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Dick Cavett Show

By Hal Horowitz

While it's a stretch calling Paul Simon or Stevie Wonder "rock," this triple DVD set presents nine entire, commercial-free episodes where Dick Cavett welcomed music superstars to his stage. From 1969-'74 his was the only talk show to invite these acts to meet mainstream America, at least half way. Although he might have been more comfortable conversing with crusty Hollywood actors, Cavett's quick mind, relatively youthful demeanor and respectful if slightly stilted approach worked moderately well with music acts not accustomed to the restrictions of network television.

Here he interviews the good (a post-Bangla Desh concert George Harrison is witty and honest, as is a very articulate Paul Simon), the bad (Sly Stone in a druggy haze) and the nervous (a painfully uncomfortable David Bowie fiddles with a cane, looking as if he wished he was somewhere else), while holding his own, sometimes barely, with the Woodstock generation. The latter dominates an entire show as Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Joni Mitchell hold court the day after the 1969 event. Janis Joplin appears three times (July '69, June and August '70) and is sharp, intelligent and affable mixing with guests as varied as Raquel Welch, Gloria Swanson and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. A July '72 pre-concert chat with Mick Jagger demonstrates how effectively the comparatively straight-laced Cavett meshed with the Stones' lead singer backstage at Madison Square Garden.

Sonically, the primitive mono sound is surprisingly well mixed, and the discs are conveniently chapter divided to find the musical interludes, an enormous convenience that helps skip some dull patter with Cavett's other guests. These appearances by musicians that were rarely interviewed on television are historically significant and will delight fans that previously sufficed with sketchy bootlegs of this material.

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1969-1972

Cast: Dick Cavett

Network: ABC

Genre: Variety

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