Friday, December 07, 2012
The Rolling Stones! Incorrigible.
An excerpt from 21st Century Stones in The Rolling Stones: Incorrigible.
Ellen Sander's Classic Rock Readers (Kindle Edition)
They started out in the early 1960s as a blues cover band in London clubs, doing what every other British band was doing. They are doing now what none of them could ever do: A 50th anniversary series of major concerts. A 50th anniversary. The Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones opened their "50 and Counting" celebration at London's 02 Arena, playing their old home turf. They played to an overjoyed and tumultuous audience of three generations. It was a worldwide event. Before the show was even over, the set list went up on web sites, updated live. Within an hour there were openly shot YouTube videos that caught the spirit and sometimes even the high definition of the event.
The London shows were a full court press. The royalty of the "English Invasion" of the 1960s joined The Stones onstage, including former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor who had not been with the Stones for years. Guitar heroes Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton lit up the house.
It was, by all reports, a concert for the ages, not a spit polished and impeccably choreographed show, but a raucous brawl of hits, roots, and raw showmanship wrapped around this conflagration of sound and fury that is The Rolling Stones. Sound and fury. Signifying everything.
Then Bloggers weighed in. Among them, business titan and bon vivant Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group, who got off a phonephoto from the floor, his ticket in the foreground with "Fuckin Great!" scribbled on it.
I think my favorite blog line (besides Ira Robbins' pronouncement that "time is not on their side, " because he is so wrong) is London writers Mat Snow's comment, "A funny thing happened at London’s O2 Arena last night: the Stones played and it was no longer about the bump in your trousers but the lump in your throat. " That, because he doubted there would ever be another tour. Listen, it's hard to count The Stones out, ever. You just never know.
They are not known as the world's best rock band ever for nothing. The Beatles may have been the masters of studio recording, but they stopped touring and The Stones ate that road for breakfast going forward. And now, there is no other rock band that can ever touch them, the bar is that high, their era is that seminal, their arc so rivetingly authentic.
They are not just any legacy rockers trotting out their oldies. The Stones occupy the world of the 21st century as well as and even more pervasively than they defined the 20th. @mickjaggger is on Twitter, teasing tour information, cool comments and new releases. They have an official website with loads of content. Got Stones? There's an app for that. Overexposure? No way. We who love them can never get enough and for that we are handsomely rewarded.
The new rockumentary, Crossfire Hurricane is a snappily edited and impeccably well narrated documentary which features footage and outtakes from Cocksucker Blues, Charlie is my Darling, Gimmee Shelter and Shine a Light—and some new footage as well. Quite a bit of the narration is by Jagger and Richards and other members of the Stones. It is a tour de force and a daring reveal, leaving little to speculation.
Crossfire Hurricane eviscerates the Rolling Stone mystique, and reveals all the bruising speed bumps of their inexorable march through time. The interlude on the death of their original guitarist Brian Jones, evokes tremors of emotion and irony. He had been so wasted he hardly ever showed up to woodshed and when he did, he was incoherent. The last time he did show up able to work, he invented the winsome slide guitar line that coils through No Expectations and it remains a defining element of the song that goes, in part, "I have no expectations to pass through here again. " A few months after Jones was fired he drowned in his swimming pool.
Jagger's bitterness, in his own voice, about how heroin disintegrated the late Brian Jones, melts into a description of him weeping after the now famous Hyde Park Concert that memorialized "the beautiful Stone." Jagger also savages recording engineers, later in the film, that thought Keith was so hip doing smack that they followed in kind, much to the detriment of their work.
We see mod suited boys in tussles with police as Mick Jagger recounts the incendiary effect of their early concerts. We see their fear at the ill fated Altamont concert as it sinks in what a dangerous fiasco they'd gotten into. We see the decadence of the concert tours during the 1980s. We see, from the cockpit window, their private jet landing. We see everything, including Jagger's bare butt backstage as he changes into his jumpsuit for a performance.
I remember being in a record store on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro buying some Brazilian music in 1985 when a young sales clerk, who spoke not much English, bewildered that I was stocking up on Caitano, handed me an American rock cassette as a suggestion. I laughed, "It's only rock and roll," and the whole store, shouted out in unison "But I like it". They know The Stones in Rio. They love The Stones in Rio. They are born with samba and jazz in their DNA, but they love The Stones.
The Rolling Stones are all of rock and roll in one ensemble. They inhabit and define rock. The have set the bar and no one can possibly ever reach it because the days when you can do that from the get go are gone. The Stones are not just iconic for upending more than the final third of the 20th century, they are busy bitch–slapping the 21st.
###The essay is much longer in the book, which also has articles about their 1969 tour, Beggars Banquet, exclusive coverage of a Let It Bleed mixing session with never before published photos. Reprints from Vogue, Saturday Review and Trips. And more.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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