Live by Request-Tony Bennett: An All-Star Tribute (1998)

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Released 7-May-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 82:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lawrence Jordan
Studio
Distributor
A & E
Sony Music
Starring Tony Bennett
Clint Black
Natalie Cole
Elmo
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sometimes you do find interesting bits of information amongst the dross that gets written on DVD slicks. This one informed me that Tony Bennett was the man responsible for the whole Live By Request gig. So it seems quite natural that the man should in fact appear on the show and do the whole request deal. The fact that it happens to have coincided with his fiftieth anniversary in show business I suppose is good enough reason for the appearance. In keeping with the tenet of the show, the venue was an intimate little gathering place - Sony Music Studios - with the requests being telephoned in from around the United States and Canada.

    Being a little more of a special occasion than is generally the norm for these shows, there are also a few dedications from show biz types - so we have the usual cloying bites from the likes of Harrison Ford, Gregory Peck, Billy Joel, Billy Crystal, Cameron Diaz, Hilary Rodham Clinton, Joe Pesci, Kiss and some woman called Madonna whom Tony Bennett used to baby sit apparently.

    In between the cloying dedications, we get the chance to hear the man perform some of his better known numbers, some as requested by the public (if you can call the likes of Carol Burnett, Rosemary Clooney and Rosie O'Donnell the public). Added into his own performances are a couple of songs from Clint Black (Cold, Cold Heart), Natalie Cole (Smile) and Elmo (Little Things). Whilst it looks kind of cute, there is something just a little demeaning about a man of the stature of Tony Bennett doing a duet with Elmo. Still, it goes towards selling his then-current album The Playground.

    Ultimately, I found this an unsatisfying experience. In between the cloying dedications and the talk, there is not a whole heap of the man singing - which really is the whole point of the show. Still, any chance you get to listen to Tony Bennett sing is not altogether worthless!

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Track Listing

1. Watch What Happens
2. For Once In My Life
3. They Can't Take That Away From Me
4. Somewhere Over The Rainbow
5. Cold, Cold Heart (Clint Black)
6. It Was Me
7. Steppin' Out With My Baby
8. Christmas In Herald Square
9. Little Things (with Elmo)
10. Who Can I Turn To
11. Chicago
12. Fly Me To The Moon
13. Smile (Natalie Cole)
14. They All Laughed
15. The Good Life
16. S' Wonderful

Transfer Quality

Video

    Since this is a television show after all, it needs to be viewed in that context (if you will pardon the pun). The transfer is of course presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (Full Frame) that is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is not too bad at all, with a decent degree of sharpness to the whole affair. Detail, however, could have been somewhat better, with backgrounds in particular being somewhat lacking in this regard. Shadow detail is, given the source of the programme, more than acceptable. There is a consistent grainy feel to the transfer which is not really an imposition on the viewing pleasure, but does just drag the overall clarity down a little. There is no low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours here are well handled, very well saturated and very vibrant. Overall, there is nothing much with respect of the colour of the transfer that rates any concerns.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although there is some indication of pixelization in the background at times - such as at 20:25 and 53:00. There is a consistent issue with aliasing in the transfer, with the usual culprits of microphones (10:36), keyboards (37:58) and strings (55:42) once again being to the fore. Fortunately, most of the aliasing is reasonably well hidden, but once you notice it.... There are no film artefacts in the transfer.

    There are no subtitle options on this DVD.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks on this DVD, being an English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the full 5.1 soundtrack and modestly sampled the Linear PCM soundtrack.

    The audio transfer is quite good but in general the vocals and dialogue could perhaps have come up a little better than they have. There does not appear to be any significant audio sync issues with the transfer.

    From the outset, there seemed to be something just a little bit "off" with respect to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, one of those annoying things that I just could not pinpoint exactly why. After all, there seemed to be some very good use of the rear surround channels, and the frontal soundscape is quite wide. One issue, as is not unusual it seems from this source, is that the bass channel is slightly too prominent in the mix at times. This is usually on tracks where the double bass gets a more prominent role. There is also a bit too much bass in Little Things, and it gets a little too resonant. The "off" aspect of the sound was not really revealed until I sampled the Linear PCM soundtrack - there is simply not enough brightness and openness to the sound. Whilst to say it was congested might be a little misleading, that really is what it sounds like. Perhaps turning the volume up somewhat would improve the overall sound.

    The Linear PCM soundtrack is a really nice effort and is the preferable listening experience on this DVD, being wonderfully open, uncongested and with a lovely brightness that really allows the singing of the man to come to the fore.

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

Extras

    Not much on offer here!

Menu

    Decent enough efforts with some reasonably extensive audio and animation, especially in the introduction. I just wonder how annoying it might all become on repeated viewings, however.

Gallery - Photos

    Comprising nineteen photos of Tony Bennett at various stages during his life - all of which have annotation.

R4 vs R1

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

    Having been unsuccessful in finding any reliable reviews of the Region 1 version of this DVD, it is presumed that in all respects the Region 1 release is similar to the Region 4 release.

Summary

    After finishing the review session for this DVD, I sat back and my immediate reaction was how unsatisfying the DVD had proven to be. Now maybe that is just me, but I would really have a hard time recommending this to anyone in preference to the MTV Unplugged DVD. In just about every way that DVD, despite its minor problems, is an infinitely more satisfying experience. Tony Bennett - Live By Request: An All-Star Tribute is probably more for serious fans only.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, August 19, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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