Various Artists

Hullabaloo: A 1960s Music Flashback Vol. 9-12 [DVD]

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Like MPI Home Video's previous two DVD compilations of Hullabaloo episodes, Hullabaloo: A 1960s Music Flashback, Vol. 1-4 and Hullabaloo: A 1960s Music Flashback, Vol. 5-8, this assembles a monstrous amount of footage from the mid-'60s network television pop music show onto one disc. The four-plus hours or so include six complete episodes from 1965 and 1966 (minus the commercials), as well as no less than 19 "bonus" songs taken from other programs. As with other Hullabaloo compilations, the decision to present the complete episodes as the bulk of the disc entails a lot of good and a lot of bad. On the good end, there are numerous classic performances by major rock artists, including the Byrds' first televised appearance (on May 11, 1965), in which they sing "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Feel a Whole Lot Better," the Righteous Brothers singing "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," Simon & Garfunkel doing "Homeward Bound," the Animals performing "It's My Life," and the Everly Brothers dueting on "Gone, Gone, Gone." Also fun are Paul Revere & the Raiders ("Kicks"), Nancy Sinatra ("These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"), Bob Lind ("Elusive Butterfly"), Peter & Gordon ("Woman" and "True Love Ways"), the McCoys ("Fever"), the Shangri-Las ("Long Live Our Love"), the Gentrys ("Keep on Dancing"), Petula Clark ("Downtown"), and Marvin Gaye ("How Sweet It Is").

On the downside, it's surprising how much corny middle-of-the-road pop was mixed into the shows. It's also exasperating and sometimes painful to sit through the MC routines by the likes of Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, and George Hamilton, and the orchestrated medleys of Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Roger Miller hits are downright ghoulish. And, it should be added, musically awful, though there's some entertainment value in watching the Animals sing a little of Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe" to string-laden pit orchestra accompaniment. The sets are sometimes bizarrely kitsch, with the Animals, for instance, doing "It's My Life" on a set in which live girl's heads are placed inside walls as if they're hunting trophies, and the Young Rascals doing "Slow Down" in the midst of a fake schoolroom. Unfortunately, many of these performances are lip-synced rather than live, or some kind of mixture of live vocals and pre-recorded accompaniment. The bonus tracks, as usual, are actually more fun to watch than the proper episodes, both because they dispense with the filler linkage and because some really good clips and songs were chosen. Those include performances by the Nashville Teens, the Hollies, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Beau Brummels, Marianne Faithfull, the Bobby Fuller Four, the Impressions, Judy Collins, the Four Tops, and even one by the obscure British Invasion band actually named the Hullaballoos.