Monday, November 15, 2010

The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band

For those of us who were not old enough to actually attend rock shows in the late ‘60s and throughout the ‘70s, I believe it’s hard to really get a feel for what it was like to be there in person, hearing and seeing these bands live, reveling in the experience. Audio recordings are only somewhat helpful in trying to be inside the experience. We read and hear stories about the great rock bands of that era, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones and hear them called the greatest rock bands of all time and based solely on their studio albums, I have no argument with those claims. But still, when you’ve only seen The Rolling Stones in the ‘80s and ‘90s and heard live recordings from their classic era of dubious sonic clarity, it’s easy to disregard the title of “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” as hyperbole.

So it’s a fantastic treasure unearthed when you get to see a high quality video recording of The Stones in their prime, as with the recently re-released Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones, filmed on the infamous 1972 American tour just after the release of the juggernaut Exile On Main Street.

This is quintessential rock ‘n’ roll power, pure and simple. It’s The Stones in what many believe is their finest hour, firing on all cylinders, a clean and lean rock ‘n’ roll machine, debauching and rocking across the US. Jagger’s kinetic frenzy and showmanship charm seem to hold a genuine power over his audience. His vocals may suffer at the expense of all that dancing, but watching him you know he was the penultimate rock ‘n’ roll frontman for good reason. Keith Richards’ tight but loose swagger on rhythm guitar has really come into its own on the Let It Bleed-Sticky Fingers-Exile On Main Street songs. Young gun Mick Taylor on lead guitar is by far the best foil for Keef the band has ever had and even though he stands stock still and expressionless in these performances, his playing brims with vitality. Even minimalist Charlie Watts lets fly with a few power fills on drums. Highlights include a blistering All Down The Line and an electric Dead Flowers with Mick and Keith sharing one microphone.

So if you are doubtful or even just curious about why The Stones are dubbed the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, watching this footage of them live in 1972 may leave you nodding your head in understanding or maybe even dancing around your living room.

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