DVDNet Basement DVD Review

A positive review of the Ballad Of The One Eyed Man Live At The Basement DVD.

Author: Anthony Horan.

Date: 20 May 2002.

Original URL: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1088 .


Article Text

Mark Seymour – Ballad Of The One Eyed Man

Chief Entertainment – Warner Vision / R4 / COLOR / 69 mins / G / PAL

Review published: May 20, 2002 – 22:52

“…fans of the man’s songwriting and unique voice will not be disappointed” – Anthony Horan, DVDnet

QuickSquizz – Anthony’s votes:
Video: 7/10
Audio: 9/10
Extras: 6/10
Movie: 8/10

Well known to most fans of Australian music as the frontman for the legendary Hunters & Collectors, Mark Seymour had never been tempted to do the solo-album thing until his band broke up – and even then, he did so somewhat reluctantly. His first solo album King Without A Clue left the listener in no doubt that while Seymour had been an intrinsic part of the creative collaboration that was Hunters & Collectors, he by no means defined that band. The solo Seymour headed off on different tangents in terms of both songwriting and sound, even with a fellow ex-Hunter in the form of Barry Palmer helping him put his solo debut onto tape. Never entirely happy with the debut, though, Seymour approached his second solo record completely differently, and though it ultimately took a good long while to arrive, the Daniel Denholm-produced set finally put the Hunters & Collectors ghost to rest, scoring the man an ARIA award in the process. Mark Seymour was no longer That Guy From Hunters & Collectors. We suspect he was well pleased about that.

Ballad Of The One Eyed Man is one of a series of DVDs released late last year that were culled from online webcasts hosted by Sydney venue The Basement, which is a “serious music lover’s” live venue in much the same way that Melbourne’s much-missed Continental was. Seymour, performing with a different bunch of musicians to those on the One Eyed Man studio album, kicks off with a Hunters song (Holy Grail, which has been adopted as a kind of de facto sporting anthem in recent years) but from that point on sticks defiantly to his solo material, not surprisingly concentrating heavily on the more recent material. At one point a punter yells out for another Hunters song. Seymour is livid. “Do I look stupid? Do I sound stupid? Well someone in this room does,” he says angrily. This is not a nostalgia show, and anyone expecting a journey through the past has bought the wrong DVD.

It’s a typically committed performance from a man who’s always a treat on stage, and the band Seymour has assembled are perfect for the material; on the tiny Basement stage this is a far more immediate, raw and rootsy affair than the studio-recorded equivalent, and fans of the man’s songwriting and unique voice will not be disappointed. The songs included in the 69-minute main program are:

  • Holy Grail
  • Don’t You Know Me?
  • Always A Fool
  • Waratah Street
  • Sad Song
  • Long Way Down
  • The Ballad Of The One Eyed Man
  • Paradise Down
  • El Dorado
  • In The Kitchen Of A Perfect Home
  • Home Again
  • Jo Land
  • Lost In Your Illusion
  • Ready To Go
  • Supagirl
  • On My Way Home
  • Parting Glass

Note that the song listing and running order is different to that of the television version that was broadcast by the ABC.

The Transfer & Extras

Though the video here is presented in non-anamorphic letterboxed format, this show was actually shot full-frame – indeed, the ABC television broadcast was in full-frame format, and running songs from that broadcast in sync with this DVD revealed clearly that the image here has been cropped at the top and bottom to create an artificial widescreen effect. Exactly why this was done for the DVD is unknown, but presumably it was a stylistic choice rather than a practical one.

Video quality is reasonably good – certainly a lot better than it looked on the ABC – but there are limitations. Not all of the cameras used seem to be equally capable, with a couple of the long shots looking for all the world like consumer equipment was used; close-ups fare a lot better, but there’s a fair bit of video noise here throughout, not helped by the over-done edge enhancement. Colour saturation is variable as well, but at its best it’s excellent.

The audio is a treat. Mixed by respected engineer David Nicholas in full 5.1, this is a mix that takes full advantage of the surround format and which will only be heard to its best advantage by those with full-range centre and surround speakers. Extremely heavily reliant on the centre channel, boasting exceptionally realistic stereo surrounds and using the LFE channel intelligently, this mix quite literally puts you in the venue. Frequency response is sometimes a bit limited, but that’s not surprising given the nature of the show and the equipment used. It’s a superb audio track.

A bonus is offered in the form of a “documentary” running around 27 minutes, which is actually a combination of the interview footage from the broadcast version (complete with silly camera angle and colouring changes) and a few bonus acoustic songs. Audio for this bonus is encoded as Dolby Digital 5.1, but is not mixed in the same way; the centre channel appears to have been “simulated” here, rather than being truly discrete.

Interestingly, the opening credit sequence is encoded as a separate title on the disc, and will only play back once – if you stop the disc and then start it again, or go back to the main menu and then re-start the program, you won’t get any opening credits. We’ll put that one into the ever-growing “strange authoring decisions” file…!

Review by Anthony Horan