DVD Review: Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics

DVD Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Why isn’t Ed Sullivan in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame? The host of the long running variety show on CBS was responsible for two of the biggest moment in Rock history. On September 9, 1956, Ed Sullivan introduced Elvis Presley to an audience of 60 million people. That was over 80% of the people who had access to TV. He launched a kid from Memphis into the stratosphere. Then on February 9, 1964, 73 million people huddled around their tiny black and white TV sets to experience the British Invasion with the Beatles. Think of how the musical tastes changed for millions of viewers on those two nights. Ed’s show booked so many rock legends including the Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. How can he not be inducted and enshrined in Cleveland? Perhaps they view Ed Sullivan as not a rock and roll kind of guy? He was an entertainment gossip columnist in New York City who was able to finagle hosting the show from 1948 until the cancelation in 1971. He had all sorts of acts booked on his show from comics to opera to Broadway casts to spinning plates. He wasn’t exclusively rock and roll. If your family tuned in on Sundays at 8 p.m., there was something for everybody coming up on his really big show. The good news is that Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics is focused just on the rock acts.

This is more than a random compilation of performance clips. The DVD feature episodes from a series that was made in the late ’90s. Jay Thomas (Cheers) narrates the episodes by giving a sense of historical context and background on the various acts. This allows you to appreciate the performances more than just running a bunch of clips. The acts are grouped so you can experience of the pioneers of rock or the British Invasion bands. There are quite a few bands from the psychedelic times. This is the kind of treasure trove of performances that would excite avid listeners of Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

There was a wide variety ways people performed on Ed Sullivan. Quite a few showed up and lip synched to their hit song. Others would sing live while their band mimed playing their instruments to a backing track. Another variation was singers performing live with Ed Sullivan’s house orchestra. There were a few bands that played everything live and sang. The complete live moments can be easily identified because they sound rather rough. Early TV audio microphones and mixing weren’t optimal at the time. They were dealing with was broadcasting it to antennas that were hooked up to TVs with a tiny mono speaker. There was no such thing as a 5.1 DTS-HD run through a sound bar. But no matter how your favorite band played (or fake played) on The Ed Sullivan Show, they all looked their best. They didn’t want to look unfashionable in front of millions of viewers.

There are some people who want to see the uncut episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show. I have experienced a few uncut episodes. You’re better off cutting straight to the memorable moments instead of all the plate spinning action and forgotten performers that filled out the hour. You want to cut right to Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones and Marvin Gaye. Ed Sullivan might not have been a rock icon, but the man used his show to bring the music to kids across the country. Ed Sullivan doesn’t need to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame since Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics is a Rock Hall of Fame all to itself.

The Video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is taken off the standard definition videotapes and a few kinescopes from when the show aired. There’s a lot of black and white footage since CBS didn’t embrace Color until the mid-60s. The audio is in Dolby Stereo, but the original band recordings were in mono.

The Ed Sullivan All-Star Comedy Special (91:11) is contains clips from the comics that appeared on his variety show over the decades. The lineup includes George Carlin, Milton Berle, Flip Wilson, John Byrner, Rowan & Martin, Joan Rivers and more. The special is hosted by Mary Tyler Moore.

British Invades, America Fights Back (56:17) goes into the time when the British bands ruled the charts in the mid-60s and American bands that didn’t shrivel up. There is talk of the Beatles vs. The Beach Boys. The special includes performances including Peter and Gordon’s “A World Without Love,” The Who’s “Can’t Explain” and The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”

The Sounds of Soul (55:49) goes into the history of Soul music with performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. You get more performance from James Brown, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5.

Interviews include Pete Townshend, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Michelle Phillips, Rich Little, Flip Wilson, John Sebastian, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, Glady’s Knight, Joan Rivers, Chris Hillman, Felix Cavaliere, Peter Noone, Steve Allen, Milton Berle, James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Time Life presents Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics. Starring Ed Sullivan and Jay Thomas. Boxset Contents 25 episodes on 10 DVDs. Release Date: October 11, 2022.

Here are the episodes with the songs and musical acts:

Top Hits of 1965
1. Medley: “It’s the Same Old Song/Something About You/I Can’t Help Myself”
Four Tops 

2. “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” 
Herman’s Hermits 

3. “Let’s Hang On!” 
The 4 Seasons 

4. “Do You Believe in Magic” 
The Lovin’ Spoonful

5. “It’s Not Unusual” 
Tom Jones 

6. “I’m a Fool” 
Dino, Desi & Billy

Top Hits of 1966
1. “Along Comes Mary” 
The Association 

2. “My World Is Empty Without You” 
The Supremes

3. “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing”
Lou Rawls 

4. “Don’t Bring Me Down” 
The Animals 

5. “Paint It, Black” 
The Rolling Stones

Top Hits of 1967
1. “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” 
Johnny Rivers 

2. “The Happening” 
The Supremes 

3. “Never My Love”

 The Association 

4. “Creeque Alley”

The Mamas & The Papas 

5. “Ruby Tuesday”

 The Rolling Stones

Bonus Performance: “The Ballad of the Green Berets”
SSgt Barry Sadler

West Coast Rock

1. “California Soul”
The 5th Dimension

2. “She’d Rather Be with Me”
The Turtles

3. “Grazing in the Grass”
The Friends of Distinction

Top Hits of 1968
1. “Lady Willpower”
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap 

2. “Mony Mony”
Tommy James and the Shondells

3. “Time Has Come Today” 
The Chambers Brothers 

4. “Do It Again” 
The Beach Boys 

5. “Like to Get to Know You” 
Spanky and Our Gang 

6. “Delilah” 
Tom Jones

Top Hits of 1969
1. “Baby It’s You” 

2. “Jean” 

3. “Worst That Could Happen” 
Brooklyn Bridge

4. “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” 
The 5th Dimension

5. “Proud Mary”
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Top Hits of 1970
1. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head 
B. J. Thomas

2. I Want You Back 
The Jackson 5

3. One Less Bell to Answer 
The 5th Dimension

4. We’ve Only Just Begun 

5. Someday We’ll Be Together 
Diana Ross and the Supremes

6. The Love You Save 
The Jackson 5

Folk Rock
1. Up on Cripple Creek 
The Band

2. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)
The Byrds

3. Down on the Corner 
Creedence Clearwater Revival

4. Daydream 
The Lovin’ Spoonful

R&B Greats
1. Proud Mary 
The Ike & Tina Turner Revue

2. Lonely Teardrops 
Jackie Wilson3. Fingertips—Pt. 2 
Stevie Wonder4. I Can’t Get Next to You 
The Temptations

First Women of Rock
1. Love Child 
Diana Ross and the Supremes

2. Maybe
Janis Joplin

3. Son-of-a Preacher Man 
Dusty Springfield

4. If I Were Your Woman 
Gladys Knight & the Pips

5. Raise Your Hand
Janis Joplin

6. You Can’t Hurry Love
The Supremes

Great Groups
1. Help!
The Beatles

2. Words
Bee Gees

3. Mr. Tambourine Man 
The Byrds

4. It’s All in the Game 
Four Tops

5. Medley: My Girl/(I Know) I’m Losing You 
The Temptations

6. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction 
The Rolling Stones

The British Invasion
1. She Loves You 
The Beatles

2. We Gotta Get Out of This Place 
The Animals

3. Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter 
Herman’s Hermits

4. Needles and Pins 
The Searchers

5. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying 
Gerry and the Pacemakers6. The House of the Rising Sun 
The Animals

Smash Hits of the ’60s
1. I Get Around 
The Beach Boys

2. Monday, Monday 
The Mamas & The Papas

3. California Dreamin’ 
The Mamas & The Papas

4. Big Girls Don’t Cry 
The 4 Seasons

5. Downtown 
Petula Clark

6. Crimson and Clover 
Tommy James and the Shondells

Bonus Performance: “Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)”
Neil Diamond 

Psychedelic ’60s

“Born To Be Wild/Magic Carpet Ride”

by Steppenwolf 

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”

by Vanilla Fudge

“Psychedelic Shack”

by The Temptations

Groovy Sounds
1. Groovin’
The Young Rascals

2. Happy Together
The Turtles

3. Good Lovin’
The Young Rascals

4. Sunday Will Never Be The Same
Spanky And Our Gang 

5. Stoned Soul Picnic 
The 5th Dimension

6. Good Morning Starshine 

7. Good Vibrations
The Beach Boys

Move to the Music
Twist And Shout 
The Beatles

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On
Jerry Lee Lewis

Dancin’ In The Street
Martha & the Vandellas

That’s Why (I Love You So)
Jackie Wilson

Keep The Ball Rollin’
Jay And The Techniques

Do The Freddie 
Freddie And The Dreamers

Dance To The Music 
Sly & The Family Stone

Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame

“Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis Presley

“Wendy” by The Beach Boys

“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Rock Legends
1. Hound Dog
Elvis Presley

2. What I’d Say 
Jerry Lee Lewis

3. Peggy Sue
Buddy Holly

4. Blueberry Hill
Fats Domino

5. Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley

Rock Legends 2
Too Much 
Elvis Presley

That’ll Be The Day 
Buddy Holly

Prisoner Of Love
James Brown

Let The Four Winds Blow 
Fats Domino

I’m Comin’ On Back To You 
Jackie Wilson

British Invasion 2
1. I Want To Hold Your Hand 
The Beatles

2. Time Is On My Side 
The Rolling Stones

3. Just A Little Bit Better 
Herman’s Hermits

4. Ferry Cross The Mersey 
Gerry And The Pacemakers

5. I’m Telling You Now
Freddie And The Dreamers

Legends of Soul
1. For Once In My Life
Stevie Wonder

2. Take This Heart Of Mine 
Marvin Gaye

3. Up-Up And Away 
The 5th Dimension

4. I Second That Emotion 
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

5. Bold Soul Sister 
The Ike & Tina Turner Revue

Motortown Review
1. Doggone Right
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

2. Love Is Like An Itching in My Heart
The Supremes

3. Love Child
Diana Ross & The Supremes

4. Who’s Lovin’ You
The Jackson 5

5. You Met Your Match
Stevie Wonder

6. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
The Temptations

Classic Love Songs

“Dedicated To The One I Love” by The Mamas & The Papas

“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by Carpenters

“Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley

Teen Idols
1. Ready Teddy
Elvis Presley

2. Not The Lovin’ Kind
Dino, Desi & Billy

3. It’s Not Unusual
Tom Jones 

4. Diana
Paul Anka

5. Dream Lover
Bobby Darin

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.