Stevie Wonder
Songs In The Key Of Life

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 74:05 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director David Heffernan

Warner Vision Australia
Starring Stevie Wonder
Quincy Jones
Herbie Hancock
Gary Byrd
RRP $39.95 Music Stevie Wonder et al

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages German (MPEG 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)
English (MPEG 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)
French (MPEG 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)
Italian (MPEG 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)
Spanish (MPEG 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Stevie Wonder has a remarkable gift. For, although he is blind, he can see into our souls and write and record music which touches us in many different ways. The album Songs In The Key Of Life, released in 1976, is regarded by many as his finest album (indeed, a double album which was rare in its day). This documentary brings together the original players in this album, and they share their feelings and thoughts on how their involvement affected their lives then and now.

    As with others in this series, we have the engineers who recorded the album working with the original master multi-track tapes. This level of involvement is very much appreciated and enjoyed, and we are given a true insight into the recording process. Stevie Wonder's enjoyment and excitement of the whole reunion of the artists and his revisiting of this album is very clear and makes for an enjoyable look at this album many describe as a landmark in recording history.

Transfer Quality


    This video is in keeping the its fellow Eagle Rock Entertainment discs, and is very good.

    The transfer is full frame, with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced. I look forward to the (distant?) day when video is natively 16x9....

    The image is very clear and sharp. Shadow detail is exemplary, and their is no low-level noise whatsoever. Very clean indeed.

    Colour rendition is, as usual for this series, absolutely spot-on. Skin tones are rendered to perfection, and there is no hint of bleeding, noise, saturation or any of the bug-bears we normally pick on.

    The only fault to the video presentation is from MPEG artefacting. Whilst this is not problematic during scenes, it rears its ugly head between scenes, or to be more accurate just before the next scene. This image clearly "blocks-up" in the last frame before a new scene, and is only slightly off-putting. Apart from that, there are no other video related artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.


    The audio is very nice indeed, reflecting the care which has gone into what is essentially a musical documentary.

    There are five soundtracks on this disc, consisting of German MPEG 2.0 stereo, English MPEG 2.0 stereo, French MPEG 2.0 stereo, Italian MPEG 2.0 stereo and Spanish MPEG 2.0 stereo. All non-English soundtracks have the English soundtrack in the background, with the relevant language overlaid during speaking.

    Half-an-hour into this disc I was most surprised to find that audio-sync went the way of the dinosaurs - that is it went away and never returned. This was especially unfortunate when Stevie was playing keyboards or drums because the delay was so palpable, and it did slightly ruin the presentation at these times.

    Audio quality was very high throughout. Most impressive was when the engineers were going through the multi-track tapes, and picking individual channels. It really felt as if you were in the studio with these men, the sound was so clear. It was especially impressive given that these master tapes are over twenty-years old - they certainly are preserved very well!

    The subwoofer was lightly used.


    My feelings are that this series of discs are essentially one big extra in themselves...


    The menu is very basic, offering a selection of languages. There are no chapters, which is acceptable given the nature of the subject.

R4 vs R1

    Both versions are identical. The R4 version would therefore be the preferred choice given the superiority of the PAL system.


    This is a very well produced documentary on a true talent of our time, Stevie Wonder. Fans of the album will love this, and anyone else with an interest in Stevie will find much to enjoy.

    The video quality is very nice indeed.

    The audio is also very nice, audio-sync notwithstanding.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Paul Cordingley
18th December 1999
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A; S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive