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TV REVIEWS : '24 Hours in Rock': Chutzpah, Kitsch

March 09, 1994|CHRIS WILLMAN

The idea behind the MTV special "24 Hours in Rock and Roll" is none too original: For reference, check out all the "A Day in the Life of . . . " books and specials from which this constitutes a pretty direct crib. But what it lacks in conceptual novelty, it makes up for in the expected chutzpah.

After all, the recent glossified network special "A Day in the Life of Country Music" didn't bother to include strippers, karaoke bars, people who dig through celebrity trash, prison lifers or bad cover bands, all of which appear here.

The special was filmed Oct. 28 in 14 cities and, wisely, places at least as strong an emphasis on rockers-on-the-street as on "stars" letting their hair down or putting it up.

This being rock 'n' roll, after all, there's not much to be found going on in the morning hours--though you do get glimpses of Smashing Pumpkins rehearsing their "Saturday Night Live" appearance, Janet Jackson's dancers limbering up, Courtney Love ordering room service, and Rick Rubin getting in touch with his spirituality (!) via a yoga lesson.

On the populist side, there's also a Boston neurosurgeon who performs brain surgery while grooving on Alice in Chains tapes (remind us never to develop an aneurysm back East).

Come evening, things pick up, natch, with limo drivers, jazz/rap bands, DJs, clubgoers and Robert Plant explaining it all for you.

At a Lynyrd Skynryd concert, we meet some fans so rabid they went to the famous plane crash sight and stole artifacts. A guy in full Kabuki makeup in a KISS tribute band explains, "Everybody's looking at you, and that's what it's all about, y'know?" Declares an erotic dancer, "The reason why rock stars and strippers get along well is because they're on the same wavelength. There's no love in rock 'n' roll. . . . I don't believe in love anymore."

And--our favorite--a punk kid takes his girlfriend dancing for the first time at a mosh-pit club, explaining the latest steps: "Just make sure you keep your face protected."

If there's anything lacking in this often kitschily entertaining 90 minutes, it's a glimpse of a band actually involved in the creation--not exploitation--of music. Still, as pop-documentary goes, this is one of MTV's best and real-est forays into "the real world" yet.

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