Various Artists

The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons

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Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons is a treasure trove of material that hopefully will spark other DVDs of this type. First and foremost, the musicians aren't lip-syncing; even though some are obviously in a different state of mind, there is not a bum performance in the bunch. Secondly, the interviews contained herein are just as entertaining as the musical performances. Disc one features live performances from Joni Mitchell along with Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills, who had just returned from Woodstock. Sly & the Family Stone are in top form on "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." Sly is also in fine form during his interview segment, in which he shifts between condescension and antagonism. Favorite Sly moment: feeling neglected during an interview with Senator and Mrs. Fred Harris, Sly begins to wreak verbal havoc. Watching Cavett handle the situation is almost as fun as seeing Sly instigate it. David Bowie unveils his Thin White Duke character (emphasis on Thin) and chats amiably about William Burroughs, his mother, Mick Jagger, and a demonic little invention called the Noise Bomb. Disc two includes three Janis Joplin guest shots. Cavett makes no bones about his romantic interest in her, which is both charming (trying to make her laugh) and a bit much (his water-skiing story is painfully boring). The contrast of Janis' personality changes is caught between the first clip, in 1969 in which she radiates a rather shy demeanor, and the second, in 1970, two months before she died: outgoing and, oddly enough, more like a hard-working show person than the epitome of hippie culture. Disc three focuses on Stevie Wonder's transformation from Little Stevie into an artist in his own right. Singer/songwriter Paul Simon is the perfect foil for Cavett as they obviously enjoy talking to each other, so much so that the host helps him put words to a song that would later become "Still Crazy After All These Years." The highlight of the entire set is George Harrison's guest shot. A candid Harrison talks with Cavett about the Beatles, drugs, American TV being rubbish, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Ravi Shankar, who is also on the show. Following Shankar's ultra-brief raga (about 4 minutes), Cavett accidentally uses the word bizarre to describe Indian music, which leads Ravi to look over at Harrison and begin laughing as George says, "You better be careful who you're calling bizarre, Dick!" An obviously embarrassed Cavett apologizes and rephrases the comment. The bonus features are interesting but pale in comparison to the rest of the set: a short interview with Mick Jagger, and Bob Weide's 2005 interview with Mr. Cavett. The real highlight is Cavett himself; these interviews could have been disastrous or downright boring with any of the other numerous talk show hosts of the era. After viewing these clips, it becomes obvious that the reason these musicians agreed to go on Cavett's show while ignoring the others was the host himself.

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