Archive for the ‘Rolling Stones’ Category

Book review “Beatles vs. Stones”: I Want To Scold Your Band

October 29, 2013

B vs. S

During the British Invasion, some rabid fans naturally fought over the perceived superiority of either of Britain’s two biggest groups: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. That fight subsided after the Beatles broke up and the Stones rolled on, but it’s revived here by author John McMillian in Beatles vs. Stones (Simon & Schuster, $25, due Oct. 29, 2013).

How much of this contention is justified, and how much is mere hype? McMillian makes a steady case for the former in his detailed survey of each band’s emergence as rock royalty. But he’s more persuasive citing ways the bands differed or were mirror images than fostering feuds beyond understandable artistic and commercial rivalries.

For me, comparisons of the bands are more intriguing than substantiations of the book’s premise. McMillian paints a potent portrait of how the Beatles scrambled their way to “overnight” fame by paying dues for years, unlike the Stones, who quickly ascended in their wake, and how the Beatles’ solidarity as a foursome (after adding Ringo Starr) contrasted with the bickering, splintered Stones, whose Brian Jones was a trouble-making monster. (more…)

Take a shine to ‘Shine a Light’ on DVD

July 29, 2008

Since The Last Waltz — and more recently No Direction Home: Bob Dylan — no one can question Martin Scorsese’s credentials and credibility as a cinematic chronicler of rock music. Which is why he was the perfect choice to document a Rolling Stones concert for Shine a Light, new on DVD from Paramount.

Though it opens with about 10 minutes of setup, it’s a beautifully shot concert film, not a documentary, and this concert is what Stones fans should want, expect and love. Many of the hits are there, along with some choice album tracks, and the DVD includes four extra songs, one of which is the neglected but potent Undercover of the Night.

That said, the Stones have rolled on and on for so long that seeing them yet again, and hearing Jumpin’ Jack Flash for the zillionth time, is a bit of a rerun. Sure, it’s great music, but there’s nothing revelatory or truly spontaneous about it. Seeing and hearing much the same band do much the same show, no matter how well they do it, is more about a revered band’s ability to live up to its reputation.

That includes a bad-boy irreverence that’s branded this band from the start, even though singer Mick Jagger is the most practical of businessmen at heart. And that unruliness prevails in the opening segment, as Scorsese valiantly tries to plan his shoot at New York’s intimate Beacon Theatre, though Mick and the boys won’t deign to give him a set list — until moments before the show starts. Those rock ‘n’ rollers! It may be a bit staged, but it’s fun. And the glad-handing intro by Bill Clinton is delightfully ironic. Yes, when I think of the Stones, I think of environmentalists. Riiight.

It’s also nice to see a mix of more fresh-faced stars (Jack White III, Christina Aguilera) alongside Keith Richards’ craggiest of rock faces. But Keith — the only Stone I’ve met in person — you know I love you. And you should sing more! (Now you really know I love him.)

In all, Shine a Light is a grand time with guys who are the grandfathers of trock. Lord knows they’ve been around long enough — yet still seem joyful about it, rather than going through the paces. Guess that’s why Bill Wyman quit — he lost the joy. Happily, Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron have not. Thanks, guys. And thanks Marty.