When Dick Cavett joined the late-night talk show parade in 1969, his intelligent wit pumped a much-needed breath of fresh air into the format. The show offered guests a forum for controversial opinions and didn?t shy away ... more »from an occasional debate about women?s liberation or the war in Vietnam. The Dick Cavett Show also became the late-night home of rock ?n? roll, with a guest list that reads like a who?s who of the era?s top performers. The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons features 9 episodes from 1969 to 1974 featuring Janis Joplin, David Bowie, George Harrison, Sly And The Family Stone, Stevie Wonder and many more. Highlights include 3 episodes with Janis Joplin and "The Woodstock Show," taped the day after the festival with Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby and Stephen Stills. The shows also feature Cavett's interviews with many of the fascinating personalities of the day from Gloria Swanson to Debbie Reynolds to Raquel Welch. Also included is the featurette Cavett Meets The Rolling Stones, featuring live performance footage from the Stones and a revealing backstage interview with Mick Jagger. Adding insight and perspective to the set are episode introductions and a brand new interview with Dick Cavett. Over 25 Historic Performances on 3 DVDs including: Chelsea Morning ? Joni Mitchell
Somebody To Love ? Jefferson Airplane with David Crosby
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again) ? Sly And The Family Stone
In the original telecast of the Rolling Stones segment, Cavett interviewed Mick Jagger backstage moments before he was about to perform. The occasion: one of the Stones' famed Madison Square Garden shows on their 1972 US tour. Mick excuses himself to walk onstage, and the cameras follow -- way cool.
Jagger dances out, and the Stones tear into a sledgehammer version of Brown Sugar. It's one of the few times in the band's patchy concert film history cameras manage to perfectly capture the feeling of seeing them live back then. You *are* there -- and it's wonderful.
The original Cavett footage also includes the concert closer, Street Fighting Man. The Stones were on fire this night. They were a year away from what many consider their performing peak, the 1973 European tour. Second guitarist Mick Taylor propelled them to an unprecedented level of intensity.
-- BAD NEWS:
The Stones footage was a late addition to this set, delaying its originally scheduled release date. Previously, permission had been denied by the band. For reasons unknown, Jagger relented at the last minute. But with a caveat -- the DVD could only feature two minutes of each of the Stones' two songs.
One might guess, concern about bootlegging. But the Rolling Stones would take a paltry financial hit if copies a 32-year old performance of two songs hit the black market. No. The more likely suspect is ego.
Jagger has been scrupulously blocking the release -- on either CD or DVD -- of (additional) Mick Taylor-era live material. Mick admitted years back in a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner that a lot of people consider the Taylor years the band's finest incarnation. And he sidestepped the question of whether he concurred.
Mick: We understand you don't need a lot of crap about how today's Rolling Stones don't compare to the early '70s. And we appreciate that as their leader, you need to take the feelings of the current line-up into consideration. Really, we do.
But you've been suppressing live Taylor recordings and footage for four decades now -- nearly half a century. How about at long last giving us a break? There's the unreleased Decca live album from 1972. Ladies & Gentlemen on DVD. CS Blues. Film and audio footage from the 1971 UK tour. And the greatest Stones trove of all: superb recordings of your legendary 1973 European tour.
In the meantime, for Stones diehards, this Cavett collection will have to suffice. Let's hope an enthusiastic appreciation of them sends Sir Mick a message he can't ignore -- Let It Loose."
The Return of a Great Talk Show
Mr. Gary L. Shapiro | Aptos, ca USA | 06/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Dick Cavett Show aired on ABC at 11:30 pm from 1969-1974 as an alternative to The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson. Both shows were 90 minutes then, and while both men were comedians, Cavett having been a writer for Jack Paar, The Dick Cavett Show had less emphasis on humor and more on intelligent conversation. As a result, Cavett was able to secure guests that other talk shows could not. He often devoted the entire show to a single guest. Groucho Marx was once Cavett's only guest for entire week. Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Noel Coward, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine all made appearances on The Dick Cavett Show. Cavett always engaged his guests in conversation, rather than simply interviewing them, or waiting for an opportunity to make a joke as talk show hosts constantly do nowadays. I am hoping that this release will be the first in a long line of excerpts from the Cavett archives. Many great rock stars joined Dick Cavett for a performance and interview. One classic episode featured Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Jefferson Airplane, fresh from Woodstock, sitting on the floor surrounded by young fans and Joni Mitchell. Dick replaced his usual neck tie for a corny neckerchief. Cavett has recorded new introductions to the segments included on this DVD set, which appears to be a very good beginning of what could be a great series of DVDS."
A time capsule
B. W. Fairbanks | Lakewood, OH United States | 09/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The dead live on in movies, of course, but film has a glossy, soft, luxurious look that keeps its distance. Videotape has a harder, almost three dimensional quality. It's more real somehow and, when preserved as well as the episodes of "The Dick Cavett Show" included in the "Rock Icons" set obviously were, every program has the look of a live broadcast. On video, people who are long dead really do appear to be as alive as ever. In this collection, Janis Joplin, in the grave for more than three decades, sings her heart out, legendary newsman Chet Huntley speaks of a retirement that will be cut short by death, and other luminaries, living and dead, are forever frozen in time.
Janis Joplin made a minimum of three appearances on Cavett's show and those episodes are the highlight of this collection. The August 3, 1970 show is memorable primarily because Joplin would be dead a month or two later. An overly glamourous Gloria Swanson stops by, as does Margot Kidder who looks like a teenager. Less memorable is the appearance of a presumably long forgotten football player who plugs a controversial book critical of the game (yawn).
Far more interesting is the June 25, 1970 episode in which Joplin sings "Get It While You Can," Raquel Welch plugs "Myra Breckinridge," tanned, silver-haired Douglas Fairbanks Jr adds a touch of old-style Hollywood glamour, and NBC newscaster Chet Huntley, set to leave his evening news gig with David Brinkley, shamelessly flirts with Raquel and briefly crosses tongues with Joplin.
The discussion of television news in this episode demonstrates how little the times have changed with Huntley denying charges of liberal bias in the media. Raquel, proving she has brains as well as bosoms, speaks of the need to "compromise" in an era in which we are so "polarized." It's the interaction between these diverse public figures that makes these shows unique and far more intriguing than contemporary talk shows where guests plug their latest product, then disappear behind the curtain when the next guest takes the stage.
If you have more patience with hippie philosophising that I do, you may enjoy the episode with Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and others taped only one day after the Woodstock festival concluded, but Paul Simon's 1974 appearance is more interesting. In addition to performing three songs, two of them with the Jesse Dixon Singers, Simon gives Cavett and the viewers an illustrated lesson in songwriting, even offering a preview of a song in progress that would become one of his best loved tunes.
Of equal interest is a 1971 show with George Harrison in which "the quiet Beatle" shows he's as quick with a quip as John Lennon. There's also a 1974 appearance by David Bowie who nervously fumbles with a cane, has a bad case of the sniffles (go ahead, raise those eyebrows), and performs two songs. Bowie's backup vocalists at that time included a then unknown Luther Vandross who (I'm guessing) adds his voice to Bowie's renditions of "1984" and the yet to be released "Young Americans." The big bummer in this set is Sly Stone who is incomprehensible for reasons each viewer can decide for himself.
At the tail end of one broadcast, authors Jerzy Kosinski and Anthony Burgess turn the tables on Cavett by interviewing him upon the publication of his autobiography.
Even those uninterested in rock and roll may find these shows fascinating. Each episode is complete and serves as a time capsule of a long gone era when television, then dismissed as a "vast wasteland," was actually more intelligent and cutting edge than it is now. Cavett, despite later revealing that he was suffering from serious depression during much of his show's run, is always bright and personable, never condescending to his guests even when they come from a field in which his interest was minimal ("Most rock and roll," he says in a current interview, "bores my a** off"). And unlike other hosts who felt intimidated interviewing performers whose popularity may have been mysterifying to anyone nearing or beyond age 40, Cavett never embarrasses himself by feigning a "hipness" that he is obviously too smart to think is worth imitating in the first place. These shows have nostalgia to spare, but they somehow seem more contemporary than Leno and Letterman combined. Intelligence, though seemingly no longer in fashion, always triumphs in the long run, and intelligence was Cavett's stock in trade.
Brian W. Fairbanks "
Priceless footage (but be ready to fast forward at times)!
Susan Doran | Portland, ME United States | 10/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with much of what other reviewers have already said. In a nutshell: (1) valuable and fascinating footage of performers you probably haven't seen anywhere before; and (2) if you're expecting a DVD of back-to-back performances/interviews with rock/pop stars you'll be disappointed--what you get is full-length 90-minute Dick Cavett shows including his pretty lame monologues (which are not at all political, even during those politically charged years, which--to me--would have been more interesting than his corny, apolitical, dated jokes), as well as lengthy, often awkward interviews with people like Pancho Gonzales (tennis player?) and Debbie Reynolds--but if those don't interest you, that's why fast-forward was invented.
The opening segment of disc 1 is of Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, and Stephen Stills (also David Crosby joins Jefferson Airplane on a wildly struck tamborine). What was interesting to me was this: Dick Cavett is so uncomfortable with these hipster hippies, he's a total "square," and yet he deserves credit for being brave enough for being himself and trying to set up a "rap session" for the performers, who have to sit in a circle on these Day-Glo cushion cubes. At one point he says politely to Grace Slick (of Jeff Airplane): "Are you comfortable?" and she sort of sneers back, "No." Most of the other performers are sprawled on the floor using the cushions as pillows--they're clearly unimpressed (or trying to give that impression) of being on Dick Cavett, and they're also dead tired and wired from having just been at Woodstock. Joni Mitchell listens raptly to them all talk about the experience at Woodstock. Her handlers had convinced her to blow off going to Woodstock to make the Dick Cavett appearance. Maybe if she'd played Woodstock she would have been able to make it to Cavett, or maybe not. Jimi Hendrix was supposed to be among those present but was, as Cavett suggested, "zonked out in a hotel room," sleeping it off. In any case, Joni Mitchell is said to have written the song "Woodstock" directly after the Cavett show. At one point Joni Mitchell is asked to play a couple more songs. Her voice is incomparable, so clear and youthful and filled with emotion. And it's interesting watching Jefferson Airplane et al. sitting there watching/listening to her. You see Stephen Stills and Jorma (from the Airplane) watching her guitar, and really digging what she is playing. Paul Kantner (who seems like kind of a dick throughout the rap session/interview) leans over to Jack Cassady during one of Joni's songs and says something snide and they both snicker. Joni's, Stephen Stills' and the Jefferson Airplane's preformances are entrancing. And it's astounding that the censors didn't bleep the Airplane during "We Can Be Together" when they sing "Up against the wall motherf$%^er!" This segment ends with Jefferson Airplane doing an extended jam, with the audience dancing away. If you look closely you'll even see Joni Mitchell, in her long green hippie dress, grooving away with one of the fans in the audience!
I won't go on about Janis Joplin too much because that's covered at length in other reviews, but like others I'd never seen her except for little snippets here and there. You really get a sense of who she was--a unique human being and *enormously* talented! There are times that are rather uncomfortable--Janis won't sit still and listen to the others interviewed--she barges in and asks questions and argues with them. However, it's rivetting, and she usually does have something unique, provocative, and insightful to say. She and Raquel Welch are on the opposite side of several debates, and it would be difficult to argue with belligerent Janis Joplin, but Raquel Welch succeeds. I'd thought R. Welch would be a silicone bubblehead, but she's smart and articulate and funny.
David Bowie is at the height of a very queeny phase, which is compelling to see, and he belts out "1984" and "Young Americans" with gusto, and in full voice--he's fey and beauteous and eyelash-batty in the interview, and unfortunately Cavett was not tremendously adept in bringing him out (so to speak :)
Sly and the Family Stone were awesome! Musically fantastic, and the definition of funky. Sly is one of the most charasmatic humans I've ever seen. He was definitely $%^&ed up on something, but he was connecting with Dick Cavett in a very human way, which made Cavett a bit antsy...Sly has his own script and manner of expressing himself, and would say things with a big hazy smile, like "I like you, man. I can tell you're a good person." To which Cavett would respond, eyes darting back and forth, hands fidgetting, "Oh, well, er, thank you, and you too!"
Paul Simon does a heart-rending rendition of "An American Tune" (the song on my mind during those days after 911). He also discusses his approach to songwriting--and as he spoke with Cavett he grabbed his guitar and played what he'd worked out so far for "Still Crazy After All These Years," deconstructing the options for where the song could go next musically, and why. Again, Cavett is pretty awkward and doesn't really let Paul Simon finish his explanation (which I found captivating), and Cavett inserts feeble jokes, and makes irrelevant comments. Simon also posits and expounds on his theory that there are no genius musicians/songwriters in his generation--this unexpectedly spoken by a notorious egotist who has since tagged himself as a genius. Also featured are "Love Me Like a Rock" and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" with a gospel choir.
All the above are great. As is George Harrison's interview. At one point when discussing the complexities of how to handle the money collected from his charity concert for Bangladesh (the first-ever rock charity event), he says: "We were going to give [the proceeds] to the American Red Cross, who in turn could give it to the Indian Red Cross, but then we heard so many different stories about the Red Cross...and how these...hurricances hit someplace in America and they just take care of the whites, and all the blacks are there, and they're not taking care of them. You hear so many different stories about that..." Cavett looks as uncomfortable as Mike Meyers did when Kanye West made his recent pronouncement, and blurts: "I hadn't heard that." After the commercial break, Cavett re-interprets what Harrison said about the Red Cross and explains to the audience that George meant one must be careful about *any* charitable organization one is going to donate to, "and not just the Red Cross." George is sort of looking into the middle distance, and Cavett says, "RIGHT, George?" and Harrison says, "Uh, yeah, right." That's just one of the *very* many interesting moments with George Harrison.
I've gone on long enough, but that doesn't cover the half of it. I got tired of the long interviews with people I hadn't planned to listen to--but again, that's what the fast-forward button is for.
Check it out!"
A lost gem
A. Slipher | Dallas, TX | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great video collection if you have any interest in rock & cultural history. I was born in '72, and find this stuff an interesting statement on the cultural norms & upheavals of the late 60s & early 70s. I haven't made it through all the episodes yet, but Janis Joplin is electric in her performances.
The Sly Stone interview is funny and sad at the same time. Fresh performance.
The Bowie interview intriguing. Check out the late Luther Vandross singing backup in his leisure suit.
Finally, the Jefferson Airplane, CSN and Joni Mitchell episode is fresh off the heels of Woodstock - something I didn't know until I watched.