A Tribute to Burt Bacharach & Hal David (2000)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Toru Uehara|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I have always had a soft spot for the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and apparently so do a whole lot of other people, judging by this tribute concert celebrating the golden years of the songwriting team. They both started their career in the sixties as professional songwriters in the "Brill Building", a block of music publishing houses in New York City - writing songs for up-and-coming as well as established pop singers, including Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney and Dionne Warwick.
A Bacharach melody is easily recognisable and yet hard to imitate well - it leaps all over the place and can be difficult to sing and yet is never difficult to listen to. Somehow seeming to blend tenderness and pulsating energy, the songs are accompanied by sophisticated harmonies and textures. Hal David was the perfect counterpoint to Bacharach, crafting lyrics to the songs that seem to lift romanticism and sentimentality to poetic heights, often with spiritual overtones. By the end of the sixties, they helped define the Golden Age of Pop and many musicians wanted to record at least one Bacharach/David song (if not a whole album).
By the late seventies and early eighties (after the partnership had broken up), it became fashionable to deride their music as "bachelor music" played by lounge room lizards in their groovy "pads". Recently, there has been a revival of interest in their music, and suddenly cover versions featured in all sorts of films ranging from My Best Friend's Wedding to the Austin Powers movies. There was even a compilation CD of Australian bands playing their music. Suddenly, it was hip to like their music again.
Burt Bacharach was born in 12 May 1928 in Kansas City. He studied cello, drums, and piano as a child, and later moved to New York City. His early influence was jazz, but he also acquired a formal music education. Hal David was born in 25 May 1921 in Brooklyn, New York. He had already been responsible for the lyrics to several hits in the fifties before meeting Burt in 1957.
Their first hit together was Marty Robbins' "The Story of My Life," followed a year later by Perry Como's "Magic Moments," and gradually they started working exclusively with each other. Their greatest successes were songs initially sung by Dionne Warwick, a session vocalist protégé who became their best interpreter and went on to become a popular success in her own right. The team and Dionne produced 15 Top 40 singles from 1962 to 1968, including "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Walk on By," "Message to Michael," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Valley of the Dolls," and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?". The duo also remained dominant in England, where Frankie Vaughan, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, the Walker Brothers, and Herb Alpert all hit number one with Bacharach/David compositions.
They also collaborated on film soundtracks such as What's New Pussycat, Alfie, Casino Royale and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They broke up in the early seventies as a result of a fallout partly caused by the failure of the film musical Lost Horizon. They did not collaborate together again until 1999 for the music score to the film Isn't She Great.
Neither songwriter was as successful by themselves as they were as a team, although Burt did manage to stage a comeback in the eighties through collaborations with Christopher Cross, Carol Bayer Sager, and Peter Allen with the Oscar-winning "Arthur's Theme,", and wrote "Making Love" for Roberta Flack, "Heartlight" for Neil Diamond, "That's What Friends Are For" (initially for Rod Stewart, the re-recorded by an all-star group including Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder) and finally a duet by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald titled "On My Own." More recently, in 1998 he collaborated with Elvis Costello on a Grammy Award winning album entitled "Painted From Memory."
This tribute concert features a number of famous as well as up-and-coming singers singing some of the best-loved Bacharach/David songs in The Royal Albert Hall. Recorded in June 2000, the gala concert is hosted by Johnnie Walker and was organised by and in support of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (that helps improve the lives of handicapped children through music therapy) as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.
The concert begins with an instrumental medley of Close To You, Alfie, Do You Know The Way To San Jose?, and Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, performed by Leo Green on the saxophone. Then we get a succession of well-known Bacharach/David songs performed by various singers (both famous and up-and-coming) such as Kenny Lynch, Lucie Silvas, Lynden David Hall, Brian Kennedy, Yazz, Shola Ama, Sacha Distel and Paul Carrack. Lucie Silvas looks absolutely gorgeous in a shimmering pink dress and delivers a very creditable performance of One Less Bell To Answer. Brian Kennedy sings Reach Out For Me with a delightful Irish lilt in his voice (he returns in the second half to sing I'll Never Fall In Love Again). The only slight disappointment was Paul Carrack singing This Guy's In Love With You - he started out really well and I was incredibly impressed, but he had difficulty reaching the high notes and then kind of lost control of his pitch and had difficulty regaining it. The first half of the concert closes with Petula Clark singing a number of songs.
The second half of the concert starts with someone I haven't heard in a long while, Leo Sayer, singing (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me. I don't think he had had much time to practice or to memorise the lyrics, because his eyes kept glancing down at the teleprompter. I was very impressed with Brian Conley's rendition of What's New Pussycat/Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa. The only song I didn't recognise in this concert was I Just Have To Breathe, sung by Teish O'Day and it was delightful to be surprised by a song I have not heard before. Linda Lewis sings a very breathy The Look Of Love which brought back memories of Dusty Springfield's interpretation in Casino Royale (definitely the high point in a very tedious movie).
Then came a real highlight - a double introduction with Johnnie Walker presenting Elvis Costello who then introduced Burt Bacharach himself! The pair performed I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself. Finally we get what everyone had been waiting for - Dionne Warwick herself! She performs a medley of Walk On By/I Say A Little Prayer For You/Do You Know The Way To San Jose. Incidentally this is the same medley, with very much the same orchestral arrangement, as her performance on the One Amazing Night TV special (I own a precious copy of an NTSC VHS video of this!). She also sings an extra song - Anyone Who Had A Heart. Finally, the concert ends with everyone getting on stage and singing What The World Needs Now Is Love. Incidentally, I noticed a few extra people on stage I haven't seen before, so I suspect this is an edited concert. It would have been nice for Hal David to be actually introduced instead of us catching a glimpse of him at the end.
|1. Close To You (Instrumental)|
2. Alfie (Instrumental)
3. Do You Know the Way To San José?
4. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
5. Wives & Lovers
6. One Less Bell To Answer
7. Don't Make Me Over
8. Reach Out For Me
9. Do You Know the Way To San José?
10. You'll Never Get To Heaven
11. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
12. This Guy's In Love With You
13. A House Is Not A Home
14. Wishin' and Hopin'
15. Close To You
|16. (There's) Always Something There...|
18. I'll Never Fall In Love Again
19. What's New Pussycat?
20. 24 Hours From Tulsa
21. I Just Have To Breathe
22. Make It Easy On Yourself
23. The Look Of Love
24. I Just Donšt Know What To Do With..
25. Walk On By
26. I Say A Little Prayer For You
27. Do You Know the Way To San José?
28. Anyone Who Had A Heart
29. What the World Needs Now Is Love
We are fortunate indeed to be presented with a widescreen 1.78:1 transfer of this delightful concert, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
Unfortunately, the transfer itself is not quite perfect. It is consistently on the soft side and looks somewhat defocused. It looks like it was recorded directly onto video, and the camera used had some difficulty resolving detail in low light conditions. Also, because of the high gain used, there isn't a lot of real black captured on the concert. Colours are bright and cheerful, and in most cases mask the lack of luminance detail in the video signal.
Given the conditions of the concert and the video technology employed, I don't think any of the above faults are easily correctable. At least we don't get any additional artefacts from MPEG compression that I was able to notice, which is good since the DVD producers have crammed almost two hours onto a single sided single layered disc (incidentally, the DVD packaging incorrectly labels the disc as a DVD9 and even warns us of the non-existent layer change).
There are no subtitle tracks.
There are two audio tracks on the disc: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s), and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kb/s). I would have liked to see a dts track, but such is life.
I was really disappointed with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It seemed really bass-heavy, and the voices seemed somewhat muffled, particularly in the first half of the concert. Also, Johnnie Walker's voice in between songs sounded like he was speaking through a hollow tube. Those of you who still play cassette tapes may be familiar with the hollow and attenuated sound that you get if the tape head is misaligned with the cassette - this is exactly how Johnnie's voice sounded.
Fortunately, the audio track improves considerably in the second half of the concert and by the end of the concert it manages to sound almost normal. I am not sure whether this anomaly in the sound is due to incorrect encoder settings during Dolby Digital compression or a fault in the master tape, but I was very disappointed.
The 5.1 audio track appears to be a "native" surround mix as the audience clapping in between songs appears to be decorrelated across all speakers, but it appears to be a very poor surround mix - the rear surround channels are barely utilised even for ambience and might as well not have been there.
In comparison, the Dolby Digital 2.0 track actually sounds quite reasonable. It is clearly more balanced than the 5.1 track in the first half of the concert, and Johnnie Walker's voice sounds a lot more natural. It is not as dynamic as the 5.1 track, however. My recommendation is to listen to the 2.0 track for the first half of the concert, and switch to the 5.1 track for the latter half of the concert.
The subwoofer is overly used in the 5.1 track - to the extent that I was tempted to turn it off.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras on this disc apart from some static menus.
These are static and full frame and have a kind of sixties retro look about them (including black and white photos of the performers in the background).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This title is not currently released in Region 1, but will be released in early 2002. I don't expect the contents of the Region 1 release to be different from that of the Region 2/4 release.
A Tribute to Burt Bacharach and Hal David is a must-own recording of a tribute concert held in the Royal Albert Hall in June 2000, particularly if you are a Bacharach/David fan like me.
The video transfer is in widescreen 16x9 enhanced but is somewhat soft.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is somewhat flawed in the first half. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is reasonable.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|