We Will Rock You

In 2004, an annoyed Alice Cooper labelled bands promoting John Kerry in the US presidential elections "treasonous morons" because he regarded rock 'n' roll "the antithesis of politics".

The ageing glam star was definitely entitled to his opinion, but chances are he was just shooting his mouth off. Because the phenomenon that is rock 'n' roll (and the genres of music that shaped it), is definitely not only about a teenager banging on the electric guitar so he can distract himself from the evening news. Whether it was John Lennon singing for American poet and radical John Sinclair's release in the 1970s, Lynyrd Skynyrd taking on Neil Young through Sweet Home Alabama (1974) or the Mamas and Papas crooning along to San Francisco at the height of the hippie revolution, this brand of music has always been affected by circumstances, and then risen to change them.

The History of Rock 'n' Roll, culled from 10,000 hours of archival footage and concert videos featuring numerous rock legends, proves just that. From Chicago blues star Muddy Waters performing Got My Mojo Working in a grainy black 'n' white video to Green Day playing Basket Case, it describes the origins of the phenomenon and its subsequent branching out into sub-genres — with the legends themselves explaining each step of the way.

They tell you what rock music is all about, and how it cannot be restricted to a single stream of thought. As Graham Nash of CSN puts it, just after the opening credits, "Sure, we loved the music… we wanted to express ourselves, but anybody who says he didn't get into rock 'n' roll to get laid is lying."

Even U2 frontman Bono, who would be the first to say that politics is as important for rock 'n' roll as air is for breathing, nods. "Mystery and mischief are the most important ingredients of rock 'n' roll," he says, and you couldn't agree more.

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