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The Rolling Stones - Rock and Roll Circus
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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
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Not a long video either but definitely a collectors piece.
PS - note that Jethro Tull's guitarist quit so the guitarist sitting-in at this performance is Tommy Iommi of "Earth" (soon to be renamed "Black Sabbath")
Plus, the seller had VERY reasonable prices... this DVD usually goes for much much more. It was in perfect condition and it arrived very quickly!
Although billed as a "Circus" the performers, performances, audience, and staging rather bring to mind a "Side Show" of musical Freaks and Geeks.
I remember buying my first Jethro Tull album in 76 "Too Old to Rock & Roll......". I knew little about J.T., or that this was a "stylistic departure" album, but the drawing of a maniacal looking Ian Anderson character jumping out of the cover had me thinking, "This is really going to blow the doors off my room and freak out my friends". Then, playing it only to find some music I might have expected to have heard at a Renaissance Faire, or something. Nice and different yes, but not the ass kicking In-a-gadda-davida stuff I expected. I suppose that tainted my appreciation of the group ever after. However, after seeing the early JT performance on the DVD, I now fully understand the early appeal. Ian's performance is just great and his spastic leg lifts could have easily been the inspiration for Joe Cocker's own spasticity. Then again, I suppose it is hard to do flying scissor kicks and duck walks while playing a flute!
The Who's "A Quick One" is the most professional performance on the Disc and alone worth the price of the DVD. It portends the great stuff to come from the Who over the ensuing years.
John Lennon's introductions and lame babbling make him come off as more a lovable doofus than the serene and ultra mystical musical genius we were later led to believe him to be. This kind of image busting can be inspirational to those struggling with their own lack of, or perhaps latent, "coolness".
Taj Mahal's performance gives a glimpse into his potential but it is obvious he had yet to develop his own style and musicianship.
Marianne Faithful was indeed beautiful and sweet sounding but seems strangely out of place with the rest of the motley ensemble. Like a princess who was kidnapped as a child by gypsies and forced to live with this band of travelling side show freaks.
The Stones, of course have no idea at this point how big they would become and are excellent here. Althogh, Mick does seems uncomfortable and out of place as a ringmaster.
Dirty Mac gives a great chance to see some of our favorite rockers before drugs and age took their toll on them. It is a very good performance by all, including an almost unrecognizable, Eric Clapton.
A little Yoko goes a long way and a "Whole Lotta Yoko' is simply way, way, too much! I have to admit though, that over the last 40 years, I know of no one who can add strangling cat noises to an audio mix as well Ms. Ono does here. John and Yoko ? Mickey and Sylvia had it right, indeed , "Love is Strange"...
Most recent customer reviews
Fun also to experience their culture, their time. Great performances by all.
Also the Who stand out.