Live by Request-Johnny Mathis (1998)

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Released 10-Jun-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio-Only Track-Johnny Mathis Interview
TV Spots
Discography
Web Links
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 90:10
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 Johnny Mathis
Deniece Williams
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music Various


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 Yes, closing titles over end of programme

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

Plot Synopsis

    Live By Request is a US cable-based (A&E network) television series featuring famous artists performing "live" in front of a studio audience as well as broadcast on TV. The artists accept requests from TV watchers via telephone and e-mail and then perform them.

    It is an interesting concept, created by Tony Bennett with his son Danny and the backing of Columbia Records. It certainly puts the artists on the "spot" in terms of being familiar with their repertoire. This disc features a very relaxed looking Johnny Mathis accompanied by a decent sized orchestra, recorded and broadcast live from Sony Music Studios in New York City on 28 May 1998. The programme is hosted by Mark McEwen.

    Johnny Royce Mathis was born in Gilmer, Texas in 1935, but his family moved to San Francisco when he was a young boy. He had singing lessons as a boy, and was "discovered" in a night club and the rest is, as they say, history. Not many people know that Johnny was a promising athlete as well as singer - in fact, he was participating in the trials for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and he had to reluctantly choose his singing career above sports. He recorded his first album - a collection of jazz oriented renditions of popular standards - in 1956, entitled Johnny Mathis: A New Sound In Popular Song. However, he soon found his niche in romantic ballads and his first #1 hit was Chances Are. Apparently Johnny was the first artist to release a Greatest Hits album, a concept used by many, many other artists since then.

    This programme seems a bit more low-key than the Tony Bennett episode which featured testimonials and tributes from lots of people including Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Kiss, Madonna, Sting, George Clooney, Billy Crystal, Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford, Matt Lauer, Gregory Peck, and Joe Pesci. The requests coming through seems to be from genuine fans across USA and Canada, and the only "famous" requester is the former First Lady Nancy Reagan. By the way, he was asked whether it was any different doing a Command Performance to royalty/world leaders vs ordinary concerts. I found his reply "It's nice, but they don't pay" somewhat strange and disconcerting.

    Johnny performs some of his best-loved and well-known songs, occasionally with a guest musician. He also does a duet with Deniece Williams called "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" - this one is obviously "staged" and not really a spontaneous request.

    One of the fans gushes about how Johnny's voice has improved over time, and I tend to agree - his voice certainly sounds very mellow and pleasant to listen to. In between, we also learn about Johnny's other passions such as golf and cooking. Overall I found the programme somewhat "cheesy" in a uniquely American way but if you are a fan of Johnny Mathis you will enjoy this disc.

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Track Listing

1. Program Start
2. Wonderful Wonderful
3. Chances Are
4. I'm Coming Home
5. Misty (Album Version)
6. A Certain Smile
7. Moment To Moment
8. It's Not For Me To Say
9. Stranger In Paradise
10. The Twelfth Of Never
11. Too Much Too Little Too Late
12. You Make Me Feel Brand New
13. Why Did I Choose You
14. To The Ends Of The Earth
15. Wild Is The Wind
16. 99 Miles From L.A.
17. How Do You Keep The Music Playing?
18. Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil)
19. Credits

Transfer Quality

Video

    Given that this was originally broadcast on TV, the intended and original aspect ratio is 1.33:1 and accordingly we are provided with a Full Frame transfer.

    This is a fairly sharp transfer typical of a TV "live" broadcast and feature good colour saturation and a somewhat edgy appearance. The video source is obviously interlaced, resulting in the usual aliasing every now and then, but thankfully the transfer seems reasonably clean and devoid of artefacts.

    Detail levels are only about average, however, as the gain setting on the video camera has been set to high to compensate for the low lighting conditions, thus obliterating low level detail such as the musical notation on the sheet music used by the orchestra.

    MPEG compression artefacts are limited to minor posterization and Gibb's effect ringing. Pausing the screen during the closing credits will reveal that this video is originally in NTSC and subsequently converted to PAL, as the conversion process sometimes overlays frames together.

    There are no subtitle tracks on this single sided single layered disc.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc: English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s), and English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). I listened to both tracks in their entirety.

    The PCM track is quite pleasant sounding and clear, but extreme high frequencies seem to have been attenuated, presumably by the recording engineer to fit the constraints of broadcast TV. It is mastered at a slightly lower level (about -3 dB) compared to most CDs.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very full sounding and impressive (mastered at probably about 6 dB louder than the PCM track) and very similar in sonic character to the PCM track. All speakers are used including the centre channel and rear speakers, with the subwoofer used discreetly to support the low frequencies. This appears to be a "true" 5.1 surround mix as I can clearly hear decorrelated audience clapping spread across all channels, but mostly directed towards the rear speakers.

    All-in-all, I think I prefer the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track over the PCM - it seems more "live" and reverberant due to the added dimensionality provided by the additional speakers.

    Dialogue was easy to understand at all times and I did not detect any audio synchronization issues.

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

Extras

    The major extra on this disc is a 30 minute audio-only interview with Johnny Mathis.

Menu

    The main menu is full frame, but features a video introduction and animation. I did not notice any background audio.

Audio-Only Track - Johnny Mathis Interview (27:52)

    This sounds like it has been taken off a radio broadcast. The text on the screen during this audio-only programme (Dolby Digital 2.0) reads: "On May 17, 1996 legendary radio personality Johnny Magnus visited Johnny Mathis in his Hollywood Hills home to conduct an interview that encompassed the full scope of the singer's life and career."

TV Spots (1:38)

    This contains four TV spots - the first three about 30 seconds in duration and the last only a few seconds. The first two are kind of funny, as they feature Johnny on a phone calling up trying to make requests for his own songs.

Discography

    This contains 35 stills providing album covers and track listings for albums released by Johnny Mathis from 1956-2000.

Web Links

    This is a single still containing text documenting the following URLs:

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc appears to be identically featured across both regions.

Summary

    Johnny Mathis-Live By Request features the famous romantic crooner accepting requests from his fans and performing some of his best known songs "live" on TV. The video and audio is acceptable, and there is a sprinkling of extras included on the disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, August 27, 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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