Paul Simon

Graceland: The African Concert

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1988 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 89:28 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Warner Vision Australia
Starring Paul Simon
Miriam Makeba
Hugh Masekela
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Case Super Jewel Case
RRP $39.95 Music Paul Simon

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 48/16,1536 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    For my views regarding the album itself, I would suggest that you refer to my review of Paul Simon - Graceland from the Classic Albums series. Suffice to say that it remains one of the most original albums to have emerged in the last twenty years.

    This is a recording of a concert given at Rufaro Stadium, in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1987 in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. At the time this was about as close as Paul Simon, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela could get to South Africa for various reasons (Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela were political exiles), and it is interesting to speculate as to how much of a contribution these artists made to the dismantling of Apartheid in that country. The concert covers the entire Graceland album, with a few additional tracks from the guest performers. Looking at it now, it is not an especially great concert, but for its time it had a lot of meaning, and therefore the DVD makes a nice historical document.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    This is obviously a transfer hamstrung by the quality of the source material, which is simply not the best. There is noticeable lack of focus at times, and the overall affect of the transfer is a flattish image with no real depth to it. It looks decidedly two dimensional at times. It is not at all sharp and the rather diffuse image at times I found tiring to watch. Overall, the transfer lacks a little in definition.

    The colours are slightly muted and there is no hint of oversaturation at all - indeed there appeared to be a consistent undersaturation here. This is not a vibrant transfer at all, which is a pity as some of the gear worn by the performers looked very colourful. Funnily enough this contrasts with the impression I got from the Classic Albums issue, which contained a number of excerpts from this concert.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer, nor were film-to-video artefacts a problem. There did not appear to be any film artefacts present in the transfer, reflecting perhaps a video source for the material.


    Okay, the video transfer might not have been much, but the audio transfer had no problems at all.

    There is only the one audio track on the DVD, an English Linear PCM 48/16 soundtrack. This is CD quality sound.

    The music and vocals are very clear and understandable in the soundtrack.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with the soundtrack.

    The soundtrack does not make much use of the surround channels and completely ignores the bass channel. This is not a concern per se, as the resultant sound is very good and nicely detailed, and cranking up the volume really gets this little gem rocking along most enjoyably.


    Nothing at all, apart from a menu.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 and Region 4 releases appear to be identical, therefore Region 4 would have to be the marginally better choice, owing to the inherently superior PAL system.


    Whilst the concert is let down somewhat by a less than perfect video source (which is not a DVD problem), the music shines through and this is a very nice complement to the Classic Albums release reviewed earlier.

    A decidedly average video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    But no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
13th January 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL