Magnificent Blues / R & B Series
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 01/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every once in a while a premium priced DVD set comes along that it worth every dime of its list price. Such a set is The !!!! Beat, a long-forgotten music show from 1966 that is absolutely unbelievable in its scope and quality. The DVD's of this important series are released by Bear Family Records, long known for their quality re-issues of entire catalogues of some of the most revered artists in roots music.
The !!!! Beat, which followed hot on the heels of The Night Train, the first all-black music television show, began production in January 1966, and was the brain-child of famed radio disc-jockey William "Hoss" Allen. The !!!! Beat did The Night Train one better; it was produced in full-color, and guest-starred a who's-who of national and regional stars from the world of Blues and R & B. The six-volume DVD series contains all 26 episodes, and was shot at WFAA in Dallas Texas, one of the few Southern stations to have color facilities at the time. Interestingly, all of the performers were recruited from one of four cities; Nashville, Dallas, Chicago or New Orleans. Most of the performers were managed by "Hoss" Allen or his associates.
The video quality is generally excellent, although there are some imperfections in the source tapes due to the age of the materials. Each DVD contains 4 or 5 half-hour episodes; the performers range from some of the biggest names in R & B or Blues of the time to relative unknowns. Even so, the performances are generally spirited and of the highest artistic quality. Although a number of the performances are lip-synched to any given artist's hit records, many songs were taped "live" with the show's excellent house band. According to the notes in the 20-page booklet which accompanies each DVD, "live" takes outnumber the lip-synched performances about two to one. Each booklet contains the fascinating story behind the show, and a brief bio of each artist! Take a chance on any one volume, and you may find yourself buying the whole series, which is exactly what happened to me.
Volume Six includes performances by Johnny Larand, Frank Howard & The Commanders, Tammy McKnight, Johnny Jones, Eva Larse, Bobby Hebb, Rodge Martin, The Beat Boys, Earl Gaines & Jimmy Church, The Four M's, Joe Simon, Freddie King, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges & Fred Ford, Willie Mitchell, Big Amos Patton, Veniece Starks, Little Milton, Don Bryant, The Ovations, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, The Bar-Kays, Mitty Collier, Garnett Mimms, Sam & Dave, and Patti Labelle & The Bluebelles!