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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame In Concert Encore' Blu-ray: Once More Paying True American Idols Homage in Spectacular Hi-Def & Crystal- Clear Sound

The Time Life September 21, 2018 2-disc Blu-ray release "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Encore" perfectly illustrates the evolution of this company traditionally known for '70s-era fare such as book series about World War II and albums featuring the music of the '50s and '60s. The television ads from that period further reflect the Disco Age by inviting customers to call Judy the Time Life operator on a toll-free line to place an order. "Encore," along with the reviewed Time Life "In Concert" Blu-ray set, fully proves that this is not your father's Time Life.

The participants in the 2010 - 2013 inductions ranging from ABBA to Tom Waits, and including The Hollies and Public Enemy, illustrates both the range of the inductees and that the programs have something for everyone from 8-to-80. A personal note that MUST accompany each of these Blu-ray sets is being a bunkmate of former Del Fuego/V.P. of Education for the Hall Warren Zanes; one spoiler is that that summer is entirely free of any Liverpool handshakes or even cries of "Farrah Fawcett." 

The rest of the story is that older brother/Del Fuego/current kiddie rocker Dan Zanes was a doo woping potato peeler with The Kitchenettes. A cassette of Dan and and autographed photo remain in one of several boxes labelled "stuff" in the basement. 

The bigger mandatory picture is that these ceremonies remind us that true American Idols are not people with the looks and the luck to win a three-month reality show contest. The Hall inductors and inductees remind us that the latter spend years working their way up to selling out stadiums. An inducrtor using slightly more colorful language in referencing one inducted band appearing on stage only wearing a strategically placed sock tempers the sense that hard work is the only way to hit it big. 

Randomly choosing the 2012 ceremony to watch for this review worked out exceptionally well. A keynote speech comments that the event marks a return to Cleveland after a move to New York. A shout-out to Ohio governor John Kasich in that speech prompting boos reflects the political divide that is far worse 6 years later. The speaker defending Kasich by noting his support for bringing the ceremony back to Cleveland shows that some people have the proper perspective.

An energetic last-minute surprise opening by Green Day starts things off on exactly the right note (no pun intended.) The song "Letterbomb" and the group both reminding the crowd that "this is fucking rock-and-roll" shows that music is one place where being unrestrained and uncensored is integral to the experience. 

Late bluesman Freddie King being the first inductee reflects the aforementioned diversity of the Hall; having Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hall of ZZ Top make the induction speech shows how genres can meld together and how music reflects a continuum in which the prior generation pays it forward by mentoring the new kids and giving them the break that sets them on the road to stardom.

The John (do not call him Cougar) Mellencamp induction speech for '60s folk-rock legend Donovan is the best from that category in the evening, The initial theme is the fan love that conveys sincerity and that expresses sentiments regarding which us mere mortals can relate. Mellencamp going on to discuss meeting Donovan in the midst of a literal recording session melee is hilarious and is a good "Behind the Music" story. 

This sets the stage (no pun intended) for Donovan to accept the honor in a fun and heartfelt speech. The Blu-ray liner notes share that this is only time that an inductee has read a poem in such an acceptance. 

Many fans also can relate to the pure fan-oriented induction speech by Chris Rock. Rock discusses getting turned on to The Red Hot Chili Peppers after attending an earlier performance of theirs instead of the concert of the intended group. Rock hilariously discusses wondering if the unusual look of the Peppers is standard for white groups. Black and white people with similar experiences can put themselves in the shoes of Rock.

The other inductees include the Ron Wood and Rod Stewart band Small Faces/Faces and The Beastie Boys. 

Aside from being outsiders with a better than front-row seat for the ceremony by musicians for musicians in what essentially is a grand-scale reunion and jam session back at the hotel after a gig, 

The best thing about these Time Life sets is reminding us of the bands that we loved growing up and of becoming fans of new groups from the first note. A strong personal memory is of being a high-school sophomore invited to join two seniors for ice cream; the excitement continued with the guy who was driving popping a cassette in the player of the family station wagon and commenting that it a great new group called The Police. 

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