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TV Reviews : ‘The Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ on ‘Cinemax Sessions’

Cinemax is looking more and more like an old folks’ home for aging rock ‘n’ rollers--and never more so than in the cable channel’s latest edition of its “Cinemax Sessions,” titled “The Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (starting Sunday at 10 p.m. and shown several times afterward).

“Legends,” please note, is plural. Maybe a little too plural for a mere hour. Instead of several contemporary stars gathering to pay tribute to one rock pioneer in that time frame--as with the Roy Orbison “Sessions” last year--"Legends” crams the performances of no less than seven rock/pop/blues pioneers into 60 minutes.

The strain shows: Little Richard does only one number. Age also shows at times: James Brown’s rushed medley is a shadow of his once electrifying act.

Most of the time, however, what shows is either enjoyable, old-trouper efficiency (Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, B. B. King), continuing brilliance (Ray Charles) or surprising fire (Jerry Lee Lewis).

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Other than the intensity of Lewis’ performance, there aren’t any real surprises here, except perhaps for the fact that the show was taped in Rome--not exactly a hotbed of rock ‘n’ roll talent over the years. Fortunately, while in town, these American visitors don’t do as the Romans do.


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