This is the fifth of six reviews of DVD releases selected from the Quantum Leap "Rock 'n Roll Legends" series featuring stars of the late-Fifties and early-Sixties. This DVD series is quirky and uneven, yet manages to be both interesting and entertaining.
These nostalgic releases feature live performances by popular stars, often years after they were in their prime, mostly at Little Darlin's, a nostalgia club in Florida, but also at other locations. Some performances are taken from television or movies, including a documentary from Canada's National Film Board. A horde of other popular stars, and some not so well known, make guest appearances. The visuals, on clips often apparently dubbed from old film stock, range from disconcertingly blurry to quite good but never flawless. Usually, the music makes up for the lack of visual clarity.
There's a "Fanzone" that includes biography, discography and other background information. As well, the "Quantum Leap Propaganda" section features a variety of interesting, sometimes documentary plugs for events and products as well as web links.
While this "Rock 'n Roll Legends" series includes other DVD releases, in these six alone, you can see performances by some 25 vintage artists, singing not only their own hits but other popular songs of the era. Any one of these releases provides an interesting, if eccentric, window on this past time. Together they present a fascinating pastiche of popular music as it was a half-century ago.
This release included two powerful sets performed live at Little Darlin's, The Rock 'n Roll Palace in Orlando, Florida. On its own, either set would make this release worth owning. Together, the sets by The Platters and The Coasters provide priceless memories of a long-passed but important musical era.
The Platters perform nine songs in slightly different order than listed on the package. The performance is solid and brings to life the spirit if not the exact sound of the original hit recordings. There are some surprises here. Some of the songs are not The Platters hits but covers of hits by other artists and B-sides of The Platters hits. I was especially interested and pleased to hear the wonderful R & B song "He's Mine" in this set. A B-side with a female lead vocal and lively doo-wop backing vocals, this song is a real rocker that brings some variety and excitement to the set.
The partnership between songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller with The Coasters may have determined the success of Rock and Roll and was certainly a powerful influence on the direction the genre would take following The Coasters' first hits. Here, The Coasters perform six of their most popular releases penned by Lieber and Stoller, rocking out with their familiar blend of solid R & B rhythms, slightly off-colour lyrics, and comedy. This set is fun and may also make you want to jump out of your seat and dance.