The cult movie mar­ket has been ser­viced well by the DVD/blu-ray world but can the same real­ly been said for the cultish rock music mar­ket?  Major labels rarely show an inter­est in this stuff, their cor­po­rate mind­set pre­cludes such chance-tak­ing and rights issues (the bane of the music reis­sue world) fre­quent­ly snuff out the best projects in their infan­cy.  Usually, the best projects in this area are done by bootleg out­fits — and they often have to trade qual­i­ty for com­plete­ness.

Volume 1 of the Barry Richards T.V. Collection is a unique release because it man­ages to find a hap­py medi­um between the two worlds — it’s an offi­cial, thought­ful­ly pack­aged release but it has the gen­eros­i­ty of con­tent and broad spec­trum of acts you would expect from a bootleg release.

Image qual­i­ty is very good for 1970-era video shot under lo-fi con­di­tions.  Most of the mate­ri­al includ­ed on the DVD was tak­en from the orig­i­nal 2-inch video mas­ters for the show: the col­ors are often sur­pris­ing­ly vivid and detail is good for some­thing shot on video.  The set uti­lizes a mono sound­track that sounds pret­ty clear: there’s the occa­sion­al minor hitch but that is usu­al­ly due to the nature of the live record­ing sit­u­a­tions that Richards’ show favored.  There is a stretch of rare mate­ri­al that is tak­en from a black-and-white VHS source that suf­fers from a fuzzy images and some audio glitch­es ear­ly on but the rar­i­ty of this mate­ri­al ensures that it is worth watch­ing.  Overall, the a/v qual­i­ty is solid, espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er the pro­duc­tion con­di­tions.

There are also some swell extras.  A brief image gallery is tak­en from on-set pho­tos and shows Richards with a num­ber of acts, includ­ing a few not fea­tured on the DVD itself (like Iron Butterfly, for instance).  There is also around a half hour’s worth of audio inter­views includ­ed on the DVD: the half-dozen clips pre­sent­ed there include Buster Crabbe talk­ing about ecol­o­gy and his work on seri­als and an inter­est­ing, uneasy inter­view with Patrick Wayne and Chris Mitchum in which Richards asks Wayne if his dad — The Duke — ever smoked pot!  However, the most enter­tain­ing bit in this sec­tion is a radio inter­view with a wise­crack­ing, prob­a­bly ine­bri­at­ed Alice Cooper cir­ca the Muscle Of Love tour.

Anyone who enjoys the afore­men­tioned audio clips will appre­ci­ate the CD includ­ed in this set.  It offers a mix­ture of radio inter­views and audio clips from oth­er episodes of Turn On.  Most of it is chat but there is some music inter­spersed amongst the dia­logue: Little Richards does a wild, rock rave-up the­me for The Barry Richards Show, Dr. John con­tributes an epic, ten-min­ute ver­sion of “Gris Gris” (plus anoth­er tune) and there are a pair of songs from under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed Anglo-pop genius Emitt Rhodes.

As for the spo­ken mate­ri­al on the CD, it’s pret­ty com­pelling all the way through.  Early on, you are treat­ed to some brief inter­views with the Beatles cir­ca 1964, with Richards affect­ing a pret­ty intense vintage-d.j. voice and a brief inter­view with a very surly Dr. John.  That said, the high­light of the CD is a clos­ing block of Alice Cooper-relat­ed mate­ri­al: a wild, Richards-voiced ad for a Cooper con­cert, a brief 1972 radio inter­view in which Cooper talks about the soon-to-be-released School’s Out and, best of all, a boozy and hilar­i­ous extend­ed inter­view (near­ly 17 min­utes!) of Cooper with Flo And Eddie of Turtles/Zappa fame.  It’s the kind of free­wheel­ing, unhinged, shoot-from-the-hip chat you’ll nev­er hear in this pack­aged, p.r.-dominated era.

In short, this a grand-slam of a col­lec­tion for fans of the more eclec­tic and eccen­tric cor­ners of 1970’s rock.  You get treat­ed to 150 min­utes of video mate­ri­al as well as 120 min­utes of audio and the set even boasts col­or­ful, thought­ful­ly laid out digi-pak pack­ag­ing.  Said pack­ag­ing includes a book­let full of essays by peo­ple involved with the set’s pro­duc­tion and sev­er­al rare pho­tos and ad mats from Turn On.  If cult rock from the 1970’s is what you crave, Barry Richards T.V. Collection, Vol. 1 deliv­ers the vin­tage goods.