A mostly chronological look at the Rolling Stones with archive footage and recent off-camera commentary by Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wyman, Taylor, and Wood. Topics include virtually instant success (and fans' dangerous antics), becoming songwriters, press coverage as the anti-Beatles, Richards and Jagger's drug arrest and trial, Brian Jones' decline and death, fleeing the tax man to the south of France, a U.S. tour and the Altamont disaster, trading the bad boys image for being fun onstage when Wood replaces Taylor,and Richards kicking smack: "The band comes first." The six also talk about what makes them a great rock and roll band. Written by
Yet another assemblage of vintage clips of the Stones, this time celebrating their 50th anniversary together. For some reason, it starts with footage of the "I-want-to-be-trendy" talk-show host Dick Cavett hanging with the band during their access-all-excess 1972 American tour, itself recently the feature of a film all to itself. From there, it works backwards to the band's origin, then taking us back up to 1978, when they temporarily rejuvenated themselves for the "Some Girls" album, actually an apt place to stop as their music hasn't progressed, far less excited, any since, like in their glory days. More than that the film signs off by tellingly making the point that having started out as a blues-covers band, then become deliberately moulded into the anti-Beatles by manager Andrew Loog-Oldham, they progressed from counter-cultural anti-heroes to fully fledged members of the establishment (arise Sir Mick!) and become everybody's favourite rock and roll band/brand, a title they've never relinquished but equally the irony of which appears to escape them.
I am a big fan of the band and enjoyed seeing some footage I'd not seen before, particularly impromptu or backstage stuff, but most of it I had, while the band interviews, none apparently latter-day revisionist, similarly don't tell us much we didn't know already. Jagger certainly comes across as the most intelligent and loquacious, with Keith playing up to his bad boy persona, leaving Charlie and Bill not giving a damn about the fame and celebrity that goes with the gig. Mick Taylor sensibly explains that he left for the good of his health and Ron Wood was apparently brought in as much for his peace-making irreverence as his musical ability. Brian Jones gets mentioned in dispatches in the first hour, but probably less than he deserved.
All the band's major events are chronicled with contemporary film footage, like deliberately choosing their "black-hat" marketing image, the breakthrough of learning to write their own songs, their first US mass-popularity in 1965, the Redlands drug-bust in 1967 which saw Mick and Keith controversially sentenced to jail for drug possession, Brian Jones' exit and soon-afterwards death-by-drowning in 1969 and to close out the decade on a low, the disastrous free concert at Altamont.
There's less of interest in the second part, unless you count their new tax-exile status as a major event, eventually leading up, from a long-way out, to Keith's drugs bust in Toronto in 1978. One doubts if the producer could have filled another two hours on the years from 1978 until now, for which I suppose we should be grateful. However this interesting document, filled with attitude and great music is definitely a watchable tribute to the best-surviving band of the 60's.
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