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Published: 2009/08/10
by Brian Ferdman

Mr. Rock n Roll The Alan Freed Story

Eagle Media
Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed was spinning big band albums at a wedding when he had a startling surprise. While he wasn’t looking, some kids slipped a Little Richard 45 onto the turntable, and when Freed unwittingly played it, the kids went wild. Of course, the adults became furious at seeing their white children enjoy this black music, but the light bulb went off for Freed. He realized that there was a burgeoning market of white teenagers who wanted to rebel and dance to black rhythm and blues, and the career of rock n roll’s first major DJ was born. This incident and the rest of Alan Freed’s meteoric ascent and spectacular fall from grace is portrayed in the 1999 feature film Mr. Rock n Roll The Alan Freed Story, which has just been released on DVD.
Judd Nelson stars as Freed, and he does a nice job of parlaying the man’s unbridled enthusiasm, charisma, and hubris that eventually brought about his downfall. Madchen Amick plays Freed’s object of affection and eventual wife, and her role isn’t written with much depth. Her arc is a relatively predictable journey from admiration for to disgust with the man who was so hell-bent on rising to the top that he often neglected his family. Paula Abdul also appears in a minor role whose path is rather obvious but whose disappearance is never explained. She’s not much in the acting department, but neither is most of the supporting cast. Of course, a rock n roll biopic is less about the acting and more about the music, and a great soundtrack of early rock n roll classics from the likes of Bill Haley & The Comets, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and more is featured in sequences that are often lip-synched in unintentionally comic fashion.
Mr. Rock n Roll The Alan Freed Story is anything but a film filled with riveting drama, but its story is an important one that every fan of modern music should know. Couple that with a fun score of primal R&B gems, and Mr. Rock n Roll The Alan Freed Story is a DVD that’s worth your time.

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