Mo', Keb'-Sessions at West 54th (2000) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Apr-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Animation
Discography
Featurette-Bonus Interview Footage
Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 69:22 (Case: 68)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jim Gable
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring Keb' Mo'
Case Brackley-Opaque-Lipped
RPI $24.95 Music Keb' Mo'


Video (NTSC) Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Keb' Mo': Sessions at West 54th is a live performance by blues singer and guitarist Keb' Mo' comprised of fourteen different tracks. This performance for the PBS show Sessions at West 54th was recorded on June 10 1997 at the Sony studios in New York. It is a live show performed with a small audience of approximately 200 fans.

    Keb' Mo' is a two time Grammy winner who grew up in Compton, Los Angeles and now resides in New Orleans. He has released five albums, all to critical acclaim, with his last album The Door released in October 2000. This live session was recorded shortly after the release of his second album, Just Like You.

    Unfortunately, the running time of this programme is only just over one hour, however in that time the viewer is presented with an excellent performance covering tracks from his first two albums. If you are unaware of Keb' Mo's work but are a fan of blues, then have no hesitation in purchasing this disc. If you would like to hear some of his work before picking up the disc you can sample his work at www.kebmo.com in both Real Audio and Windows Media formats.

    Before viewing this disc, I was unaware of the PBS show Sessions at West 54th but the quality of the performance presented here prompted me to investigate further. It appears that this show has now finished airing in the US but during its history, they presented work from a diverse range of artists from around the world. Further information about the series, including a list of guest performers, can be found at www.sessionsatwest54th.com.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer presented on this disc is highly variable. Generally it is excellent, but at a number of points the quality plummets.

    The full frame transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and therefore is not anamorphically enhanced. Like many of Sony Music's discs the video is presented in NTSC.

    The majority of the transfer is extremely sharp and shows no low level noise. Shadow detail is excellent with high levels of detail visible during shots of the darkly lit audience. Unfortunately, during a number of chapters the quality of the transfer drops significantly. During these periods, a very soft picture is presented with some low level noise and poor shadow detail. These sections are still better than you would expect from VHS, but only just. The exact reason for this drop in quality is unclear as the performance was initially digitally recorded and the sections showing problems are encoded at the same bitrate as the rest of the transfer. The sections with poor detail cover Chapters 8, 10, 11, and 14 and may be the original four tracks aired on PBS. Possibly, the master recording was unavailable for this section of the performance.

    Colours are vibrant and accurately produced throughout the transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were visible during the transfer.

    Aliasing is present throughout the performance but is only slightly distracting. The occurrence of aliasing is increased due to the lighting used for the performance. The set is lit from directly above, creating high contrast and very strong shadow definitions on players and instruments. In addition to the lighting, the stage is surrounded with large mesh panels that constantly exhibit aliasing.

    As the performance was originally digitally recorded on video, no film artefacts are present during the transfer.

    A single set of English subtitles is presented on the disc which covers both the lyrics as well as the short conversations between songs. These were accurate at all times. One problem with the subtitles is that the menu option to turn them off does not work, but they can be easily removed via the subtitle button on your remote.

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

Audio

    The audio tracks presented on this disc are of very high quality and are not affected during the chapters that show poor video quality.

    Two audio tracks are present on the disc, a Linear PCM track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kb/s track. The PCM track has slightly more definition and a better soundstage than the Dolby Digital track and is the default track. Both audio selections may be changed via a menu selection or the remote at any stage to allow easy comparison.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand throughout the performance.

    At no stage were any dropouts in the audio present and audio sync was always accurate.

    The surround channels in the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix are used primarily for audience applause as the mix is concentrated on the front channels. This is very effective and preferred to mixes where instruments artificially move around the soundstage.

    The subwoofer was used throughout the performance for bass guitar and drums but is never overpowering and does not draw attention to itself.

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

Extras

Menu

    An animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It allows access to each individual track for easy navigation.

Discography

    The discography lists each of the albums Keb' Mo' has released as well as their track listings. When displaying each album a short sample from the album plays and that track is marked. This is a nice feature but it would have been nice to hear more than one sample from each disc.

Featurette-Bonus Interview Footage (6:01)

    This featurette has some short interview footage with Keb' Mo' mixed with some concert footage and footage of Keb' at home in New Orleans. During the featurette we learn a little about his touring, how he received his stage name and his first guitar. This featurette suffers slightly from some minor aliasing and some apparent film artefacts and grain. These artefacts are not disruptive to the featurette at any stage.

R4 vs R1

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

    All versions of this disc appear to be identical and I therefore would have no preference for any region's version.

Summary

    Keb' Mo': Sessions at West 54th is a highly enjoyable disc with an excellent performance from bluesman Keb' Mo'. The quality of the disc is generally very high, but it is let down by a number of chapters with very poor video quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Monday, April 02, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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