Rolling Stones
" The Rolling Stones in The 1960s "
Pride DVD

Blueswax 7
Rating 7

Early Stones Under the Microscope, (02/11/10)

During the bulk of the'60s, the Rolling Stones' only competitive peers were the Beatles, but unlike the Beatles, the Stones' main core band continued on and are still quite vibrant as a touring unit today. This informative documentary reviews the band from their humble beginnings as mostly a Blues band and how they evolved into finely honed unit that has treated fans to several generations of outstanding music. Specifically as they developed, their songwriting skills improved, and they were no longer a cover band that rearranged rock & roll and Blues classics. Included are archive interviews, still photos, news reels, and some lip-synched and actual live in-performance segments. All in all, there are two DVDs included, and it's quite lengthy especially when you add in the bonus tracks, weighing in at over three and a half hours. The first DVD chronologically focuses on 1962-1966; the second DVD hones in on the Stones' darker period from 1967-1969.

This DVD does a pretty fine job showing how The Stones (mostly Brian Jones) were originally intended to be a Chicago Blues band, but Mick and Keith also wanted to include more rock & roll, being inspired by Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. They played their first gig billed as "The Rollin' Stones" in 1962. In fact, their first single was a 1963 cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On" which got them touring the UK as a regional act.

Their first USA tour came in '64, where they recorded thirteen or fourteen tracks at Chess studios in Chicago, of which so far only nine have been released. Bobby & Shirley Womack's "It's All Over Now" was waxed at Chess and became their first number one hit in the UK. Their second number one Brit hit was a cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster." The first Jagger/Richards authored number one single was "The Last Time" released early in '65, and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" followed that same year. Full length albums ensued, the band was now winning fans from around the globe, and the following decades were historically and massively popular.

Highlights from disc one for me include: a '65 Howlin' Wolf performance of "How Many More Years," Red Skelton's introduction of the band and lip-synched performance of "It's All Over Now," Manager Andrew Loog Oldham's keen vision for the band, how he wanted to get the band to the Americas, and how he labeled the Stones as the "Anti-Beatles."

References are made to the bands Dylan'esque era as evidenced by "Get Off of My Cloud," performed live here, as well as other live performances of "19th Nervous Breakdown" plus watching a sitting Brian Jones playing sitar on "Paint It Black," and dulcimer on "Lady Jane," both culled from their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

Disc two starts in 1967; their move to the psychedelic era when Brian Jones' mental and physical decline took root which eventually led to his firing and subsequent death, and the hiring of his replacement Mick Taylor. The film also depicts Keith Richards' infatuation of American music at a very flourishing time for the band. References are also made to other Stones influences, specifically from The Band's "Big Pink," and their move to country music utilizing the services of American musicians like Ry Cooder, and an interview with Byron Berline on fiddle. He talks about his violin contribution on "Country Honk." Other Americans brought in during the sessions of "Let It Bleed" include Al Kooper, Leon Russell, Ry Cooder, producer/drummer Jimmy Miller, and an interviewed Merry Clayton who talks about her vocals on "Gimme Shelter." The film winds down with segments from the 1969 Madison Square Garden shows, and the tragic events at Altamont with the Grateful Dead, the Airplane, Santana, and the Flying Burrito Brothers where it's noted that Flower Power was dead. Last but not least, there are excellent interview segments with well known authors Anthony DeCurtis, Robert Chrstgau, and Keith Altham.

There's an awful lot of interesting tidbits captured here that took place during the Stones' formative years. The dialog is often heavy and goes on for a bit too long to endure both DVDs in one sitting, but for those who need to know, this documentary should work well. Rock on!

Bob Putignano: