The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus – Abkco Records

by | Jun 12, 2019 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews, Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus – Abkco Records 2003-9 Limited Deluxe Edition Box Set (blu-ray+dvd+2 cds) *****:

The Rolling Stones
Jethro Tull
The Who
Circus Band
Taj Mahal
Marianne Faithful
John Lennon &amp The Dirty Mac
Julius Kitchen

Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg
Release date: 6/7/2019
Video: 1.331 for 1080p Color
Audio: 192 K, 4-bit surround
Length: 63 minutes

As 1968 closed, the rock industry reflected the world around it. The Prague Spring, Tet Offensive, Vietnam, Martin Luther King/Bobby Kennedy Asassinations, The U.S.S. Pueblo, Olympic Protests and Chicago were on the Evening News. Gone were the halcyon times of the the “hippie” Summer Of Love. Also, the premier musical entity, The Beatles had stopped performing. While their studio output was still brilliant, The Rolling Stones were making a case to be “the greatest rock and roll band in the world”. Following the lukewarm reception to Her Majesty’s Satanic Request, The Stones unleashed Beggars Banquet into the cultural atmosphere. With songs like “Street Fighting Man’, No Expectations” and “Sympathy For The Devil”, the band initiated an amazing run of 4 studio albums ( including Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exiles On Main Street) that cemented their legacy.

In December 1968, The Rolling Stones performed Rock And Roll Circus, a live concert event that was supposed to be broadcasted on BBC at a later date. There was a Fellini-esque combination of music, costumes, circus/novelty and other exotic showmanship that would surely electrify the world. However, the evidence of this project was shelved for twenty-five  years, because of the untimely death of Stones co-founder Brian Jones and the group’s self-critical performance. Eventually released on DVD in 1996, it took another 23 years for a high-resolution upgrade. ABKCO Records has released a limited edition box set of The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus. The set included a 4K bu-ray, DVD and 2 CDs that includes a 43-page glossy book insert. (Note: There is another set that has three-vinyls). This concert movie , directed by British television veteran Michael Lindsay-Hogg is still a compelling look at Jagger’s genre-combining vision. With a hi-res upgrade, it is vibrant and eye-catching. Despite the aura of world disorder and band dysfunction, it appears that The Rock And Roll Circus has a communal mission, to entertain. As the film begins, the all-star cast and circus performers/animals enter to the familiar strains of “Entry Of The Gladiators”. Ringmaster Mick Jagger introduces a relatively unknown band, Jethro Tull. Ian Anderson does his thing on flute and bug-eyed vocals (“Song For Jeffery”). Keith Richards (with a patch over one eye) then brings out The Who. Pete Townsend (windmill guitar), Roger Daltrey (twirling microphone), John Entwistle (steady on bass) and the frenetic drummer Keith Moon explode on a mini concept piece (“A Quick One, While He’s Away”). Then a gritty r & b performance (“Ain’t That A Lot Of Love”) by Taj Mahal is followed by the stunning and underrated singer Marianne Faithful who delivers a sultry cover of “Something Better”

Then, things get mind-blowing as Mick Jagger introduces a “new” John Lennon band, The Dirty Mac. With Eric Clapton on guitar, Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience)  on drums and Keith Richards on bass, the group tears into “Yer Blues”. It is jaw-dropping to witness. Yoko Ono and violinist Ivry Gitlis join for an avant-garde jam. With weird hand gestures, John Lennon emcees The Rolling Stones who immediately break into “Jumping Jack Flash”. This may have been the last performance of the original lineup. Jagger’s singing is magnetic and the bluesy riffs on “Parachute Woman” are brilliant. Then a folky rendition of “No Expectations” (with Brian Jones on slide) rolls into a “new” song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. This stripped-down version is excellent. The group includes pianist Nicky Hopkins and percussionist Rocky Dijon. Everything hits a crescendo on the mesmerizing “Sympathy For The Devil” (one of four songs from Beggar’s Banquet). Jagger’s stage persona and camera awareness is on full display. They finish in the audience as Keith and Mick share lead vocals and harmony on “Salt Of The Earth”.

This restored blu-ray gives a modern focused look to the fifty year old film. The images are clear, and the colors are vivid. The audio upgrade and mix is also superior, especially on the soaring electric guitars and Jagger’s vocals. There are many “rock and roll” close-ups with crowd shots (that are primarily comprised of Rolling Stone Fan Club members and cast members). There are two CDs with “extra” songs, including three by Taj Mahal and a warm-up take of “Revolution” by Dirty Mac. The bonus features include an incisive interview with Pete Townsend about the origins of the concept and other rock lore. Small things like a brief interplay with Lennon and Jagger are nostalgic and funny. The packaging is top-notch with terrific graphics and photographs.

From an historical perspective, The Rock And Roll Circus is a must for rock fans!

Blu-ray/DVD :
Entry Of The Gladiators
Song For Jeffrey
A Quick One, While He’s Away
Ain’t That A Lot Of Love
Something Better
Yer Blues
Whole Lotta Yoko
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Parachure Woman
No Expectations
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Sympathy For The Devil
Salt Of The Earth

CD 1: Same as Blu-ray/DVD

CD 2: (Unreleased tracks)
Checking Up On My Baby
Leaving Trunk
Revolution (Rehearsal)
Warmup Jam
Yer Blues (Take 2)
de Falla: Ritual Fire Dance
Mozart: Sonata In C Major-1st Movement

—Robbie Gerson


More Information at Abkco Website:

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