Hear the Kerrang Radio review
Yes, the greatest of all time on many a list; yes, the blueprint for all rock that would follow and yes, a study in mayhem, debauchery and pigheaded endurance. But perhaps the most significant achievement of The Rolling Stones’ 50 year odyssey is in cockblocking the solo careers of Jagger and Richards. Christ knows neither of them is John Lennon and a look at the 40 year turd flotilla that is Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career means we can be grateful that such unfortunate outbursts as She’s the Boss and Primitive Cool were kept to a minimum by the demands of the day job: scrubbing, polishing and driving the rock ‘n’ roll behemoth they created half a century ago.So homage must be paid and some impressive archive footage, much of it previously unseen, makes upBrett Morgen’s two-hour documentary Crossfire Hurricane.
We get a backstage pass to view the pre-gig rituals, Keith’s make up, Bill’s undertaker glare and Jagger’s bare arse. The disembodied voices of the modern-day Stones offer commentary on the action, from the electric early shows with their fans chasing them across railway tracks like A Hard Day’s Night was just a rehearsal to the tax exile years, artistic decline and Keith’s drugmageddon.
“A look at the 40 year turd flotilla that is Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career and we can be grateful that such unfortunate outbursts as She’s the Boss and Primitive Cool were kept to a minimum by the demands of the day job.”
One question always thrown at bands once they get past a certain critical mass is “how can you be rock ‘n’ roll when you’re all millionaires?” Why because rock ‘n’ roll at its heart is narcissism and Jagger is nothing if not a narcissist. It’s the one thing about him that stays constant. Ever the chameleon, his accent and manner alter and adapt when talking to the establishment or on stage or talking to the kids. In one habitat lisping aristocrat in another slurring yob. At turns he is cock rock monster, androgynous icon, sensitive lyricist, disco diva – he’s the Mister Benn of rock ‘n’ roll.
At turns he is cock rock monster, androgynous icon, sensitive lyricist, disco diva – he’s the Mister Benn of rock ‘n’ roll.
His articulacy in interviews gives the appearance of openness while revealing very little. It’s no surprise that Tom Driberg pushed so hard for him to enter politics. He’s got that ability Tony Blair at his peak had of being all things to all men, making everyone feel like he agrees with them. Blair modelled his early rock ‘n’ roll persona on Jagger and would later bung him a knighthood. Peas in a pod those two.
He is by a mile the most interesting, most important member of The Stones. Keith Richards, charismatic, gifted and grizzled is engrossing but ultimately an open book. You know half his life story in the moment you look at him and the rest you can probably guess. With Jagger you can do nothing but guess. There’s a world in which The Rolling Stones exist without Keith Richards but without Jagger? Never. Nunca. Nigdy nie. He’s one in a million.
“Meredith Hunter pulling a gun on acid-baked Angels with the least well advised spur of the moment decision from a black man since Martin Luther King announced ‘fellas, I think I’m going out on the balcony to take the air’.”
And mother of God they’re good at their best – Jagger hitting his peak on Brown Sugar – subversive, profane, thrilling; Richards hitting his on Gimme Shelter – elegant, portentous, apocalyptic. We see Altamont – that woozy stoned slo-mo calamity. Meredith Hunter pulling a gun on acid-baked Angels with the least well advised spur of the moment decision from a black man since Martin Luther King announced “fellas, I think I’m going out on the balcony to take the air”.
They’re still better than you and your wack crew. And Jagger got more pussy by accident than Paul, George and Ringo got on purpose.
Maybe they were as good as they were ever going to get on Let’s Spend the Night Together on Top of the Pops with brilliant, doomed Brian Jones on the piano and Jagger strutting like a cunt. Fast forward then to the sailor suits and suds machine performance for It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It). They look like an advert for Matey. If there’s such a thing as rock ‘n’ roll dignity they lost it right there.
Which counts for nothing of course because they’re still better than you and your wack crew. And Jagger got more pussy by accident than Paul, George and Ringo got on purpose.
The verdict on Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane: Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste. I fooked that Marianne Faithfull you know – dooooh, CRAB PASTE. ¹
Marks out of 10: 8
¹ Said in Mel B from Bo Selecta voice. Fuck you – I had to finish somehow.
Imagined: Thursday, 22nd November 2012