Various Artists

Casey Kasem's Rock N' Roll Goldmine: The Sixties

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Precisely what Kultur Video (who are usually more at home with opera than rock) has in mind releasing this series of video programs is anyone's guess -- the price was probably right (i.e., cheap) and some of the clips are entertaining, but as programs, they're also totally superficial, and they have the distinct disadvantage of being hosted by DJ Casey Kasem, who is about as disconnected from his subject on a personal level as any '60s DJ could be (now if Wolfman Jack were still with us, or, perhaps, if someone could have persuaded Howard Hesseman to resume his Dr. Johnny Fever role from WKRP in Cincinnati and write a real script.... ). This program originally appeared as part of a series of overpriced laser discs in the late '80s that vanished very quickly -- the DVD reissue at least solves the pricing problem, which leaves this cheap and unambitious release priced appropriately low by the standards of today's market. Kasem's clean-cut looks and announcer-school diction just don't mesh with the clips of the Jefferson Airplane doing "White Rabbit" or the Doors doing "People Are Strange"; the latter clip, from The Ed Sullivan Show, is unintentionally funny because of the British newsreel clip leading into it, which calls the group's music "uncompromisingly loud" -- "People Are Strange" happens to be one of the band's more restrained and quiet songs. The clips have all been seen before: Blue Cheer ("Summertime Blues"), Canned Heat ("On the Road Again"), and the Small Faces from Beat Club, the latter miming very enthusiastically to "Itchycoo Park" (and a very poignant clip to see today, with Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane in the prime of life throwing themselves into the "performance" in a visibly joyful manner), the Steppenwolf "Magic Carpet Ride" promotional clip with the oscilloscope screen and other oversaturated color segments; an abbreviated clip of Cream doing "Sunshine of Your Love" from the farewell tour film. And the Beatles' clip is a cheat, consisting of a Dutch television interview running about a minute. The 46-minute running time devotes about 36 of them to music, with the rest being Kasem's chatter in between and the generic slow-motion introductory segment for the entire series -- the producers of the DVD have thought little enough of this release to leave the outros for broadcast television commercial breaks in the program. The disc opens automatically on a simple menu that offers the "play" option, a song list, and an audio set-up. Each song has a chapter marker and can be skipped with the touch of a button.