VARIOUS ARTISTS


"Let It Rock: The 60th Birthday Concert" (Eagle Vision) DVD

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

As Hollywood likes to tout as a marketing angle, every story has a beginning, and rock'n'roll's beginning can be traced as far back as Mozart, the worldís first bona fide headbanger.  Narrowing it down to the 20th century, we can pinpoint rock'n'roll's roots in country, honky tonk and the blues -- the grimy ranks of musicís hypothetical lower class; real music for real people. As Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly emerged from their rockabilly foundations, so too did Jerry Lee Lewis and Ronnie Hawkins, two acknowledged veterans of the hepcat 50s scene.  If you think of Elvis, you canít help but think of Carl Perkins if, for nothing else, the passing of the blue suede shoes between them.  The latter should be given more credit than he is for transcending the black manís honky tonk to the white manís rock'n'roll, which Presley is widely regarded for. Carl Perkins would likely have gained himself more of his acolyteís notoriety had a motor accident not sidelined him as he was getting his blue suedes off the ground. 

Then you have Jerry Lee Lewis, who needs no introduction unless youíve spent the past sixty-plus years hanging on the planet Mongo. Forget the controversy surrounding The Killer.  If you didnít have Lewisí theatrical and unruly piano slamming, where would rock'n'roll have ended up? Perhaps in a less disorderly state of Pat Boone blahness. For all of the musicians listed here to this point, the snarling bravado and heel-crashing keys lent to rock'n'roll by Jerry Lee Lewis was the 50s way of throwing horns in the air and saying ďfuck you, society, letís rock!Ē

It is Ronnie Hawkins and his Hawks that are the central focus of "Let It Rock: The 60th Birthday Concert," specifically Ronnie Hawkins, who celebrated his 60th birthday in 1995 in Toronto with as envious a rhythm section as youíd want.  Featuring a round table of legends that include the aforementioned Perkins and Lewis, the concert also features The Band, as well as the show-stealing Jeff Healey. In case you donít know, Healey is blind and plays guitar primarily on his lap, and if youíve struggled to make it as a sighted guitar, Healey just might make you hang it up altogether. The man is a freak of nature, and, as you witness him playing on random songs with Lewis, Perkins and Hawkins (as well as the entire stage ensemble) ogling Healey with absolute reverence, you understand the significance of bringing this assemblage together.  Danny and The Juniors proclaimed that rock'n'roll is here to stay, and the declaration stays true.

It isnít enough to be treated to this masterful exposition of grass-roots rock'n'roll made legitimate through past and present hipsters, but the bonus documentary ďAt the Crossroads of Rock'n'RollĒ presents the story from the point-of-view of under-appreciated roughnecks of rock'n'roll that may make you raise an eyebrow or two as to who should legitimately wear the crown of the form. My personal vote goes to Chuck Berry (with no disrespect meant towards Elvis), whose hip-shaking insurgence led the way for future generations of rabble-rousers. But, when you dissect the belief of the popular consensus, you just may find yourself heralding a different liege.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 


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Revised: 08 Jan 2016 11:33:10 -0500 .