Although I'm not sure that I'll ever really become a fan of country music, I think that the genre has really changed for the better in the past several years. Several strong perfomers, both male (Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill) and female (Shania Twain, Leann Rimes) have attempted to add other flavors of music into the mix and the results have been, in my opinion, more enjoyable and stronger musically. One of Travis's shows has been highlighted here and I found the show quite entertaining. Travis is a fine entertainer, with great stage presence and terrific vocals, both of which are highlighted in this stellar DVD edition from Wedge Productions and Image Entertainment.
Songs: Whisper My Name, Before You Kill Us All, Spirit of a Boy Wisdom of a Man, Better Class of Losers, On the Other Hand, Look Heart No Hands, If I Didn't Have You, The Hole, A Horse Called Music, Shallow Water, Baptism, It's Just a Matter of Time, Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart, He Walked on Water, Deeper Than the Holler, Forever and Ever Amen, Diggin' Up Bones, Runaway Train.
VIDEO: "Randy Travis: Live" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although there were one or two tiny flaws spotted, the concert looked nothing short of terrific throughout the great majority of the show. Sharpness and detail remained superb and consistent throughout the entire show. Where some concert presentations do tend to look rather soft occasionally, such as when they're focusing out into the crowd, this show looked well-defined and crisp whereever the camera ventured. Although I noticed one or two tiny traces of pixelation, there were no instances of edge enhancement or other flaws. Colors looked marvelous, as the stage lighting appeared crisp and bold, with no smearing or other flaws. This is a very, very nice edition of a well-filmed event.
SOUND: "Randy Travis: Live" is presented in Dolby 2.0 as well as Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. This edition of the concert is produced by Wedge Productions and released by Image Entertainment. I'd also previously reviewed the Wedge production/Image release of "James Brown: Live at the House of Blues" and found that to be an exceptionally solid sound mix, providing a very enjoyable and enveloping "front row" feel. The audio mix for this presentation made an even stronger impression on me. This is obviously not only a traditional, first-class sound mix, but a remarkable, top-notch recording.
The sound mix is quite pleasant; it remains appropriate and keeps surround use natural and convincing. There have been several concert presentations that I've reviewed recently which use the surrounds as re-inforcement of the music, but too heavily, as vocals come too noticably from the rears. For this Randy Travis show, surrounds do a very enjoyable, subtle job of re-inforcing the music. The re-inforcement and other surround use (crowd noise) seemed natural and convincing, creating what I'd believe the concert hall ambience of this show would sound like. I also liked that Travis's vocals are carried by both the center and front two main speakers, which creates a full and defined front soundstage. Combined with the pleasing use of the surrounds, I had a very strong "front row" feeling.
I haven't even discussed the audio quality yet, which I found to be exceptional. Travis's talented backing band was quite wonderfully highlighted, as the instruments were clearly and distinctly heard. Vocals were rich, warm and smooth. Some of the more lively numbers carried some nice low bass, as well. Although there's been quite a few live performances released on DVD that have sort of that slightly thin "live" sound, I must say that this presentation offered one of the cleanest and smoothest sounding live presentations that I've heard in recent memory. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks presented an enjoyable and entertaining listening experience, but the DTS edition offered the music with a greater level of warmth, clarity and detail. The differences between the two were not massive, but noticable.
MENUS:: Well-done main menu with clips from the show playing in the background. Classy, enjoyable sub-menus, as well.
EXTRAS:: The first pressing of the title contains an additional DVD-Audio disc of Travis's music.
Bonus Track: "King Of The Road" is presented in Dolby 2.0/5.1 & DTS 5.1.
Randy Travis Interview: This is a 33 1/2 minute interview with Travis, where he discusses his musical background and inspirations as well as how he's changed from his rather wild past. An interesting interview; I really had no idea that Travis had the kind of background he did before he became famous for his music.
Also: There's an additional interview with Travis friend George Bush, Sr. This interview lasts a little over two minutes and doesn't really offer a great deal besides the elder Bush discussing why he feels Travis is a fine individual.
Final Thoughts: A wonderful performance from Travis is really delivered in fine fashion by this highly enjoyable DVD release, which boasts superior audio/video quality and a few good supplements. Recommended, and fans of either Travis or country music in general should definitely enjoy.