Jeff Lang-Live at The Basement (2001)

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Released 26-Nov-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Featurette-22 minute interview and radio performances listed below:
Featurette-Everything Is Still - acoustic performance on radio show
Featurette-Too Easy To Kill - acoustic performance on radio show
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 80:42 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Jeff Lang
Angus Diggs
Don Walker
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music Jeff Lang


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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

    This DVD is one of a series of live recordings of visiting artists to The Basement Club, Sydney and presents acoustic guitar virtuoso Jeff Lang playing at the Circular Quay on 24th May 2001. Growing up in Geelong, Victoria, Jeff initially played clarinet but when fourteen started teaching himself guitar by listening to his father's Roy Buchanan, Eric Clapton and Ry Cooder records. Evolving a distinctive guitar style based on unorthodox fingerings and tunings, Lang first released a five-track instrumental cassette Cramp Your Style in 1989 and his first album, Ravenswood followed in 1994. Having achieved a following in the USA and cult status in the London music scene, Jeff has more recently been recognised as one of Australia's leading guitarists and is being increasingly appreciated in his own country.

    This recording mostly features songs from his last two albums (Everything is Still and Disturbed Folk Vol.2) but opens with Jeff playing the early song I Still See You from Native Dogcreek solo. Writing the great majority of his own songs, and having a reasonable voice, Lang is a veritable tour de force on guitar. Whilst he could be loosely be described as a blues musician, the wall of sound produced by combining innovative picking and slide techniques defies belief. The talent of his guitar playing is highlighted when, during the climax of Too Easy To Kill he loses the Dobro's D string yet still manages to carry on unfazed, whilst wrestling with flaying loose ends, with no discernible loss of sound. Whilst the slide guitar songs are strongly reminiscent of Leo Kotke, there are subtle shades of Dylan, sitar-like picking on London and even a Celtic jig on Prepare Me Well. Lang is joined on track 2 by Angus Diggs on drums for the rest of the set and in the latter tracks by Don Walker on piano.

    The cozy cellar-bar type ambience of The Basement is ideally suited to Lang's intimate yet forceful style of music and this DVD captures the atmosphere well, even down to the irritating silhouettes cast by audience visits to the bar.

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Track Listing

1. I Still See You
2. Big Feeling
3. Is She Slipping?
4. Prepare Me Well
5. Too Easy To Kill
6. Bateman's Bay
7. London
8. Elvis Is Still Dead
9. No Good Answers
10. Can't Raise My Head
11. Some Memories Never Die
12. Everything Is Still
13. Frightened Fool
14. Burn That Bridge

Transfer Quality

Video

    This isn't a bad video. For guitar playing musos hoping to pick up a few tips, there are plenty of shots of finger-picking and fretwork. For those who merely require a little live visual entertainment to augment the atmosphere of a live club performance, the slightly claustrophobic, subterranean intimacy of The Basement is well conveyed. Personally, I would have appreciated having my view of the stage intermittently blotted out (10:58, 11:08, 24:08) by heads and torsos of passers-by edited out, but I guess some will argue that that's all part of the show!

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is sharp and detailed. The limited lighting of The Basement is concentrated mostly on stage with little light cast on the audience, and hence shadow detail is very limited by the ambient lighting. There is low level noise and mild aliasing throughout the transfer on the usual culprits of guitar strings, mike stands and wind-shields.

    Colours are displayed in accordance with the ambient lighting, mainly spots on the musicians whose skin-tones were realistically portrayed, but little colour is seen in the club area, save the neon over the bar.

    The feature was shot on video, hence film artefacts were absent. Apart from the aliasing mentioned above, the only other artefact present was infrequent posterization over the guitar soundboard (1:43), black drapes of the club (32:43) and Lang's blue shirt.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single layered and thus has no transition pause.

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

Audio

    This is a superb audio track and beautifully presents the rich, clean vibrant tones of the acoustic guitars.

    There is one audio track recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 kbytes/sec. In surround sound mode, the recording heavily features the centre channel so if your centre speaker isn't up to the job of conveying an almost mono mix of vocals and guitar you might be better off down-mixing the 5.1 to  2 channel stereo for your front mains. Either way, it sounds superb and is as good a recording of acoustic guitar as I have heard on any medium or using any encoding technique.

   The dialogue was clear and clean with no microphone pops or sibilance and, unlike the video, a creditable lack (thank goodness) of club-background sound effects such as scraping of chairs or the clink of glasses.

    Audio sync was accurate and no problems were detected.

    The surrounds were used to provide quiet reverberation and crowd effects with the occasional tinkle of percussion and as such usefully augment the atmosphere but could be easily dispensed with.

    The subwoofer was barely utilised and quiet throughout the recording until near the concert end when the bass drum suddenly comes to life through the .1 channel. As there is no bass or synthesiser accompaniment, this is not a problem.

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

Extras

    It's a shame that we are provided with the barest minimum of extras, especially as Jeff Lang is not well known and details of his background and biography are scarce, even on the web. Lyrics of songs and a biography wouldn't have taken up much disc space and still allowed the single layer recording.

Menu

    This is static with a few photos and selection choices.

Flyer

    Details of the six titles available in the Basement series.

Documentary

    21:30 of interviews with Jeff in person and as featured on various radio chat shows. Provides a few insights into his musical background and influences. Leads into live radio performances with 'Gus Diggs of Everything and Too Easy To Kill.

R4 vs R1

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

    There are no details on the web as far as I can ascertain of an R1 version of this recording and as this DVD is all-region coded (albeit PAL) this may be the only version produced.

Summary

    I hadn't heard of Jeff Lang before this review but stunned as I was by his guitar playing I will certainly look out for him in the future.

    The video is far from reference quality but sharp and adequate although a little raw and could have benefited from a little more consideration in the final edit for the DVD viewer.

    The sound quality is superb although maybe a little over-reliant on the centre speaker.

    Strongly recommended for folk, blues, acoustic guitar and of course, Jeff Lang fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Thursday, December 06, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

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