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The Rolling Stones - Rock and Roll Circus

4.5 out of 5 stars 198 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg's concert film features the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jethro Tull, John Lennon and Eric Clapton.


Unavailable at all for nearly three decades, then issued in a VHS edition in 1996, the Rolling Stones' legendary Rock and Roll Circus finally gets the full treatment with this DVD release documenting the 1968 event. The Stones were reportedly unhappy with their performance (hence the long delay), and it isn't their finest moment; performing "Jumping Jack Flash" and a variety of songs from their then-new Beggars Banquet album, Keith Richards is game, but Jagger's preening (especially on "Sympathy for the Devil") is over the top, and guitarist Brian Jones looks dissolute and well on his way to his death the following year. A certain weirdness permeates some of the other musical acts as well: Jethro Tull lip-syncs unconvincingly, Taj Mahal and band were obliged to perform before the circus set was completed and the audience had arrived, and John Lennon's outing with impromptu supergroup the Dirty Mac (with Richards, Eric Clapton, and drummer Mitch Mitchell) is hampered by Yoko Ono's caterwauling, although their version of the Beatles' "Yer Blues" is cool. Still, the Who are brilliant, Marianne Faithfull is beautiful, the various circus acts are fun, and the crowd clearly loves it.

The DVD comes with some fascinating bonus features, including three extra songs by Mahal, some lovely classical piano by Julius Katchen, and a "quad split-screen" version of "Yer Blues." Best of all are a new interview with the Who's Pete Townshend and the various commentary tracks added for the DVD--especially those by Tull's Ian Anderson, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and Stones Jagger, Richards, and Bill Wyman (who dryly attributes Jagger's reluctance to issue the show to his dissatisfaction with his own performance, not the band's). Flaws notwithstanding, this is a treat. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts
  • Producers: Robin Klein
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Abkco Films
  • DVD Release Date: October 12, 2004
  • Run Time: 65 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000621484
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,018 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Rolling Stones - Rock and Roll Circus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian J Hay on November 20, 2004
Format: DVD
The performance the Stones gave here is stronger than history gives it credit for being. It didn't measure up to the standard they set a year later when they went on tour in North America though. Jagger, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were in good form. Keith Richards was strong but doesn't show the sure touch that characterized his work over the year that followed. Brian Jones gave some decent slide work during their performance of "No Expectations" but his presence here was really erratic. His rhythm guitar work on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is strong, but only after he blows a cue badly. In their performance of "Sympathy for the Devil" he seems as if he's barely even involved.

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" gets a good (if restrained) reading. "Parachute Woman" and "No Expectations" are songs that shine in an intimate setting such as what was created here. They don't disappoint. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Sympathy for the Devil" are two of their most enduring numbers. With the exception of the aforementioned cue missed by Jones both numbers get strong readings. "Salt of the Earth" is one of their great anthems. Strong melody, strong arrangement and powerful lyrics: this one has it it all. They appear to have sung it live alongside a backing tape that supplied the instrumental arrangement. It was a long day for everyone involved and Jagger's voice was showing the strain. His voice is really rough through a few of the verses. It doesn't hurt anything though. It adds to the intimacy of the moment and reflects an honesty that's often lacking now.

The best performances come from the Who and Taj Mahal. The Who's reading of "A Quick One While He's Away" is legendary.
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Format: VHS Tape
The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus was released Oct 15, 1996. It is the long suppressed made-for-TV special recorded 28 years earlier on Dec 11-12, 1968 with The Who, John Lennon, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithful, and Eric Clapton. The packaging is beautiful with a great 42 page glossy color booklet that has all the rare behind the scenes photos and a full account of things leading up to the event. The Who were red hot at the time and easily upstaged the Stones who were still struggling through their first major crisis after the removal of Brian (and his subsequent death) and attempting to figure out how to hold on to their status as the premier band. The Stones refused to release the recordings because their performances were not spectacular. Most reviewers agreed when they finally got to see the film themselves. However, what the film lacks in production (which was obviously amateurish) it makes up for in history. The Stones lackluster set of Jumpin' Jack Flash, Parachute Woman, No Expectations, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Sympathy For the Devil, and Salt Of The Earth are easily compensated by The Who's mini opera A Quick One While He's Away and Lennon and Clapton's Yer Blues. There are also dated period piece interviews with Mick and John and very amateurish introductions by the individual Stones, which when combined with the extremely amateurish set, acting, and cinematography amply demonstrate why this is one for Stones and rock history collectors. The Stones were right, it didn't work for them, and it is good that the release was delayed until it appealed to collectors and would not reflect on the reputation of the band.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
Why is classic rock considered classic? Pop in this video. See John Lennon and Mick Jagger have tea together and philosophize. See John play the blues with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell and rock so hard that even the musicless shrieks of his bizarre new girlfriend Yoko can't ruin it. See Marianne Faithfull sing an incredibly dated Dylanesque ditty. See Jethro Tull & Taj Mahal before anyone knew who they were. See the Who blow the roof off the tent. And see the Beggar's Banquet-era Stones wrap it up with 5 or 6 tunes and a big sing-along. This concert was recorded in 1968 when Mick was about 24 or so, Lennon was about 28 and it was finally released by the Stones camp a few years back. (Thank you, gentlemen.) Even if you could get the leading musicians of today together - Beck, R.E.M., Eddie Vedder, Pumpkins, etc. for a similar hootenany, it would still fall way, way short. Essential viewing for anyone interested in the glory of rock & roll.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I already owned the Circus on CD when I saw the DVD on offer here. I didn't hesitate a second. I only saw the Stones live twice (they haven't been the Stones for a loooong time now), and as this film makes clear, they are anything but an arena rock band, something the last three decades have for the most part stuck them with being. The Rock and Roll Circus, if nothing else, shows by its example how bad an idea musically arena rock was, regardless its benefits to democratic plebeian rock fans who actually get to see shows thanks to the added seats. When one thinks of it, one wonders: if this had been released immediately, as was the original intent, might we all be watching rock shows under the big top today?

Don't know, but this may account for some of the things I've heard about the Stones' performance, particularly about Mick's. It appears to be Received Wisdom that The Who torched the Stones at this gig. I'd certainly never be one to denigrate the Who's diamond-hard rendition of "A Quick One," clearly superior in my mind to the one on the expanded "Live At Leeds." There may never have been a live band to match the Who, when they had it going as they clearly did here. The Who are the punk gods of White Middle-Class Outcast Rage. Daltrey punches up his lyrics --- literally, with his fists and the mic -- with a palpaple physical anger, which each of the other band members equals in his own way. The sterling quality of the music they managed to put out while emoting like this is one of rock's Seven Wonders, and it would be hard to come up with the other Six.

But in my humble, the Stones give them a major run for their money here. Mick's performance, often panned as over the top, is from my view classic Mick, all the way through. He has his awkward moments, for sure.
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