Now, how can you go wrong with a 3-CD collection of 50 performances recorded for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies? Beginning with the first of these in 1986, the Hall of Fame has reunited groups who hadn’t played together in years, and put together groups of all-stars to honor new inductees, not to mention that it let these bands jam out before delighted audiences who enjoyed once in a lifetime musical experiences.
True, the Hall of Fame has been releasing many of these performances for years in outstanding DVD collections. None has been more extensive than Time-Life's new exhaustive 10-volume digital-only release of nearly 200 songs issued in conjunction with this smaller scale CD project. Whether you like the previous DVD packages or can afford the new big Kahuna, the experience is certainly more fulfilling when you can watch the legends at work. But there’s something to be said for simply listening to the songs themselves and enjoying the music and nothing but the music.
On most of the past DVDs, many of the performances were preceded by the speeches of new inductees and presenters, but they’ve been stripped away for the CD set. The concert kicks off, appropriately enough, with Bruce Springsteen backing Chuck Berry on “Johnny B. Goode.” Not only does disc one start with a Founding Father of rock, but Springsteen is a frequent player appearing with many other guests, including Wilson Pickett, Mick Jagger, U2, and his own E Street Band. In fact, to list all the players and singers who appear on this collection would result in a list of tags for this review as long as the review itself. Well, some serious name-dropping can’t be avoided.
For example, if these three CDs were all you had on a desert island, odds are you’d crown The Kinks as among the kings of kicking out the jams (“All Day And All Of The Night”). Likewise, Eric Burdon And Bon Jovi do a sizzling version of The Animals’ “It’s My Life” and the always electrifying James Brown showed he never lost his juice in “I Got You (I Feel Good).” Other British rockers and friends light up the stage in various incarnations such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ron Wood, Joe Perry, Flea and Metallica jam on “The Train Kept A Rollin'.” Hot enough for you yet?