Monday, January 12, 2015

Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones & Brian Jones - Who Killed Christopher Robin?: The Truth Behind The Murder of a Rolling Stone

Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones & Brian Jones - Who Killed Christopher Robin?: The Truth Behind The Murder of a Rolling Stone
Antonio G. Pereira © 2015 Antonio G. Pereira

        I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Paul Trynka's book, 'Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones'. ,although I've always considered Mojo Magazine to be an opportunistic pile of sensationalist garbage.
       Trynka's new information (very well researched) about Brian Jones' early life in Cheltenham (a classic conservative town full of dirty laundry with rotten secrets, if there ever was one), was quite illuminating, and a classic case study of self-righteous townspeople living their lives like a bunch of hypocrites, by the numbers.
       As anyone who has always been able to think for themselves (rather than waiting to be told what to think) already knows, 'The Rolling Stones' are a Corporate Entity; and have been for a long, long time. So this is no earth shaking news. Partly out of necessity at first, but later, as the 1970s moved along, what became and what amounted to (as successful surviving acts moved away from Concert Halls to Stadiums, and different camps of megalomania formed within the Music Industry itself, and in the 1980s, in turn, became the mergered empires we have today), complete image control.
       It's nice that Paul Trynka took the time to reconstruct and detail Mr. Jones contribution OF and contributions TO The Rolling Stones {He rightly places Brian Jones at the pivotal period just after Muddy Waters and Otis Spann (promoted by Chris Barber) first visited England at the tail end of the 1950s. As this was also near the end of the classic period when Muddy Waters' original Chicago Blues Band aka 'The Headhunters', were tearing up clubs and taverns in and around Chicago, this was the sound that Muddy and Otis brought with them to Britain; that resulted in news headlines like 'Screaming Guitar, Howling Piano'. - Listen to Brian's perfectly crafted slide work on that poorly recorded live in concert cut of Route 66 on the Stones' mid '60s LP December's Children.}, as anyone who continues to wait for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to do it, will be waiting ad infinitum. I still find it a little strange that there is no proper documentary having been produced about Brian Jones, or about that 1967 Stones European Tour for that matter.
       It's heartening that Trynka spotlites Jones being an early pioneer along with George Harrison (as are Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder), of what we now term as 'World Music'.
       Having seen The Tami Show on television many years ago, The Rolling Stones' performance following James Brown and The Famous Flames, is pretty much anti-climactic; with Jagger appearing as a joke following James Brown, although you really can't take your eyes off of Brian Jones performance to the side, especially when he starts grinning, moving forward toward the audience and beating that tambourine. It's interesting to not only watch the audience, but the MAKEUP of the audience. Trynka, along with a lot of current writers (strangely) tend to write about the '60s era as if only white teenagers existed (and were listening to music and experiencing the groundbreaking societal changes) and no one else. Pity. I for one thought we had all learned something. Perhaps not.
       For an eye opener that no one yet seems to be discussing, search down a 1963 LP released on the King Federal Record Label (US) by a gentleman named Johnny Guitar Watson. Besides the great songs and of course, fantastic guitar playing, who does the vocalist remind you of? And let's see.... The Rolling Stones first LP is finally released the following year of 1964?
       Unfortunately the picture of Brian Jones remains unclear and unfocused. I would have liked to have known more about his relationships with people like Tom Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Richard and Mimi Farina, Stevie Winwood, Jimmy Page, Rocki Dijon, Eric Burdon, Devon Wilson, Chas Chandler, Brian Epstein, Bob Dylan, Alfred G. Aronowitz, each of The Beatles, Pete Townshend, Donyele Luna , Donovan, Taj Mahal, Jim Morrison, Ike Turner, Marshall Chess etc...
       The circumstances of Jones death are still open to question, which Paul Trynka just about stops short of admitting himself in his own book.
       What has always amazed me, since this very slick and calculated Conservative Retrenchment of the 1980s, is the proliferation of books finding publication by amateur bumpkin Psychiatrists and Psychologists, practicing a one sided snow job on anything that has to do with deceased figures from the '60s Counterculture. Amateur bumpkin Head Shrinkers accompanied by the way, by their amateur bumpkin counterparts (Read: 'Compilation Experts'), who stack and document Concert Dates and Venues and Set Listings of songs performed by said deceased '60s Countercultural figures, without the slightest understanding of WHAT the vast cultural SIGNIFICANCE of any of this MEANT; and in turn, want YOU to help THEM correct THEIR information, so they can SELL more material. {As the late New Music Musician and Educator Bill Dixon once put it (only partly in jest) in an extensive three part interview in Cadence Magazine a couple of decades ago, "You can't even die."} And (no surprise) it sells books, and incorporates magazines that present themselves as authoritative representatives of warehouses of '60s countercultural analyses.
       ACADEMIA of course, is full of malcontents with an agenda, racists with a tunnel vision view of World History, and old-timey, incompetent, lazybones freeloaders. (see Frank Zappa's observations in his autobiography, 'The Real Frank Zappa Book' by Frank Zappa with Peter Occhiogrosso - Published by Poseidon Press {e.g. Chapter 13: All About Schmucks - subsection 5 - The Exaltation of Ignorance}).
       Anyway, 'Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones' is a step in the right direction. Worth checking out.

       Brian Jones' quicksilver presence has always been something which you couldn't quite grasp, but Terry Rawling's, 'Who Killed Christopher Robin?' is a well written and intriguing biography, that brings Jones into better focus. Rawlings gives a clearer picture of what Jones' life and relationships were like after the Stones were formed; leading up to and after they became famous.
       The circumstances of his death, have always been open to question, and Rawling's investigation into it, makes fascinating reading. You're left with the feeling that there is more to come.
       The book includes a selection of carefully chosen photographs of Jones, as well as photographs relating to Rawling's investigation.
       There is of course, filmmaker Stephen Woolley's movie, 'Stoned' (partly based on Rawling's book). A slick and fruity production. Help yourself.
       However, if you look hard enough, there are glimpses of Brian Jones you can find in Peter Whitehead's rare 1965 documentary 'Charlie is my Darling'  , Tom Nolan's essay "Groupies: A Story of Our Times" {originally published in Cheetah magazine, but reprinted in the book 'The Age of Rock: Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution' Edited by Jonathan Eisen }, and an article of remembrance by Alfred G. Aronowitz, 'Over His Dead Body', that was written for his Pop Scene column in the New York Post. {Reprinted in the book, 'No One Waved Good-bye: a casualty report on rock and roll' Edited by Robert Somma }
       'Who Killed Christopher Robin?' is well worth reading and leaves intriguing questions, yet to be answered.