Carl Perkins

Carl Perkins and Friends [Video/DVD]

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For once, one of these concert specials by a rock & roll founder not only wasn't just a pale imitation of their early work, but bridged two (or more) generations in superb style. Carl Perkins was joined by a band that included Dave Edmunds (who also produced), George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Mickey Gee, John David, Lee Rocker, Earl Slick, and Rosanne Cash for an hour of rockabilly performance, in what was a transcendent moment in his career, tying together threads from his Sun years, the rebirth of his fame and career in the early '60s on the other side of the Atlantic, and his ascent to rockabilly icon in the years since. With Edmunds producing, it's no surprise that the micing and the sound were superb. The late-'80s laserdisc from Pioneer was good enough in its time, but this performance really comes into its own on the 2002 DVD reissue, which offers about the punchiest, most robust audio of any pre-digital concert that this reviewer has yet seen -- Perkins cedes the vocal chores on "Honey Don't" to Starr, and to Harrison on "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," and brings on Eric Clapton to play lead on "Matchbox," and the whole performance is littered with superstars of that caliber, who don't get in the way at all; indeed, their presence is inspired. His duet with Rosanne Cash on "Going to Jackson" and Cash's own rendition of "What Kind of Girl" adds some hard-rocking variety to the show, which strikes a careful balance between the immediacy of a full-out concert performance and the warm nostalgia of a meeting between old friends and a celebration of what are actually several careers stemming from Perkins' music. The DVD reissue is, if anything, better-looking and better-sounding than the laserdisc, with none of the visual anomalies that marred playback in the latter format. There aren't any bonus features, and the audio selection is limited to Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1 Surround, either of which is impressive, mastered at a very high volume -- thus, the playback here is closer to that of a solid rockabilly CD than the usual tame audio one gets on most DVDs.