on June 24, 2013
The latest to be released (as of November 2012), but chronologically the first Rolling Stones movie in order of sequence made. Charlie Is My Darling was shot on the Rolling Stones November 1965 "tour" of Ireland, which means two nights there - November 4th and 5th. The box set contains two original edits of the film (the director's cut of 35 minutes, and the producer's cut of nearly 49 minutes), as well as the new version with restored footage, which is 62:21. The box set folds out nicely, with surprises all along the way - there's an enlarged and numbered cell frame (mine has one of Mick from the interview sessions). There's a nice hardcover booklet, and then there's a cool poster. The pack comes with a DVD of all visual materials (and a Blu-Ray disc of the same material if you have a Blu-Ray player), a CD of the soundtrack of the album (not every scrap of music in the movie, as the jam sessions on Beatles and Elvis songs are omitted), and a bonus CD of 11 songs from the March UK tour (the same one that produced the "Got Live If You Want It" EP that was released in June 1965).
The full movie is great, even if the restored film is quite inky-looking (you see a before-and-after of the restoration - I'd say that, with the exception of the blobs and lines, the original looked better). Starting off the first thing we see is the strange ABKCO logo, and then introductions to the band members that includes Andrew Loog Oldham (who is rarely present in pictures of the Stones from those days, as if the band wants to minimalise his importance). Oldham, clearly, had a hand in the production of this - he isn't listed alongside the Stones in the producer's cut or the director's cut. The film opens with the wacky orchestral "Play With Fire" from the Andrew Oldham Orchestra (other orchestral versions play throughout the film from time to time - none of them are any good, except for the awesome "Satisfaction", which is spruced up with some pretty funky fuzz bass). There's some sweet fan talk, "I like the one who plays the drums." Bizarre, haughty answers to the question of "why do you like the Stone that you like?" Answer: I don't have a reason, I just like him. I just like him. I just like him. One person goes so far as to say "I like his hair." Great prophetic quotes from Brian Jones, "My futures as a Rolling Stone is uncertain." He's generally very negative, talking about marriage in a doubtful way with that soft voice of his (of course he couldn't get married - he beat and cheated on his women after getting them pregnant). But he's more upbeat about the film he wants to make, which is about love, and in which Love is one of the (abstracted) characters (Bergmanesque?). Interview clips from Mick, Charlie, rian, Bill and Keith. Mick's quotes are the best: "You have to be very egotistical (onstage). It's an act, it's not really you."
The progression of the film seems to be chronological - leaving London for Ireland, hanging out before the first show, the first show, then some more hanging around, then the second show, some more hanging around, then scenes of the journey home (to the strains of "Going Home"), and then the arrival back in London. Scenes from the road, driving down a wet motorway, in the airport at customs. What appears to be an undercover cop strolls by the camera, a deer caught in the headlights. Smallish crowd around the venue. The director interviews an Irish bloke with long hair who says he's in a band called The Creatures - Van Morisson? Brian Jones practicing on his Firebird. "We want BILL!!!" The first set is electric, and we see the band jumping around, the camera swaying and not really catching things well. The band sings into strange little tulip mics, and when Mick detaches his there's a whole long piece he has to take off. A riot breaks out onstage after "It's Alright." Charlie gets tugged-upon, Brian spins around, people stay away from a ferocious Keith, but they have to call it a show eventually. The band practices "Sitting On A Fence" backstage. Keith so young, pre-junkie days, wearing a cop's hat. "Tell Me" solo practice. The band breaks into a groan-a-thon of the Beatles' "I've Just Seen A Face", then "Eight Days A Week." Nice shot of Andrew Loog Oldham picking his nose. In the train smoking just next to a No Smoking sticker. Brian Jones complaining that fame means "no physical freedom." Nice shots of old cars, the boys harassing/following school kids like a bunch of perverts. A prophetic/obvious Mick: "The kids of 21 now have to become 75 before the whole thing is changed." Well, the kids of 21 in 1965 are now 68 (and Mick is 69), and how much has changed? A lot, but we're still much more conservative than we should be by the indications of the change that was beginning to show itself that year. Brian Jones relates the story of the Long Beach mob when they were nearly crushed inside of a car by the surrounding fans. "Most successful entertainers have always been the most egotistical ones onstage. They might not be as egotistical as that offstage. But all that ego is got rid of onstage. (I'm) about half as egotistical (offstage as on)." Brian picks nose. Charlie sings!! Keith looks like Lou Reed. Great finger picking guitar. There seems to be an aborted plug for Lipton's Tea, which the boys promote but in such a sarcastic way that it really takes the piss.
At the concert on the second day, we see the band from behind the curtains just as they open and the show begins - exciting fly-on-the-wall feeling. Mick really spazzes out during "Reeling And Rocking". A priest shows up at the concert and he's interviewed (now living in Cambodia, there's an interview with him in the booklet where he describes the ruckus that erupted in the Church after this scandalous incident - happily, the bishop supported him, knocking down all the haters). "I feel like Robert Browning. Actually, I was thinking of Shelley," sys Mick, wankily. Keith on piano, singing like Elvis, as camera zooms in and out. Four hands on piano. Great camera work with glowing lamp in hotel room (it's crap throughout most of the film). Bored, bored, bored Stones before a show. Brian Jones: "Yes, I've never thought very far ahead at all. I've always ben a little apprehensive about the future." Great pics of the sleeping Stones at the back of the airplane - Brian, Charlie and Bill in the second-last row, Andrew Loog Oldman, Mick and Keith in the very back row.
The bonus features are decent, giving the 12 minutes of the raw interview footage of the individual Stones (Mick 2 minutes, Charlie 5 minutes, Brian 4 minutes, Bill 1 minute). Charlie's interviewer follows wonky line of questioning. Bill: "I'm not a musician, I just play in a band."
The CDs are good. The soundtrack contains a blend of orchestral Stones (so-so), live songs, and interview segments. It makes a great listen on the commute. The live CD from March is even better, as it's a full concert from 1965 (the Got Live If You Want It EP may be from the same month but, with its six songs, it's much less than a concert - if you can even find it!), and it shows a proper setlist of the band before they had any hits, when they were still primarily playing others' songs (eight of the 10 songs they play are covers). The setlist is:
1. Everybody Needs Someone To Love (Solomon Burke)
2. Pain In My Heart (Allan Toussaint)
3. Down The Road Apiece (Don Raye)
4. Time Is On My Side (Jerry Ragovoy)
5. I'm Alright (The Rolling Stones)
6. Off The Hook (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)
7. Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon)
8. Route 66 (Bobby Troup)
9. I'm Moving On (Hank Snow)
10. The Last Time (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)
11. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Solomon Burke)
Interestingly, they start the set off with "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", but they only play the first verse, before jumping into Pain In My Heart (it's reprised at the end in full). Nice effect. The band is full of energy, and the crowd screaming is not too distracting - each instrument is to be heard very nicely balanced in the mix. Perfect. Mick's voice is young, pure and strong, he never roars or blasts out his voice, nor does he add peculiar flairs. They sound like the Stones, but they are not really yet sleazy and shamboling (no hints of "Midnight Rambler" here yet), just gritty and raw.
The soundtrack CD has some interesting moments. Probably the highlight is the sound of the band being interrupted by the band storming the stage during "It's Alright." There is also Oldham's "Theme For A Rolling Stone", which is a nice little show tune instrumental.
Interestingly, this is coming out in the year of the Stones' 50th anniversary celebrations, when they have their new compilation album GRRR! and other projects; but this is an ABKCO production, and as such doesn't really have anything to do with the Stones but Alan Klein's estate, so the Stones aren't promoting it at all. Weird.