Barry Richards: TV Collection Vol. 1: Turn-On, Groove-In, Rock Out!

Following a brief introduction from the golden-throated disc jockey himself, the Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1 DVD/CD set almost immediately immerses the viewer into a bygone world of rock and roll glory. The journey begins in 1968, where we find Richards hosting a charming show called Groove-In, interviewing high school kids in the crowd and introducing a performance from Cliff Nobles. Wholesomeness abounds, and it’s a great contextual beginning for the DVD collection of Richards’ Washington D.C. local access show moments—because those innocent vibes, those charming, well-kempt faces? Yeah, they don’t last.

Two years later, 1970 finds Richards bearded—still with his radio voice on—cavorting with the likes of Richie Havens, Jamul (whose album I’ve added to my purchase list after watching the DVD) and, somehow appropriately Little Richard, who blazes through “Good Golly Miss Molly” like someone flipped a switch.

Everyone is stoned. Jamul plays in the woods. It’s fantastic. The clothes are everything that anything that’s ever been retro has been trying to duplicate, but the live performances are where it’s at. Producer/director Eli Brown has the DVD organized so you can get right to the meat, and as 1971 comes around and an even mangier Richards plays host on a show called Turn-On to the likes of Humble Pie, Bob Seger System, Fats Domino (backed by The Byrds) and Alice Cooper—whose “Black Juju” might be the high point of the whole collection—you want to get down to business as quickly as possible.

Since it’s local access footage from the ‘70s, some of the material is pretty raw, but Brown, who remastered the video himself, did an excellent job, and even the black and white clips of Crow and The Illusion have a certain charm. Likewise, one can’t help but feel like they’re watching a historical document as Muddy Waters nails “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Got My Mojo Workin’,” which is some of the clearest (and scruffiest on Richards’ part) video of all, shot in 1973.

The DVD has all kinds of bonus footage, from still galleries and interviews to the then-Vegas performer Iron Jaw Samson opening a Pepsi can with his teeth and eating a light bulb (even more disturbing than Alice Cooper), liner notes from Joe Hasselvander of Death Row and Raven, who was a fan at the time, and the CD plays out like a résumé of Richards’ radio career, boasting interviews with The Beatles, Little Richard, Dr. John and live takes from Ace Trucking Company, Emitt Rhodes, and more. It’s a classic and heavy rock treasure trove that has to be seen and heard to be believed—and for those of us mucking our way about the seedy underbelly of the music industry, an utter inspiration. Here’s looking forward to Vol. 2.

In A Word: Smithsonian