The finest achives of classic rock
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 09/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'The Beat Club' was a German television program that ran from 1965 until December of 1972, when it was renamed 'Musikladen' for the 1970's. While American consumers have been treated to DVD releases from the 'Musikladen' programs, the 'Beat Club' archives have, to some degree, been only made available in the PAL format, which requires a special playback device not owned by most people in the United States or Canada. There is some overlap of the two programs, however, so that some 'Beat Club' recordings can be found on 'Musikladen' compilations, and vice-versa. There is a rich library of 'Musikladen' DVD's available here at Amazon. Slade's robust performance of 'Gudbuy T'Jane' on this disc, for example, features the 'Musikladen' logo in the background. Tracks such as 'Morning Dew' by Nazareth and 'Highway Star' by Deep Purple can be acquired on 'Musikladen' DVD's. The 'Beat Club' discs can be purchased and transfered legally from the PAL to NTSC (the US and Canadian standard format) by recording engineers. The best price I have found for this service is about $10 per disc, plus shipping & handling.
While some of the early 'Beat Club' compilations featured primarily European acts, by 1972 the program was attracting top name international talent. On this particular disc, only the bands Frumpy and perhaps Slade would be unfamiliar to significant numbers of Americans. Frumpy was a German progressive rock ensemble led by lead singer Inga Rumpf. Much of Frumpy's music is decidely heavier on the metal than the performance of 'Going To the Country' (not the Canned Heat hit) offered here. But the song, which was featured as the opener on their third LP, released in 1974, is an energetic and funky workout, and worthy of inclusion.
The remainder of the disc offers fare not readily found elsewhere. Rare performances such as 'Kick Out the Jams' by The MC5, 'Definitely Maybe' by The Jeff Beck Group, 'So You Want To Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star' by The Byrds, and 'Vincent' by Don McLean, make the disc irreplacable. Keep in mind that performers on 'The Beat Club' and 'Musikladen' almost never practiced lip-synching, and were encouraged to perform as they would in a concert setting, often offering extended versions of their most recent Top 40 releases, or more obscure tracks from their LP's. Add to this the high quality sound and film techniques, surely state-of-the-art for the time period, and you have a literal time capsule of much of the cutting-edge music of the era. The only drawback is the frequent use of psychedelic overlays and backdrops in the production of the videos, but in many cases these actually lend a nostalgic feel perfectly suited to the music being performed.
While the opening track, 'Refried Boogie' by Canned Heat is truncated under two minutes, and The Doors perform 'Tightrope Ride' sans Jim Morrison, be prepared for an entertainment cornucopia featuring the legendary Chuck Berry ('Johnny B. Goode'), Alice Cooper ('I'm Eighteen'), and The Grateful Dead ('One More Saturday Night'). Even the closer, the seemingly out-of-place 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' by The Everly Brothers, finds its own niche by illustrating how diverse the offerings on 'The Beat Club' and 'Musikladen' truly were. All of us who thought we were getting something special with fuzzy black-and-white lip-synchs and tinny, monophonic sound on programs like American Bandstand can only drool over the manna from Heaven European teenagers were feasting on circa-1970. At least we can enjoy it now, and whatever it takes for you to do it, do it now. It's that good, folks."