John Farnham - 33 1/3
Reviewed by Rodney Campbell
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Review Equipment:

DVD Player:
  Pioneer DV-717

  Panasonic TX-79P100Z TAU 79cm 100Hz CRT (4:3 screen with 16:9 mode)

  Denon AVR-3801

Front Speakers:
  Tannoy Profile Plus 633 (Biwired)
Center Speaker:
  Tannoy Profile Plus 621
Surround Speakers:
  Tannoy Revolution R1
Surround Back Speakers:
  Sony Bookshelf
  M&K V75 MkII

Video Cables:
  QED Qnect SVS s-video
Audio Cables:
  QED Qnect DS & Qnect SS

  Pioneer DVD-U03S
MPEG-2 Decoder Card:
  DVDmagic Pro (RealMagic Hollywood Plus)

Video 4
Audio 6
Extras 7
Overall 5

Video General
P & S/Full Frame Full Frame Region(s) Not Region Coded
Wide/aspect ratio Yes 2.35:1 Distributor BMG Australia
16x9 Enhanced No Macrovision No
Audio Chapters 13
Audio Format(s) English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0 Running Time 85 min
Extras/Features Disc Type DVD-5 [SS/SL]
Trailer(s) No Classification G
Commentary Tracks No Subtitles No
Other Extras
On the Inside - A behind the scenes look at the making of 33 1/3 (27:55)
Bonus Interviews - The band and John talk about the process of recording 33 1/3 (9:53)

The Voice, is back. John Farnham. One of Australia's favourite performers returns with the album he's always wanted to record. Recorded in a warehouse in Melbourne with the Farnham Band, the album features John's interpretations of some classic R&B tunes from the likes of Sam & Dave (You Don't Know Like I Know & I Thank You) and Al Green (I Can't Get Next To You). New tracks on '33 1/3' include a song written for John by Merril Bainbridge, and 'Man Of The Hour', penned by Australian Steve Kipner.

This DVD contains songs from John Farnham's album (also titled 33 1/3) performed 'live in the studio'. It doesn't contain all 13 tracks from the album but it does feature the following (11) tracks:

  • Trying To Live My Life Without You
  • That Driving Beat
  • Man Of The Hour
  • That's What Love Will Make You Do
  • You Don't Know Like I Know
  • You're The Only One
  • Everything Is Gonna Be All Right
  • I Can't Get Next To You
  • The Way
  • I Thank You
  • Soul Reason

One thing to note is that the running time for the DVD is listed at 85 minutes but unlike most DVD's which list the running time of the main feature (excluding extras and so forth) - in this case the actual running time of the songs is only 46 minutes 49 seconds and the rest of the almost 40 minutes is made up by the extras.


Unfortunately the quality of the video for this DVD is a little poor. This is often the case with many concert or music DVD's but in this case for a production which has been filmed in a purpose built recording studio rather than on a concert stage the video is disappointing. I'm assuming that simulated film artifacts like scratches and flickers have been inserted into the footage for effect but I can't believe that they also purposely encoded all the other visual problems also for effect. The video has a grimy feel about it and at times tends to have a blurry shimmering look with numerous "mosquitoes" artifacts. This tends to leave a distracting "mouse trail" of smudged video and occurs most often with the artists in front of the background of the studio walls. The low level of lighting may also have contributed to the problems we see in the footage.

Given that these problems occur throughout much of the footage more care was needed with the encoding process. A 16:9 enhanced encoding would have also been a welcome addition. See Andrea Bocelli - Sacred Arias for an example of how good a live performance can be presented.


The audio is of satisfactory quality which would equal or even rival CD quality. The audio is listed as Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 but I heard little or no effects from the rear/surround speakers, the subwoofer subtly enforced low frequency response well.

I prefer to see higher fidelity audio tracks made available on music DVD's. A two channel PCM encoded track should be included and if possible in the highest quality format available (preferably 96KHz/24bit, 48/20 or 48/16). The type of material (rhythm & blues and soul) contained on this disc screams out for this type of treatment.


Unlike most music DVDs this DVD actually contains some real extras. On the Inside - A behind the scenes look at the making of 33 1/3 is a documentary which can be played by itself or with the actual songs being played in full within the documentary. In the Bonus Interview, the band and John talk about the process of recording 33 1/3. Both of the extras are presented in monochrome with the interview also in a widescreen (not 16:9 enhanced) aspect ratio.


On the whole I was a little disappointed with this DVD. The video needed to be better and either a "fuller" Dolby Digital 5.1 track and/or a two channel 48/16, 48/20 or even a 96/24 PCM encoded track for higher audio fidelity should have been included.

More information on John can be found at the Click2Music Web Site.