Friday, December 5, 2008

At the Cinema: The Rolling Stones - Rock and Roll Circus

It's no secret, I'm a Stones gal all the way. Thusly, it should surprise absolutely not a single one of you to see that I'm writing about something to do with said most awesome band to ever walk the face of the Earth (in my humble opinion, of course). The only surprise is that it's taken me this long to write about a Stones-related flick. But here we go, ladies and gentlemen, at long last, with the one, the only, "Rock and Roll Circus".

My first thought upon watching the intro to the Circus, when the performers parade out performing a circus march amongst a group of acrobats and clowns and what have you was "gee, it sure would have been swell to be around in 1968". This isn't really the kind of thing the kids are throwing together these days, and certainly not involving bands of this caliber (in addition to the Stones, the Rock and Roll Circus features performances by Jethro Tull, the Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and the Dirty Mac).

See Roger Daltrey's amazing fringed outfit! Marvel at Pete Townshend's blue, blue eyes and silly faces during his closeups! Gaze at the dapper figure cut by your ringmaster, Mick Jagger! Stare in awe at the macrame sweater worn by Eric Clapton!

The performances are all pretty darned good, but especially impressive are Jethro Tull's "Song for Jeffrey", Taj Mahal's "Ain't That a lot of Love", and every single song done by the Stones (with Brian Jones), particularly "No Expectations". The Dirty Mac, super sideproject, also nailed "Yer Blues", but I'll admit I could have done without the Yoko howling in their second number.

It's a bold, colorful, delightfully lo-fi one ring circus. Musical performances are peppered with actual circus routines (bar acrobatics and playing with fire, anyone?). The audience is a representation of Swinging London, decked out in satin orange and yellow robes and having a grand ole time, especially the far out dancers during "Jumpin' Jack Flash". The camera shots are frequently choppy and sometimes flat out silly. And it's perfect. There was some kinda magic going on in December of 1968, and it's lucky for those of us that weren't there that someone caught it on camera.



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