Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum Live(Time Life)
A 9-DVD set totaling 1,443 minutes, or 24 hours, Time Life's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum Live boxes up everything the music business represents. Stupidly curated and packaged, exclusionary, and finally, musically genius – as in the rock & soul pioneers actually honored – it also mirrors the institution it documents.
Fathered in 1983 by Atlantic Records chieftain Ahmet Ertegun and his so-called "funky nine" (Jann S. Wenner, Jon Landau, Seymour Stein, etc.), then inducting its initial class two years later and debuting an annual awards ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria in 1986 (produced by Bill Graham until his death in 1991), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today totals 243 enshrinements and should probably house double that already. Rock & roll was built by all, not some exclusive frat, as much a reaction to Pat Boone (okay, maybe not) as Cannibal Corpse (okay, maybe not). Four ballots to get the Stooges in? Some serious disconnect there. Since 1987, an annual highlights reel has been edited together for cable broadcast.
Rather than an archive of once-in-a-lifetime mash-ups – Mick Jagger's The Best Years of Our Lives induction speech for the Beatles, Led Zeppelin's 1995 reunion (not included), and in 2009, Jeff Beck and Metallica leading Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Ronnie Wood, and Flea through a two-ton "Train Kept A-Rollin'" – there's nine American Bandstand-style packages instead. Each comes with a cache of full induction speeches, plus snippets of rehearsal and backstage footage, but instead of the entire set of Eddie Vedder reigniting the Doors in 1993, the performance gets chopped into single-song segments spread throughout the nine discs. The sushi factor, as on the 9-DVD Ed Sullivan's Rock & Roll Classics box in 2002, gets old faster than shark-stuffed groupies.
Especially when so many of these 1,443 minutes truly rock. A VH1-type sampling:
Vol. 1, 'Light My Fire': Star-Studded Jam Era
• George Harrison accepting Mick Jagger's Fab Four induction, 1988, then the Stones frontman and Bruce Springsteen screeching "I Saw Her Standing There" with the Beatle's harmony.
• Eric Clapton, all in black with his Blackie Strat, making child's play out of "Sunshine of Your Love" for the first time in 25 years with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.
• John Fogerty's discomfort in accepting induction with the remaining members of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
• Prince shredding dove's tears on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," as sung by Tom Petty next to a baby-faced Dhani Harrison.
Extras: Paul's letter to John, biblically Beatles, and Cream's backstage banter proving almost as colossal as the power trio itself.
Vol. 2, 'Sweet Emotion': Rock Bloc
• Jagger and Springsteen sharing a mic through "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in 1988, accompanied by ol' Shakey himself, Neil Young, picking out its chords, then Jagger and Tina Turner cheek to cheek on "Honky Tonk Women."
• James Taylor's solo shivers through Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" and Stephen Stills' Fender catching fire on Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Wooden Ships." Michael Stipe puts them all to shame delivering "Man on the Moon" out front of R.E.M. with Eddie Vedder.
• Early years MVP Keith Richards' lighthearted but sincere intro for ZZ Top and the Texas trio's ensuing rip through "La Grange" and "Tush." Check out Dusty Hill's immaculate grill and Billy Gibbons' heavenly hands.
• AC/DC's three-minute pop of "Highway to Hell" preceding Metallica's extended, double-bass (Jason Newsted/Robert Trujillo) definitive take on "Master of Puppets."
Vol. 3, 'Start Me Up': Rock Bloc Too
• Carole King rocking her hair off during Who jam "Won't Get Fooled Again."
• The Righteous Brothers rockestra delivering "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" for the ages, and the original Byrds' boys choir harmonies; stunning Michelle Phillips' tear-rimmed eyes as she projects Mama Cass wearing a size six on the moon (1998), then Denny Doherty nailing "California Dreamin'" with Michelle and John Phillips.
• Steve Winwood cooking his key-lime-pie-green Strat during his and Jim Capaldi's "Dear Mr. Fantasy."
• Stevie Nicks slaying "Landslide" as Lindsey Buckingham picks some Shakespeare, chased by Mick Fleetwood's acceptance speech – with Mac founder Peter Green standing behind him – then the band, led by Buckingham on banjo, stripping back "Say You Love Me" right down to its Christine McVie.
• A shaved and short-haired Dave Grohl fuel-injecting Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down" alongside Brian May, 2001.
Vol. 4, 'Feelin' Alright': The Best
• Bo Diddley's humble, charismatic acceptance speech in 1987 when he was 59, then Robbie Robertson introducing him, seated, in 2005, three years before his death, and at the age of 78 taking an ornery stab at what the Band leader terms "some of the most wicked jungle mojo shit the world has ever heard" ("Bo Diddley"). Then comes Clapton at his induction, 2000, tearing some shit up with Robertson on "Farther on Up the Road," followed by Little Richard and Tina Turner doing the honors for Otis Redding and Phil Spector, respectively. Ms. Hot Legs leads a jam through "River Deep, Mountain High," doing to the song what legs did for Homo sapiens.
• Etta James first holding court at the podium, then a reaction shot from Natalie Cole after the first lady of soul finishes "At Last."
• Keith Richards and Chubby Checker facing off on "The Twist." That's nothing compared to pirate Richards ringing in the Ronettes, who then perform. Veronica Spector, as Richards addresses her, sings "Be My Baby," but all three original Ronettes own the bow.
• Jimmy Page making a surprise appearance during Jeff "Beck's Bolero" for a swing at Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," Beck doing Robert Plant's vocal on guitar.
Extras: Twenty minutes of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry doing justice to Led Zeppelin, and Steven Van Zandt's entire Italianese of the Rascals, which got him cast in The Sopranos.
Vol. 5, 'Whole Lotta Shakin'': The Least
• Johnny Cash in that baritone talking about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Alan Lomax, and Blind Lemon Jefferson.
• Carl Perkins, "a sharecropper's son," promising the Hall it will never be ashamed of inducting him.
• Ruth Brown and Bonnie Raitt teaming up on "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean," then Raitt letting John Lee Hooker tear it up on "I'm in the Mood."
Extras: Overall MVP Bruce Springsteen thanking even his lawyers, the "moneymen" ("these are great and complicated, misunderstood Americans"); Madonna accepting David Bowie's award; plus Lars Ulrich's power to the people and James Hetfield's personal poetry on Black Sabbath; and the Edge's case for the Clash.
Vol. 6, 'I'll Take You There': Soul of the Set
• Percy Sledge, the O'Jays, Jerry Butler.
• Mary J. Blige inducts Solomon Burke.
• Gamble & Huff receiving the first Ahmet Ertegun award.
• Martha & the Vandellas performing "Dancing in the Street" (1995).
• Stevie Wonder driving all Four Tops.
• Isaac Hayes giving the Shaft.
• The Staple Singers, led by Pops Staples, plinking "I'll Take You There" behind Mavis Staples telling it to the mountain, 1999.
Extras: Ronnie Wood on Bobby Womack, with the ensuing musical set criminally missing; Paul Simon's wry, spot-on honorarium for Stevie Wonder in 1989, followed by the inner science of the composer himself; George Clinton's warm, funny funk riff on Sly & the Family Stone, and the band's grateful reunion in acceptance – not to mention the surprise guest himself.
Vo1. 7, 'Come Together': Hodgepodge, or 'Who Let in Axl Rose?'
• Eddie Vedder, deadpan, quipping Johnny Ramone's revelation: "They're actually fairly long songs played very, very quickly."
• Blondie rocking "Call Me," and Elvis Costello reuniting with the Attractions to knock out "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."
• Heresy of Axl Rose in the John Lennon induction set, lending his rooster vocals to "Come Together."
• Rehearsal footage of Springsteen and Robbie Robertson feeling the moment as John Fogerty demonstrates a solo acoustic, "Who'll Stop the Rain."
• Eric Clapton's drug-dealer anecdote on Cream's day in 1993 and the threesome's subsequent preview of its 2005 reunion on a big footfalls "Crossroads."
• Patti Smith's lump-in-throat acceptance followed up by her thanking Springsteen for "Because the Night," then delivering it, encored immediately by her 2002 tearing of "People Have the Power."
• Jeff Beck tributing fellow shaggy Rod Stewart with an instrumental lighter moment, Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready."
Extras: The Grateful Dead backstage in the Waldorf-Astoria kitchen waiting to accept its induction – and then doing it – with a Jerry Garcia cutout in tow. Jefferson Airplane's moment is humbler, but no less heartfelt and equally deserving.
Vol. 8, 'Message of Love': Running on Empty
• Bono's all-time treatise of noses in rock, beginning with Pete Townshend's.
• James Taylor's moving "Fire and Rain."
• Bee Gees teasers "Massachusetts" and "You Should Be Dancing."
• Finally, a complete three-song set, courtesy of the Pretenders, wherein inductor Neil Young channels the Crazy Horse in "My City Was Gone."
• Metallica taking Sabbath's "Iron Man" box office.
Extras: Keith Richards inducting Chuck Berry, 1986; Warner Bros./Reprise Records' Mo Ostin demonstrating what a "record man" used to be and getting a standing O for it.
Vol. 9, 'The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'
Final 53-minute wood-chipper cut of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium celebrating the 1995 opening of the actual museum. A totally inadequate document, but as with the rest of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum Live, until it's redone right – and given the fabled music business, that could be the 12th day of never – this is all she wrote, and frankly, Lou Reed dedicating "Sweet Jane" to Sterling Morrison never gets old.