Various Artists

Rock 'n' Roll Jukebox [DVD]

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Producers Kim Lyon and Gary Peet don't tell the unsuspecting viewer that this DVD features 60 minutes of music from the 78-minute 1956 film Rock, Rock, Rock! -- the 18-minute gap lost, no doubt, along with Richard Nixon's infamous Watergate audiotape that is, coincidentally, the same length. So when you hear Connie Francis' sublime voice on "I Never Had a Sweetheart" and "Little Blue Wren," you have no idea it isn't Francis with a blonde wig but little Tuesday Weld doing the lip-syncing. It would've been nice for the DVD editors to clarify that for this release. Weld's image has the Connie Francis name on it, opening up this project. With no commentary, the viewer may wonder why Weld keeps showing up in the variety of videos, handsome Teddy Randazzo singing to her before he would go on to write hits for Little Anthony & the Imperials and Steve Lawrence a couple of years down the road. His trio, the Three Chuckles, appears here, the three members looking very nervous on this film as they do their supper-club performance. While movie director Will Price probably had no idea this work at the dawn of rock & roll would be studied 50 years later on computer screens, scenes that were meant to be fleeting memories from the drive-in can be seen as somewhat contrived. Watching the fellow in the background ogling Weld in her Francis mode on "I Never Had a Sweetheart" is hilarious. But here's what redeems the DVD producers and proves director Price a rock & roll visionary: Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, and early Frankie Lymon come off so hip and so strong that having their performances for home viewing is worth the price of admission. The Johnny Burnette Trio also knock it out of the park, giving an authentic track that would make the Stray Cats drool. There's an extensive collection of electronic biographies of the artists, pages and pages of information inside the DVD, and two truncated "discographies" of Chuck Berry and Connie Francis, with the Francis one in particular being quite handy, as it provides information about her singles and includes weeks on the chart, year, and highest position. Yet, the potential of this Rock 'n' Roll Jukebox culled from Alan Freed's classic '50s movie is unrealized. A great documentary could have been the result, but the music rises above it, and that unused 18 minutes of movie would have made a nice bonus track to tag onto the end. Having Tuesday Weld singing with Connie Francis' voice is extremely misleading, though, when unsuspecting viewers not of that era will think one is the other or vice versa.