Ultravox-The Collection (2000)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|Running Time||49:48 (Case: 40)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Wandering around my local S***** store one day, I happened across a few DVDs that appeared to come from EMI Music. Since one of the titles was Ultravox - The Collection, my interest was more than piqued, as this was one of my fave bands of the early 1980s. Now since S***** have a nasty habit of charging over RPI prices for their DVDs, I naturally enough obtained the DVD from other sources at a cheaper price during a 15% off sale. The DVD duly arrived and it was duly thrown into my player for review purposes. However, when I went to use my brand new PowerDVD installation on my computer, in order to derive the specs for the database, imagine my surprise when it proclaimed that the DVD was a Region 2 DVD only. So I threw it into my parents newly-acquired Pioneer DV-535 and lo and behold the dreaded message comes up Wrong Region No. So it was true, it is a Region 2 DVD only. So beware - you might well find that this DVD will not play in you player despite being sold in this country as a legitimate DVD. The Region Coding says otherwise. And this is precisely why we should be supporting any move to get rid of the absurdity of Region Coding.
Well, enough of the ponderings of the idiocies of Region Coding and onto Ultravox. I guess my views of music in the 1970s and early 1980s are pretty well-known now, at least if you are a regular reader of my ramblings. Out of the waves that came to fruition in that period, I found many bands that I enjoyed the music of. Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark, Yazoo, Depeche Mode, New Order, Ultravox and Erasure, amongst a whole plethora of others, were the sorts of sounds that I was responding to, and believe me it cost me a small fortune in music purchases to keep up with the output of all these bands. Whilst most of the bands are now history, a lot of the music has endured (at least for me) and still gets dragged out from the vast CD collection to get a listen from time to time. And so with the appearance of this DVD there was a huge certainty that it would eventually grace my DVD collection. After all, this was a return to some videos that I had not seen for anything from seventeen to twenty years. Whilst they certainly look it visually, they certainly do not sound dated as far as the music goes.
This modest little collection brings together eleven of Ultravox's better-known songs from their relatively short existence as a major act. As I sit back and listen to them in the light of the passing of two decades, I am struck by how good the songs actually are. Sure, they are not liable for immortality, but there is certainly more quality here than the average act today could expect to achieve in a decade spanning millennia. Now I might be accused of thinking the good old days were really the good old days far too often, but when one returns to old friends like these songs, I find it difficult not to reinforce how appalling modern music really is. Of course the presentation of the songs here does leave something to be desired, as we would expect from promotional music videos dating back as much as twenty years, but at least an effort has been made to bring these great songs back to a new generation that probably has no idea who Ultravox even were. The answer to that is simple - a good band that produced some memorable music for half a decade. If you remember those times, then this will certainly bring back memories.
|1. Passing Strangers|
3. The Thin Wall
4. The Voice
5. Reap The Wild Wind
|7. We Only Came To Dance|
8. One Small Day
9. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
11. Love's Great Adventure
The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and it is not 16x9 enhanced. Having said that however, you should note that two of the videos have been matted to an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 for presumably artistic reasons: The Voice and Hymn.
Given that these are videos up to twenty years old, the sharpness is quite decent, but obviously showing a degree of diffuse image that would not be expected in more recent material. Obviously, we were never going to get anything really razor-edge sharp here, and there are some obvious lapses throughout (a bad example is at 33:10 during One Small Day, where the image is badly out of focus), but overall I would have to say this is probably as good as we could have expected. Detail is a bit iffy at times, reflecting the original purpose of the videos I suppose. Whilst I would of course have liked much better, I seriously doubt that the source material would have allowed it without some miraculous restoration work that simply would be unwarranted in expense terms here. Shadow detail is rather average, but this is no more than a reflection of the age of the material. Unfortunately, there is a distinctly grainy appearance throughout the transfer, and this does not help the clarity at all. There did not appear to be any low level noise issues at all.
The general tendency in the colours on offer here is undersaturated, almost to the state of being black and white. Whilst some of the clips are actually black and white, the lack of colour elsewhere disappoints. Obviously with such a serious lack of saturation in the colours, there is no problem with oversaturation and none at all with colour bleed. A degree more depth to the blacks would not have gone astray as a result of the general undersaturated tendency here.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts are pretty much a non-issue here. There are however plenty of instances of film artefacts in the transfer, both black and white dirt marks being noted at times.
Sadly, there are no subtitle options on the DVD so our Hearing Impaired readers will have some problems, especially as there is no lyric booklet included here either.
There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at the high bit rate of 448 Kb/s.
The music and vocals come up clearly in the transfer and are easy to understand. The obligatory horrendous lip sync issues rear their ugly head at times, but there are no issues with audio sync otherwise.
Whilst I made lots of notes about the video transfer during the review session, there is not a single reference to the audio transfer. That is because there is really nothing wrong with it. The high bit rate allows for plenty of air in the sound and everything comes out in a very nice, open, clean sounding way that makes these videos sound as good as they ever have done. There did not seem to be any problems with distortions or other blemishes, and the soundscape whilst being frontal is quite natural sounding.
Obviously the rear surround channels and the bass channels here do not get any sort of run.
|Surround Channel Use|
Absolutely nothing at all. Very poor, since it would not really hurt to put together a little biography of the band, a discography maybe, perhaps even a lyric booklet?
As far as we can ascertain this collection has not yet graced Region 1 release sheets.
Ultravox - The Collection ultimately is for fans of the band only. It clocks in at a modest 49 minutes or so, which is seriously underutilising the capabilities of the medium and the entire package smacks of being tossed out to cash in on the new medium, rather than produce something worthwhile of continued viewing. Technically, there is little wrong that relates to controllable aspects of the mastering process. The issue with the Region coding of the DVD of course immediately creates potential issues for prospective purchasers. You should note that the running order of The Voice and The Thin Wall have been reversed on the slick cover.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, 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|