Ed Sullivan, Michael Jackson, ...

Ed Sullivan's Rock 'N' Roll Classics


Weighed down not only by Ed Sullivan’s lugubrious, often inexplicably ethnocentric intros (he refers to a gleamingly sassy Sonny & Cher as ”my dear little paisans”) but also by a ton of hyperbolic clichés delivered by narrator Jay Thomas, Ed Sullivan’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Classics, a nine-DVD set of ’50s and ’60s rock, soul, and pop acts, lightens up only occasionally.

Elvis Presley is astonishingly cool, playful, and teasing — he knows he’s the most potent rocker on earth, and withholds his sexuality with insolent wit. The Beatles nearly jump out of the screen, they’re so full of invention and enthusiasm.

But too many acts — from the Supremes to the Mamas and the Papas to Tommy James and the Shondells — seem to be represented by rote, lip-synched performances, and only the most ironic fan of popular music would say that Dino, Desi & Billy (a pleasant but disposable pop act featuring the sons of Dean Martin and Desi Arnaz) rate two appearances on any collection dubbed ”classics.” However, it’s a treat indeed to see a prepubescent Michael Jackson singing with astounding romantic nuance a Jackson 5 rarity like ”Who’s Lovin’ You.” And to watch James Brown or the Temptations burst beyond Ed’s staid orchestral arrangements is to witness a miracle.

Ed Sullivan's Rock 'N' Roll Classics
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