Ladies & gentlemen: The Rolling Stones are rather engaging to watch on your home entertainment system

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Feels a bit weird, writing a post about The Rolling Stones. You tend to assume everyone knows everything there is to know about them, don’t you? But even hardcore Stones bores have been awaiting the release of Ladies And Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones on DVD, as it’s been unobtainable by legal means for decades.

It was filmed over a few shows in 1972 as the band toured their masterpiece Exile On Main Street, but has only been available to fans once, in the 80s, on something called “VHS”, in a country called “Australia”, before being deleted. On October 11th it finally comes out on DVD and Blu-ray.

And however many times you’ve heard Stones songs and seen Mick peacock it up, it would be a studiously aloof, soulless berk who could watch Ladies & Gentlemen without being seduced by the ramalanga rock n’ roll spirit contained therein. “Bitch”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Brown Sugar”… if you feel no urge to at least tap your foot when these songs are played, especially in their live incarnations with their riffs n’ their horns n’ their sheer Stonesyness, chop it off. You deserve no foot. No foot for you.

Mick Jagger stands still for approximately 0.001 seconds of the entirety of the film, spending the majority of the time jerking his limbs about like the missing link between James Brown and Ian Curtis. AND he actually seems to sport a Ready Brek glow through some of the performances thanks to the lighting, which seems to cling to his hair. Mick n’ Keef are the main focal points, of course, with “Happy” a particular high point as they grin at each other like teenagers playing school assembly.

I was amused at how impassive Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor are throughout. There’s a thin line between looking nonchalant and appearing bored shitless, and it’s a line Wyman sleepily stumbles across constantly. Mick Taylor is an interesting one, though – he churns out the kind of solos that make it hard for one not to sink into muso-talk, so perfectly delivered are they.

And yet, while you might expect to see the genius producing this stuff arching his back and maybe allowing himself to throw the odd shape, Taylor just stands there, eyes downwards, as if he’s laying down a track in the studio. Even as Jagger flails about in front of him, attempting to feed off the energy of his bandmates, Taylor barely acknowledges his presence. Probably not that great a surprise that he didn’t last too much longer in the band, really.

You hardly see the crowd during the performances, with the focus entirely on the band. It makes for a surprisingly intimate viewing experience, especially given the fact the band only tend to frequent stadiums these days. It might have been nice to have seen close-ups of some young ‘uns in spasms of rock n’roll ecstasy, though.

Bones to pick? Well, I must voice a slight personal miff – which will probably be repeated by many folk – that “Rocks Off” doesn’t feature in the filmed setlist. It’s the lead tune on Exile On Main Street, and in my ‘umble it’s one of the Stones’ greatest moments. Weird that it’s not included. I also found myself yearning for some more vocal harmonies, especially on “Tumbling Dice”.

You can’t always get what you want though, eh? As a way of viewing a snippet of one of music’s most untouchable canons performed live, Ladies & Gentlemen shall suffice quite nicely.

Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones is released on October 11th.

Buy Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones on DVD

Buy Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones on Blu-ray

Buy Ladies & Gentemen: The Rolling Stones Deluxe 3 DVD Limited Edition

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