Judge Gordon Sullivan has a raspberry alarm clock. It goes "Phhffft!" at him every morning.
A Musical Celebration of the Summer of Love
In any musical era, there are two types of band: those who define the era, and those who are defined by it. When it comes to the Summer of Love, it's not hard to think of bands in the first category: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Led Zepplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, the list goes on. These are bands who transcended the trappings of the late '60s (which they helped create) and went on to great acclaim. Bands in the second category are a little harder to come up with, considering many of them are one-hit wonders or broke up before they had a chance to make it big after the Summer of Love. The problem with Love-In: A Musical Celebration is that it only includes bands in the latter category, making the disc totally inessential.
Love-In is essentially a live revue of some of the music from 1967, including performances by Buddy Miles (drummer to Jimi Hendrix, among others), Peter & Gordon, and Strawberry Alarm Clock. It includes a number of performances by various artists over the 108-minute runtime:
• "Ben's Intro"—by Ben Vereen
I'll be the first to admit there's some good music included in this set, with songs penned by famous scribes like Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, and Jimi Hendrix. However, I'll also be the first to point out that these are some of the most inessential recordings of those songs to have ever been committed to tape. Not even Eric Johnson's dynamic fretwork can save Hendrix classics like "Castles Made of Sand" from sounding like a lifeless, rehashed version of the original. In the cases of the original performers doing their own tunes, we get competent, though hardly remarkable, versions of songs many will be familiar with like "Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. These are less depressing than the cover songs, but still pale in comparison to the originals.
The only thing in this writer's opinion that saves this DVD from total oblivion is Eric Johnson, who appears on a number of tunes. He's a very talented guitarist, and even though he's playing the music of others it's still a treat to watch his hands fly over the frets. It's also a little eerie how well he reproduces both the tone and the phrasing of Jimi Hendrix's famous guitar tunes. He's a little more mannered in his playing than Jimi ever was, but if you close your eyes it would be hard to tell the difference between Jimi's guitar and Johnsons at some points.
On the audiovisual presentation front, we get a decent video transfer with no major problems, and a pair of audio tracks do a fine job of presenting the music on the disc. For extras we get a couple of bonus tracks, the trailer, and a photo gallery.
There's little doubt in my mind that the Summer of Love produced some great music, but if you want to remember it fondly, track down the original recordings instead of listening to this completely unremarkable series of covers and revisions. Unless you absolutely want to catch up on a gray-haired version of the Strawberry Alarm Clock or Peter & Gordon, give this set a wide berth.
This disc feels more like "cash-in" than "love-in." Guilty.
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