My hand shot up quick smart when I saw that this DVD was up for review. Ray Charles is one of the greats of music, his career spans six decades, he is credited as being one of the creators of soul and has something like 17 Grammy awards to his name!
For those of you who don't know, Ray Charles Robinson was born on the 23rd of September 1930, in Albany, Georgia. He was born during the depression, when segregation and poverty were the norm for many black families. His chances in life must have looked particularly bleak when, at the age of six he lost his sight. A degree of good fortune came his way when he was accepted into St. Augustine's school for the deaf and blind as a charity case. During his time at St. Augustine's, he learned the tools he needed to survive in a sightless world and was able to discover and develop his musical skills. He stayed at St. Austine's until his early teens and then began working as a musician around Florida. Work was hard to come by and at times he was struggling to make enough for food, so he decided a move was in order. I've read that he asked a friend to find him the furthest point from Florida, within the U.S, that he could and his friend told him to go to Seattle.
His move to Seattle, in 1947, was a fortunate one and before long he had established himself as a talented musician and performer. His career grew steadily and in 1951 he recorded his first successful single, Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand. He was now a sought-after performer and got work
playing and arranging for others while continuing to develop his skills as a songwriter and performer in his own right.
In the mid 1950s he was signed by Atlantic Records and recorded his first really big hit, I Got A Women. He followed this with a series of hits that are now credited as laying the foundation of the sound to became known as soul. Success continued for Charles throughout the remainder of the 1950s and on into the 1960s as well. He changed musical direction during this period introducing country and western influences into his compositions, a good example being the immensely popular I Can't Stop Loving You. His writing career peaked during the mid to late 1960s, but after this time his career stalled, possibly due to a drug problem and his desire to write his own songs appearing to have waned.
While there has been little in the way of new material since the 1970s, new and interesting arrangements of his and others work, his brilliance as a live performer and his legendary status keep Ray Charles at the top of peoples' must see lists.
This particular concert was recorded in 1999 at the James L. Knight Center in Florida and was a benefit for The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind.
Ray Charles is a master performer and was in fine form on this night. While no spring chicken, his voice is still strong and clear although the demons of age are starting to make themselves heard.
The play list for this concert is:
|1. I Got A Women||9. You'd Be Nice to Come Home to (With Diane Schuur)|
|2. A Song For You||10. Till There Was You|
|3. It Hurts to Be in Love||11. Say No More|
|4. Georgia On My Mind||12. Blues For Big Scotia|
|5. The Good Life||13. If You Go Away|
|6. Your Cheatin' Heart||14. All I Ever Need Is You|
|7. They Can't Take That Away From Me||15. Love in Three Quarter Time|
|8. It Had to Be You (With Diane Schuur)||16. America, the Beautiful|
The full-frame video transfer is fine, but isn't going to win any awards unless they give them out for just scraping into the acceptable category!
Good points are strong colours, nice deep blacks and a solid amount of detail in close shots. Alas the not so good points are a fair amount of aliasing, some moiré effects and the odd bit of cross colouration. As previously mentioned, this transfer features strong colours that are generally well controlled except for a few periods where excessive colour (mostly blue) causes a loss of detail in the image. One strange aspect of this transfer is the lack of image detail in wider shots. When a wide shot is shown, things get pretty
darn fuzzy and no, I wasn't hung over and I don't need glasses! Don't dwell on the negative aspects though, the video transfer is perfectly adequate.
It doesn't matter that the video transfer is only adequate does it? We buy concert DVDs for the immersive and involving live sound right? Oh dear, things aren't looking to rosy now as there is only a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track to listen to!
Like the video transfer, there is nothing really "broken" in this audio transfer as it's clear, is free of hiss and I couldn't detect any distortion. I just felt that the sound was "closed" or lacking in atmosphere. It's got no mojo! You have to sit right in the sweet spot of your setup to get any sort of atmosphere from the sound and a few extra notches of volume is helpful too.
Extras? Move along, nothing to see here!
A DVD for fans only I fear.