UK boy band BBMak have their turn at the Music in High Places treatment. Artists such as Collective Soul, Alanis Morrisette, Shawn Colvin and others have already graced our DVD players with this new form of Getaway.
The musical pieces are performed live and a capella on location in Vietnam. The songs performed are:
- Back Here
- I Can Tell
- Love on the Outside
- Ghost of You and Me
- Still on Your Side
- Scotland the Brave
- I’m Not in Love
They aren’t continuous one-after-the-other, but are intertwined with historical, touristy and somewhat insensitive chitchat such that we're now accustomed to from “lifestyle programs.” Now, more comparisons to Collective Soul, but when they went to Morocco, they accepted the culture, customs and location for what it was, and were sensitive to the people that live there. Not BBMak... this group of yuppies stand out like a sore thumb with their bright, modern, brand-name clothing and somewhat sour attitude to the living conditions of Vietnam. But hey, the music is good.
The genre of music is a hybrid between pop and rock, similar to many boy bands, and it's filled with gorgeous harmonies and melodies. Think of them as a UK version of Human Nature, or a UK version of (God forbid) *Nsync. This series is always intriguing to watch, whether it's featuring one of your favourite artists or not, as it covers interesting places in the world with more depth and span than many of the lifestyle programs tend to do.
The video is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.
Now, how best to describe the video... OK, picture this: grab your digital video camera, and go to a place where the weather is nowhere near ideal and film something. What you look at when you review your footage is lacking depth, colour, light, shadows and detail. So, that is the best way to describe the video.
Colours are terribly muted and dull, with the occasional bright hue flickering past (most notably on one of the guys' shirts). Blacks are solid, but not terribly rich, and suffer from some slight low level noise. The shadow detail is adequate, but not terribly impressive.
There are no film artefacts due to the digital video source, nor is there any grain. There are no MPEG artefacts at all throughout the film.
The audio tracks are reasonable, but leave a bit to be desired. The two tracks, both Dolby Digital, one 5.1 and the other 2.0, both suffer from similar problems. The sound of the musical pieces is fairly whispy and breathy, with no real definition. This is the biggest flaw of the transfer, and given this is a music disc, it's really inexcusable. The dialogue is clear, crisp and audible, but the music just doesn’t cut it.
The 5.1 track features a processed surround environment which tends to drown out the music rather than enhance it. The subwoofer is barely used, and when it is it's to extend the lower regions of the soundstage.
The 2.0 track lacks the depth and dynamic range that the 5.1 track offers, and also lacks volume. When switching between the two tracks, a significant drop in volume can be heard between the two. If you are going to be switching tracks, remember to turn down the volume while watching the 2.0 track before moving back to the 5.1... the neighbours can still hear it.
The extras consist of a bunch of featurettes and extra clips, accessed by a static full-frame menu. The extras are (relatively) the same on each of the Music in High Places discs, with (obviously) slightly different content.
The Behind-the-Scenes featurette runs for 6:55 and features interviews with two of the guys from BBMak as well as the crew.
The Getting There clip runs for 2:02, and is a montage of footage showing the group getting to Vietnam.
The Interview is an extended version of the interviews used in the actual “show.” These run for 18:41, and are interesting to listen to in addition to the clips used in the main feature.
The Promo Spots that appear on the Music in High Places discs are short adverts that the artists do in order to promote the show. These run for 40 seconds, and are incredibly repetitive.
The Location Footage runs for 13:13, and follows the group around with their various tour guides and gives more of an insight into the region. The dialogue is hard to understand at times due to loud background noise as well as very heavy accents.
The Music Videos are the songs the group sings in Vietnam, but re-edited as separate titles with slightly different footage. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and is simply awful to listen to. It sounds as if the echo of the surround channels is used as the primary listening option. Simply put, it is a mess to listen too, which defeats the purpose of them being here.
Overall, the video suffers from poor shooting conditions, and the audio suffers from poor mixing, and the extras are just there. It’s a real bummer, as in comparison the Collective Soul Music in High Places was of a much higher quality... But if you’re a fan of BBMak, this is a great opportunity to take in a different kind of performance.