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Eagle Eye Media presents
Ray Charles Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony (1981)

"Oh woman, oh woman, don't treat me so mean,
You're the meanest old woman that I've ever seen."

- Ray Charles, Hit the Road Jack

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: September 19, 2004

Stars: Ray Charles
Other Stars: Sid Fuller
Director: John Blanchard

Manufacturer: Disc USA
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:47m:21s
Release Date: September 21, 2004
UPC: 801213907090
Genre: jazz

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

There are some highly distinctive voices in music, and one of the most easily recognizable is the rasp of the great Ray Charles. This 1981 concert film records Charles in concert on January 27, 1981 in Canada, playing with the ITV Concert Orchestra (billed on the cover as the Edmonton Sympnony) under the direction of Sid Fuller.

Most of the 11 tunes in this short concert for television are familiar ones, including some of Charles' biggest hits, in familiar arrangements. The first few songs have a bit of a syrupy easy-listening feel to them, but when Charles turns his attention to standards, they're given a surprising twist. Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oh, What a Beautiful Morning is played with a soul feel many miles away from Oklahoma, while their Some Enchanted Evening is provided with a surprisingly effective disco backing. It's a fun and varied package that despite its brief running time pretty well simulates Charles' equally short live performances of the 1980s and 1990s.

The songs are:

Riding Thumb
Georgia on my Mind
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
Some Enchanted Evening
Hit the Road Jack
I Can't Stop Loving You
Take These Chains from my Heart
I Can See Clearly Now
What'd I Say
America the Beautiful

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame presentation appears to have been shot on video. Color is acceptable but not terribly vivid. Black levels are fairly decent for a live performance presentation. The main problem is softness, which can be traced to the video source, and apparently this is likely as good as it's likely to look. No significant dropouts were noted.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both Dolby Surround (billed as "Dolby Stereo" on the menu) and 5.1 Dolby Digital (billed as "Dolby Surround" on the menu) are included. The 2.0 version is a bit thin and lifeless and pretty center-oriented; it took close listening to assure myself it wasn't really mono. But the 5.1 DD track is stellar with excellent presence and punch, a good heft to the bass and a very broad soundstage. Anyone capable of 5.1 playback will be very satisfied.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 11 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are absolutely no extras. Oddly enough, the full motion menu plays back in complete silence, possibly as a result of a mastering error. Each song gets a chapter stop, plus the overture, end credits and the intro of the Raettes in advance of their big moment in Hit the Road Jack.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Fans of Charles will not be disappointed, as he provides 45 minutes of first-rate entertainment, and the 5.1 remix is excellent. If you didn't manage to get to see Charles before his untimely death, or if you did but would like to relive the experience, this is a must-have.


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