Foreigner (DVD-Audio) (1977) (NTSC)
Music Video-Feels Like The First Time (DVD-A)
Music Video-Cold As Ice (DVD-A)
Audio Commentary-Mick Jones & Lou Gramm (DVD-A)
Notes-Foreigner Revisited (DVD-A)
|Year Of Production||1977|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||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 96/24 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 return to DVD-Audio to review the debut album of one of the biggest adult-orientated rock bands of all time. Just how big? Well, aside from Led Zeppelin (now when are we going to see some of their stuff on DVD-Audio?), they are the biggest-selling international act in Atlantic Records' long history.
I guess it is difficult to understand why they are so successful at times in the light of the past twenty five years. Once you listen to this album you sort of understand why, for as a debut album it certainly has some strength to it - even more so when you remember the old concept of vinyl with two playing sides. Side one used to start off with Feels Like The First Time and Cold As Ice, whilst side two started off with Long, Long Way From Home. Three fine songs to start the two sides, which certainly went a long way to establishing the credentials of the album.
The original line-up of the band went on to make two more albums, the excellent Double Vision and the slightly disappointing Head Games, before a line up change saw a slightly stripped-down band coming out with the phenomenal 4 (already reviewed on DVD-Audio by Paul C). Whilst the band is probably best known for 4, there is every reason to return to investigate the three albums that preceded it.
I probably have not listened to the album in its entirety for something like fifteen years, but I have to say that I enjoyed the reunion immensely. Quality AOR bands are not exactly few and far between, but even in this well populated field, Foreigner would rank as amongst the better bands. Certainly their albums are generally of a high quality and their debut effort set the tone as far as that is concerned. On a musical basis alone, this is worth checking out. On a sound basis however... It should be pointed out that this is a Dual Layer disc, a reasonable rare commodity in DVD-Audio circles at this time. Oh, and if you need a good reason to remember the 1970's, just check out the line up for California Jam 2 - the poster is in the booklet. Man, they could put on quality gigs back then!
|1. Feels Like The First Time|
2. Cold As Ice
5. The Damage Is Done
6. Long, Long Way From Home
7. Woman Oh Woman
|8. At War With The World|
9. Fool For You Anyway
10. I Need You
11. Feels Like The First Time (Demo)
12. Woman Oh Woman (Demo)
13. At War With The World (Demo)
14. Take Me To Your Leader (Demo)
The only video on the disc is the two music videos in the extras. Everything else comprises NTSC menus and stills. These are quite clear and sharp, with the text being 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 96 kHz/24 bit 2.0 soundtrack and a DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 448 Kb/s soundtrack. As usual, I listened to the 5.1 soundtracks in their entirety and sampled a chunk of the 2.0 soundtrack.
The DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is basically to be avoided. This is not a good demonstration of the art of surround sound engineering, the problem being that the bass channel is mixed with far too much reverb. With the almost exception of The Damage Is Done and Woman Oh Woman, the overemphasised and reverberating bass can be found on every track to a greater or lesser degree. The bass reverb descends into the depths of atrocious on Starrider where the bass is so over mixed and so over-reverbed that it completely muddies the entire sound on the track. All of which is a great pity as when the bass is kept out of the mix, this can actually be a very nice sounding surround track. This is evidenced by the fact that there is a quite distinctive pointing of the various components of the music to specific areas. All the backing vocals are mixed to the rear surrounds, completely separated from the lead vocals which are in the front channels. Similarly the rhythm guitars are mixed quite separately from the lead guitar, with little "leakage" of the sound across the channels. So when you can actually hear the rest of the music, it is quite easy to listen to. One other problem with the sound - Long, Long Way From Home starts out with a mix that seems to be missing any surround activity. It seems to come back after a little while but it does sound a bit weird. It may well be that this is an intentional style in the mix, of course, since it does not sound like a drop out. It plays over the track listing menu, which is another downside to the presentation - the view is not exactly the best.
If you thought you might find solace in the MLP 5.1 soundtrack, I have some bad news: it is very similar in style to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Whilst the reverb is generally not quite so pronounced as it is on the previous soundtrack, it is certainly there and quite noticeable. It is, if anything, a little more pronounced on those tracks which on the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack are relatively free from the problem, but the plus is that Starrider is nowhere near as bad. However, if this were your first experience with Advanced Resolution surround sound, I am fairly sure that you would give up on the format straight away! The similarity in style with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does extend to a generally similar quality of surround work, with the same sort of direction of various elements of the music to specific channels. In that respect the soundtrack is very good, but unfortunately there is no way that this overcomes the bass reverb problems.
So it is left to the DVD-Audio MLP 2.0 soundtrack to provide something decent in the way of sound. Very decent too, with a very nice clear and open sound that does a much better job of the music than the reverb-plagued 5.1 soundtracks. It sounds way better than the CD equivalent (yes, I found it in my collection for comparison) with the obligatory additional air and clarity.
|Surround Channel Use|
A very good 24-page booklet that delves into the history of Foreigner as well as providing the lyrics for those without DVD-Audio capability. The booklet would have been even better if someone had not chosen to print the white writing on a partially white background...
These bonus tracks are the original demo recordings done by the band when it was still known as Trigger. The four tracks are Feels Like The First Time, Woman Oh Woman, At War With The World and Take Me To Your Leader (the latter song not actually being on the album). This is extremely interesting stuff, as it gives you a very good idea of what impressed Atlantic Records, as well as how the "raw" songs evolved into the finished product contained on the album. If we had more of this sort of stuff on DVD-Audio, I for one would be ecstatic.
The standard "extra" which contributes the lyrics to all songs except the demo Take Me To Your Leader. Available in DVD-Audio mode only.
A combination of stills from concerts and publicity shots, totalling 38 photos (30 for the main album tracks and 8 for the bonus tracks). Available in DVD-Audio mode only.
Presented in a full frame format, which is not 16x9 enhanced and has Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. This looks very much its age with a generally soft definition and a general tendency to a slightly over-bright look. Skin tones show a distinctly reddish tinge and the whole thing is very reminiscent of VHS quality. The sound has a slight bass reverb problem, and there are a few film artefacts floating around. Overall, quite mediocre. Available in DVD-Audio mode only.
Presented in a full frame format, which is not 16x9 enhanced and has Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. This is amazingly similar to Feels Like The First Time - which is hardly surprising as they were filmed at the same time. It suffers from all the same problems. Available in DVD-Audio mode only.
Yes, that's right - we are reviewing a DVD-Audio disc. The first time I have encountered an audio commentary on a DVD-Audio disc, and I can't say that they are any better on this format. Nicely handled from a sound point of view, with Mick Jones out the left rear and Lou Gramm out of the right rear, in between the drivel are some interesting reminiscences on the recording and the origins of the band. Available in DVD-Audio mode only.
Six pages of easy-to-read text about Foreigner, at least as long as you are watching in DVD-Audio mode.
Twenty seven pages of text repeating the essay in the booklet for those watching in DVD-Audio mode.
Five pages of text covering the original album release and the DVD-Audio reissue. Available in DVD-Audio mode only.
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.
I will always remember the first time I heard Foreigner (the album) as it was something I found very refreshing at the time for some reason. Even twenty five years later, the big songs on the album - Feels Like The First Time and Cold As Ice - still hold up very well, and for good measure the rest of the album is a lot better than I remember it. The downside here is that someone forgot how to mix bass into an overall sound mix and so in the process doomed this DVD-Audio disc from the start. By far the worst sounding effort I have yet heard and certainly one strictly for fans of the band only.
|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|