Decades before the marriage of music and television, Ed Sullivan was rock & roll’s Sunday-evening ally. Come eight o’clock, as the dread of undone homework mounted, there was Ed, ringleading a variety show that, amid jugglers and comedians, presented many of the era’s biggest pop stars. Having acquired rights to the show’s vast archives, TVT Records has compiled 25 volumes of live performances, everything from country music to opera. With top-notch artists and surprisingly great sound quality (not to mention the host’s charmingly formal introductions), The Sullivan Years is a time machine loaded with treasures.
The Mod Sound (1967-1971) also boasts plenty of nostalgic favorites, but the album’s stylistic focus is weak. Exactly how middle-of-the-road folk-rockers (Mamas and the Papas, Seekers), soul-popsters (5th Dimension), and solo holdovers from the British invasion (Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield) add up to ”the mod sound” isn’t clear from Dave Marsh’s liner notes. Fortunately, the fine vocal performances don’t need any explanation. B+