The Rolling Stones - Ladies and Gentlemen ...
A contemporary companion piece to the infamous Cocksucker Blues film, Ladies and Gentlemen ... is The Rolling Stones earning the crust that gave them the freedom to indulge in the decadence and debauchery of the former. Ironically, more people have probably seen Cocksucker ... than this rarity which, apart from a limited cinema release back in the 1970s and a quickly withdrawn Australian VHS, is given its first proper distribution by Eagle Vision. And what a delight it proves to be.
Filmed on The Stones' 1972 American tour, Bob Freeze and Steve Gebhardt caught the band during the Texas leg of the tour, the footage drawn from four seperate dates but edited down into a single setlist that was typical of the period. So blues-heavy, and nothing earlier than 1968 or so. Early dates on the tour were under-rehearsed but by the time they hit Texas, things were starting to fall into place. This allows Mick Taylor the freedom to solo pretty much all night, and for Jagger and Richards to just do their thing - mostly with a shit-eating grin plastered across their faces. 'Gimme Shelter' never fails to raise the hairs on the back-of-the-neck and the band breeze through the likes of 'Tumbling Dice' and 'Love In Vain', completely disguising the fact that, off-stage at least, this was a troubled tour. The first date in Vancouver had left over 30 policemen injured after 2000 ticketless fans tried to gain entry; there were further riots in San Diego and Washington DC, while in Montreal one of the band's equipment vans was blown up by a bomb. Jagger and Richards were also briefly jailed after a fight with a photographer. No wonder modern music seems positively pedestrian in comparison.
Modern audiences, raised on wall-to-wall rock festival coverage, may find the filming a little claustrophobic (you don't get to see Nicky Hopkins until pretty much the end of the film) and it's not until 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' that the house lights go up a little and you get a real sense that The Glimmer Twins have been rocking this out to a stadium. The limitations of the period equipment don't disguise the fact that Ladies and Gentleman ... is a fine document of a classic band at a time many consider to be their creative and artistic best.