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VH1 Divas Live '98

review by Ren C.

 

Not Rated

Studio: Epic

Running Time: 80 minutes

Starring: Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan, Carole King, Shania Twain

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Production Notes

Specs: Full-Screen (1.33:1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English, Spanish & French Subtitles

In 1998, VH1 had the relatively brilliant idea of bringing together five of music's most noted female artists for the purpose of raising money for the "Save the Music" charity, which attempts to bring music back into schools. These were not any female artists that they brought together, however, these were divas. The lineup was very impressive, and the observers were amazed that the night went by without any major complications. The players: the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Canadian diva Celine Dion, country queen Shania Twain and Latin diva Gloria Estefan. Also included in this ensemble is Carole King, who apparently isn't a big enough diva to be mentioned on the packaging. These six women came together to put on an absolutely spellbinding concert, with each woman performing her biggest hits, and then combining on several songs.

The rundown goes something like this. Mariah Carey is the first artist on stage, and does a standard and dance-version rendition of "My All." I should note that she has the assistance of her hair on this matter as it threatens to eat the orchestra and everyone in attendance on several occasions. Next, she launches into "Make It Happen" as the night is all about making it happen. Gloria Estefan is up next, and she does her standard repertoire, but makes it very entertaining. First is her much-better-than-average cover of "Turn The Beat Around." Next is "Heaven's What I Feel" which doesn't quite hold up to some of her older material, but is entertaining nonetheless. Then, what every one is waiting for from Estefan, the Megamix. She launches into every 80's hit that she had and somehow manages to make it sound cohesive.

We have to sit through a couple of "Save The Music" spots, which is only fair considering that this is the purpose of concert. The concert doesn't slow down after this, as Shania Twain bounds on-stage almost in mid-verse of "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!". Next, Twain treats us to "You're Still The One". Following another "Save the Music" spot, Aretha Franklin is introduced, but she's brought a friend in Mariah Carey. The two divas duet on "Chain Of Fools", which is actually closer to Aretha singing with Mariah standing close by. Next up is Celine Dion, the Canadian wonder, who actually has the common decency to not start with the Titanic song. She actually starts with a very entertaining rendition of "River Deep, Mountain High." She then brings out Carole King for a performance of "The Reason" from her "Let's Talk About Love" album. King is the writer of "The Reason", so this is only appropriate. Then she feels the need to break out the Titanic song, because this is the 86th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic or some such. Hi, Celine, this is America. No more Titanic songÉever, thanks.

Thankfully, things pick right back up with Dion, Estefan, Twain and King coming together for King's song "You've Got A Friend", which is an absolutely great rendition of the song. The concert wraps up with all the divas back on stage to do "Natural Woman". After this, Aretha basically takes control as the others stay on stage on watch as she shines in "Testimony."

Overall, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event with six absolutely great performers. Each woman is given the chance to shine, and does so well. Best of all, the proceeds for the concert go to a great cause, as the spots so greatly illustrate.

The concert looks much better than it does on TV broadcasts, with the picture looking bright and rich, with no artifacts or graining. Each artist looks her best, and it is almost like we are there in the audience.

There is a great audio mix for this concert, with the proceedings being available in either Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or Dolby 2.0. This is a live concert, and sounds like it, with the audience being evident as well as the performers. Overall, a great mix.

Not exactly feature-rich, but with some minor features, the disc is fairly neutral. The lyrics to each of the songs are provided via a subtitle track in English, Spanish or French. The only other feature is "The Making of VH1 Divas Live" which at first look, seems to be a documentary of some sort. Sadly, it is just a set of production notes which detail the way that the concert was put together and is illustrated by some still photos. More could have been put on this disc, certainly, like VH1 promo spots, individual music videos, or any of a number of other things. As it is, this disc is fairly bare bones.

 

This is a phenomenal concert, and I have no reservations about recommending it to fans of any of these artists. The concert looks much better than it ever did on television, but is essentially the same as a television broadcast, with little in the way of extra features. The sound goes a long way here, and leads me to a mild recommendation of this disc.

(4.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(.5/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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