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The Rolling Stones: Ladies & Gentlemen [Blu-ray] 
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The legendary concert film Ladies & Gentlemen...The Rolling Stones has been fully restored and remastered from the original film print and multitrack audio masters and now finally receives its first authorised release on DVD and Blu-ray. Filmed in Texas in 1972 over four nights of the Exile On Main Street US tour, Ladies & Gentlemen was premiered at the Ziegfield Theatre in New York on 15th April 1974 and released into selected cinemas across the USA shortly afterwards. It was billed at the time as ...the most powerful rock film ever made and is considered by many fans to be the finest Rolling Stones performance ever captured on film.
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Track list is:
Love in Vain
You Can't Always Get What You Want
All Down the Line
Bye Bye Johnny
Rip This Joint
Jumping Jack Flash
Street Fighting Man
There's also rehearsal footage of Shake Your Hips, an early version of Tumbling Dice (with Mick not yet sure which melody line he's going to use for the 'Baby' lines in the absence of backing vocalists) and a lacklustre blues jam which relegates Mick Taylor to bored rhythm guitar while Keith repeats the same Chuck Berry licks over and over.
The set is completed with 2 excellent Mick J interviews - one from the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972 and one in 2010. The former features a none-more-cockney Mick with a twinkle in his eye talking about Exile (full of danceable, more commercial songs apparently) and the upcoming tour. The latter is very informative, albeit Mick's memory fails him at times.
The concert is an absolute must-see. The band is on fire. Mick Taylor's soloing is blistering and, whilst he's never been the most entertaining musician to watch, even he starts to lose himself in the music by the climax of Midnight Rambler. Keith's rhythm playing is superb throughout, whilst Charlie's inventive, slightly behind-the-beat swing perfectly matches the music's loucheness - in huge contrast to the more clinical clicktrack approach he's often resorted to since - I don't think Tumbling Dice has ever sounded more raunchy than this period, for instance. The band manages to sound loose and spontaneous whilst never missing a beat or otherwise losing it - barring the odd shambolic song ending.
A stunning offering from the vault. Now can we have a 1972/73 live CD please? The Fort Worth/Brussels recordings will do just fine.
UPDATE 17 Nov 2011 - and so it came to pass - stonesarchive.com has just released the fabulous Brussels Affair on download - well worth checking out!
I have loved the stones for all my adult life (I'm 39)and footage of this concert has become legendary in bootleg form/youtube in those years.For a band famed for their awesome live shows,it has been totally puzzling as to why live footage or material has been somewhat underpar when buying.(save for 1969's Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out album).
Taken from the notorious 1972 Exile On Mainstreet Tour,this DVD finds the Stones at their absolute peak.Filmed over 4 nights in Texas,it is a real eye-opener to both the initiated, and the novice rock n roll fan.Jagger is at his swaggering best,but what is also astonishing is the tightness and performence quality from all,notably from Mick Taylor on guitar,whose presence in the stones during this peak-period is no coincidence.
And what a set-list!Surely no other band ever paraded such a strong live show,ever.
The cameras focus solely on the band,giving a candid audience-member feel to your viewing.And the simple,yet incredibly effective stage lighting sets the show up brilliantly.
Sound quality is 100%.I love this pumped through my stereo with the lights down.
Watch and marvel at the ultimate 70's rock n roll show.The best show I've ever seen.......This is why the oldies still go to see 'em kids!But its The Stones when they had little,or no,live equals.
Despite what some would say image IS important in rock n roll. On Ladies and Gentlemen Jagger and Richards look like rock stars in their pomp, indeed Jagger looks like THE definitive rock star in these concerts, by Four Flicks (excellent as it is sound, vision and performance wise) he looks like a wrinkly old man making an exhibition of himself; whilst Richards is even worse, especially when he starts croaking Hoagy Carmichael!
Similarly the older Stones dvd's all lack something: Gimme Shelter is dramatic and certainly worth watching, but there isn't enough of the Stones playing. Similarly Hyde Park and the Rock n Roll Circus are both too short, as concert dvd's of the period tended to be, and the performances aren't at all great.
Ladies and Gentlemen is also, by modern standard concert lengths slightly short, clocking in at about 80 minutes and 15 songs; modern concerts by big names (including the Stones themselves) are usually about two hours and feature at least twenty songs. However the set list on this is brilliant with every number a classic, indeed even by then the Stones had so many great songs that they could afford to leave some out. Just imagine a Stones concert even today without Honky Tonk Women or Sympathy For The Devil? We also don't get Satisfaction, Paint It Black, or Wild Horses, whilst Rocks Off, although performed on the tour, was omitted as the performance wasn't thought to be up to scratch.
In keeping with the way concerts were filmed in those days - and remember concert films were a rarity back then, now the major stars film and release dvds of every tour, (U2 must have far more concert dvds than all the 60's greats originally released put together!) - the stage is very dark and the musicians are often filmed in close up. Consequently the camera is usually fixed on Jagger most of the time - they often only filmed the singer then (I have a dvd of Black Sabbath in a 1970 concert where all you really see is Ozzy and Tony Iommi the real band leader, is hardly shown at all!).
We do see Keith sometimes and he shares a microphone with Mick for some songs. This happened less frequently after this tour and of course the later tours featured backing singers. There is also quite a bit more of Mick Taylor than might have been expected, and we can see what an excellent guitarist he was; he rather than Richards, takes nearly all the solos; by the time Ronnie arrived they were more evenly distributed.
Watts and Wyman are barely seen, although the occasional glimpses of Bill show him to be looking as miserable as he always did as though he was hating every minute of being on stage. We also see bits of the horn players, usually because they are behind Jagger at the time, whilst Nicky Hopkins on piano, although clearly heard and integral to their sound, isn't shown at all even when introduced to the audience!
The film is taken from a series of performances rather than a single concert; this is evident from the costume changes; no attempts have been made at continuity to make it appear a continuous performance as was done on the Led Zeppelin Song Remains the Same for example, although it doesn't really detract from the concert, and if it wasn't for the costumes the viewer wouldn't really notice it wasn't a single concert.
The film comes with a couple of interviews and some rehearsal footage as worthwhile extras.
Whilst this dvd cannot replace Four Flicks as the definitive Stones dvd simply because of the limitations of the concert filming of the time; it is a vital addition to the catalogue and captures the band at their absolute peak, even if for much of the time most of them are in the dark!
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