America-Homecoming (DVD-Audio) (1972) (NTSC)
Audio-Only Track-Interview: Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell (7:32)
|Year Of Production||1972|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||None Given|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
English MLP 192/24 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I was going to start this review with a comment along the lines that if you had asked me six months ago whether I would be reviewing an album such as Homecoming as a DVD-Audio disc, I would have said you were potty. That sort of fell over when I remembered that I would not have even contemplated reviewing DVD-Audio discs six months ago, let alone specific titles. Yet here we are, reviewing America's Homecoming and still to some extent puzzled as to why it was chosen for release in this new format. Now I hasten to add that this is not on musical grounds, but rather on the fact that even for the target demographic of the format, this is something of a stretch as far as album choices are concerned. After all, an informal poll of my office indicated that not only was America hardly remembered as a band, but even their three big songs (A Horse With No Name, Ventura Highway and Sister Golden Hair) barely registered on the memorymeter. This is hardly surprising, as America were really a part of that almost peculiarly Californian obsession with folk-rock in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is not exactly the stuff of heavy rotation even on the nostalgia radio stations today.
This is something of a shame, for returning to this album after a very long absence - I have a rather well worn vinyl LP somewhere but never got around to replacing it with a CD - proves that its gentle nature wears its age with ease. Funnily enough, that is perhaps a general comment that can be made on the whole folk-rock genre anyway - many people shy away from it because of certain connotations it has, yet much of the music has as great an impact today as it did thirty years ago.
Of course, the other reason why it seems an unusual choice for reissue on DVD-Audio is that bugbear of many an album of the era, namely a running time barely scraping over thirty minutes. There may be good music here but there is not very much of it.
Notwithstanding the arguably unusual choice as a re-issue on DVD-Audio, it has to be said that after three complete listens to the album in a two hour review session, the album is a good one and quite an enjoyable one if you are in the mood for some gentler music.
|1. Ventura Highway|
2. To Each His Own
3. Don't Cross The River
4. Moon Song
5. Only In Your Heart
|6. Till The Sun Comes Up Again|
7. Cornwall Blank
8. Head And Heart
9. California Revisited
10. Saturn Nights
The NTSC menus and stills are clear and sharp, with the text being very easy to read.
The disc contains three sound format choices: the default DVD-Audio MLP 96 kHz/24 bit 5.1 soundtrack, a DVD-Audio MLP 192 kHz/24 bit 2.0 soundtrack and a DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 448 Kb/s soundtrack. I listened to all soundtracks in their entirety.
You should note that the reference to a DTS soundtrack on the packaging is erroneous - there is no such soundtrack on the disc.
The DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is another excellent effort, with only minor complaints to be raised. The main issue for me is the slightly rearward bias of the mix with a tad too much lead vocal being heard in the rear channels. This tends to remove a distinctive, true surround experience from what is otherwise an excellent soundtrack. I would hasten to add of course that this is a personal preference and others might not be so affected. It is doubtful that even this minor complaint, however, would prevent me from enjoying this soundtrack option on a regular basis if I did not have full DVD-Audio capability. The bass is especially well handled in the overall mix and this means that the soundtrack is in all respects very nicely balanced.
Even in a thirty year old recording, miracles can be had. Being gentle folk-rock music, there is not a lot of bass to be found nor a load of sweeping guitar solos or other instrumental highlights that would really demonstrate the benefits of DVD-Audio MLP 5.1 sound. Despite that however, what we have is a nice demonstration of DVD-Audio MLP 5.1 sound! There is a real surround channel presence here - possibly just a little over-the-top at times - that really adds so much presence to the sound that it would make going back to that old vinyl LP virtually impossible. It would simply sound too dull and lifeless after this soundtrack! Whilst my knowledge of the album is not the best, since I have not heard it in a very long time, I would say that the sound has been given a rejuvenation equivalent to the fountain of youth and does in every way belie the fact that the source material is thirty years old. The overall effect is a great soundtrack with a wonderful surround presence that is in every way a demonstration as to why plain old CD might be under attack.
In comparison, the DVD-Audio MLP 2.0 soundtrack of course cannot compete, but that would be to deny it some due. However it is fair to say that it does not sound as good as it should, having a limp, lifeless feel to it. There would seem to be some loss of fidelity across the upper ranges and that is what probably contributes to the lack of life. Nonetheless, it still sounds better than a CD recording I would suspect.
|Surround Channel Use|
An acceptable 12-page booklet that at least covers in some detail the album, which makes for interesting reading.
Providing an interesting retrospective look at various aspects of the album, this is not bad at all. It could, however, have been longer!
Ten photographs taken during the session that spawned the album cover. These are of good quality and of some interest.
The obligatory lyrics, which are accessible only during the songs in DVD-Audio mode and only as a menu item during DVD-Video playback.
Three pages of text covering the original album as well as the DVD.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This DVD-Audio is identical in content and format around the world.
Not my immediate choice for a DVD-Audio release, the excellent 5.1 soundtracks certainly indicate why it has been released. Very nice stuff indeed and if your tastes can handle early 1970s folk-rock, then this will be a treat and a half for you.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). 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|