Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble-Live at the El Mocambo (PAL) (1983)

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Released 16-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Notes-Timeline
Discography
Interviews-Cast-(22:15)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 62:59
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Dennis Saunders
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring Stevie Ray Vaughan
Tommy Shannon
Chris Layton
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music Stevie Ray Vaughan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, partially during credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Unlike a certain other Region 4 distributor that we could name, Sony Music does seem to have an active programme of replacing their original NTSC formatted DVDs with equivalent PAL formatted DVDs. So it is that two years or so after the original review of the NTSC formatted DVD, I am back reviewing the PAL version of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Live At The El Mocambo. For those that do not know who the man is (and I would doubt that extends to anyone with even a passing interest in popular music), when the lists of great blues guitarists, or just plain great guitarists, are compiled for the twentieth century, there will be many names put forward for inclusion. Some will be very obvious, others perhaps not so obvious. The name of Stevie Ray Vaughan will figure prominently on both lists, as one of the obvious choices. Indeed, when talking about THE greatest guitarist of the twentieth century, there will be many who will argue in favour of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Whilst I may not be amongst those, there is no doubt that watching this man play a guitar is an experience indeed. If you are looking for a charismatic guitar player, players who can really make the guitar sing, then to my mind there are only two choices - Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Yet coincidentally, both of these great guitarists were destined for very short life spans. Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash on 27th August, 1990 at the age of 35. Notwithstanding his short life, he will be an influence upon guitar players as long as people are around to pick up the instrument and start to strum.

    This DVD contains the complete recording of the appearance of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble at the El Mocambo, an intimate club in Toronto, Canada. Although released in 1991, it was obviously recorded earlier than that -otherwise we are all watching a ghost - and actually it was recorded back in 1983. The event was actually a live gig at which cameras happened to be brought, and thus was not one of those staged evenings with a hand-picked audience. The audience is a bunch of people out for a good time, so the beer is flowing and the enthusiasm is genuine. On the evidence here, they sure did have a good time, and why not? One of the guitar masters of all time doing his stuff on stage as he liked to do - no pretensions, just get out there and play the guitar.

    Everything the man did was worthwhile and this concert is definitely an enjoyable concert experience.

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Track Listing

1. Testify
2. So Excited
3. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
4. Pride And Joy
5. Tell Me
6. Mary Had A Little Lamb
7. Texas Flood
8. Love Struck Baby
9. Hug You Squeeze You
10. Third Stone From The Sun
11. Lenny
12. Wham!

Transfer Quality

Video

    From a video point of view, the PAL format seems to offer little, if anything, different from the original NTSC release. This, I would suspect, is a direct reflection of the fact that the source material is nearly twenty years old now and apparently shot on videotape. The inherent lack of serious quality cannot really be overcome by simply changing the standard used for playback.

    The concert is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and of course it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    In common with the earlier NTSC release, this transfer remains rather variable in sharpness and detail, and in general is towards the soft, indistinct end of the scale. At times the focus is a bit dodgy and shadow detail is fairly ordinary. Since it was apparently shot on videotape, we get to see some issues with flaring and ghosting of the image. The presentation is reasonably clear, although this does little to overcome the basic impoverished detail present here. There did not appear to be any low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours have come up pretty ordinary in the transfer, which suffers somewhat from washout and flare problems as a result of the stage lighting. In general it lacks depth in the saturation of colours, although it also suffers just a little from slight over-saturation at times owing to the failure of the tape to handle the wide variations in stage lighting. It should be pointed out that these really would all appear to be source material issues as opposed to transfer problems. There is a distinct reddish tinge to skin tones on occasions.

    There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There is a minor and barely noticeable problem with aliasing during the transfer, which is something that I had previously dismissed as inherent in the NTSC format. Since it also afflicts the PAL transfer, it would seem that it is indeed a mastering issue. Examples can be seen at 6:28 and 21:44. One other problem with the transfer: at 16:10 Stevie Ray Vaughan's chin disappears into the spotlight behind him. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer.

    There are just the one subtitle option on the DVD, being English lyrics. Whilst they are generally very accurate, the font used is a little on the large and intrusive side and tends to show a rather jagged, aliased edge to the letters.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtrack options on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and only briefly sampled the Linear PCM soundtrack. Readers who have read the review of the NTSC release will remember the fact that I commented specifically on how poor the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was. Well, this is a remastered version, at the higher 448 Kb/s bit rate, that resolves most of the problems that I condemned the NTSC release over.

    That does not mean to say the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is perfect, just a lot better. One of the few remaining problems with the soundtrack is the fact that the vocals are just a little recessed in the overall mix, which I suppose rightly gives prominence to the guitar. Combine that with Stevie Ray Vaughan's at times Marlon Brando-ish vocal style, and there are a few times when the vocals get a little bit difficult to hear. No big deal really, as the subtitles help out, but I cannot help but wonder whether this could perhaps have done with a bit more presence to the vocal track. There did not appear to be any issue with audio sync in the transfer.

    Whilst the NTSC release was very much favouring the Linear PCM soundtrack, here the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is more viable - even if ultimately I still prefer the Linear PCM track. The Linear PCM soundtrack is just that much more clearer, with plenty of air in the sound that really allows the guitar to sing a lot more.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 still tends to sound just a little too congested to me, with only modest use of the rear surround channels. There is a degree of prominence to the guitar as already suggested, which is not disagreeable and the overall result is much better than on the earlier NTSC release.

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

Extras

    The same extras package as we saw on the earlier NTSC DVD basically.

Menu

    Decently themed with some nice animation and audio enhancement throughout.

Notes - Timeline

    Basically a short recording recording history of Stevie Ray Vaughan. As I said in the earlier review, this could have been, and should have been, a whole lot better.

Discography

    Not exactly exhaustive and this time appears to not even extend to giving track listings for the various albums released. Basic but hardly satisfying.

Interview - Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon (from Double Trouble) (22:15)

    Recorded in October, 1999, this is a collection of mildly interesting snippets from a specially recorded interview with two guys who probably knew Stevie Ray Vaughan better than anyone. Presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is an interesting enough addition to the package, even if you are left wanting much more.

R4 vs R1

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

    There would appear to be no substantial difference between this new PAL Region 4 DVD and the earlier NTSC release, which is the same as the Region 1 release.

Summary

    Whilst I had no complaints at all with the concert in the earlier NTSC release, there were complaints regarding the sound in particular. To a very large extent, the sound issues have now disappeared and so it is even easier to enjoy the concert than it was before. If you did not grab this in NTSC form, then you should certainly grab this PAL release. If you have the old NTSC release, then unless you were as equally affected by the sound as I, there is no great reason to upgrade to this release as there is nothing significantly different in the video to my recollection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, September 08, 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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