Alice in Chains-MTV Unplugged (1996) (NTSC)
Notes-Band Time Line
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Joe Perota|
|RPI||$32.95||Music||Alice In Chains|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|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|
Alice In Chains were recorded live for MTV Unplugged three years after they left the music scene in 1993. The concert's directorial style here matches all previous Unplugged gigs, so if you're familiar with the template you'll know what to expect. Having said that, the format works pretty well. There are generous close-ups of the guitarists playing and mercifully few shots of the audience, who again sound like a bunch of college football jocks drunk on Bud.
Track 14 was apparently a new song thrown together before the performance. If the name sounds unfamiliar to AIC completists then this DVD may hold the only digital recording of it, apart from the Unplugged CD of course! General opinion appears to favour the DVD sound over the CD – not surprising given the improved fidelity afforded by Dolby Digital's higher sampling rate.
- Track Listing -
|1||Walking on, picking up instruments|
|6||Down In A Hole|
|9||Got Me Wrong|
|10||Heaven Beside You|
|14||The Killer Is Me|
I zoomed the full frame image to its intended widescreen ratio on my 16:9 TV. Sharpness before and after was satisfactory. You can pick out many details on the musician's faces and instruments as the camera perches itself in front of each band member. The metal mesh on the stage floor will test your TV's capabilities when the twisting camera pulls back to reveal finer and finer gridlines. Guitar frets also posed the same challenge, however in both cases the cross-colour artefact demon raised its head more often than not. Shadow detail was good and blacks were pleasing, with only the merest hint of low level noise after the image was zoomed.
The limited colour palette of blues, reds, and various skin tones looked natural. Oversaturation, low-level noise, and colour bleed were no problem. The tightly controlled MTV lighting conditions and stage decoration all lent a nice, drowsy atmosphere to the proceedings. It's a pity that the blood red lava lamps had not been warmed up 30 minutes prior to going live. For most of the 73 minutes they looked like birth defects floating in formaldehyde.
The only noticeable artefact was the occasional cross colour rainbow across gridlines on the floor or on closely spaced, foreshortened guitar frets and strings, for instance at 45:48. Generally this is a pleasing NTSC transfer, although it probably originated from the same analogue master used for the US VHS release.
The centred vocals are clear, as is the crack of the snare drum. Imaging for the remaining instruments is precise, with the bass and rhythm guitars on our left and the lead guitar on the right. The drummer's tom toms, high hats, ride cymbal, and crashes are roughly oriented to his kit set up. The bass drum is soft; you will not get much kick from the subwoofer on this concert. This seems to have been intentional, because close examination shows that the bass drum mike is about a metre from the front skin, behind a perspex shield. The bass guitar sound has enough volume to play its part adequately.
The surround channels do well to draw this orthodox stereo mix into three dimensions. The result is a convincing sound field that envelops the viewer as the vocals, instruments, and ambient crowd noises fill the room. The only unsettling aspect is that the instrument's locations in audio space do not always match their positions on screen as the ever-mobile camera swoops and arches.
Sound fidelity and synchronization posed no problems. This is a subdued, yet enjoyable live recording that sticks to the MTV Unplugged formula. The Linear PCM track features the same audio characteristics, but in stereo. It also got the toes tapping when turned up, with slightly more focus in the bottom end.
|Surround Channel Use|
|DVD||Marantz DV-7000 (European model), using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|