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Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution (1967)

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Janis Ian ...
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David Oppenheim ...
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25 April 1967 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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As of 2014, still unreleased on DVD. See more »

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Referenced in Love & Mercy (2014) See more »

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Pre-TED talk on mid-60s white rock followed by a bunch of babble
18 May 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution is actually two documentaries in one. The first half is quite fascinating, as Leonard Bernstein discusses the interesting compositional tricks of mid-60s pop-rock, particularly the Beatles. It comes across as a musical TED talk before there were TED talks.

The second half, written by David Oppenheim, consists of interviews with a number of pop musicians, some famous some obscure. These interviews focus on the message rather than the music, and the message, in general, is universal love. The songwriters seem uncomfortable being forced to articulate their views, wanting the music to speak for itself, and when you listen to their shallow platitudes you can see they were right. You can also, years later, see how misplaced their optimism was (except for Frank Zappa, who was less sanguine).

There are some interesting moments in the show, including Brian Williams singing Surf's Up and precocious teen Janis Ian lip syncing her hit Society's Child.

One thing both Bernstein and Oppenheim seem to agree on is that modern (in 1967) rock is a white phenomenon. The only black guy mentioned on the show is Duke Ellington, for contrast, and Bernstein doesn't say a thing about any song earlier than She Loves You. Admittedly most black pop of the period was called "soul" rather than "rock," but still, it seems unfortunate to completely ignore big influences on the Beatles and the Stones like Chuck Berry and Little Richard yet find plenty of time to talk about teen pop idols Herman's Hermits.

In short, the first half is pretty fascinating, and the second half is pretty tedious.


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