Midnight Oil-20,000 Watt RSL (Remaster) (1998)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 3-Aug-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Audio
Discography
Featurette-13 Interviews
Music Video-Redneck Wonderland
Web Links
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 188:56 (Case: 186)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring None Given
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music Midnight Oil


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English MPEG 2.0 (192Kb/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

    Midnight Oil 20,000 Watt R.S.L. was originally reviewed by Ian back in March 2000. Ian was quite disappointed with the video transfer afforded this disc and also didn't find the audio particularly inspiring. Since his review was posted, the disc has been withdrawn from sale. You can read Ian's review of the original release here.

    Midnight Oil 20,000 Watt R.S.L. has now been remastered with the addition of a completely new audio track. Originally, it was mastered with a now very rare MPEG 2.0 audio track only. For this new release, a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack has been added to complement the still-present MPEG 2.0 track. We also get a bonus song included to entice those that purchased the original release to part with their cash once again. The other major change is that the disc is no longer a double sided disc. Previously, it featured the music videos on one side of the disc and the live performances on the other. The disc is now presented as a single sided, dual layered effort keeping everything on the one side. Of course, you would expect that the packaging would have been changed to account for this, but it hasn't. More on that a little later.

    Midnight Oil have long been one of my favourite bands and in particular one of my all-time three favourite Australian bands behind Paul Kelly (Dots, Coloured Girls, and other variations thereof), and political folk outfit Redgum. In fact, after Redgum, it is Midnight Oil that have been at the vanguard of getting their message of political and social commentary expressed through their music. Songs like US Forces, Dead Heart, Blue Sky Mine, and Beds Are Burning despite being fine songs also pack a strong social message. This disc is a sort of 'Best Of' compilation featuring 20 songs in video clip form and 17 songs from live recordings.

    It is an interestingly packaged disc that features some unique ideas in the way the menus are presented and selected but for some reason just misses the mark in it execution and becomes a bit confusing. As mentioned above, this disc was previously released as a dual sided disc. Side A contained the Midnight Oil videos (hereafter known as 'The Clips'), Side B contained several live performances from the band (hereafter known as 'The Videos" - is the confusion becoming apparent?). When you select 'The Clips' option you are taken to another menu that has two further options, these being 'Play the Clips' and 'The Clips' (again). Selecting 'Play the Clips lets you either play all the songs or selected ones. Selecting 'The Clips' plays the song but with a static background. Not sure of the reason for the latter and all the talk of 'Clips' and 'Videos' had me very confused.

    Ian wrote in his original review that there wasn't an awful lot wrong as far as the music is concerned, but as for the rest of it...unfortunately little has changed.

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

Track Listing

1. US Forces
2. Power and the Passion
3. Read About It
4. Best Of Both Worlds
5. Pictures
6. The Dead Heart
7. Beds Are Burning
8. Dreamworld
9. Put Down That Weapon
10. Blue Sky Mine
11. Forgotten Years
12. King Of The Mountain
13. Bedlam Bridge
14. One Country
15. My Country
16. Outbreak Of Love
17. In The Valley
18. Underwater
19. White Skin Black Heart
20. Redneck Wonderland

Transfer Quality

Video

    It would seem that the remastering so proudly claimed on the front of the case did not extend to the video transfer.

    The transfer is presented in a full frame format (1.33:1), and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is pretty appalling. The original review used the term diffuse to describe much of the image. This definition still applies. It really is difficult to determine what other problems may be apparent simply because there is such a high level of fuzziness just about everywhere. With many of the videos approaching 15-20 years old, this may be understandable but the newer material such as Blue Sky Mine are among the worst offenders. There is also plenty of low level noise scattered throughout. Very disappointing and very difficult to watch.
   
    Colours are fairly muted throughout. Some of the videos (sorry 'clips') feature nice strong and well-saturated images - One Country and the new release Redneck Wonderland are the best examples here, though this is the exception rather than the rule.

    The blurry and diffuse nature of the video almost hides the MPEG artefacting that occurs. Although difficult to pinpoint, I believe there is consistent macro-blocking throughout that is basically covered up by the fuzziness of the videos. There are several instances of aliasing throughout, though apart from the menu for Dead Heart none is particularly annoying.

    There are no subtitles present.

    As mentioned above, this is a dual layered disc. Being unable to detect a layer change, I am pretty safe in the assumption that the clips are on one layer and the videos are on another. Despite being a single sided dual layered disc, the packaging has not been updated to reflect this. It still refers to Side 1 and Side 2.

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

Audio

   In Ian's original review of the audio, he stated that this disc cried out for a Dolby Digital effort. Well, his wish has been granted.

   There are 2 audio tracks present, these being the original MPEG 2.0 and a new Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Being unable to sample the MPEG track in its pure form (my amp doesn't decode it), I had no choice but to listen to the Dolby Digital 2.0 track in its entirety. This track is certainly the highlight of an otherwise disappointing disc. Whilst not offering the same fidelity as a full Dolby Digital 5.1 track or PCM effort (which was incorrectly stated in the press release as being present), it does offer decent response and from the previous review of the MPEG track does appear significantly superior.
   
   There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer. Vocals are clear and precise.

   There is no surround or subwoofer use.

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

Extras

Menu Audio

Discography

    Same as the original release, except that instead of being repeated on each side of the disc, this now appears twice on the only side of the disc! The discography is still an abridged version of the one that appears under 'The Clips' submenu and the full version that appears under 'The Videos' submenu. All are accompanied by musical excerpts from a song off the album. It still shimmers pretty badly too.

Featurette

    Running for just on 25 minutes (though broken up into small chunks with each selectable from a submenu) these are short interview segments with individual members of the band covering a variety of topics, though mostly centred on a particular production aspect of certain albums.

Music Video

    This is the bonus track that has been added since the original release. It is the video for Redneck Wonderland. Running time is 3:02 minutes.

Web Links

    Link to the official Oils website www.midnightoil.com and Sony music.

R4 vs R1

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

    It would appear that this title in either its original form or this remaster is not yet available in Region 1.

Summary

    While some effort has been made to improve this release, it only goes far enough for those of you that didn't purchase the original. It is really a shame that the same effort that was applied to the audio to bring it up to today's standard was not afforded to the video.

    The video is still a below average transfer.

    The audio now features a pretty decent Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that appears to offer substantially more oomph than the MPEG 2.0 original release.

    The extras aren't much.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, October 19, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE