A Reggae Session (1988)

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Released 22-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 59:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stephanie Bennett
Albert Spevak
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Jimmy Cliff
Toots Hibbert
Chrissy Hynde
Ziggy Marley
Carlos Santana
Grace Jones
The Neville Brothers
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.00 Music 809 Band
Solomonic All Stars


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This concert was a one-off event that took place on the island of Jamaica in 1988. It is a great representation of reggae music, spanning both the "old" and the "new" generations of reggae legends. The concert certainly goes to prove that this style of music is alive and well. Among the performers are:  Bunny Wailer, the only surviving member of the legendary trio Bob Marley and The Wailers, Ziggy Marley (son of Bob) and his band the Melody Makers, and Jimmy Cliff, a high profile promoter of reggae music outside of his native Jamaica, having recorded with such popular mainstream artists as Dylan, Springsteen and Elvis Costello. This concert also features the exotic and popular Grace Jones, although her one song contribution that made it to this concert footage is not a highlight.

    The influence of reggae music across other forms of contemporary blues, pop and rock styles is of course undeniable; you need only listen to anything from The Police to The Pretenders. It is appropriate and great to see then that some of the big names (for 1988) from these other contemporary music styles have come out to pay homage to their reggae influences in this concert, including artists Chrissie Hynde, Carlos Santana and The Neville Brothers.

    The artists and the audience are clearly connecting and enjoying themselves at this concert and it makes for great fun for both die-hard reggae fans and the curious alike. If you're like me and don't have too much knowledge about the roots of this style of music, but are aware of the influences it has had on many other musical styles nonetheless, then this the concert is definitely worth a look-see. This concert will probably surprise you - as it did me. It showcases some great music that is not just limited to the more traditional reggae structures you might think of, but rather it's much more contemporary and mainstream in its application.

    My only complaint about this concert is that it is obviously an edited extract of the event. At a run time of only 59 minutes, the edited concert footage is far too short. It is apparent that this must have been originally taped for television broadcast, however given the release on DVD now it would have been much more beneficial to have sought out and added in the extra footage to make this a full length concert release for the fans. Perhaps the extra footage was unable to be located? If so then more's the pity.

    The legend of artists in the track listing below is as follows:

1 = The I-Three
2 = Bunny Wailer
3 = Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers
4 = Chrissie Hynde
5 = Toots Hibbert
6 = Grace Jones
7 = The Neville Brothers and Carlos Santana
8 = Jimmy Cliff.

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Track Listing

1. Buffalo Soldier (1)
2. Roots, Radics, Rockers and Regga(2)
3. Rise and Shine (2)
4. Conscious Party (3)
5. Waiting In Vain (4)
6. Steppin' Razor (4)
7. Country Roads (5)
8. 5446 Was My Number (5)
9. My Jamaican Guy (6)
10. My Blood in South Africa (7)
11. It Ain't No Use (7)
12. Hanging Fire (8)
13. Love Me , Love Me (8)
14. The Harder They Come (8)

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality for this transfer is best described as just satisfactory, due to a combination of only average quality source material and some aggressive overcompression in the transfer to DVD.

    Being a made-for-TV production in the late 1980s, the feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Apart from some intro and exit footage of the arena and island, taken from helicopter, the concert footage proper would appear to have been shot on analogue video. This would certainly explain why sharpness is lacking throughout and why the image suffers from such a high amount of grain and noise. Background resolution and shadow detail ranges from average to poor. Low level noise is also apparent in most of the dark backgrounds.

    Colours in the transfer are variable. For the most part, colours are adequately saturated and this is certainly the case where it counts, for the principal cameras covering the front of the stage. However the quality of colours from some of the other camera angles is more lacklustre, particularly for footage from secondary cameras covering the sides of the stage and particularly the hand-held cameras used to intersperse footage amongst the crowd. This variability in colours, and image quality generally, becomes more noticeable during the second half of the concert, when more cuts are used to highlight the crowd's enjoyment and the atmosphere of the event. See Track 8 as a very good example of this.

    MPEG artefacts are a problem. It is apparent from very early on that the source image has been overcompressed in the transfer to DVD. This overcompression leads to some obvious loss of image data in many scenes, particularly in the backgrounds. Thankfully, it doesn't really deteriorate to very obvious macro-blocking in the image, but it is certainly quite perceptible as a loss of data in the image nonetheless. Indeed, it is probably only the level of grain and noise in the rest of the source image that prevents many backgrounds from deteriorating into more noticeably blocky effects. A very good example of this problem can be found at 13:14, a shot taken from a camera on the right of the stage, framing lead singer Ziggy Marley at the back of the frame and three back-up singers at the front of the image. The compression algorithm appears to have trouble deciding exactly which part of the image is the most important part to which to devote its limited store of pixels - actually, all elements of this particular frame are important - and consequently none of this image is satisfactorily resolved. The effect of the macro-blocking can also be seen in most glimpses of people on the bridge in the background, behind and above the stage. These images, admittedly dark and noisy anyway, always suffer from a distinct lack of resolution due to loss of data.

    Apart from the pixelization in the image, posterization also appears to plague many of the facial close-ups (refer to many shots of the male singer duetting with Chrissy Hynde on Track 6 for example). Finally, chroma noise is also very evident in many sequences, for example at 18:41, involving a frame of a male singer lit against a backdrop of harsh and very uneven red light.

    At least it can be said that aliasing is not a problem in this transfer. Film artefacts are also thankfully not a real issue, apart from some notable variability in source image quality, as discussed above.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer on this disc is best described as acceptable, but limited.

    The one and only track is a 2 channel stereo mix (at 224 Kb/s). Being a live recording taken on location at a small outdoor arena, I was not expecting this source recording to set my home theatre system on fire, and it certainly did not surpass my modest expectations. The mix is equivalent to that of an average quality live concert CD; not unsatisfactory, but just average.

    The vocal volume is fine in the mix. Audio sync is also fine.

    The mix delivers some decent bass, with the sub helping to fill out the bottom end. However, the recording of the bass is not overly discrete, with the result that the bass guitar track does tend to bleed a little bit into some of the other instrument tracks (guitars) at times (listen to Track 6 for example). Percussion and the other high end sounds are generally carried well, however it is the mid-range that definitely lets this audio track down. The mid-range lacks any real substance or depth in this mix. As I said, think of the quality of an average live concert CD recording, and you've probably got the idea of this audio transfer.

    Surround presence is non existent, ignoring some inadvertent and ineffectual spillover of sound information from the front mains.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on this DVD. The main menu is 1.33:1 and is animated with audio. The only menu option is to a static track list screen.

 

R4 vs R1

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

     This disc is also available in both Region 1 (NTSC) and Region 2 (PAL), in identical formats.

Summary

    This concert looks like it was a lot of fun. The performers are having fun, the audience is getting down and the concert is a great showcase of how influential contemporary reggae music has been on wider mainstream popular music. Unfortunately, both video and audio quality are only average, marred by the source material and overcompression in the transfer. But still, the quality should not deter the fans or the curious from having a look-see.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationElektra Home Theatre surround power amp
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

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