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MPI Networks presents
Hullabaloo Volumes 5-8 (1965-1966)

"I'm Hullabaloo, I am
Hullabaloo I am I am..."

- Peter Noone ("Herman")

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: July 20, 2001

Stars: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Chad & Jeremy, Soupy Sales
Other Stars: David McCallum, Don Adams, Petula Clark
Director: Bill Davis

Manufacturer: Zomax
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (no objectionable content)
Run Time: 03h:26m:26s
Release Date: May 22, 2001
UPC: 030306638928
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C-DD+ D

DVD Review

Hullabaloo aired on NBC in 1965 and 1966, featuring performances by pop music artists of the day and hosted each week by a different celebrity guest. In a clear break from Dick Clark's 100% lip-synched American Bandstand, Hullabaloo almost always featured live performances, complete with laughs and line flubs (despite the show's prerecorded nature.) Each show opens with remarks by the guest host, followed by several soundstage performances by the musical guests; an ersatz club performance on the "Hullabaloo A Go Go" set fills the remaining minutes before the end credits roll. The resident Hullabaloo Dancers provide movement with a disconcerting "Up With People" personality, choreographed by David Winters of West Side Story fame. The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, turns up in a few episodes to introduce some (generally obscure) British acts recorded at "Hullabaloo London."

Guest hosts include Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, singers Chad & Jeremy, David McCallum (billed only as "Ilya Kuryakin" of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Petula Clark, Peter Noone ("Herman" of Herman's Hermits), Barry McGuire, and Soupy Sales, all of whom do some competent singing themselves. Musical guests included here represent a cross-section of mid-1960s' pop music, though enduring acts like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Animals and Petula Clark are the exception rather than the rule. More obscure performers like The Brothers Four, The Beau Brummels, The Toys, and We Five fill out the one-hit wonder roster, a few hastily-written comedy sketches feature Don Adams, David McCallum and Soupy Sales, and Chad & Jeremy, Petula Clark and Noel Harrison perform some old vaudeville/music hall standards.

This compilation also features quite a bit of in-house talent (n╚e nepotism) and budding young stars who somehow wrangled an appearance on the show. We are "treated" to awkward singing performances by Hullabaloo dancers Pat Adiarte and Lada Edmund Jr., the pre-teen band Tony & The Tigers (featuring Soupy Sales' sons, Tony and Hunt, who half-heartedly cover The Beatles' Day TripperˇHanson these boys are not), and cover-girl-turned-performer Baby Jane Holzer (whose modest abilities are overshadowed by those of her backup singers). Choreographer David Winters dances on the November 1, 1965 episode, but what might have been an impressive performance is hampered by its accompaniment: musical director Peter Matz's presumably royalty-free "Hullago Theme," used as commercial lead-in/out music on every episode.

The set of 7 episodes selected by MPI for this DVD (Volumes 5-8 of the earlier VHS edition) are representative of the show, airing from February 16, 1965 (a special hour-long show) through April 4, 1966. These episodes do not follow those on the earlier Hullabaloo DVD release chronologically; they're an overlapping group, selected from the show's entire run. Since there are no plans to release ALL of the episodes (some of which have not survived), this should not be an issue. The episodes are presented complete-as-broadcast, though the original masters have been lost and the transfer must rely on poor-quality black-and-white kinescopes. The included episodes are:

February 16, 1965ˇHosted by Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello, with guests The Kinks, Dobie Gray, The Brothers Four, Sue Thompson, Freddie & the Dreamers, The Band of Angels, Brian Epstein, and Don Adams

September 27, 1965ˇHosted by David McCallum, with guests The Beau Brummels, Peter & Gordon, Brenda Lee, and The Animals

October 25, 1965ˇHosted by Petula Clark, with guests Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs, Kim Weston, Noel Harrison, The Toys, and Pat Adiarte

November 1, 1965ˇHosted by Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits, with guests Lola Falana, The Lovin' Spoonful, Leslie Gore, Dick Kallman, and David Winters

November 15, 1965ˇHosted by Barry McGuire, with guests The Kingsmen, Brenda Lee, Barbara McNair, and The Rolling Stones

March 28, 1966ˇHosted by Chad & Jeremy, with guests The Outsiders, Joe Tex, Baby Jane Holzer, and The Back Porch Majority

April 4, 1966ˇHosted by Soupy Sales, with guests The Young Rascals, Lada Edmund Jr., Tony & The Tigers, We Five, and The Remains

Looking at Hullabaloo thirty-odd years later, it's apparent that musical experimentation was the farthest thing from the minds of the show's producers and sponsors, who were more preoccupied with cashing on this whole teen music thing. Musical director Peter Matz provides schmaltzy lounge-music arrangements of pop hits, and the official Hullabaloo Dancers are often sloppy and out-of-synch, as though rehearsal time was a low priority. The musical guests are occasionally called on to cover other performers' hits during the "Top Pops" medley feature, and few of the songs and performances included on this compilation are memorable (MPI's earlier Hullabaloo Volumes 1-4 disc is much stronger in this regard). Most of the material is safe, simple pop, with little risk or innovation that might have upset the makers of Arrid Extra Dry, though Ray Davies of The Kinks sneaks an on-camera cigarette to the obvious chagrin of Frankie and Annette. Still, Hullabaloo is entertaining and definitely of its time, with 1960's hairdos and set designs providing nostalgic fun, and the mostly-live performances record some very young acts at the height of their popularity.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Hullabaloo is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame television aspect ratio. The original color videotape masters have been lost, and all of the episodes (and bonus tracks) presented are drawn from black-and-white kinescope recordings. The image quality is generally poorˇthe source material suffers from every defect in the book, ranging from scanline ripples, downconversion "chopping" and video glitches to scratches, film damage, and poor focus, with occasional smearing and digital blocking artifacts introduced by the DVD transfer. MPI has stuffed over four hours of material onto a dual-layer disc, trading compression bandwidth for running time; given the quality of the source materials, this seems like a reasonable decision. Far from reference quality, but this restored material is as good as it's ever likely to look.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: MPI presents Hullabaloo with a Dolby Digital 1.0 monophonic soundtrack, preserving the simply-miked nature of the original TV show. Some restoration effort seems to have gone into the audioˇit's fairly hiss-free, but there's only so much that a digital cleanup can do, and the end result still sounds thin, clipped, and reedy. Frequency and dynamic range are extremely limited; the performances and patter are comprehensible enough, but don't expect the same quality from Hullabaloo as from remastered studio recordings of the same era. This material is never going to sound pristine and it's reasonably listenable in this DVD edition, but go in with low expectations.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 75 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 58 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 02h:13m:10s

Extra Extras:
  1. 18 Bonus Performances
Extras Review: MPI's Hullabaloo disc is highly navigable, with nicely designed animated menus and 75 chapter stops (show openings, closings, and each and every musical number). Subtitles are provided in English, but unfortunately cover only the spoken word material, leaving lyrics (and therefore most of the footage) uncovered.

There are also 18 "bonus tracks," worthwhile performances excerpted from episodes not scheduled for release in complete form; the material is in poorer condition than the main attraction, but watchable, with performances by Marianne Faithfull, The Shangri-Las, Bobby Goldsboro, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, The Everly Brothers and others. These bonus tracks add significantly to the disc's running time.

I would have liked to see some historical material on the show's genesis and brief two-year run on NBC, since its production company, Gary Smith Productions, was involved in the home video release with MPI. But there's no shortage of content on this jam-packed Hullabaloo disc, and the potential "extras" won't be sorely missed.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

MPI's Hullabaloo Volumes 5-8 disc presents several hours' worth of performances by mid-1960s' pop music acts, preserved as well as can be expected from aging kinescope sources. Good (if innocuous) material and a generous running time make this disc a worthwhile purchase for nostalgia and history's sake. Buy the first Hullabaloo disc (which features better performances) before considering this one, but this isn't a bad companion piece.


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