider Latin America the "world") by incorporating songs from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Peru and Brazil.

    This DVD contains a documentary (entitled "No Borders/Canto") of the making of Los Super Seven's second album "Canto" interspersed with excerpts from a live concert featuring the band (augmented by the additional support musicians) performing at the Bowery Hall New York. Where possible, songs are performed in their entirety, either captured during recording sessions or taken from the concert.

    Whilst I found the behind the scenes footage and interviews to be quite interesting, I would have preferred it if they grouped all the songs together and separated out the additional material into a bonus extra. The mix of the two is reminiscent of a sanitised (i.e.. not funny) version of This Is Spinal Tap!.

    The documentary starts off with a short introduction to the band, and includes interviews with:

    The Cuban and Puerto Rican songs blended well with the Mexican songs, but the two Caetano-composed Brazilian Portuguese songs (Qualquer Coisa and Baby) as well as the only song sung by Susana Baca (Drumi Mobila) sound quite different so the different styles don't fuse together all that well, but at least all the songs are listenable. The only song sung in English (by its composer David Hidalgo) is Teresa. The last track (Guantanamera) seems to be more "jazzy" than the rest of the songs. Because it is such a well-known song, the band could perhaps be forgiven for letting loose a bit.

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Track Listing

1. Siboney
2. El Que Siembra Su Maiz
3. Paloma Negra
4. Mi Ranchito
5. Compay Gato
6. El Canoero
7. Qualquer Coisa
8. Baby
9. El Pescador
10. Campesino
11. Paloma Guarumer
12. Drumi Mobila
13. Me Voy Pa'l Pueblo
14. Teresa
15. Calle Dieciseis
16. Guantanamera

Transfer Quality

Video

    The documentary is presented in full-frame format (1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced).

    The studio and "behind the scenes" footage look like they have been captured on a good quality hand-held video camera, look slightly soft, and suffer from mediocre black levels together with less-than-perfect colour saturation. The concert footage, on the other hand, appears to have been captured using professional video cameras and has very good black levels with the colours appearing slightly over-saturated (to compensate for the poor lighting).

    Video artefacts appear to be limited to occasional aliasing (highlighting the interlaced nature of the video source) and an occasional moire pattern around the microphone mesh. MPEG artefacts seem to be limited to ringing/haloing due to minor edge enhancement.

    It's a pity the disc does not come with subtitles, because the Spanish dialogue spoken by Susana Baca is not translated, leaving me to wonder exactly what she was saying.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 80:42 and is mildly disruptive but unfortunately there are no better places to position the change (the documentary is very closely edited with no pauses or breaks in the audio track).

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

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this disc, all in English but with songs sung in their original language: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), and dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s). Curiously, the packaging makes no mention of the dts track but I listened to it anyway.

    All tracks sound quite full-bodied and pleasant to listen to. In fact, pretty much reference quality.

    The 5.1 audio tracks are very similar, with the Dolby Digital track mastered at a higher volume level which makes it have an automatic advantage in an A/B comparison if the volume levels are not adjusted. If the volume levels are equalised, the two tracks are very similar sounding and I don't think I would be able to reliably tell the difference between the two tracks.

    Surprisingly, the Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also mastered at a relatively loud level and compares well against the multi-channel audio tracks.

    I did not detect any audio synchronisation issues. The concert excerpts are obviously mixed for surround as the audience noises are spread distinctly across all speakers, including rear channels. However, I was surprised to hear that the studio performances as well as the behind the scenes interviews had been mixed for surround as well. I wonder whether the DVD authors have applied a surround enhancement algorithm to the studio sessions.

    The subwoofer is used lightly but effectively to add a low frequency extension to the music performed.

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

Extras

    Some care has been taken to include some bonus extras with this disc, but none of them are particularly earth-shattering in terms of originality or value. All items on this disc are full-frame.

Menu

    The menus include animation and background audio.

Featurette - Studio Moments (18:42)

    This can be quite tedious and boring as it contains material from the studio interviews and sessions that have not been used up in the main programme. Only recommended if you must watch every extra on the disc before you feel you will get your money's worth. The sound is Dolby Digital mono.

Featurette - The History Of Los Super Seven (2.09)

    This is a very short alternate introduction/mini-biography on the group, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Music Video - La Sirena (3:22)

    This seems like an "off-cut" from the New York concert, sung by Rick Treviño. It contains the same number of audio tracks as the main feature.

Music Video - La Morena (7:49)

    This is another "off-cut" from the New York concert, sung by Rubén Ramos. This song includes a tap dancing routine by one of the performers.

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 version of the disc appears to contain similar extras. However, I was unable to verify whether the Region 1 disc also included a dts audio track.

Summary

    Los Super Serve - No Borders/Canto is a so-so documentary which includes some dazzling performances and interpretations of Pan-Latin songs by a group of musicians from diverse backgrounds.

    The video transfer quality is high.

    The audio transfer is of reference quality.

    The disc includes a number of extras (including mini featurettes and 2 additional songs from the concert).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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