Joni Mitchell-Both Sides Now (DVD-Audio) (2000) (NTSC)

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Released 5-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Audio
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 51:14
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Larry Klein

Warner Vision
Starring Joni Mitchell
Herbie Hancock
Wayne Shorter
Mark Isham
Peter Erskine
Chuck Berghofer
London Symphony Orchestra
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI $32.95 Music Joni Mitchell

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English MLP 96/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    If you haven't listened to Joni Mitchell since Big Yellow Taxi then you've missed out on her last five albums and the transformation of the soprano, hippy, poetess into a mature, reflective artist with the sultry, dusky tones of Diana Krall and the laid-back, vampish allure of Kathleen Turner. Singer, poet, painter and philosopher - Joni Mitchell's latest offering, the concept album Both Sides Now, is a tale of modern love portrayed in twelve songs. The album starts with the Sidney Clare classic, You're My Thrill, portrays the evolution and ups and downs of the relationship with songs such as Sometimes I'm Happy and Stormy Weather and finishes on a reflective note with Joni's own Both Sides Now.

    The album, originally released on CD, is a sumptuous production with 71-piece backing from the London Symphony Orchestra and guest artists including Sax virtuoso Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock on piano. Whilst principally a musical presentation, this DVD-Audio disc utilises the video capabilities of the medium by illustrating each song with one of Joni's original paintings.

    Those of us lucky enough to possess a DVD-Audio capable player can listen to stereo and multi-channel sound in high resolution PPCM (Packed Pulse Code Modulation) also known as MLP (Meridian Lossless Packaging). Those interested in hearing this album utilising the surround capabilities of their existing DVD-Video player can rest assured that this disc, like all Warner DVD-A releases, includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 version that plays beautifully on any DVD player.

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Track Listing

1. You're My Thrill
2. At Last
3. Comes Love
4. You've Changed
5. Answer Me, My Love
6. A Case Of You
7. Don't Go To Strangers
8. Sometimes I'm Happy
9. Don't Worry ABout Me
10. Stormy Weather
11. I Wish I Were In Love Again
12. Both Sides Now

Transfer Quality


    Most of the space on this DVD-5 disc is devoted to the audio tracks. The visual presentation consists principally of Joni's paintings, one of which provides a visual backdrop to each song. There is also a menu consisting of playlists of the songs and audio track selection - there are also a few extras to check out.

    The stills are presented in 1.33:1 and are NTSC-formatted. The pictures are well detailed with vibrant colours and no discernible artefacts. They are not 16x9 enhanced. There is no animated video.

    There were no subtitles.

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


    If you don't wish to read the technical details of this audio review, then rest assured, this is a superb audio presentation.

    There are three audio tracks on this disc. DVD-Video players default to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, whilst DVD-A  players can also select from stereo or 6 channel 96kHz / 24 bit PPCM tracks. For the sake of this review, I also compared this disc with the CD version of the album which is recorded in 2 channel 44.1kHz / 16 bit PCM.

    Dialogue in surround Dolby Digital 5.1 or DVD-A 6 channel is principally directed to the centre speaker which emphasises the importance of this speaker for DVD music. The recording of Joni's voice was superb with no discernible microphone artefact and was certainly clearer in surround mode than in stereo where it was somewhat obscured by the rich orchestral and band backing. Not unexpectedly, DVD-A was heaps better than CD but the DVD-V version was also excellent. The increased resolution tracks enriched the smoothness and timbre of Joni's voice and made subtle nuances of vocal quaver and enunciation more discernible, kind of like the difference between chocolate-flavoured milk and an ice-cream based thick shake! Similarly, the brass of the drum cymbals or backing trumpets was richer and brighter in the higher resolution modes and certainly enhanced the sense of presence.

    Joni was responsible for two songs in the collection with a selection of American songwriters responsible for the rest. The music is definitely of the laid-back, lounge-singer variety and I'd suggest is best listened to with the lights dimmed low, a glass of good wine or Bourbon in hand, and just let the music flow over and around you. Played as background music, you miss much of the richness and subtlety with the songs sounding much of a muchness.

    The surrounds were well and variably used in 6 channel DVD-A and Dolby Digital 5.1. At times, they transmitted ambience with a delicate reverberation of strings such as in You're My Thrill whilst in other tracks they were used to highlight an instrument such as the piano in At Last or present duelling brass in Comes Love.

    The subwoofer was tastefully and effectively utilised to round out the bass without proving a distraction to the main soundstage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    Provides choice of song in DVD-V mode or choice of soundtrack, song playlist and extras on a DVD-A player. I couldn't find a way to access the extras on a DVD-V player which is a bit of a shame.


    11 pages of notes mostly concerning the planning and production of the album.


    Slicks of Joni's eight albums with track lists.


    20 page booklet of all 12 song lyrics, 6 paintings and DVD and album production credits.

R4 vs R1

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

    This multi-region release would appear to be identical to the versions released overseas.


    At long last the number and quality of DVD-Audio releases justifies interest in the format and DVD-Audio players can now be picked up for less than $1000. Whether the content of this DVD-A appeals to you or not, there is no doubting the effort     put into and quality of this production. Also aimed to appeal to DVD-V collectors, the current price of DVD-A is lower than that of DVD-V music releases and is expected to eventually be similar to that of new release CDs.

    The quality of the limited video is good.

    The audio quality is superb, and is of reference quality.

    The extras are basic and are of interest but would appear to be only accessible to those with a DVD-A player.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Friday, June 21, 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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