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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 63:01)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • None
  • Additional footage - Bonus track
  • 2 Interviews
Randy Travis - Live: It Was Just a Matter of Time
Image Entertainment/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 83 mins . PG . PAL


Fans of country music will no doubt be quite familiar with the name Randy Travis, and know many of the songs that have helped him become one of its superstars. I am not one of them however, and it was with some trepidation that I finally worked up the enthusiasm to load up this disc and perhaps uncover some of the mystery behind the ever increasing popularity of country music. With a borrowed Stetson, some ridin' boots (well, my Doc Martens) and well-worn denims, I was ready to take the 'proverbial' out of the whole thing, because I am just too cool to be a country music fan. Imagine my surprise, if you will, when I discovered that this is actually rather good and, shame-of-shames, I actually found myself tapping my foot and trying to sing along.

To me, and no doubt countless others, country music is all about cowboy hats, fiddles, pedal steel guitars, and songs about dogs and dying relatives, and to be honest there is a lot of that here - but also so much more. Take Randy Travis, a 40-something guitar-playing cowboy in a dinner jacket. This was my first surprise, the man is a sharp dresser and there was nary a cowboy hat or a pair of boots in sight (well maybe one or two) and no songs about dying relatives, just songs about ones that are already dead. The songs are either big ol' ballads or out and out country rockers, and while I did prefer the latter, all the songs are rather charming and sung with honesty. The songs are not complex, and catchy choruses abound. Randy Travis has a deep, smooth voice with a respectable range. His band is heavy with acoustic guitars, a fiddle, honky-tonk piano and some wonderful harmonies.

The beauty of this performance is that it was specially recorded for release on DVD and no expense has been spared. Randy's hits are all present and he proudly introduces the few that have made number one (I presume on the Country and Western chart). It mixes the old with the new, and blends country rock with some gospel tinged numbers. Randy lends the whole thing an air of intimacy with his chat between songs, and with numerous cameras taking it all in. As said, nothing has been overlooked.

Randy Travis comes across as a 'good bloke' (the kind Ray Martin loves to interview) with a genuine love of country music (he was born and bred in Montana) and a humble appreciation of the fans who come to see him. As the camera pans over this crowd, I was quite surprised at the variety of fans, especially the large number of beautiful young women (hmm - maybe they were deliberately placed in the front rows?) who seem to know the words to many of the songs.

Track listing...

Whisper My Name
Before You Kill Us All
Spirit Of A Boy, Wisdom Of A Man
Better Class Of Losers
On The Other Hand
Look Heart, No Hands
If I Didn't Have You
The Storms Of Life
Is It All Over
I Won't Need You Anymore
Honky Tonk Moon
I Told You So;
The Hole
Horse Called Music
Shallow Water
It's Just A Matter Of Time
Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart
He Walked On Water
Deeper Than The Holler
Forever And Ever, Amen
Diggin' Up Bones
Runaway Train
Bonus Track; King Of The Road


Randy Travis: Live - It Was Just A Matter Of Time is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, apart from the opening few minutes of back stage introductions filmed on hand-held equipment and presented in full frame. From here on in however, we are treated to one fine DVD experience.

There is almost nothing negative to report here, which makes a refreshing change. Colours are rich, bold and oversaturated. The image is always sharp and clear, although the long shots are slightly softer. There is no evidence of chroma noise, or colour bleeding, even under blue light. Black levels are deep and there is no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail is good and there are absolutely no artefacts, and we are left with a clean, blemish free transfer.

There is a layer change at 63:01, but as is standard with live performance releases these days it is placed between songs.

There are three audio tracks to choose from and while all three are good, there are no prizes for guessing which one was preferred. The Dolby Digital 2.0 is a good effort, but nothing brilliant. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is a definite improvement and sounds good. The music is balanced and clear. Low level sounds were not quite as rich and as deep as the 2.0 track, but surround sound is always a winner over traditional stereo in my mind. Then we have DTS...

I am going to go so far as to say that this sounds as good as my all time favourite, Hell Freezes Over by The Eagles. The music is well separated and all vocals and instruments are crisp and clean. The music is well shared around all speakers, and is slight front heavy, with crowd noise and some music filling out the rear. The low-level sounds are very rich, very deep and are in fine balance with the clean trebles. Vocals are beautifully clear and there are no problems with audio synch. The subwoofer gets a solid workout from the drums (which sound fantastic), the bass and even Randy's vocals, such is the depth of his range. I have to add that the sound from the toms as the drummer played them is magnificent and seems to fill the room.

The extras, though few, are quite good. The first is a Bonus Track which is presented with the same specifications as the feature and is selectable from the extras or the Song List.

The second extra is a Message from (former) President George Bush Snr and is little more than a 2:17 minute testimonial from one of Randy's long time friends - namedropping in other words, and something that we could have just as easily foregone.

The third and final extra is an honest and revealing Interview with the man himself. Presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0, this is affirmation that Randy Travis really is a nice guy, but this could have been so different. Randy doesn't shirk the questions and is quite open about the drug and alcohol related problems that plagued his youth, as well as admitting that he "isn't really much of a musician`". He could have fooled me!

While this will appeal more to aficionados of country music, there is still something for most music fans to enjoy. It's honest, it's easy and it's not pretentious. It's a little ol' Montana boy made good in the music business, and is presented as well as any other music performance DVD I have seen, which all adds up to a good-time, value for money purchase. Throw on your ten gallon hat and spurs if you think it'll help, but try to hold back on the "Yee-ha's" - the neighbours may not understand.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Honky-tonk is not a dirty word."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
    • Centre Speaker:
    • Surrounds:
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
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