Mana-MTV Unplugged (DVD-Audio) (1999) (NTSC)
TV Spots-MTV Commercial
Featurette-Opening Title Sequence
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||None Given|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio MLP 96/24 5.1
Audio 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|
Not having heard anything at all about this band meant that throwing this disc into the player and pushing play was always going to be a bit of a raffle. All that I could guess from the booklet was the fact that they were obviously Mexican. Since my total knowledge of Mexico basically consists of Mexican food, Corona and Salma Hayek, all of which I love, not even the knowledge of their country of origin was really going to help me that much. So I did what any self-respecting ignoramus would do - I checked out the band's official website. Turns out that the band released its first album back in 1987, has been through a few line-up changes over the years and the review disc is their seventh album release. They have won four Grammys, sold over 16 million albums and their music is described as rock-reggae incorporating Afro-Cuban rhythms. So at least you are now about as educated as I am about the band.
The MTV Unplugged concept is quite familiar now with plenty of examples out there on CD and DVD. It has to be said that the concept works better for some bands than others, and I am going to guess that Maná fall into the category of a less successful example of the concept. The reason for guessing this is simply because there is not a fat lot of evidence here to demonstrate why they might have sold 16 million albums. Sure the whole album is pleasant enough, but the lyrics and arrangements all tend towards a similarity that really is not especially noteworthy overall, which is a little surprising as quite a lot of great music seems to be emanating from Latin America these days, and the mention of Afro-Cuban rhythms almost invariably invokes the idea of the wonderful music to be found on Buena Vista Social Club.
Whilst there is certainly a heck of a lot worse in the way of popular music around nowadays, two listens of Maná, at least in unplugged mode, is more than enough for me. Some of the songs stretch to well over six minutes in length and they invariably cannot sustain themselves in any interesting way for this length of time. The more interesting stuff tends to be the shorter songs, where the "hit them hard and finish" approach seems to invoke some better use of rhythm overall, as well as some better variety in the presentation.
This album will probably appeal to those with a much greater devotion to Latin American music, but the rest of us will probably find nothing much to draw us back to the disc after an initial listen. The fact that there is another Maná album already available on DVD-Audio would seem to suggest that there are markets where this is expected to sell very well indeed. Mind you, that album is a studio album and therefore would probably be a far better representation of what the band can do.
|1. No Ha Parado De Llover|
2. En El Muelle De San Blas
3. Vivir Sin Aire
4. Cuando Los Angeles Lloran
6. Te Solte La Rienda
|8. Falta Amor|
11. Rayando El Sol
12. Se Me Olvido Otra Vez
13. Perdido En Un Barco
14. Oye Mi Amor
The only video on the disc is the commercial and opening sequence in the extras, otherwise everything comprises NTSC menus and stills. These are reasonably clear and sharp.
First up, a warning: the disc goes straight into the programme when you load your player (well at least it does on mine). This means that the menus are in the default language of Spanish, so unless you have a better grasp of Spanish than I (at least I knew what mas meant), you will need to jump on the menu button real quick and force the disc back to the language selection screen. No big deal I know but d*** annoying nonetheless and really a very sloppy piece of mastering.
There are three soundtracks on the disc: a DVD-Audio only MLP 96 kHz/24 bit 2.0 soundtrack, a DVD-Audio only MLP 96 kHz/24 bit 5.1 soundtrack and a DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 448 kb/s soundtrack. I listened to the 5.1 soundtracks in their entirety, whilst briefly sampling the 2.0 soundtrack.
The first soundtrack to be listened to this time was the DVD-Audio compatible MLP 5.1 soundtrack. I suppose any comments should be prefaced with a general comment that the MTV Unplugged concept is not necessarily conducive to great sound. Well, at least that sounds like a good excuse for this soundtrack. Scratching my head for an adequate description of it, the best I can come up with is "lacking dynamic", which is funny as that is now two DVD-Audio discs in a row that have demonstrated adequate but hardly spectacular MLP soundtracks. Decently enough balanced, with the lead vocals well placed (if just a tad recessively) in the front channel and the backing vocals filling out progressively back towards the rear channels, the main problem is that lack of dynamic. This really starts out as if it were strictly middle-of-the-road adult-orientated rock, aimed at not displeasing people rather than pleasing them, although it does flesh out a bit towards the end of the programme. Surround detail is quite good, with some decent separation of the instruments in the rear channels. There is no real bass in the soundtrack at all, which is really the biggest omission here - not even the congas or drums really get any sort of beat going. Whilst I really want to try and avoid using the word bland, that at the end of the day is perhaps the most damning description about the soundtrack, especially when you compare it to the much more dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
The DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is immediately distinguished in one way - the presence of some decent bass. Okay, at times it gets a little too much reverb in the mix, but the music just improves greatly when the bass is present. It definitely makes the music sound a lot more like what I would have expected from this sort of music. Its presence in the sound just seems to lift the whole feel of the music, which makes me wonder whether it is actually improved by the bass or whether I just wish it was improved by the bass. Who knows, but the end result is a soundtrack that offers a lot more dynamism and has a far better chance of getting the feet tapping. The vocals in particular seem to be better balanced, not so recessed in the mix, but still without overpowering the instrumental input. This remains quite well detailed throughout. You get a much better listening experience from this soundtrack, for the second DVD-Audio review disc in a row!
The DVD-Audio compatible MLP 2.0 soundtrack is quite good based upon the sample that I listened to.
|Surround Channel Use|
A decent sixteen page effort, but one that unfortunately does little more than provide the lyrics to the songs. Given that this is hardly a name band in this market, where is the history of the band or any other pertinent information about what they have done and who they are?
Dependent upon the language you have selected, or not selected as the case may be, you get the song lyrics repeated from the booklet in Spanish or English. Unfortunately, you cannot access them during playback of the audio programme, which seems a bit daft.
An advertisement for the CD or VHS video of the programme hardly constitutes an extra in my view. It is presented in a 1.33:1 full frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (Spanish only). It suffers somewhat from 3:2 pulldown artefacts as a result of the accursed NTSC formatting.
Ooh, wild celebrations in the streets over this inclusion - NOT. What a mind-numbing waste of space, contributing absolutely nothing to the programme nor the viewer's knowledge of the band. Exactly what it says it is - the title sequence for the MTV broadcast. It is presented in a 1.33:1 full frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It too suffers somewhat from 3:2 pulldown artefacts as a result of the accursed NTSC formatting, as well as a hint of moiré artefacting in the MTV Unplugged logo.
At least it appears to be complete, with an album cover and full track listing for each album.
Basically repeating those included in the booklet.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This DVD-Audio disc is identical in content and format around the world.
Not exactly a well known band in our market, this release is unlikely to do anything substantive to change that. Pleasant enough to listen to, but I seriously doubt that I would listen to it again and again. If you want Afro-Cuban rhythms, you might do better to obtain Buena Vista Social Club from overseas (why exactly don't we have that on DVD-Audio here anyway?). Perhaps the format does not suit the band and maybe Sueños Liquidos would be a better choice with which to investigate them. The extras rate a special mention for their complete lack of value, adding nothing at all to the programme.
|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|