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Celine - All the Way : A Decade of Song and Video (Remastered)
Sony Music Video/Sony BMG . R4 . COLOR . 81 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

NOTE: The review below was written and published when this disc was originally released in September 2001; the disc was pulled from stores shortly afterwards due to the mastering problems mentioned - and updated - in the Transfer And Extras section of this review.

There are those of us that like the music we listen to, whether it be pop, rock, classical, jazz or dance, to not only click with us emotionally, but also intellectually - the thrill of hearing a memorable melody and performance combined with the incomparable feeling of excitement at hearing something we’ve never heard before is something that’s intensely personal and massively rewarding.

And then there are those who don’t have time for a challenge, aren’t interested in new musical experience and prefer their music to come pre-packaged as something they can compare to what they know, understand without thinking and digest without effort. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course - some people are musically passionate, and some are not. For those that live and breathe music, though, Celine Dion is one of The Enemy. Pumping out power ballads and soft pop with effortless ease and a competent singing voice, Dion is everything that’s not exciting about music. A French Canadian, she spent some time doing the kind of cheese-pop that only existed outside the ‘80s in certain parts of Canada (early Alanis Morrisette, anyone?) until she met her future husband and manager Rene Angelil, who guided Dion’s career inexorably towards that genre that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who thinks of music as more than mere wallpaper. Dion was to become an “Adult Contemporary” artist, and thanks to a duet with Peabo Bryson on Disney’s Beauty And The Beast soundtrack, she was about to swallow America whole.

All The Way is the companion video to Dion’s 1999 CD release of the same name, which followed fellow Sony artist Michael Jackson’s example in combining a retrospective compilation with a selection of newly recorded tracks. As a result, quite a few earlier hits are missing, though most of the recent chart fodder is here. The earlier material is very telling - the decidedly teen-oriented pop songs are represented on video by a very young-looking, long-haired Dion that’s a million miles away from her now-familiar “diva” image. Particularly amusing is the clip for Love Can Move Mountains - we dare you to watch the intro, where Dion rips off her top to reveal a leopard-skin bra and a painful pout, and not spend the next five minutes in hysterical laughter. But then, that’s the reaction to many of the clips here, which have a disturbing tendency to be inappropriate for the song they’re selling - as well as often trying to promote Dion as some kind of mature sex kitten, which suits neither the woman nor the tepid songs.

For this video version of All The Way, live versions have been substituted for some tracks - presumably because “directed” video clips were never made for those songs. Most of those live clips feature guest artists, including Terry Bradford, Taro Hakase and, scarily, a disembodied Frank Sinatra! (And yes, Natalie Cole did do the disembodied-duet thing first - what, you expected cutting-edge originality?)

Not at all a songwriter, Dion relies on others for her material, and the songwriters list here reads like a who’s-who of radio balladry - the omnipresent Diane Warren (who even wrote a turgid ballad for ex-Goth rockers The Cult last year!), Robert John “Mr Shania Twain” Lange, Jennifer Rush and Will Jennings are all represented here. And despite all this outside help, there are only two offerings out of the entire 17-song set that show any kind of spark - not surprisingly because they’re such atypical things for Dion to do. It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, written and produced by the inimitable Jim Steinman, is an epic such as only he can produce, and while it’s no Total Eclipse Of The Heart or Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through it is, as always with Steinman, wonderfully over-the-top and entertaining. Best of the field, though, is That’s The Way It Is. Written, played and recorded by Sweden’s masterful Cheiron Productions team, it’s as exuberant, hook-laden and sharply produced as the best of their work, with Dion reduced to a supporting role as vocalist (listen, by the way, for Australian pop person Leah Haywood in the backing vocal team here - she recorded her single Taking Back What’s Mine with members of Cheiron’s team at the same time, and presumably got drafted).

No-one, of course, can deny Dion’s right to do whatever she wants both musically and visually, and having sold over 125 million albums in the past decade (making her a millionaire countless times over even at the stingiest major-label non-songwriter royalty rate) she probably doesn’t give a toss what this reviewer thinks anyway. Certainly she has a huge following that hang on every over-emoted note she sings. That following will be well pleased to see the All The Way compilation on DVD, no doubt. Let’s take a look at what they’re in for.

Before we do, though, here's the track listing:

  1. The Power Of Love
  2. If You Asked Me To
  3. Misled
  4. Beauty And The Beast (Duet/Live)
  5. Because You Loved Me (Live)
  6. It's All Coming Back To Me Now
  7. Love Can Move Mountains
  8. To Love You More (Live)
  9. My Heart Will Go On
  10. I'm Your Angel (Duet)
  11. That's The Way It Is
  12. If Walls Could Talk
  13. The First Time Ever I Saw Your (Live)
  14. All The Way (Live)
  15. Then You Look At Me
  16. I Want You To Need Me
  17. Live For The One I Love

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Not surprisingly, the material on this disc is full-frame and non-anamorphic, as it was originally produced. Video quality is reasonable overall, though the source material here has quite obviously been converted from an NTSC master, and as a result suffers in all areas - black levels, contrast, colour accuracy, resolution and all.

Audio is provided in two formats. The default is 16 bit, 48 KHz Linear PCM; re-dubbed for this compilation from high-quality masters, it sounds fine but is mastered at too low a level. The second audio track contains Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes of every single song, with remixing duties divided between well-regarded engineer Humberto Gatica (who does most of the work here) and Denis Savage; note that these are fresh surround remixes of recordings that were originally mixed by other people, and as such are very, very different to the originally released tracks. The remixes are very, very showy, making full use of the Dolby Digital soundstage, but are often exceptionally unsubtle compared to the originals. This 5.1 track is mastered at a substantially higher level than the stereo track, but thanks to the extensive use of the surrounds it does not downmix especially well to stereo. We’d recommend purists stick with the PCM Stereo track while those who want to show off their technology should go for the over-flamboyant 5.1 mixes.

The technical flaws that made the previous release of this disc a disaster - and kept it out of Australian stores until now - have almost all been fixed in this remastered version (which appears to have been sourced from a European glass master disc). Both the PCM and Dolby Digital audio tracks are now perfectly in sync with the vision; more importantly, though, the nasty two-second videotape dropout at the 17.43 mark (and the accompanying loss of the PCM audio) that was the most obvious flaw of the original release has now been eliminated. The mysterious end-credit appearance of the intro to It’s All Coming Back To Me Now is still there, once again only on the Dolby Digital 5.1 track - but this time it more or less fades out at the end of the credits, rather than just cutting off! (This new version of the disc still uses a fairly average NTSC-to-PAL conversion as a master, so our other complaints about the fairly mediocre image quality still stand).

Extras-wise, there’s not much here. There’s a nine-text-page hype-laden record company-generated biography, a “discography” (including video releases) that only offers cover scans of each release with no track, performer or production details, a thirteen-image photo gallery (admirably displaying each image full-screen with no distractions) and an extended version of the It’s All Coming Back To Me Now clip running for 7 minutes and 43 seconds - a much more decent length for a Jim Steinman recording, whose best work always runs long. The audio for this bonus version of the clip is only available in PCM stereo.

A compilation that will doubtless please Celine’s many fans, All The Way is hardly a chronicle of cutting edge music - but then, that’s not what those buying this disc are here for. When we first reviewed this disc last year, we said that it “might be advisable to wait and see if this one gets remastered before buying” - though as it turned out, Sony made that decision easy by withdrawing the faulty disc. It’s taken seven months to turn up, but the fixed, remastered version is finally available for patient Dion fans; the technical problems are gone, but the video is still of fairly mediocre quality.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1416
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  •   And I quote...
    "It’s taken seven months to turn up, but the fixed, remastered version is finally available for patient Dion fans"
    - Anthony Horan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Panasonic - The One
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB870
    • Speakers:
          Klipsch Tangent 500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Panasonic
    • Surrounds:
          Jamo
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
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