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on May 7, 2013
This latest installment in the Rolling Stones Under Review series begins with the critical moment when guitarist Mick Taylor abandoned ship, making way for one Ron "Ronnie" Wood, guitarist for The Faces and a man who'd got by on his solo debut, I've Got My Own Album to Do (1974) with a little help from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Wood wasn't an immediate Stone--he was hired as a touring guitarist, then, upon the disbanding of Faces, he found himself awarded the much-coveted position of Permanent Stone.

Wood's position is something of debate--critic Barney Hoskyns mutters that Wood has a style that makes him virtually indistinguishable from any other guitarist while others, including Anthony DeCurtis and Robert Christgau see Wood--with dangling cigarette and haystack hair to match Richards--as a natural replacement for Taylor. Over the course of nearly two hours these men and other storied critics such as Nigel Williamson, Mark Paytress, and Paul Gambaccini, parse the albums that constitute the first phase of the Ron Wood years. (True to the DVD's title, 1975-1983.)

Black and Blue (1976) is reviewed in (perhaps surprisingly) glowing terms as a record that saw the quintet bounding back from 1974's lackluster It's Only Rock `n' Roll and beginning--some suggest mostly under Jagger's thumb--to update its sound, incorporating elements of contemporary dance music, funk, and reggae (one of Richards' great loves). Christgau claims he finds the track "Hey Negrita" "inexhaustible", with it and the tune "Melody" (inspired by keyboardist Billy Preston) being two of the better pieces on a record that John Peel hailed as perhaps the greatest ever Stones album, although distance and time may have proven that statement little more than hyperbole.

Some Girls (1978), recorded in the aftermath of Richards' heroin bust in Toronto, is given extensive play in this video, as it was, ostensibly, a record that saved the guitarist's life in some manner and a record that proved that the band was a vital and vibrant as ever. Jagger channeled disco on the big hit "Miss You", featuring harmonica man Sugar Blue (interviewed here) and all the might those Stones could offer.

The critics here miss out on some of the record's better tracks, though, ignoring the fact that there really isn't a duff tune in the lot. No matter, its position in the larger body of work remains intact as the discussion moves forward to one of the most disappointing and pallid of all Stones records, 1980's Emotional Rescue and its successor, Tattoo You (1981), which was stapled together with bits and bobs of songs from past sessions--including some featuring Mick Taylor--but nevertheless became the best album from the Stones camp in the whole of the `80s.

No small feat when you consider that the band was on the verge of imploding with Jagger and Richards at loggerheads not just about the direction of the band but about virtually everything in general. Jagger had by then become a major New York socialite while Richards, finally waking up from his heroin addiction, struggled to gain some control of what was, after all, partially his band.

Anyone familiar with the story of the Stones won't be surprised by much of the dirt that's dished here but it does serve as an excellent refresher course in the band's lore. Interestingly, 1983's Undercover, is treated with remarkable kindness, given that the overtly political single "Undercover of the Night" and its follow-up, the average sexcapades number "She Was Hot" are about the only two worthwhile tracks on the album. ("Pretty Beat Up" isn't just the title of a song on Undercover it's a phrase that perhaps encapsulates the state of the band in 1983.)

Rougher waters were to come--1986's Dirty Work (although reviewed positively at the time) is more memorable for its sleeve and the Richards' composition "Sleep Tonight" than anything else. It almost also spelled the end of the band--it was the first time in years that the Stones didn't tour at the end of a three-year cycle and there was enough acrimony to go around that Jagger, Richards, Wyman, Watts, and Wood couldn't get it together to play Live Aid.

But that's a story for the next installment in this series and one that we can certainly look forward to viewing as it, like so many in the Under Review series, is guaranteed to be handled with expert care.

Extras include contributor biographies and an extended interview with harmonica player Sugar Blue. The six DVDs in this series have everything to satisfy the obsessive in search of the singular saga of The Rolling Stones.
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on June 7, 2013
Here's the next instalment of the 'Under Review' series looking at the career of the legendary Stones, this time we pick up right as guitar slinger Mick Taylor leaves the band and the boys recruit Ronnie Wood from The Faces. A close look is given to each album released by the band during this time period (Black & Blue, Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Tatoo You, and Undercover of the Night), as well as the tours they undertook and the various goings on with the band. Featuring interviews with many key Stones afficionados and writers, some really good discussion is made about Mick Jaggers move to New York City and how the introduction of more urban sounds to Some Girls helped make that album the monster hit it was, but probably was a detriment to the follow-up Emotional Rescue. A close look is also taken at Wood, and how he was (or in a few cases wasn't) a good replacement for Taylor, but all seem to agree that he was a good fit for the band at this stage in their career. Keith Richards and his drug & legal problems are discussed, and as the story begins to draw to a close they start to get into the 'cold war' that eventually developed between Jagger & Richards by the mid-part of the decade, surely setting the stage for the next chapter in this DVD series. Various live clips are mixed in throughout the interview segments making this a very intriguing 90-minute watch for Rolling Stones fans.
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on May 17, 2013
OK...Mick Taylor quit the Stones 12/11/74. And you know that you know all the "candidates" for his place. I've said it before, and I'll keep on saying it: Mott The Hoople broke up at about EXACTLY the same time, thus freeing Mick Ronson, making him available. So what do the Stones do? Birddog Ron Woodpecker from The Faces, just as Rod Stewart was beginning to behave..."peculiarly." And the Stones entered Mach III of their career - and began their slow descent into...um..."music alzenheimer's," I guess. Need proof: 2 words: "Miss You," While the Stones had, by their mere presence and general disdain for what "the competition," really were, until Mr. Wood came along, "THE Greatest Rock And Roll Band In The World." "Miss You"....the eighties, when Mick and Keef had a hissy fit, went "solo" temporarily...the completely-irreplaceable Ian Stewart died, and just as Elvis "took" Rock and Roll with him when HE died, Stu took, not only his piano, but the Stones' soul...I won't dignify who hired on as the new keyboard player/"musical director"....Bill Wyman saw what was happening and quit in 1993....and the Stones have been but a mere "Stones Tribute Band" ever since.
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