lang, k.d.-Live by Request (2000)

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Released 18-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 67:57
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lawrence Jordan
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring K. D. Lang
Gregg Arreguin
Teddy Borowieki
Abe Laboriel
Greg Leisz
David Piltch
Amy Keys
Kate Markowitz
Windy Wagner
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music K. D. Lang


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Before I started to review this disc, I had never knowingly heard k d lang sing. Really. I thought it might be interesting to review a disc from an artist I'd never heard - I've reviewed a number of music discs now, and I thought I could approach this one with true objectivity. Yeah, OK, so you know better than that - I didn't. The only really objective listener to music is one who is not reacting to it, and would you really want to read their opinion? So this is another subjective review - what the heck!

    I gather that a cable channel in the US called Arts and Entertainment (A&E to its friends) screens a programme called Live by Request, and this is one "episode". This is k d lang - live by request - I gather that this lady prefers her name all in lowercase, but I don't know why. Far be it from me to offend her over something that simple.

    I thought I'd approach this scientifically; I thought I'd note down the style of each song, and try to deduce the category into which her music falls (Stop laughing - I told I'd never heard her before). I can tell you with complete certainty that her music is clearly, um, female vocal, with country, blues, jazz, rock, pop, smoky torch song, French cabaret, and even operatic influences (did I leave anything out?). She claims her final song is gospel, but that is clearly a joke, because that's one of the few styles she doesn't use. Sure, some songs are more strongly influenced by one style or another (there are two definite country songs, for example), but many of them are almost completely unclassifiable. Her performance of Don't Smoke In Bed sounds like Janis Ian meets James Bond (I don't think I should try to explain that).

    This is a live performance, with a small audience who are clearly enjoying themselves (I suspect they've heard her music before). It was filmed at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York on the 14th December 2000.

    Everyone on stage is wearing black; there's one song where k d lang wears a light yellow gown, but it is a stunt. Her microphone is all black, and so is her hair. Oh, and k d lang is barefoot - I don't know if that is unusual (she doesn't look pregnant, and she's definitely not in a kitchen...). Can't get much more minimalist than this.

    I have had a bit of a rant in other reviews about vision mixing on other music discs - you may recall my comments about the obsession of music video directors to change shots every few seconds Well, I'm pleased to tell you that this is an exception. Yes, there are plenty of cuts, but the director (Lawrence Jordan) allows the camera to linger on a single shot for lengthy periods - I like it. If you hate the stroboscopic style then you may like this better.

    There are some interludes between songs. The first has k d lang chatting to Tony Bennet - apparently he was supposed to be there to do a duet, but couldn't make it. The other interludes involve Mark McEwen - the host of this show. There are some amusing moments: I really liked her parody of a man and woman singing Macarthur Park (she has a far better voice than either of the artists I recall having performed this song). And her version of Fever, performed with nothing but a double bass, is impressive.

    When you put this disc in your player it starts playing immediately. That's OK, but it meant that I didn't realise that there was a choice of soundtracks until afterwards. I listened to the entire performance in PCM stereo, which was pleasant enough, but when I discovered that the soundtrack was also available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts, that meant I had to listen to it again (I coped). On my system there were some interesting differences in the relative volumes of the three soundtracks - the PCM sounded substantially quieter than the Dolby Digital, the dts soundtrack was almost as loud as the Dolby Digital. Even after adjusting for that, there was an immense difference between the PCM and the 5.1 soundtracks. David Thoener clearly had fun mixing the 5.1 soundtracks (he is specifically credited with the 5.1 mix). They are very immersive, placing you in the audience with the instruments spread around the sides. In Wash Me Clean, the acoustic guitar is sitting just behind your left shoulder. There's just the right level of audience ambience, too. If you have dts, then you'll really enjoy listening to this. You can use this disc to demonstrate the difference between stereo and 5.1 to the doubters among your friends. There's nothing wrong with the PCM stereo track - it's a good track, but it places the stage in front of you. The 5.1 tracks remove that sense of detachment.

    Oh, before I move onto the technical bits, let me say that I'm impressed - when I heard the first country song (you've heard me on the subject of country music before, right?) I began to fear I'd let myself in for an unpleasant experience. It wasn't. I really enjoyed listening to this, and I'll be listening to it again (but perhaps skipping that first country song...). So if you haven't heard k d lang before, maybe you, too, should give her a listen.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Summerfling
2. Big Boned Girl
3. Black Coffee
4. Trail Of Broken Hearts
5. Crying
6. Don't Smoke In Bed
7. The Consequences Of Falling
8. Miss Chatelaine
9. MacArthur Park
10. Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray
11. Fever
12. Barefoot
13. Constant Craving
14. Wash Me Clean
15. Pullin' Back The Reins
16. Simple

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a DVD of a TV show. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 - that's the original ratio.

    The picture is mostly sharp and clear, or as sharp and clear as the MPEG video codec allows - wide shots of the entire stage are less detailed than I'd like, but that's because the codec judges the entire image to be background, and thus gives it fewer bits of resolution. All the close-up shots, and even the mid-range shots, are clear and sharp. There's a surprising amount of shadow detail - filming a live concert is always tough. There is absolutely no low-level noise

    Colours are unnatural - what do you expect under concert lighting, with a blue filter on half the lights, and orange, pink and violet filters on others? Even so, flesh tones are rendered pleasingly. I'm writing off any abnormalities to the lighting conditions..

    This may have been captured on video - I'd expect that for a TV broadcast, particularly one which apparently went out live. Certainly, there are no film artefacts to be seen. There's plenty of aliasing (what do you expect with guitar strings?), but none of it is particularly distracting. I didn't see any other video artefacts. There are no MPEG artefacts that I noticed.

    There are no subtitles. That's a shame, because I'd have liked to see subtitles for the song lyrics.

    The disc is single-sided, and single-layer. No layer change; no problem!



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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks to choose from, all English. As I mentioned earlier, we get a choice of PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, and dts 5.1. The PCM stereo track shows good stereo spread, but it is flat across the front. The 5.1 soundtracks are well-crafted, immersive affairs, exercising every speaker you own.

    k d lang sings fairly slowly, with generally excellent diction, so almost all of the lyrics are easy to make out.

    The music is not explicitly credited. She attributes one song to Roy Orbison, but none of the others are acknowledged.

    The PCM stereo track uses nothing but your front left and right speakers. The Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks use all your speakers - it is a truly directional track - you'll be glad you have full-range speakers for your surrounds. The subwoofer gets plenty to do, too - it supports the lowest octaves nicely, especially when the double bass is in action.

    I encountered some glitches in the audio - at different places in the different soundtracks, so these can't be attributed to flaws in the source material. Perhaps the most obvious ones are around 47:26 on the Dolby Digital track, and 42:55 on the dts track. These are tiny glitches, and I'm not troubled by them, but I must mention them. I'm more tolerant of glitches in the audio of a live performance, I guess, because they add to the "live" feeling. 



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

Extras

    Extras?

Menu

    The menus are subtly animated, with music. Nice, even though they only offer song selection and choice of soundtrack. 

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 and R4 releases appear to be pretty much identical.

Summary

    This is a good concert, presented well on DVD. There's not a lot on the disc, but the quality is high.

    The video quality is very good for a concert.

    The audio quality is excellent, with a highly directional mix for the 5.1 tracks, and a straight stereo mix for the more conventional listener.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, October 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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