'Rock 'n Rhythm 2-Disc Collector's Set'
(Various / 2-Disc DVD / NR / Film Chest Media Group)
Overview: Filmmakers Joseph Kohn and Leonard Reed present legendary greats from the golden era of Rock n Roll and Rhythm & Blues in these two feature revues.
DVD Verdict: Willie Bryant hosts these timeless historic variety shows of Rock n Roll and Rhythm & Blues music and vocal performances along with comedy and dance routines, recorded live at the Apollo Theater in 1955. The shows feature such acclaimed popular artists as Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, The Clovers, Big Joe Turner, The Delta Rhythm Boys, Martha Davis, and Ruth Brown.
This incredible double DVD compilation offers a rare insight into the changing musical styles from big band and jazz to the emerging era of Rock n Roll, Doo-Wop, and R&B. The many standout performances include Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll", Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher", Amos Milburn's "Bad, Bad Whiskey", The Clovers' "Your Cash Ain't Nothin But Trash", Larry Darnell's "Better Be On My Way", Delta Rhythm Boys' "Dry Bones", and Lionel Hampton's "Jam Session."
On the 'Rock 'n Roll Revue,' Duke Ellington appears twice and his drummer, Louis Bellson is featured on one song. All the music is good, but never great, and except for the Clovers and Big Joe Turner, not really Rock and Roll. It is quite possible some of the missing acts are Rock and Roll and it somehow was lost for this double disc copy, I guess. One of my favorites is Larry Darnell, who does an excellent job with his upbeat ballad and comes across much like Sam Cooke.
The emcee is excellent, even though the audience footage appears to be from some different show. Leonard Reed performs well in a comedy sketch and there is also a good tap dance routine by a duo who later appear as comic actor.
'Rhythm and Blues Revue' is a truly amazing (no other word) little gem of a film. It features such amazing African-American performers such as Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughn, among many others. In addition, there are some comedy acts by the likes of Nipsy Russell and Mantan Moreland. It's a great historical piece allowing us today to see so many talented folks, but it also manages to be darned entertaining as well!
These acts perform in front of a live audience and a few of the highlights include: Bill Bailey doing many of the dances Michael Jackson did decades later. So, moon walking and the like have been around for some time! Herb Jeffries sing a nice and rather impressive song. This man was a singing cowboy in the late 1930s—Black-America's answer to Gene Autry. Joe Turner singing the original "Shake, Rattle and Roll". Like so many great tunes of the 1950s, it was later re-recorded by a White performer (Bill Haley) and became a top hit.
But wait there's more! 'Rock, Rock, Rock!' is a film that stars a teenage Tuesday Weld, using Connie Francis vocals, which sets the tone for this 1956 musical feature film. This movie is a must-see for any fan of the early days of Rock n Roll, showcasing incredible musical performances by greats such as The Moonglows, Chuck Berry, The Flamingos, Lavern Baker, The Johnny Burnett Trio, and Frankie Lymon. Featuring rock promoter Alan Freed, 'Rock, Rock, Rock!' is a step back in time for all to enjoy the timeless magic of where it all began ... before the new rock styles of the 1960's would explode and change music forever. It also includes the 1956 'Don't Knock the Rock' movie trailer with Bill Haley & His Comets and an insert listing the performances! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
Own it on DVD September 29th, 2015!