Time-Life LP Snapshot Spanning Ages and More Genres Than Just Rock

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Time Life Rock Roll Hall Fame Volume 1 Dennis Russo Critical Blast Music Review LP Vinyl

Time-Life Records’ new vinyl LP ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME LIVE- Volume 1 contains some fine performances from the past 28 years of induction ceremonies. I will try my best to stave off the urge to soapbox as to my belief that the RRHF should be made to change its name to the Music Hall of fame, because this review is not about the hall, but performances from the ceremonies (some songs of which certainly prove my case). This is about Time Life putting together a collection of songs to appeal to as many people as ever.

By all means, performers on this record deserve to be in a music hall of fame of one kind or another.

The album is pressed well on 180gm vinyl, which appears to be the magic number that record labels seek to make to show quality. There was still processing residue on the LP, which mandated a cleaning before I started playing, something I do anyway.

The jacket is of decent thickness, but I wonder long term how it will hold up with such a heavy album in it; the sleeve was already slightly split on 2 non open ends.

I think Time Life hit a homerun, a grand slam if you will, for choosing as the first cut on the album Chuck Berry’s performance of “Johnny B Goode” from 1994; after all, it has been called the “Rock and Roll National Anthem,” and I couldn’t agree more!

One of the pitfalls that a compilation like this can’t help but fall victim to is that each performance was from a different year, with different audiences and different degrees of recording--some very clear, some a little blurry, and some with the performers just not in good voice.

“Johnny B. Goode,” thankfully, is recorded very well and the crowd as you would expect was off the chart--in fact, I’d say they were more into it on this song than on any others. Chuck’s performance was good too--not up to the same level as on his LP LONDON CHUCK BERRY SESSIONS recorded years earlier, but still very exuberant. Chuck’s voice is strong and although he is backed by Bruce Springsteen, Springsteen fortunately doesn’t sing on it and ruin the performance.

Most all of the songs here are recorded well, the best of which for me, hands down recording-wise, was Al Green, Chuck Berry and the mélange of performers playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Yes, the song that Prince plays the guitar solo on; but listen kids, while it is good, it is not great, and I have heard a great many other solos played live by a great many other artists that put it to shame. But I will say it is one of the better solos played at the RRHF shows.

I also enjoyed hearing Cream perform “Sunshine Of Your Love.” Jack Bruce was in good voice, and Clapton was, well: Clapton.

I would say that, overall, the only song I did not care for was “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” sung by Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen. Mick’s voice was so off that he made Springsteen sound good, and I did not think that possible.

It is funny to me that I found Green Day doing “Blitzkrieg Bop” to be surprisingly good, while I found Metallica’s version of “Iron Man” to be more high school cover band-ish. In fact, over the decades, I have heard many Black Sabbath cover bands play this song, and they were no better and no worse than Metallica. I guess what it comes down to here is, if it ain’t Ozzy singing an Ozzy song, it is always going to fall short. Capable bands can always get the music right, but if you ain’t got the right voice, in this case Ozzy, you might as well not even do it.

The one flaw in this otherwise very capable and enjoyable album is the fact that there are no liner notes--meaning there are no notes to tell you whether the band you are playing is playing because it’s their induction to the Hall or the induction of the musician whose song they are playing. Most you can figure out, but there are a couple of other here that it would have been nice to know.

If you had to pin me down and tickle me till I threw up to pick my one favorite performance here, I would have to say Al Green. Man, he can work an audience and hit those high notes! An incredible rhythm and blues artist, which again may lead you wonder why he is in the RR Hall of Fame; but an artist of his caliber should be in every hall of fame, I suppose.

As I mention above, it is hard to have a completely well-recorded album with so many variables in the mix. It would have been great to have an expansive soundstage laid out before me with vocal and instrument tonal characters intact with an air of space around each. But, hey, even without those audiophile qualities so astutely sought after by recorded music aficionados, this is most definitely an immensely enjoyable album that will appeal to a wide variety of music tastes.

I can imagine, too, that the length of some songs might have precluded songs from other years making it onto this album, but I understand that there will be a volume 2 and 3 that will be released on vinyl throughout 2016. It just seems so fitting, though, that these hall of famer records are captured here on vinyl. Doesn’t it just make sense? I ask you, doesn’t it!?

I am fortunate that bought Time Life’s HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL record collection years ago. And it is because of the quality of those pressings that I did not hesitate to want to listen to this album, and I am glad to report that they haven’t lost anything over the years. I can’t wait for volumes 2 and 3.

I know it’s only rock and roll--but I like it.

Songs on this album:

Side 1:

  1. Johnny B. Good-Chuck Berry w/Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (1995)
  2. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out-Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (1999)
  3. A Change Is Gonna Come-Al Green (1995)
  4. A Train Kept A-Rolling-Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ron Wood, Joe Perry, Flea and Metallica (2009)
  5. Iron Man-Metallica (2006)

Side 2:

  1. Woodstock-James Taylor (1997)
  2. Sunshine Of Your Love-Cream (1993)
  3. Blitzkrieg Bop-Green Day (2002)
  4. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction-Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (1988)
  5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps-Tom Petty, Jeff Lynn, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison and Prince (2004)
Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0