Rock Icons DVD

Sly Stone is stoned. Janis Joplin is thoughtful and insecure. David Bowie is fidgety. Paul Simon is articulate and revealing. George Harrison is modestly humorous. David Crosby is a jackass. And Dick Cavett is often deliberately corny, playing off his own admitted “squareness,” often quick-witted, incredibly patient and genuinely interested in understanding the musicians set out before him.

From 1969-74, he hosted The Dick Cavett Show and invited anybody that might fit his eclectic format to stop by and chat about their careers and the events of the day in a way that maybe Charlie Rose could get away with today. (It’s a relief to know he won’t be taking anyone’s phone call on the air.)

This three-DVD collection (one entirely devoted to three Janis Joplin appearances) is a time capsule with mixed musical performances. Sly Stone is tight and wired for “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” and incoherent for his interview. Jefferson Airplane uses three lead singers and is best served with an instrumental jam. Joni Mitchell resembles a kindergarten teacher playing to a group of impatient kids (one tune’s even a cappella). And Cavett, to his credit, never editorializes, never rolls his eyes, even when he’s well within his rights.

Rob O'Connor writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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