A nostalgic ride back in time, thanks to PBS and the sounds of the 60s.
The Public Broadcasting System premiered 60s Rock, Pop & Soul Saturday night, December 17, and, wow. If you were around in the 60s, and still have a pulse, it was pounding.
Over two and a half hours, including pledge breaks, a cavalcade of high-energy musical treasures raised the bar on nostalgia, and indubitably stirred up more than just memories. Mitch Ryder fired-up the joint with a brass-driven version of “Devil With A Blue Dress On,” setting a pace that gave the ruddy-faced boomers in attendance all they could handle. Heartstrings played too; if you loved, lost, and got it together enough to love again in the flower power decade, The Vogues had you covered with “Turn Around Look At Me.”
My home state Oregon was well represented in the extravaganza. Paul Revere and the Raiders rammed home “Kicks” with their black colonists’ boots at a gallop, prompting Paul to say later, “we may not be kicking as high, but we’re still doing it.” The Kingsman, still Portland frat-house criminal after all these years, laid down a “Louie Louie” cluster bomb sure to recalibrate any pacemakers in the house. Chad and Jeremy strummed a finely aged and gorgeous “Summer Song,” and Byrd-man Roger McGuinn showed up to chime though “Mr. Tambourine Man” on his vintage Rickenbacker. It wasn’t Grace Slick fronting the beloved Starship hippies, but current lead vocalist Cathy Richardson’s “White Rabbit” went all the way over the top, down the hole, and into face-melt proximity. There was a note of shadowy kink too. Question Mark and the Mysterians put pedal to metal on “96 Tears,” as echoey and seminal as when I’d first heard it in a high school gymnasium in 1966.
Pledge-night commentators talked about the network’s series of grand showcases, 50s rock, through Doo Wop, Folk and now, in this latest installment, the easy-loving, hard-partying music of the early 60’s. A diverse group of young back-up singers brought new blood to old mixes, but talents like Percy Sledge, with his studio-perfect “When A Man Loves A Woman,” had no trouble bringing it right along with them.
Hosts Peter “Herman” Noone and former Monkee Davy Jones served as excellent pop-spiritual guides, generating good-time feeding frenzies with “Daydream Believer” and an over-amped sing-along to “Henry the Eighth.” The house finally came all the way down when The Ventures orchestrated their masterful Hawaii 5-0 theme dwarfed by the projected visage of Detective Steve McGarrett. Of all the 60s attributes–love, protest, equality and expanding consciousness–the impulse to party-hardy, kick-out-the-jams and do the Wooly Booly is the most fun to remember now. The patina has held up, big time.
If, by the time Eddie Holman steps out of the wings to sing “Hey There, Lonely Girl,” you haven’t stepped back in time and let it all hang out; maybe you never really lived the 60s. Or, as McGuinn has been known to suggest, maybe you just forgot. If this shows up on your local Public Broadcasting station and you have any interest in 60s rock, be sure to watch. And if you love this show and don’t contribute to PBS, well, that’s just not cool, man.
—Photo Radio SaigÃ³n/Flickr