Ringo Starr: 5.1 - The Surround Sound Collection; Paul McCartney: The McCartney Years

Ringo Starr: 5.1 - The Surround Sound Collection


Music ••• DVD-Audio Mix ••• Extras
Paul McCartney: The McCartney Years


Program ••½ Picture •• to ••••½ Sound •••• Extras ••••½

Ringo's 5.1 is a Koch Records project. So according to the press release, Starr "handpicked the best tracks" from his two studio albums on that label, 2003's Ringo Rama and 2005's Choose Love, and the mix was created "under his personal supervision." If that's true, he loves to hear it go 'round in circles, because original engineer Bruce Sugar includes no fewer than six circular pans, which gets rather gimmicky.

Still, the immersive sound is especially effective on a track like the gospelly "Oh My Lord," and Ringo's vocals are always upfront in the center channel. Koch may have economized elsewhere (the only extra is "I Really Love Her," clocking in at 57 seconds), but you have to applaud it for allowing Richie's music to achieve maximum richness by putting it on DVD-Audio.

The McCartney Years is on DVD-Video, but you get three packed discs. The first two have 46 solo-career-spanning videoclips and Paul's commentary on 29 of them. The live Disc 3 ranges from 1976 to 2005, drawing primarily from Rockshow (with Wings), MTV's Unplugged, and Glastonbury. That's all great, but dig it: Almost everything is in surround (DTS 5.1 only). And though it's nice to hear the varying live sets, the real draw is the videoclips' studio recordings in expansive multichannel mixes.

Paul Hicks (who did the Beatles' Love DVD-A) anchors McCartney's voice in the center channel. Then, while honoring the songs' original stereo split in the left and right front, he fills the surrounds with everything from the layered vocals of "Mamunia" to the bagpipes of "Mull of Kintyre." And while recent tracks like "Fine Line" boast the most natural sound, there's nothing better than 1970's "Maybe I'm Amazed." Macca intimate/raw directly in front, organ and harmonies in the rear, and those glorious guitar solos ripping from the center channel: Sit in the sweet spot, and truly be a music fan who's in the middle of something . . . that you will completely understand.