Fans of the legendary Rolling Stones have been waiting for the official video release of this concert film for decades. This concert performance, filmed during four shows in Texas on the 1972 US tour (their first here since the 1969 jaunt that ended tragically in Altamont), originally received a short theater run back when it was first released, but was quickly sent to the vaults where it has remained till this day. So, if you are one of those loyal fans who have owned a crappy third or fourth generation VHS or DVD of this film (yep, I'm one of them), it's time to junk that and replace it with a restored and remastered DVD or Blu-Ray version which has been given new life here by the folks at Eagle Vision.
It's the perfect time to release this actually, as it coincides with the reissue on CD of Exile on Main St., the double album that the Stones were actually touring in support of when this film was shot. The 15 song set is taken from the 4 nights in Texas, so there's a lack of continuity as far the clothes the band was wearing, which changes from song to song, but if you don't mind that slight distraction, the performances are suberb. Mick Jagger is in fine showman form, owning the stage and the audience, especially during the lengthy heavy blues rocker "Midnight Rambler" as well as the classic ballad "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Fans of the more hard rocking fare the Stones were famous for in that period will love blistering versions of "Bitch", "Brown Suger", "All Down the Line", and a fired up "Rip This Joint". Lead guitarist Mick Taylor is at his soloing best throughout this set, adding in fiery, virtuoso leads on "Street Fighting Man", "Gimme Shelter", stinging slide on the bluesy "Love In Vain" and the country tinged "Sweet Virginia", as well as smokin' blues on "Midnight Rambler". Keith Richards shares vocals with Jagger on the always engaging "Happy" and the great singalong "Dead Flowers", and even delivers some solid lead guitar of his own on Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny". Throw in a wild version of "Tumbling Dice" (from the then new album Exile on Main St.), and a super hot "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and you have an exceptional set list that is perhaps only missing a few tunes that they might have also played on that tour. Rounding out the line-up here is the always solid & steady Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, pianist Nicky Hopkins, sax player Bobby Keyes, Jim Price on horns, and Ian Stewart on 'anonymous' piano.
For bonus material you get some great rehearsal footage from the Beat Club, which are mostly jams of "Shake Your Hips", "Tumbling Dice", and something called "Bluesberry Jam", all with a strung out looking Richards on lead guitar. Considering how during this period his heroin addiction was in full bloom this is not surprising, but the man still played a mean rhythm and blues guitar. Add in an interview with Jagger from the Old Grey Whistle Test from that year, and a new interview with him from 2010 talking about the re-release of Ladies and Gentleman, and you have some nice additions to this Blu-ray.
And, what of the Blu-ray quality you ask? Well, comparing this to my shoddy bootleg DVD that I've had for a while, it's like night and day. Though the film does show it's age, and even Jagger spoke about how much restoration needed to be done as the original film was damaged, the quality is quite good considering. There is still a fair amount of dark spots (no doubt due to the lighting at the original venues) and grain, but for the most part the picture is very crisp and clear, and the audio is quite good. It might not be quite 'hi-definition', but it's as close as you are going to get.
The short and sweet of it is, if you want to experience some of the best rock 'n' roll/hard rock of the early 70's, by one of the biggest bands in the world, then you need to get your hands on Ladies and Gentleman...The Rolling Stones. This is the 'Mick Taylor' era at the height of their powers, and the young guitar stud is all over this set with his instrumental prowess. Essential.
1. Brown Sugar
3. Gimme Shelter
4. Dead Flowers
6. Tumbling Dice
7. Love in Vain
8. Sweet Virginia
9. You Can't Always Get What You Want
10. All Down the Line
11. Midnight Rambler
12. Bye Bye Johnny
13. Rip This Joint
14. Jumpin' Jack Flash
15. Street Fighting Man
Tour Rehearsal Footage at the Beat Club-Shake Your Hips, Tumbling Dice, Bluesberry Jam
Old Grey Whistle Test Interview with Mick Jagger
2010 Interview with Mick Jagger