Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties & Exile On Main Street.: A Season in Hell with The Rolling Stones


Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties & Exile On Main St.: A Season in Hell with The Rolling Stones
Antonio G. Pereira © 2011 Antonio G. Pereira
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Let It Bleed by Ethan A. Russell (Published by Springboard Press N.Y.) is a collection of photographs Ethan Russell took of The Rolling Stones, from 1968 (when Brian Jones was still in the band) through 1969 (with a few photos from the 1972 tour of America). Most of the book is taken up with the 1969 North American Tour. The photographs are quite good, and there are candid shots of Tommy Smothers meeting with the Stones about appearing on The Smothers Brothers Show, Bill Graham at the Oakland concert he promoted, Jimi Hendrix jammimg with Mick Taylor backstage at Madison Square Garden, (There are more photos of Hendrix backstage with the Stones that Thanksgiving night in 1969, in a rather chaotic 2nd Guitar World Jimi Hendrix Tribute Issue from March 1988. {The first was the Sept. 1985 Issue} Mick Taylor gave a very gracious and informative interview to Experience Hendrix Magazine, which was published in their Nov/Dec 1999 Issue. Here is a very lengthy related article http://www.micktaylor.net/MT_re-examinedp1.htm ) Bukka White meeting the Stones, Chuck Berry talking with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger etc... The stories Ethan Russell tells in this book about the circumstances under which he started photographing the Stones and what Brian Jones was like, are quite interesting (although I wonder if his 'vacation' in London had more to do with the draft and the Vietnam War). Additionally, his detailed descriptions of the Hyde Park Concert after Jones' passing, and Mick Taylor joining the band after leaving John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and finally the 1969 tour, are very good. (It's interesting to note that The Rolling Stones two transitional group performances occurred on The David Frost Television Show. Brian Jones final performance with the Stones after Beggars Banquet was released, near the end of 1968 performing 'Sympathy For The Devil' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiIH5PewAzs    and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want', which has never been screened in the U.S., and Mick Taylor's first performance with the Stones in 1969, when the 45 'Honky Tonk Women' was released, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH4bKiBXF2g   with Jagger so stoned he mumbled his way through the song; was screened in the U.S. {Interestingly, during the mid-1970s a 2LP bootleg appeared in some 'specialist' record shops that sported a cover parodying a T.V. Guide; containing a chronological listing of The Rolling Stones t.v. appearances on live television from 1964-1972. The David Frost Show appearance of the Stones playing 'Honky Tonk Women', is on that bootleg}) One thing that should be understood is that the photographs of the tour are not from every single date, but offer a wide variety of in concert and backstage photos (some very well known). The stories told by (and about) different people that were associated with the tour, are also quite interesting to hear. Some people apparently (for this book) are speaking for the first time. When we get to Altamont, it becomes quickly obvious that this is a disaster in the making; and nobody comes out looking very good when it's over. In the Epilouge to this book, I find it rather strange that Ethan Russell tells half a story about the aftermath of the murder at Altamont and subsequent trial; as you can find the rest of the facts in detail, in History Professor Jon Weiner's book, 'Come Together: John Lennon In His Time' (Published by Random House New York) in Chapter 11 'Altamont and Toronto' pages 124-130.
Exile On Main St.: A Season in Hell with The Rolling Stones by Robert Greenfield (Published by Da Capo Press) Frankly, I don't know why the guy decided to turn this into a book, as he could just as easily have written this as a series of articles for News Of The World; which would have suited it well. Robert Greenfield has done some good work before. e.g. His book about the Rolling Stones 1972 North American Tour http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQeZPrQFwlk   (an excellent piece of work, although a little heavy on assumptions about some of the people who were involved in and around the tour), and his masterpiece, 'Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out' (which he co-wrote with Bill Graham, and for which he won a well deserved Ralph J. Gleason Award {unlike another Ralph J. Gleason awardee named Electric Gypsy (a questionable Jimi Hendrix biography) which among other things, placed Jimi Hendrix stage-rear at the Altamont Festival, witnessing the murder}). The book, 'Exile On Main St.', which covers the period the Stones lived in Tax Exile in France in 1971, and recorded most of what became their patchy two LP set Exile On Main St. , is more of an expose' than anything else; and is not that much different from the book, 'Up and Down With The Rolling Stones' by Tony Sanchez, which it continually makes reference to (and which had a better selection of photographs). Written in an odd Shakespearean style, Exile On Main St. is interesting in places, like the formation of Rolling Stones Records on Atlantic with Ahmet Ertegun, the back and forth between the Stones and Allen Klein concerning their back catalog at London/Decca and ABKCO, the raw deal given to Mick Taylor (strangely, there is no mention of the subsequent raw deal that Billy Preston {with whom Mick Taylor appeared on a great live album that was only available as an Import} received) who replaced a once very versatile and talented, but by then worn out Brian Jones, http://www.rockontour.net/bj67.html http://www.rocksoff.org/greece-april-17-1967.htm {Jones, who after years of heavy drinking and drug use, had the additional problem of a broken wrist that never healed properly; which resulted from a fall during rock climbing on a Moroccan holiday in 1966. He had however, developed a deep interest in Moroccan Folk Music, which he continued to pursue for the remainder of his life.} and who added a completely new and different dimension to The Rolling Stones, (Go to The Internet Archive http://www.archive.org type http://home.att.net/~onvenus/stones.html into The Wayback Machine and click Take Me Back, for an engrossing, detailed and informative review of the Stones history) as he was a genuinely talented and exceptional musician; and of course the constant drug use around Nellcote, where the recording of the album took place. There are a handful of photographs from the period, not all that well focused. The final chapter, 'Aftermath', was mostly unnecessary and really added nothing to the book, other than an update on some of the players involved.