This disc is one of a new series of releases featuring well known or down right legendary Jazz, Soul or Rhythm and Blues performers. This particular disc features Lou Rawls, a veteran performer who has won or been nominated for many a Grammy for his songs and has played with a number of great performers during his career.
Rawls was born in 1935 in Chicago and was exposed to music at a very young age. He started his music education as a member of his local church choir and later joined a famous gospel singing group called the Pilgrim Travellers. In 1958 he moved to Los Angeles in search of success. It was here that he began to perform with noted names such as Sam Cooke and Les McCann. He was finally offered a record deal with Capitol Records and began to establish himself as a Soul and R&B performer. He hit the big time in 1966 with the song "Love is a Hurtin' Thing" and has won 3 Grammy awards during his long career.
On this disc we see a live performance filmed at the Black Entertainment Television Studio in Washington DC to an appreciative audience. Rawls is one cool cat and effortlessly croons his way through 16 songs stopping from time to time to deliver a short story about the songs and other experiences.
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 unclear. Along with the lack of detail comes some video noise and pixelization in the background. There is also some minor moiré effects on the microphone as well as some minor aliasing.
The colour saturation of this transfer is high with strong reds, blues and purples saturating the stage as well as the tables of the audience. There is small amount of colour bleeding which contributes to the loss of detail in the image.
Overall this is an OK transfer that is just good enough to allow you to sit back and enjoy the performance.
There are DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks on this disc. Talk about spoilt for choice! I listened to the DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 offerings.
Despite this being a somewhat quirky mix, more on that in a minute, this audio track is excellent. The fidelity of this track is very high with individual instruments easy to distinguish even when they are not playing a solo. The vocals either sung or spoken are always clear and there were no sync issues that I could detect. The soundstage is very open and involving with all instruments present in both main channels at all times. During solos that particular instrument is mixed higher in one channel so as to draw attention to it.
My DVD player reported this as a 5 channel mix although which channel is missing is difficult to say as the centre, the surrounds and the subwoofer were all active throughout the concert. What I can tell you is that the centre level is so low that it is useless as far as a contribution to the sound is concerned.
The rear channels are used to carry reverb or echo which adds to the live feel as well as drawing the sound away from the front speakers somewhat. The subwoofer is used to carry low drum and bass sounds. Its use is subtle but effective.
Dolby Digital 5.1
My DVD player reported this as a 5.1 mix although the centre channel level, like the DTS version, is too low to be considered active.
This track has the same sound design as the DTS version but has a slightly "closed" or "dull" sound to it when compared to the other. I had to increase the volume slightly when listening to this track as the DTS version has been mastered at a higher level. Even at a matching volume level, this track is slightly dull but I am being fairly critical here. If you played this track in isolation, you would be a happy camper.