Released by: Resurrection Productions
Released on: November 1, 2011.
Cast: Barry Richards
If, like this writer, you had no idea who Barry Richards was, don’t let that stop you from digging right into this set from Resurrection Productions, as you’d be doing yourself a great disservice. Who was this guy? Evidently he was a popular disc jockey who operated out of D.C. and who, in the late sixties, had a string of oddball UHF TV shows in which he managed to book some pretty impressive talent. Not just a collection of flash in the pan/flavor of the month artists, Richards’ shows put together a great mix of then current artists and more established acts as well.
The early material, as seen on Groove-In, had more of a teen-centric approach showing Richards dressed neatly in a suit with a bit of a pompadour, interviewing local teenagers about fashion, the latest movies and more. This is entertaining enough from a novelty perspective and can be frequently hilarious, if unintentionally so. Once the sixties turn into the seventies, however, the content gets a lot more interesting.
Before we get to that, however, let’s take a look at the contents of the DVD:
Prince George’s Community Center / Cliff Nobles ‘The Horse’ / Groove-In Teen Panel Cliff Nobles Interview / Groove-In Movies: 2001 A Space Odyssey / Groove-In Fashions / The Flavor ‘Sally Had A Party’
BARRY RICHARDS PRESENTS “TURN-ON PILOT 5/6/1970:
Richie Havens ‘Handsome Johnny’ / Jamul ‘Tobacco Road’ / Jamul Interview With Little Richard And Uncle Dirty / Zephyr ‘St. James Infirmary’ / Uncle Dirty, Little Richard Interview / Little Richard ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’
BARRY RICHARDS TURN-ON (1970-1971):
Alice Cooper ‘Eighteen’ and ‘Black Juju’ / Humble Pie ‘Rollin’ Stone ‘ / Bob Seger System ‘Lucifer,’ ‘Song For Rufus,’ Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’ / Fats Domino With The Byrds ‘I’m In Love Again,’ ‘I’m Ready, ’Blueberry Hill,’ ‘Walkin’ To New Orleans’ / Biff Rose ‘Myrtle’s Pies,’ Jesus And Mary Magdalene,’ and ‘Nothing To Gain’
LOST TURN-ON BLACK AND WHITE FOOTAGE:
The Illusion ‘When I Metcha Baby,’ ‘Did You See Her Eyes,’ ‘Man,’ ‘Let’s Make Each Other Happy’ / Crow ‘Cottage Cheese,’ ‘Don’t Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock N Roll’
SNEAK PREVIEW: BARRY RICHARDS ROCK SHOW (1973):
Rory Gallagher ‘Walk On Hot Coals’ / Muddy Waters ‘Baby Please Don’t Go,’ Interview Excerpt, ‘Got My Mojo Workin’
So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff here. Some of the more obvious highlights include Fats Domino playing with The Byrds backing him. Fats is in fine form here, smiling his way through a few tracks, his grin sincere and infectious – just try not to smile along with him here. The Alice Cooper footage is amazing here. Richards does a really quick chat with Alice before the performance starts and then wisely gets out of the way as the band kicks into Eighteen and gives it their all. It’s when they slide into Black Juju that they get really intense, though. Even here, performing on a small stage in front of a small and somewhat confused looking studio audience you can really get a feel for the direction that this band would soon take, and those theatrics that made Alice Cooper a household name, while somewhat restrained here compared to some of his later material, still make these two songs a lot of fun.
Little Richard pops up but doesn’t have much to say in the interviews, probably because Richards and beatnik comedian Uncle Dirty appear stoned out of their minds, but his live version of the classic ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ is as flamboyant as you’d expect. And then there’s the Bob Seger System. It’s easy to associate Seger with garbage like Night Moves but there was a time when he rocked right alongside other Motor City greats like The Stooges and the MC5 and it’s plain to see that, at this point in his career, Seger still knows how to bring it. The Humble Pie performance is fun, just to get a gander at a scruffy and bearded young Peter Frampton noodling away on guitar on the right hand side of the stage, while Muddy Waters’ two tracks and interview here are just flat out awesome.
Of course, how much mileage you get out of this set will depend on your musical tastes and preferences, and not everything here is going to be something you watch over and over again but even the lesser material (a stoned Biff Rose wailing away on the piano is funny enough but not very good) is worth checking out once. Throughout all of this is Richards’ presence, introducing each band and providing some fun, psychedelic intros throughout the content. The fact that most of this material hasn’t really been seen before outside of tape trader circles and has never been seen before in the condition its presented here will probably be enough to lure some in, but anyone with an interest in late sixties/early seventies rock n’ roll is going to geek out over this collection.
Well, the video quality here is probably as good as it’s going to get. Taken from existing tape elements (that’s all there is!) some of this stuff is clean, colorful and quite watchable, other clips, not so much. The good outweighs the bad though, it’s really just the ‘Lost Turn On B&W Footage’ section (with performances by The Illusion And Crow) that looks bad. With that said, it’s far better to have this material included than not.
The Dolby Digital Mono sound is actually pretty good for the most part. There is some distortion here and there but dialogue, what little there is (it’s mostly just Barry introducing the bands or conducting quick interviews with them) sounds fine and thankfully the music comes through quite nicely.
Extras on the DVD itself include an introduction from Barry Richards himself, who notes that most of the people involved with this show were high, and some menus and chapter selection options. Additionally, there’s a bonus clip where Barry Interviews a black guy calling himself Iron Jaw Samson who eats a light bulb on camera. Dig a bit deeper into the disc and you’ll find a cool still gallery of shots from throughout Barry’s career and some audio extras including interviews with Buster Crabbe, Little Richard, James Whitmore, Alice Cooper, and Chris Mitchum (!) with Patrick Wayne. These are pretty fun and worth checking out, the Cooper interview in particular.
Inside the gatefold packaging, however, is a bonus audio CD including the following:
-Barry Richards Interviews The Beatles, Parts 1 -3, August 1964.
-Little Richard With Barry on WUST, 1966.
-Little Richard’s Performance of The Barry Richards Theme, 1966.
-Turn-On Premiere (show opening with Barry’s rap)
-Turn-On Episode 2 (show opening with Barry’s rap)
-Dr. John Interview from Episode 2
-Dr. John ‘Gris, Gris’
-Ace Trucking Company performance from Episode 2
-Ace Trucking Company with Dr. John from Episode 2
-Dr. John ‘Wash Mama Wash’
-Emmitt Rhodes ‘Live Till You Die’
-Emmitt Walsh ‘She’s Such A Beauty’
-Alice Cooper Concert Ad, December 19, 1973, with Barry’s voice over.
-Alice Cooper checks in with Barry on WHMC, 1972.
-Alice, Phlo and Eddie with Barry on WKTK
Also included inside the packaging is a nice twenty-four full color booklet containing some writing from Richards himself and from author Joe Hasselvander alongside some great archival clippings and photographs with Barry hanging out with the likes of Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath and Ringo Starr!
The Final Word:
So maybe this set doesn’t look like the latest and greatest Hollywood blockbuster but who cares! It’s a fantastic archive of performances from a great selection of artists that otherwise would have been lost to the ages. Add to that the fact that it’s got some great extras too and you wind up with a pretty great set – this one is worth getting just for the Alice Cooper footage alone, here’s hoping Volume Two makes it to the market sooner rather than later.