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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Half of this hour-long episode is a tribute to poet-singer Bob Dylan
and the other half is the continuation of the history of rock 'n roll,
as the DVD title suggests.
To this day, I still think Dylan is one of the worst singers I've ever heard but there is no denying his songwriting and his influence on music which is why, obviously, he got so much air time on this series. So far, nobody has gotten that much publicity on this Time-Life series, even Elvis or The Beatles, which doesn't make sense. Whatever, Dylan wrote a lot of great songs and is spoken of in God-like terms by other musicians interviewed here.
Since Dylan started out as a folk singer, that genre gets a segment here on this fifth episode. Since it's not rock 'n roll and, it's admitted here by someone that "folkies" hated rock music, then why is it included in this series? My guess is that folk music was so "socially aware," so Left Wing, the editors here just had to give it huge notice and praise.
We listen to some songs and hear comments by "bohemians from coffee houses" who hit it big in the '60s such as Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Dave Van Ronk, Phil Ochs, Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie and Peter, Paul and Mary.
The 1965 Newport Folk Festival, however, changed things bigtime, as we see. Dylan shocked people with electric material, literally, which is why this episode is called "plugged in." Give Dylan credit; he had guts. He teed off all the "folkies." Where was his "integrity?" they asked. Gee, what elitist snobs. Where is their tolerance? Good for Bob.
The second half of this hour-long show features, among others, Roger McGuinn and The Byrds, John and Michelle Phillips and The Mamas and the Papas; Brian Wilson did not want to tour with the famous Beach Boys, wanted to make better music - "Pet Sounds" spiritual and sophisticated - and that was big breakthrough "Underground radio" begins and the first big star was Jimi Hendrix, who went to England, blew the other musicians' minds, and came back to do the same here in the States. He is now of legendary status. What a shame he died early.
Later, we hear from Pete Townsend, Peter No one ("Herman's Hermits"), Eric Clapton and a few others as rock goes electric in a big-way and blues is introduced to white kids.
The Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 is the first time Hendrix and others played for American audience. "That concert was the real ground-breaker for rock 'n roll," remarks Al Kooper.
Hendrix and The Who exhibited, as we see, a new theater, smashing up their guitars after their sets. The Who demolished about everything The rock 'n roll scene was really heating up!
While Beatles were changing the music scene, in America, Bob Dylan was
also transforming the way music was used as means of communication. His
lyrics instantly hit a chord with many folk musicians and his songs and
style of writing became universally well known in relatively short
time. Bob Dylan had as much influence in music as the Beatles did
during the '60s when war in Vietnam was raging. In the meetings of
these two forces, The Beatles started to experiment more with lyrics,
and Dylan started to experiment more with music which resulted in Dylan
going electric at the 1965 New Port Folk Festival.
This episode is sort of broken up into two segments: First about Bob Dylan and how his music influenced the rock scene, and other folk artists like Richie Havens, Peter Paul and Mary, and Joan Baez also contributed towards the anti war movement towards Vietnam.
The second segment is about how the music scene moved from New York's Greenwitch Village, to Los Angeles, and how Montrey Pop Festival in '67 introduced the new wave of British (?) groups such as Jimi Hendrix Experience, The WHO, and less well known American talents such as Otis Redding to the crowd. It was also the first time San Francisco bands like the Jefferson Airplane played before an international audience.
"Plugging in", the fifth episode of the ten episode series of documentaries, "The History of Rock & Roll", opens with the highly lauded and respected singer-songwriter from Minnesota Bob Dylan as he shocks the folk world with amps in 1965. The series is in full swing by the fifth hour as it examines the give and take musically and lyrically between the politically aware, musically daring of a Dylan and the socially under-motivated predictable music of popsters in the vein of the Beatles. The social change and overall upheaval that America burgeons on in the mid 60's is examined here in a strong and meaningful way.
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