James Taylor

Live At The Beacon Theatre

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 110:12 minutes Other Extras Biography - Cast
Music Videos - Copperline and Enough To Be On Your Way
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (64:30)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Beth McCarthy
Sony Music Video
Sony Music
Starring James Taylor
Case Brackley
RPI $34.95 Music James Taylor

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 48/24 2.0, 2304Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio Full Frame
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in credits

Plot Synopsis

    Now THIS is music. After literally suffering through The Will Smith Music Video Collection, this was the perfect antidote to throw into the DVD player. After hearing a bundle of word-of-mouth recommendations, when this came up for allocation I jumped at the chance to review it. When Michael D makes statements along the line of "I nearly kept this disc for myself - not much resembling real music has passed through my setup lately", you know that you are watching something just a little bit different.

    Whilst James Taylor is not my usually taste in music, there is no doubt that he is one of the pre-eminent singer/songwriters of the past fifty years and therefore you are guaranteed of quality when he gets up on stage. That is indeed what we get here: some very serious quality. This very diverse collection of original and cover tunes comprises the following tracks:

    This is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of tunes (and isn't it great to use that word for a change) from a genuinely talented performer backed up by some very good musicians. It is indeed well worth indulging in this effort, and Michael D was definitely right in suggesting that this is real music.

Transfer Quality


    A genuinely enjoyable concert is given a genuinely fine video transfer that is, as far as concert videos go, virtually flawless.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Whilst there are a few lapses along the lines that we would normally be expecting from a concert video, this is a brilliantly sharp and extraordinarily well-detailed transfer that exudes quality. Wonderfully clear throughout, the whole show was clearly designed with its live transmission on television in mind, which means that there are far less problems with extreme stage lighting. Indeed, this is a very nicely lit concert that allows plenty of detail of the audience and the venue to shine through. There did not appear to be any problem with low level noise in the transfer.

    This is a wonderfully vibrant transfer with a very nice naturalness to it, a very colourful experience without any of the extremes of colour that are so often prevalent in concert videos. The only hint at oversaturation is in the few odd shots taken from behind the drummer under blue lighting, when his blue shirt flares just a little.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefact problems in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefact problems in the transfer: what aliasing was present was so minor as to be virtually non-existent. There did not appear to be any film artefact problems in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 64:30. It is just a little noticeable, but is not too serious a disruption to the enjoyment of the show as it is during the applause after a song.

    Overall, this is one of the very best-looking concert videos that you will ever likely see. This is immediately noted by one fact: guitar strings are usually an enormously problematic source of aliasing in music videos, but here they present virtually no problem at all.


    The gorgeous video transfer is matched with a rather unusual soundtrack. This is a rare instance when I recommend you forget the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and indulge in the Linear PCM soundtrack instead. Why? Well, I may be wrong but this is the first instance that I recall of a Linear PCM 48kHz, 24 bit recording on a DVD. Linear PCM soundtracks on DVD are normally 48kHz, 16 bit efforts, and the extra depth afforded by the 24 bits is well and truly used here.

    As suggested, there are two audio tracks on the DVD, the English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened briefly to the Dolby Digital 5.1 effort, before indulging in the Linear PCM soundtrack. You should note that the reference to Dolby Stereo on the DVD cover is incorrect - there is no Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack here.

    The vocals were as easy to understand as is possible in this genre.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The main problem with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is that the bass channel is a little too forward and resonant in the overall mix. This is quite a common problem with DVDs from this source in my experience, although this is less of a problematic effort in this regard than most. However, with this sort of music, it is an extremely distracting problem - it simply overpowers the vocal and guitar tracks in the mix at times, which are of course the important tracks here. The surround channels are pretty well handled with the audience noise well placed in the rear channels. Overall though, I found it too tiresome to continue listening to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack in the end and was forced to switch to the Linear PCM soundtrack. And I am very glad that I was forced to, as it is a superb effort indeed. Whilst it misses out on the bass channel support, and obviously has no surround channel use, it is a superbly clear soundtrack with a real presence that evokes memories of some of the very best CD 96kHz/24 bit recordings I have heard. It is a very naturally balanced soundtrack and the whole stage perspective is very convincing indeed. I doubt that you will hear a better Linear PCM 48/24 soundtrack - ever.


    Not a bad package on offer here, although this is possibly deserving of more.


    Not a bad effort at all. Nice and clear, although some menu audio would not have gone astray here.

Biography - Cast

    This is comprised of a reasonably detailed effort for James Taylor, with short efforts for the members of the band. This could perhaps have been a little more extensive, but is a nice enough effort.

Music Videos - Copperline (4:24) and Enough To Be On Your Way (5:27)

    These are very nice inclusions, since anything from James Taylor has some merit indeed. Presented in a Full Frame format with Linear PCM 48/16 sound, they are eminently listenable. Interestingly, the earlier Copperline video (from 1991) is better looking than the later 1997 video for Enough To Be On Your Way. The latter has a very rich tone to it that I found just a tad too forced and a little oversaturated, as well as suffering a little from shimmer.

Interview (8:15)

    A reasonable inclusion, but it would have been nice to have the full interview, including the interviewer's questions, rather than just insert boards with the questions. Presented in a Full Frame format with Linear PCM 48/16 sound, this is definitely an extra that should have been a lot longer - when you are talking about a virtual legend of music, 8 minutes of interview is hardly enough.

R4 vs R1

    There would appear to be no difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this title, therefore this is another Region 4 winner due to the inherent superiority of the PAL system.


    If you enjoy real music, then this is a definite addition to your collection. This is a terrific concert video, let down slightly by a less than perfect Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and only a reasonable extras package. Almost worthy of inclusion in the Hall Of Fame otherwise.

    A superb video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    A reasonable extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
16th July 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