Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2010, Volume 17, #3
Written by John Metzger
Mon March 29, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame faced a long, uphill battle in its need to overcome the early ó and quite popular ó point of view that the organizationís founding was destined to be, at best, a strange boondoggle and, at worst, a joke. It didnít help matters, either, that for a few years, the museum didnít even have a home in which to house and display its array of donated artifacts. Nevertheless, after watching the roughly 9 Ĺ hours of induction and acceptance speeches, performances, rehearsal footage, and other odds and ends assembled on the three-DVD collection Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live, even the most jaded viewer will have to admit that the institution has exceeded expectations.
Still, there were moments when the music that was performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameís annual induction ceremonies faltered. It isnít surprising that R.E.M. produced one of them, especially considering the bandís reputation as a mediocre live act. The groupís rendition of Man on the Moon was tighter than usual, but despite the assistance of Pearl Jamís Eddie Vedder, the song was rendered in a rather perfunctory fashion, the product, no doubt, of its routine presence in R.E.M.ís set lists. When Crosby, Stills and Nash united with James Taylor to replicate Teach Your Children, the results were too predictable, while U2ís delivery of Pride (In the Name of Love) was shockingly lackluster.
Fortunately, these occasions were rare, and for the most part, the performances scattered throughout Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live are first-rate. Bruce Springsteen unleashed a vibrant rendition of 10th Avenue Freeze-Out, while AC/DC and Metallica moved mountains with the forcefulness of Highway to Hell and Master of Puppets, respectively. Elsewhere, John Mellencamp tackled Pink Houses without a hint of weariness, and as musical maestro Paul Shaffer recreated the grandeur of Phil Spectorís Wall of Sound, The Righteous Brothers gave an impassioned reading of Youíve Lost that Loviní Feeliní.
Still, the one-of-a-kind assemblages of talent that frequently occurred during the annual gatherings were where the fireworks truly took place. As John Densmore laid down a loose, swinging groove, Vedder ably took Jim Morrisonís place in The Doors for an expansive version of Light My Fire that allowed Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger to highlight their still potent chemistry. Elsewhere, Prince joined an all-star ensemble that included Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to pay homage to George Harrison with an incendiary rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. In an impromptu rehearsal backstage, accompanied only by Taylorís gently finger-picked guitar patterns, Crosby, Stills and Nash found the spontaneity that has been missing from Teach Your Children for a long time.
Over the years, many scenes from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameís induction ceremonies have aired on television, but too often, they were sliced and diced to the point where the programs never were able to achieve their maximum momentum. On Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live, the archival footage has been split into three distinct concert films. Extreme care was taken to showcase many of the highlights from the individual shows, but instead of proceeding in a chronological fashion, the segments swerve back and forth across time. The result is a series of well-paced musical sequences that not only make more sense but also tell a bigger story. Short excerpts from the presentation speeches serve as introductions to the featured artists, but the music is placed front-and-center where it can shine brightly.
Of course, many of the induction and acceptance speeches have become legendary in their own right. Keith Richards routinely delivered his thoughts in a shambling, off-the-cuff fashion, but most artists, such as Bono, Springsteen, and Flea, movingly communicated the poetic tributes that they painstakingly had written in honor of the inductees. Taken in full, all of the material that is featured on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live serves as a majestic love letter to the genre it is meant to support. The collection conveys attitude as well as a lot of heart and soul, and it provides a strange but magical blend of careful planning and happy accidents. The set is a welcome reminder not only why rock ínĎ roll has always been important but also how intertwined its past, present, and future truly are.
Of Further Interest...
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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