DVD Review HTF Review: Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Highly Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PatWahlquist, Jun 15, 2006.

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  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG]
    Neil Young: Heart of Gold

    Studio: Paramount Home Video
    Year: 2006
    Rated: PG (for some drug related lyrics)
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    Audio:English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English
    Time: 103 minutes.
    Disc Format: 2 DVD-9’s
    Case Style: Dual tray keep case.

    I trade a lot of live music shows, with a focus on Wilco. I met my buddy Phil through one of these trades and he has since become a bit of a musical mentor to me as well as a good friend. We try to meet once a month or so to eat and discuss music past and present. Phil’s a huge fan of Springsteen, Costello and Neil Young. As we began trading, Phil would always burn me copies of live Young shows that he would tell me, “You’ve just gotta hear this one.” And he was always right, there’s nothing like a live Neil Young show. Last year at one of our meets, we were talking about the most recent Boss record, when there was a pause in the conversation. Phil broke the silence by saying, “We almost lost Neil, man.”

    That was the first time that I really stopped to think about it, that there was that possibility we could have lost Neil to an aneurysm. Luckily, he had surgery and he’s doing fine, but this was a reminder to me what a treasure he is that could have easily been lost. Based on this medical condition, coupled with the death of his father, Neil recorded Prairie Wind, a collection of ten songs filled with loss, hope and philosophical musings. Jonathan Demme has filmed the first live performance of the record at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, home of The Grand Old Opry.

    Neil Young: Heart of Gold is Demme’s document of an incredible night of music where Young and his band perform the new record in its entirety, as well as several Young classics. The performance is set against a beautiful and rustic backdrop, and Young and the band are dressed in period outfits as if they had just walked out of Kansas circa 1875. Through the whole performance, you are treated to moments of lyrical beauty, stunning melodies and emotional resonance.


    Video:
    The DVD is presented anamorphically in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is an exceptional video presentation, with plenty of fine detail, rich, saturated colors and deep blacks. I was amazed at how good the transfer of this disc was as there was only one part where I noticed any edge enhancement. The color palate is rich and bold, showcasing the beautiful set work, lighting and costumes of the performance. There is fine gradation between the differences in the backdrops and outfits of the performers. Flesh tones are accurate and look perfect under the stage lights. Blacks are excellent and show very nice shadow detail: you can see all of Young’s facial expressions under the shadow of the brim of his hat. Video compression was not noticeable and there was no film dirt noted. Congratulations to Paramount and Jonathan Demme for time well spent on this presentation!


    Audio:
    The disc features English Dolby Stereo, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, as well as a DTS 5.1 mix. I watched the disc with the DTS track engaged. This is one of the nicest concert discs I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Most concert discs sound just like that: they sound like there has been no processing so the listener maintains the “you are there” feeling. Demme took a different approach with this picture by spending more time in the studio during post-production to enhance the stage experience and give the recording a more intimate feel. He notes in one of the bonus segments, he wanted the viewer to feel as if they were going in to see a show as opposed to a concert. The surrounds are used for ambient and reverb effects and they are only really noticed when the audience comes to life for the song breaks. By presenting the audio portion in this manner, Demme allows the viewer to concentrate on Young and the band and not be distracted by the annoyances of the audience or other ambient distractions. Bass effects are tight and punchy without rumbling the listener out of his seat. Instrumentation and voices are natural sounding and clear and they reside primarily in the front channels. I compared several scenes for differences between the DD and DTS tracks and I found the DTS track to have a better sound field and more presence overall. The DD track sounded thin in comparison, and it was also considerably louder when I’d jump back and forth between the two tracks.


    Bonus Material:

    Bonus Song: He Was the King: an outtake from the film. This is letterboxed and in stereo. Not a bad song, but probably cut for the sake of time.

    Fellow Travelers (13:12): Young and Jonathan Demme discuss their mutual admiration of one another as well as how the project was started. Young explains some of his motivations behind Prairie Wind.

    Cruising with Neil (8:15): Demme and Young drive around Nashville as Young talks about this point in his life that brought him to write Prairie Wind. He also talks about Nashville and Emmylou Harris.

    These Old Guitars (3:03): we are given a tour of Young’s numerous guitars with some history of several of them.

    Cruising with the Players (12:44): As Demme found some extra time filming the movie, he would take the musicians out for car rides to tell stories about Young, their careers and how the began playing together. They also try to explain Young’s appeal, and their surprise at how quick the record was written and recorded.

    Rehearsal Diaries Narrated by Jonathan Demme: Soundcheck Studios, Ryman Auditorium, Day of the Performance (38:41 total): Demme created a video journal of what it’s like for Neil Young to put a show together. This is a behind the scenes video diary of the project with a great commentary from Demme. While I don’t think this movie really needed a commentary of the feature itself, this was a much better idea to have the commentary attached to the rehearsal and preparation. The three segments can be played together or individually.

    Finishing Touches (5:21): Demme discusses how the separate elements of the project came together into a cohesive whole. There is some behind the scenes footage from the studio mix downs and post recording sessions as well.

    Warming Up with Neil and the Jubilee Singers (6:25): a quick behind the scenes video of Young and the Jubilee Singers warming up before Farm Aid 2005. Young is seen being playful at the piano and challenging the singers.

    Blast From the Past – Neil Young’s performance on the 1971 Johnny Cash Show (2:40): A young Young singing one of his first hits.


    Conclusions:
    Recorded in ten days in Nashville, Neil Young: Heart of Gold is a document of one of the world's finest songwriters diving into his emotional pool. Not only does this disc have an outstanding audio and video presentation, it contains an exceptional set of extras that document not only the making of the project but capture a moment in the career of an artist. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
     
  2. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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    Neil Young is a Canadian and remains a Canadian citizen to this day.
     
  3. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    ^ LOL! We Canadians are quick to grab onto the few things that get us even a little recognition. Neil Young makes a big deal out of the fact that he's a Canadian when he's in Canada, but he admits most Americans don't know and he doesn't make a deal of it there. So Pat's forgiven! Anyway, it doesn't really matter except in one's mind, it's the music that's the thing.

    I have heard nothing but raves about this performance.
     
  4. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer
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    You wouldn't know it from listening to his "Living with War" album. It would be very easy to think he was American from listening to those lyrics.
     
  5. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Young has lived in the US for more than 40 years and his wife and children are all Americans. Call him what you will, but he has been one of the finest songwriters of the past 50 years, American, British, Canadian or Ukrainian.

    This is a sensitive topic for some, because Neil's new record is very political and many who are offended by it complain that since he is not an American citizen he has no right to say such things. I think that's just plain silly.

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I just received my copy of Heart of Gold and look forward to watching it.
     
  6. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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    Excellent review. Thank you! I've had this pre-ordered for months, now I can't wait.
     
  7. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    GAAAHHH! And I knew that, too. I'll make an amendment to the review. Again, I guess we just consider him adopted. No offense to our Canadian friends was intended.

    Pat
     
  8. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Great review. I love this man's music. But I'm a little disappointed with the extras, in regard to the 1971 Johnny Cash Show performance, as I was expecting both "The Needle And The Damage Done" and "Journey Through The Past", but the 2:40 running time indicates only the former. The latter is far less familiar, but is an important song in his canon. The complete, perhaps even extended BBC In Concert show really ought to be released on a legit DVD, as it is a superb performance: Out On The Weekend; Old Man; Journey Through The Past; Cowgirl In The Sand; Heart Of Gold; Don't Let It Bring You Down; I Am A Child; There's A World; A Man Needs A Maid; The Needle And The Damage Done; Love In Mind; Dance, Dance, Dance (titles in bold were/are not part of broadcasts).

    Bootleg compilations of the 1976 Crazy Horse shows in Japan and London have began to appear, so those complete shows ought to be released legitimately at some point.

    Long may Neil Young run!
     
  9. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    last time i looked at a map wasnt Canada also in America?

    i never did figure out how the United States OF America became, AMERICA
     
  10. Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Screenwriter

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    It will probably show up in the future but hopefully not only as a CD, but in some high resolution format as well. I have both "Decade" on CD and the recent "Greatest Hits" DVD. The DVD is 96kHz/24-Bit LPCM and is really good better than the CD which I thought was good for its time. I also have "Harvest" in 5.1 on DVD-A and "On the Beach" stereo DVD-A. This DVD-V sounds like another must have. Although inconsistent, he is an amazing artist when at his best.

    Chris
     
  11. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    No problem as long as you keep Céline Dion. [​IMG]

    I should pick up this disc just for "He Was The King" outtake. I first heard it on SNL and was surprised at how entertaining it really was.
     
  12. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    I live in Las Vegas, so it appears she is mine to keep (or at least Caesar's Palace's)!
     
  13. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    Bingo!

    North America includes Canada!
    This also makes Chile part of America.

    Get over it. [​IMG]
     
  14. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i'm, working on it. [​IMG]
     
  15. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    BTW.....and I often have trouble working this into a conversation....did you know Columbia was actually named after Columbus Ohio?
    You didn't?

    Well, did you know who America was named for?

    Just to keep this thread on track:

    [c]Neil Is God[/c]

    We'll just pretend that's centered. [​IMG]
     
  16. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    Vespucci
     
  17. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    Gesundheit!
     

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