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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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    Michael McDonald - A Gathering of Friends
    Image Entertainment/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 70 mins . G . PAL


    The smooth baritone voice of Michael McDonald will be forever linked to the modern west coast pop/rock sound that emerged from California during the mid to late 1970s in bands such as The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and The Eagles. Michael (a nice name don't you think?!) raised his profile during the mid 1970s when he performed guest vocals on a few Steely Dan tracks and hit the big time in 1977 when he joined The Doobie Brothers. During his time with The Doobie Brothers, the band had two mega hits with the tracks What A Fool Believes and Takin' It To The Streets, the former winning McDonald a grammy award along with his writing partner, Kenny Loggins.

    In 1982 McDonald decided to break away from The Doobie Brothers and started a solo career that resulted in a successful debut album entitled If That's What It Takes. The single I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near) made it to number four on the US charts and in 1983 he had another hit on his hands with the song Yah Mo B There, which he performed with James Ingram. His second album No Lookin' Back (1985) wasn't quite as successful, but he bounced back in 1986 with the number one duet (with Patti LaBelle) entitled On My Own. The nineties were a little quieter for McDonald, but in 1996 The Doobie Brothers reformed and Michael was kept busy touring with the band.

    The concert presented on this particular DVD was filmed in February 2000 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The concert is a tribute to McDonald's 'Blue Eyed Soul' style (as it is now known) and includes many well known mainstream performers such as James Ingram, Patti LaBelle, Patti Austin, Kenny Loggins, Steve Winwood and Ray Charles. Interestingly, the performances of Steve Winwood and Ray Charles are not shown on this disc.

    This concert covers the tried and true formula of giving each performer an over the top intro like "this guy/lady is the premier talent in America today" and then pushing them onto stage. They walk over to centre stage pointing at the audience, fellow performers and Michael McDonald smiling and then launch into their song.

    Maybe I'm getting cynical in my old age but, I'm getting a bit sick of this kind of American concert, especially the over performing and the false love stuff. Almost every performer that wandered onto the stage hugs Michael McDonald or wheels out the BS line "I/We love you man". The over performing, oh save me! I'll give you some examples of this. One is Patti LaBelle who gets dangerously close to shrieking at times and spoils the track On My Own. The saxophone player drove me mad with his "ain't I slick?" antics and as for Jeff Bridges (who does most of the introductions), sorry mate but a singer you ain't!

    The playlist for this particular performance is:

    1. On My Own8. Maria
    2. No Love To Be Found9. You Belong To Me
    3. Holy City10. Heart To Heart
    4. All I Need11. This Is It
    5. Ride Like The Wind12. Minute By Minute
    6. She Lay Her Whip Down13. Takin' It To The Streets
    7. Yah Mo B There


    The original source material for this disc appears to have been video and this hurts the clarity of this transfer. This full frame presentation is lacking in detail, especially in mid to long shots where things are down right unclear. Even some of the closer shots lack detail with things like the brand name of guitars impossible to distinguish. Along with this lack of detail comes some video noise in the background. There is also a lot of minor aliasing.

    The colour saturation of this transfer is high, with strong reds, purples and blues saturating the stage as well as the audience. The intensity of the colour obviously gave the cameras a hard time as anywhere this light falls the image loses definition with objects blooming noticeably.

    Overall this is an OK video transfer that is just good enough to allow you to sit back and enjoy the performance.

    Audio wise there are DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks on this disc. I listened to the DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 offerings.

    DTS 5.1 What a bonza audio track! It features excellent clarity and fidelity with a wonderfully spacious, live sound. You've gotta love top bit rate DTS tracks.

    As far as sound design is concerned, all instruments and vocals are spread across the front channels, but during solos that particular instrument is mixed higher so as to draw attention to it. Channel moves do occur with forceful drum work occasionally moving smoothly from the left to the right. The rear channels are well used to carry reverb or echo as well as applause which creates a nicely immersive soundfield as well as providing a more realistic concert soundscape. My subwoofer remained awake throughout the concert adding some extra low end punch that was nicely integrated into the overall sound.

    Dolby Digital 5.1 This track has the same sound design as the DTS version and is also of excellent quality. One difference of note is in the volume level which sounds to me like it has been mastered about four or five db higher.

    Listened to in isolation this track is really good, but it doesn't quite come up to the standard of the DTS track. For me it was a tad less refined, which made it more fatiguing to listen to at my reference level.

    There are no extras on this disc. Nothing, nada, zip.

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  •   And I quote...
    "If you like blue eyed soul then this DVD is for you. The audio transfer is excellent. The video transfer? Well, there is one..."
    - Michael Chappell
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Loewe Xenix 5006DD
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 105(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          RealMagic Hollywood Plus
    • TV:
          Grundig MW82-50/8 IDTV 16:9
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-2801
    • Speakers:
          Tannoy Mercury M4
    • Centre Speaker:
          Tannoy Mercury MC
    • Surrounds:
          Tannoy Mercury M1
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-120
    • Audio Cables:
          Monster Lightspeed 100
    • Video Cables:
          ConCord SCART
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