All You Need Is Love

Deal Score0
Deal Score0

Popular music is now an essential part of our lives – yet we know comparatively little about it – where it came from, how it developed, how it has influenced or been influenced by social change. Today, the popular music industry controls billions of doll… More >>

All You Need Is Love

This site uses affiliate links and if you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a commission payment.


  1. I just ordered the set. This week’s Entertainment Weekly magazine called this a best bet and gave it a A rating. I’m going to give it a shot.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. This is supposed to be the history of American popular music. The problem is, this is a British take on popular music in America and, for the most part, they got it wrong.

    The set actually starts out rather promising as it traces the origins of American folk music from Europe and the birth of ragtime and jazz from Africa and later the blues. Tin Pan Alley days and Vaudeville were handled OK. For me, it began to fall apart after that because I got the feeling those involved in preparing this video musical history didn’t truly understand American history.

    While this set deserves credit for being extensive, they didn’t go far enough in some areas but spent too much time on other things of little importance. For example, while the impact of African rhythms and instruments was interesting, the what seemed like endless footage of African tribal dancing was overdone. Ginger Baker on the drums was a plus but, again, it was too much emphasis on him and not others.

    The section on 50s rock and roll was the worst and from that decade on, the set truly suffers. I believe the reason it suffers is because the British who put this set together (in the 70s and airing only there initially) were not living in America to truly understand the music here and what was going on socially and emotionally in America. It’s as if they only covered the American music they knew, understood or listened to in England but not what we actually did in America. In other words, they just didn’t get it! They certainly didn’t get American musical theatre. As with other episodes, they got stuck on one artist or contributor and didn’t mention others. If you never saw a musical, you would think musical theatre was nothing but “Oklahoma” and “Hair.”

    Some examples of absolute misses are showing footage of old British dance shows in the rock and roll episode but no mention of American Bandstand. Instead, they insult the American dance shows of the time. Remember, this is supposed to be the history of American music and not British television. Instead, we get more footage from England and our American way of life in that era is insulted. They (and Jerry Lee Lewis) also insult Elvis Presley (so Elvis fans beware if you buy this DVD set) as well as other artists of the 50s and 60s. Yet, they spend almost the entire episode paying tribute to the over-rated Jerry Lee Lewis. The British apparently thought he was cool. The film clips and interviews we see, however, show him to be arrogant and cocky, a bit on the creepy side and full of sour grapes. This entire episode was wasted on Jerry Lee Lewis instead of truly discussing the origins of rock and roll (being the blues and jazz) and highlighting other artists who left their mark in rock and roll history. 70s clips of Chubby Checker and Chuck Berry are shown instead of older footage and Little Richard gets a token nod. Tony Palmer must have thought Jerry Lee Lewis was more important to Americans (and to American music) than he really was. This episode was absolutely horrible!

    Other areas covered only breifly or not at all are Motown (Berry Gordy), The Sound Of Philadelphia (Gamble & Huff), The West Coast Sound and Surf music (Mama’s & the Papas, the Beach Boys), Psychedelic rock and the music of the 60s (although protest songs are covered well), Doo-Wop which led to the first real boy bands like the Four Seasons, Songs from the Brill Building (Neil Diamond, Carole King, Gerry Goffin), Teen Idols (Fabian, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka and, again, the importance of Dick Clark and many others who were inspirations to other later musicians. An obvious omission was Buddy Holly, for example.) This list could go on about how much they missed. For this to be a history of American music, it sure misses the boat once you get past the early 20th century, from around the 1940s on. Some artists like Frank Sinatra seem like an after-thought while others are not remembered at all but are, in actuality, so important to the fabric of American music. Tony Palmer must have thought Jerry Lee Lewis was a bigger influence on American music than Elvis. He does the Beatles episode well but nothing we haven’t already seen or heard before.

    I would like to see an American, not a Brit, who actually knows and understands American music take on the difficult task of doing a DVD history of American music. The British view of American music must be distorted as made obvious by “All You Need Is Love.” This set may have been fine in the late 70s when it originally aired in England. However, now, it is very dated and very British-opinion slanted. British who watch this will not get a realistic (and in some cases, correct) view and history of American popular music. Americans who watch this (especially the younger ones) will either be confused or not get the full impact of the music of yesterday and it’s influences on the music of today.

    Save your money on this one. I wish I would have. Other than some interesting facts about early American music, I felt as if I already knew more about American music and it’s many styles and origins than Tony Palmer. This is not the story of American popular music. This is the Palmer’s limited knowledge and opinions on American popular music.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  3. There is so much astonishing footage to be found in this fantastic set. It’s almost Smithsonian in its depth. Those that love popular music and the less-than-popular influences bubbling under its surface, will delight in the detail to be found. Of course, there were legendary problems with some non-participants such as Bob Dylan. This is frustrating but ultimately, isn’t a very large downfall. Dylan’s management insisted on complete editorial control and that is just silly. Almost all of the major players are here. From Jerry Lee to Sir Duke. From the Stones and Beatles to African talking drums and Protestant Hyms. Bing Crosby, Fats Domino, Fela, the Staples, the King. Jazz, Rock, Soul, Gospel, Blues, Bluegrass, Appalachian, Funk, Hard Rock, etc. It’s all here, masterfully shot and edited.

    If you don’t understand the subtleties behind popular song and its traditions(or don’t care to learn these subtleties) this isn’t for you. But you shouldn’t even call yourself a music lover if you don’t find this documentary series completely enthralling and exhaustive. Go listen to your Def Leppard and Daughtry albums and suck yer thumb.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. I shall preface this review by writing that I do not have the DVD set (yet) and that I have only seen one of the 17 episodes. Still, I give it five stars just for the episode on The Beatles. Back in the late 1970s when I was in my mid-teens living in New York, The Beatles episode was broadcast on television. My family was fortunate to have one of the first clunky videotape recorders, so I taped it. For years and years I watched that tape, to the point where I had the entire episode memorized, and I could speak the dialogue right along with it. I am sure I still remember it all. I have since misplaced that tape and had been saddened by its loss, up until I discovered that it is now on DVD. True, the cost is high, for me, especially when I am really only buying the set for that one hour-long episode, but hey, I am sure I will like the other 16 episodes…and even if I don’t, its purchase will be well worth it, just to relive a moment in time when I was a carefree teenager.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. I found this set overrated at best. Although there is some interesting footage, much of it is woefully dated and, frankly, dull. Have your remote handy to move through the segments where the director spends wwaaayyyy too much time. You’ll know ’em when you see ’em. I will be hard-pressed to watch most of this set a second time.
    Rating: 3 / 5

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Reset Password