The Daily Advertiser
October 13, 2004
Remember when Kenny Rogers had long brown hair and wore big
glasses and an earring? If you do, you remember his 1970s band,
the First Edition, which churned out five Top 40 hits back in the day.
If you're really good, stretch your brain back to November,
1970, when Rogers and First Edition had their own TV special,
"Rollin' on the River." The show featured the hottest musical
acts of the day and was so popular,CBS turned it
into "Rollin'," a weekly program that ran from 1971 to '73.
If you can't remember, don't worry. Some performances from
"Rollin'" are now on a DVD called "Remember the '70s: Greatest
Hits Live" on the Shout! Factory label. This disc will ring the
bell bottoms of any '70s music fan.
The 14-song DVD features selections by Rogers and First Edition,
Jim Croce, Bill Withers, Al Green, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner,
Billy Preston, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Grass Roots and Malo.
Best of all, nearly all of these artists are actually singing, not
trying and failing at the miserable lip-synch jobs that were common
on TV 30 years ago.
Al Green's soulful voice is in top form as he belts out two of
his signature tunes, "Let's Stay Together" and "You Ought to Be With Me."
A young, slender B.B. King was a guitar god even back then as he worked
Lucille on "The Thrill is Gone." Tina Turner was soul in perpetual motion on
"Proud Mary" and "Get Back."
The music is very entertaining, but ironically, the audience
becomes a distraction for the oddest reason - they're so quiet. During
some rather moving music, these mainly young, all-white audience members
are almost comatose. It's as if the principal threatened to cancel recess
if these boys and girls didn't shut up and sit still until the show was over.
They politely clap when each song is over. But no one dances, sways or even
bobs a head to the beat.
On the DVD, Al Green oozed with his signature sensuality. It
reminded me of the time I saw him work it at City Stages, Birmingham's
version of Festival International, except the acts are domestic.
He was Rev. Al Green then, but the women there were putty in his
hands. They jumped, screamed, cried on every note that slipped Rev. Al's
lips. The roses he kissed and placed in the hands of a lucky few did little to
quench the fire. After about 20 minutes, one woman near me simply surrendered.
With her face washed with tears, she turned and stumbled away, unable to soak
But on "Rollin'," females in the audience just sat and stared.
Tina Turner shuffled and shimmied in high heels with moves that
would have made James Brown jealous. This wasn't the re-invented, 1980s
Tina Turner, now rich enough to own a palace overlooking the Mediterranean
Sea. This was the grits-eating, hip-shaking, soul-shouting Anna Mae
Bullock, just a few years removed from her Tennessee roots. Tina shook on
"Rollin'" and the guys sat and stared. The Ikettes, her back-up singers
and dancers, were minor earthquakes in sparkling outfits that put the mini
in mini-dress. They flashed more leg than Serena Williams in a windy tennis match.
But the guys just sat and stared. The audience finally woke up and clapped during
Billy Preston's rocking instrumental, "Outa-Space." But the original broadcast date
reads Dec. 16, 1972, so maybe they were just excited about Christmas.
To get a copy of "Remember the '70s," check at your favorite DVD
store or visit www.shoutfactory.com (or www.rememberthe70s.com).
You can relive some memorable music. Just forget about the
(Herman Fuselier is editor of The Daily Advertiser's Weekend,
where his column, Bayou Boogie, can be found every Friday. Listen to his
Bayou Boogie radio show at 10 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays on KRVS (88.7 FM)
and his TV show at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday on KDCG in Opelousas. E-mail