Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cornerstones Of Rock - Wrapping It Up

After Larz from Chicagoland Radio and Media ran a piece on Tuesday about the missing footage from the "Cornerstones Of Rock" DVD, as first profiled here in Forgotten Hits (by way of several emails received from disgruntled PBS contributors who felt that they had received less than they were expecting ... or led to believe they should be expecting), he heard back from the COO of WTTW.  
You can get the full report here:
After seeing our initial olumn spotlighting emails from disappointed fans who made hefty donations to the station in the hopes of getting commemorative copies of the program they saw and more (in the way of bonus features) and prior to going to print with his findings, Larz told us ...
Hi Kent:
This is a huge shame (and a bit of a sham). I will certainly give this a write-up tomorrow. I will reach out to WTTW for comment in the morning, although I doubt I'll hear anything. If I do hear something, my hunch is that they will blame the musical omissions on licensing fees. Regardless, WTTW screwed up, since I know there were a couple hours of interviews recorded which they could have included as a bonus feature -- licensing cost free. The fact is, the company took the cheap way out and screwed-over loyal viewers who donated large amounts of money.Larz
And then, post-conversation (and explanation) ...
I talked with the COO of WTTW. He had a fairly logical explanation. 
In a nutshell:
- PBS can broadcast all the music they want without worrying about solidifying the rights.
- When it came to the DVD / CD, they could not get confirmation of the rights to "Gloria."
- "Louie Louie" was (and I'm quoting him) a "hot mess." The sound quality was wrecked and they could not fix it.
- None of this was on purpose. They had truly hoped to release the full broadcast on DVD.
Personally, I think this should have been noted on the packaging in fine print somewhere, but I'm guessing they hoped few would notice. Based on the mail that you've received, obviously that wasn't the case.
From the CRM website update:
Executives with WTTW-TV have responded.
There were a few reasons behind the changes with the DVD and CD releases that were beyond WTTW-TV's control.
When airing the television special, PBS had a blanket rights plan to broadcast music performances. In December when WTTW-TV began to solicit donations for the to-be-created DVDs and CDs, they thought they would be including every song from the "Cornerstones of Rock" special on the perks for donors. However, when it came time to creating the discs, a question arose over the rights to the song "Gloria." Rather than delaying the discs any longer or risking a legal challenge, a decision was made to simply remove "Gloria" and any mention of the song from the DVD and CD releases.
With "Louie Louie," the problem was with the audio quality. While it was fun for the TV broadcast and for those in the audience, the fact is that the impromptu jam on the garage rock classic did not have the sound quality that the rest of the evening's performances had. Attempts at bettering the sound quality were unsuccessful. Once again, a decision was made to simply remove the song from the DVD and CD release, instead of delivering a sub-par track.
"Get It On," the one hit from Chicago group Chase was included on the DVD, but not on the television airing, making it a bonus for those who donated to Chicago's PBS station for the perks.
Already running late in getting the DVD's and CD's to the public who had paid for them, my hunch is WTTW played it safe (and perhaps jumped the gun just little bit), rather than waiting it out to see if the rights to "Gloria" could be secured.  (As stated several times here already, "Gloria" is a KEY track to ANY profile of Garage Band Rock.)  
Unfortunately, it's the customers making donations who got cheated in this process.  (Another track missing from the DVD was Jim Peterik playing around with "Eye Of The Tiger" in the dressing room ... I suppose maybe they weren't sure they could get the rights to that one either?!?!  Kinda hard to believe since Jim Peterik was one of the organizers of the whole event.)
The REAL shame is that several entire performances of songs performed by these artists that night were cut that COULD have been included as "bonus footage" had somebody been a bit more creative on the editing end of things.  Brand new interviews could have been interwoven with vintage television clips of all of the artists performing from back in the day.  This collection could have been SO much more than it is had just a little bit of thought been put into the overall project.  They had dozens and dozens of hours of additional footage that could have been culled together to turn this into a much more memorable (and fan-friendly) pieces ... they just chose not to use any of it.  (Larz feels that some sort of disclaimer should be placed on the WTTW website warning fans interested in purchasing this set that it contains and "edited version" of the PBS concert special ... and he's probably right ... otherwise we're just going to continue to receive letters from  disappointed fans who were expecting the whole show ... and then some.

That being said, it IS a GREAT concert video of our Local Heroes, circa 2015.all of whom did a GREAT job of bringing back a key part of our lives up on that stage that night.  The importance of seeing them all together again brought home that message so much stronger thanks to the recent developments of '60's artists like Gary Loizzo, Jimy Sohns and Marty Grebb (who, I'm told, was NOT asked to participate in the taping, despite a HUGE turn-out for his own benefit concert earlier that same year.)
The tribute to Chase was excellent ... a truly smokin' performance of a great seldom-heard classic.  Despite being included in the end credits during the original broadcast, this segment was NOT shown when "Cornerstones Of Rock" first aired.  As such it becomes the ONLY "bonus" feature offered to the public who shelled out big bucks to preserve this special piece of history ... and it comes at the expense of other footage previously aired as part of the original broadcast that all of us were expecting to see.)
A word to the wise ... if you're a fan of this music and these great artists, catch the show live at The Arcada Theatre on September 3rd, before all of the tickets are gone.  This has turned into a VERY hot, in-demand series of shows ... all the more reason we feel it deserved a better fate when being marketed as a keepsake to a very devoted audience.  Hopefully each group is allowed to expand their set a little bit to feature more than what had to be edited down to fit the time restraints of a television broadcast. (kk)
I did break down and watch one of my copies of the Cornerstones dvd.
Basically what they did, from the edited televised version, was delete the group Louie Louie finale and insert the Chase Tribute in its place. I am now surprised they didn’t leave in the pledge drive breaks. That’s it. It is still very well done, but a huge disappointment. I was really looking forward to Sunshine Psalm, Up on the Roof and Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White. When that 45 came out most of the good bands in our area covered Good Guys and not Dirty Water. Most people only listen to the “A” side, so if you cover the “B” side everyone thinks it’s your original song. These three songs, although performed that night, are nowhere on the DVD.  
Robert Campbell
No, I think we've already got all that we'll be getting.  As I stated earlier, I would have LOVED to have been able to purchase a 2-DVD set featuring the entire COMPLETE performance as it aired on WTTW as well as a "bonus disc" featuring performances trimmed for editing purposes along with interviews with these artists about what it was like having all these hit records back in the day and how it feels now, some fifty years later, to still see the loyal fans turn out for all these shows. That, interspersed with original television footage from back in the day and this could have been one hell of a package, marketable to fans outside the Chicagoland area as well.
But at this point, I'm ready to put this one to bed.  We got what we're getting ... disappointing yet, but still a great show that I know I'll watch many times again.  Now I wanna see the whole thing live ... so Ron, put me down for two tickets to the September 3rd show at The Arcada Theatre! (kk)