Ladies & Gentlemen (Eagle Vision EV303159)
Brown Sugar, Bitch, Gimme Shelter, Dead Flowers, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Love In Vain, Sweet Virginia, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, All Down The Line, Midnight Rambler, Bye Bye Johnny, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The Rolling Stones’ 1972 tour was hyped and carried so much importance as a cultural event that it produced two films for its documentation. One, Cocksucker Blues remains both unreleased and unreleasable for its content and sheer stupidity.
But Ladies & Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones, a straight concert film, was more mainstream. It was given theatrical release in April 1974 in a limited engagement. The theatres were set up with quadraphonic sound, meant to replicate the experience of attending an arena rock concert. After viewings in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles the film virtually disappeared. A limited VHS release in Australia is the only prior home release of the film. And that release is also the source for all of the bootlegs which followed including by Glimtwins,Jointrip (JTDV-011) and Bad Wizard (STH-6).
The new Eagle Vision official release far exceeds all others in both audio and visual quality. Shot on 35mm so it shows its age, but it is very clear, crisp and sharp. It presents one of the most vivid motion pictures of the Stones in their violent peak heyday.
The film was produced from four nights in Texas in the middle of the tour. After some debauchery in Chicago and an horrible show in Kansas City on June 22nd (according to Robert Greenfield’s account in S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With the Rolling Stones), the band held a rehearsal on June 23rd in Fort Worth before the two concerts on June 24th and two in Houston on June 25th.
The film was edited from these four to replicate the normal setlist for the tour (except that “Dead Flowers” replaced “Rocks Off.”) The final film used: “Brown Sugar” (June 25 2nd show), “Bitch” (June 24th 2nd show), “Gimme Shelter”, “Dead Flowers”, and “Happy” (all from the June 24th 1st show), “Tumbling Dice” and “Love In Vain” (June 25th 1st show), “Sweet Virgina” (June 24th 1st show), “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (June 25th 1st show), “All Down The Line” and “Midnight Rambler” (June 25th 2nd show), the band introductions are from the June 24th 2nd show, “Bye Bye Johnnie” (June 25th 1st show), “Rip This Joint” (June 24th 2nd show), “Jumping Jack Flash” (June 25th 1st show), and “Street Fighting Man” (June 24th 2nd show).
All the music is very strong and includes all the best known Mick Jagger quips between songs (“a few hearts broken, a few strings busted, not a lot to wait for between friends”, “Sorry you didn’t get to see Stevie Wonder, I guess he overslept”, etc.)
Director Rollin Binzer employs a method in use in concert films from the seventies. Whereas today, with multiple camera angels and roving cameras above the stage which enable kinetic editing, Binzer established a base shot. And, using this framing technique, he allows for the action to come to him. It has far more in common with documentary film making than today’s MTV style (not to say one is superior to another – both have their merits).
As such, Binzer captures many iconic and powerful images of the Stones at their height. As to be expected, much of the action is focused upon Jagger as he prances and dances around stage, singing the songs and giving the audience cues for the proper reaction to the music. Keith Richards, to a lesser extent, is another foci of the action. Mostly, however, he reacts to Jagger.
Jagger and Richards during “Dead Flowers.”
Thankfully there are shots of the other musicians. Most of the time they are show focusing on their instruments, playing the music. Mick Taylor in “Gimme Shelter,” for example, show him to be the calm center of the Stones’ musical universe:
Some have commented on the tightness of the shots in focusing upon the action on stage. While it is true that there are few shots of the audience (much less than, say Led Zeppelin’s film The Song Remains The Samewhere the audience action is almost a parallel film), there are some especially by the end. “Jumping Jack Flash,” filmed at the Houston matinee show, has several interesting shots such as:
“Jumping Jack Flash”
In fact the first Houston show (identifiable from Jagger wearing the purple jump suit), seems to be the best performance of the four.
Eagle Vision include several interesting extras on the disc. First are three songs filmed on May 18th,1972 at the Rialto Theatre in Montreux, Switzerland “Shake Your Hips,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Bluesberry Jam.” This footage was filmed by German Radio Bremen TV for “Beat Club” covering the band’s new release Exile On Main Street and their imminent US tour.
Following the rehearsal footage is an interview with Mick Jagger from the “Old Grey Whistle Test,” video taped on April 25th, 1972. Jagger discusses the new album coming out and the preparations for the tour.
“Old Grey Whistle Test” 1972
The final bonus, and perhaps the best, is an interview with Jagger from earlier this year. He gives interesting insights into the production from almost forty years on.
Jagger interview, 2010
For any Rolling Stones collector this is an absolute must have. It has the best, most lively shot concert footage from the Mick Taylor years, when many believe they were at their peak and something for which collectors have been begging for years. The only way this could have been better is if live outtakes from the actual film were included as bonus material. I would have loved to have seen more music from the matinee Houston show, for example, or see at least one version of “Rocks Off.” This is, however, a minor quibble. Ladies & Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)