Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics (Time Life, 10 DVDs, NR, 984 min.). This collection, released earlier this month, contains 128 live, uncut performances featured on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” a Sunday night TV staple from the 1950s through the early 1970s. Overall, it is a delight, rekindling many a wonderful memory. The 10-disc set also includes never-before-released full interviews from “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” documentary series, as well as two episodes from that series, an All-Star Comedy Special bonus disc and a 36-page color booklet.

The artists include Elvis Presley, both full body and only above the waist, on five songs, including “Hound Dog”; Buddy Holly on two songs; Jerry Lee Lewis on two songs; The Rolling Stones on four songs; The Beatles on four songs; The Supremes on five songs, including “The Happening;” The Mamas & The Pappas on three songs; The Ike & Tina Turner Review on two songs; Creedence Clearwater Revival on three songs, including “Fortunate Son;” Janis Joplin on two songs; Herman’s Hermits on two songs; The Animals on three songs; The Beach Boys on two songs; The Byrds on two songs; The Jackson 5 on two songs; and Stevie Wonder on three songs, just to mention a few.

The Rolling Sones appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Courtesy Time Life/Getty Images

 

The discs are housed in two five-disc holders, with the first including the top hits of each year from 1965 through 1970 on the first two discs. Then there are segments devoted to West Coast Rock, Folk Rock, R&B Greats, First Women of Rock, Great Groups, The British Invasion, Smash Hits of the 1960s, Groovy Sounds, Move to the Music and Psychedelic 1960s. These first discs also include interviews with Michelle Phillips (The Mamas & The Papas), Rich Little, Flip Wilson, John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful), David Crosby, Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Gladys Knight, Joan Rivers, Chris Hillman, and Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals). One will notice that several of the interviews are with comedians instead of musicians.

The second set of five discs starts off with 15-minute-or-so segments covering five acts performing, with some historical introductions by narrator Jay Thomas. They cover rock legends in two batches, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame artists, a second look at the British Invasion, legends of soul, a Motown review, teen idols, Sweet Sound of Soul and classic love songs. Those interviewed include Steve Allen, Milton Berle, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Peter Noone. The interview with Noone (40:46), lead singer of Herman’s Hermits, is particularly engaging, as he talks about the early days of British rock and his own and his group’s experiences. One tidbit talks about how bands had to discourage their audience from dancing through more aggressive song choice and performing in clubs like The Cavern, or the owners would play records instead of hiring live bands.

Disc five includes two fine documentary segments from “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” namely “British Invades, America Fights Back” (56:17), which is heavy on the British side with performances, and “The Sounds of Soul” (55:49). Both feature interview bits with contemporary musicians, reflecting on the past, including some, like Pete Townshend of The Who, who were part of the Sixties scene.

The bonus comedy disc includes performances by comedy icons George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, and Flip Wilson, among others.

Throughout the set the picture quality is really good, considering the age of the material. Grade: A+

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal: Green Light (self-released CD, 43 min.). Of this, the band’s sixth studio album, songwriter-producer-musician Hoyer (keyboards and baritone sax) says, in a press release, that one “will hear the sounds of pain, solitude and spiritual reckoning – a heartfelt reaction to the realities of today.” The 10 songs are supported by a strong horn section – it particularly reminds me of Chicago on the opening “Evolution,” also the album’s first single – that includes James Cuato on sax and Blake DeForest on trumpet. The rest of the sextet are bassist Stephen Cantarero, drummer Harrison ElDorado and guitarist Benjamin Kushner. Hoyer plays Hammond organ and electric piano and delivers the gritty lead vocals.

In addition to “Evolution,” highlights include the slower “Loneliness,” the title track – a request to his woman – with its nice guitar solo, the soulful “Crazy Love” and second single “Mirrors,” a song about self-reflection. There is a bit of New Orleans in the bouncy “Mr. One Up,” some Stax in “Shou Do” and the horns get to show off during the lengthy instrumental portion of “Business as Usual.” “Harmony” is funky, with a dense arrangement. Hoyer dips into a people-love-people type message in “Beautiful People,” which features some recitation.

Hoyer concludes, in the press release, that “Whether it gives people courage or solace, joy or a place to heal, that is what my creations are for. To show them that they are not alone. To bring people together.” Grade: B+

Now That’s What I Call 12” 70s (Sony Music/EMI import, 4 CDs). It seems everybody in the 1970s had to try their hand at extended mixes of some of their songs to gain the favor of dance club patrons. This collection of 42 such includes some unexpected acts and less familiar songs by some of the acts one knows. Of course, there are well-known songs as well.

In the latter group fall Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” M’s “Pop Muzik,” The Flying Lizards’ cover of “Money,” B-52s’ “Rock Lobster,” Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park Suite” (a DJ promo version), Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Vicki Sue Robinso9n’s “Turn the Beat Around,” the latter three all disco-era standouts.

The third disc leans more into soul, with three titles containing the word “Boogie.” They are Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland,” Heatwave’s “Boogie Nights” and A Taste of Honey’s “Boogie Oogie.” Other well-known disco hits include the Andrea True Connections’ “More, More, More,” Grace Jones’ “I Need a Man,” The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno,” Chic’s “Everybody Dance,” Amii Stewart’s “Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven” and Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

Of the familiar with the more unfamiliar, there is Elton John with “Are You Ready for Love,” Sparks with “Beat the Clock,” Roxy Music with “Angel Eyes” and Public Image Limited with “Death Disco.”

Other welcome tracks include Wings’ “Goodnight Tonite,” Cliff Richard’s wonderful “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” Cerrone’s “Supernature,” Eruption’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” Cher’s “Take Me Home,” Dan Hartman’s “Relight My Fire” and McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” From classics to surprises, this is fun stuff and will have you moving. Grade: B+

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwest-ern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

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