In 1965, young filmmaker Peter Whitehead, along with music entrepreneur and then-manager Andrew Loog Oldham, set out to chronicle the Rolling Stones on tour. Handheld, black-and-white cinematography (later made fashionable in D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 Bob Dylan documentary, Don’t Look Back) follows the band from the hotel to the stage and recounts the crucial moments in between, when they’re relaxing—or not—and being themselves. However, due to legal battles, the film, never fully released, receded into the shadows, only to now be rereleased in a particularly handsome box set that includes the film and outtakes in DVD and BluRay, two CDs—one the audio of the film, the other recorded during the tour (both remastered), a 12-by-12-inch photo book with a replica tour poster and a 12-inch vinyl of the concert. ABKCO pulled out all the stops.
The storyline is classic rock: five young men (Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones) chase a dream that turns into an onstage nightmare. Jagger swaggers, and Jones eggs on the frantic teens who rush the stage, sending Stewart to the hospital and the teens into custody. Only Wyman and Watts seem to maintain their cool; Watts continues to keep perfect time with a boy about his age “helping” from behind. The whole film eerily presages Gimme Shelter, the Altamont concert documentary that was released five years later.
Watts comes across as the benevolent grown-up in all the shenanigans. Backstage, Jagger holds forth and Richards noodles and grins, but Watts sits back—sometimes with a slim smile and sometimes expressionless—like a patient babysitter just waiting for the kids to finish potty. The other Stones, dubbed “dandies” in the Irish press, dress for success in turtlenecks and corduroys (“What Mick saves on ties, he more than makes up for elsewhere” reported a paper), while Watts opts for button-down collars and rep ties—the garb of success achieved, not sought.
The DVD, CDs and book contain small details that beg for repeat visits. This is one collection that Stones fans can revisit for years without getting bored.
– Suzanne Cadgene