The Rolling Stones
Dinosaur DVDs with a smattering of punk, porn, and R&B
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 21, 2012
The Rolling StonesCharlie Is My Darling (ABKCO)
The moment remains unwittingly staged, a look through the cracked glass so darkly it's almost breathtaking. Brian Jones, debonair and self-important as the bandleader, stares at the camera, declaring: "The future as a Rolling Stone is very uncertain." Uncertain, of course, for Jones, who drowned in A.A. Milne's swimming pool in 1969, but at the time of this freeze-frame in Ireland 1965, the future was a long way off. The Rolling Stones of that year are well on their way to superstardom, but first they have to pay their dues, including doing battle with rivals the Beatles. Director Peter Whitehead, drafted to document the Stones in order to compete with the Fab Four on film, gets thrown into their tour entourage, and though his 1966 film had a brief theatrical release, only with this DVD restoration does music history find the opportunity to consider Charlie Is My Darling as the first rockumentary. Not only is the Dublin riot footage extraordinary, the interviews captured as Whitehead rolls cameras on the young Stones reveal young men as stoked as they are perplexed by their obvious growing success. In memorable moments, Whitehead lingers on the laconic Charlie Watts as he ruminates and a sweet-faced fan professes her affection for the drummer. Charlie Is My Darling comes in a hefty, book-weight box the size of a vinyl EP, which it contains in addition to a DVD and Blu-ray disc of the film. Goodies include an enlarged limited edition film cell, a framable poster for the '65 Belfast performance in eye-popping neon, and the liner notes hardbound and oversized with (finally!) easy-to-read credits. Two CDs include the soundtrack, with its quirky renditions of Stones hits and originals, and a Live in England '65 disc that's also included on vinyl and reminiscent of the following year's Got Live If You Want It. The Stones are rolling here, delivering the set in fireballs like the R&B revues they so admired – Jagger as the little red rooster incarnate in the years before he becomes a man of wealth and taste. It's peer-to-peer communication at its zenith, the Stones as twentysomethings playing with fire to their own age group. Director Whitehead captures the crowd's riotous response to their music at Dublin's Adelphi Theatre as the singer falls on his checkered-pants knees and gives a jaunty bow at the end of "Time Is on My Side." Bo Diddley's "I'm All Right" then swings into its jungle groove as Jagger wields maracas like a monkey king, inciting fans with the raw power of rock & roll until they spill forth over the footlights and onto the stage. They're grabbing the mics and mobbing Keith, wrestling Mick, tackling Brian, rushing Bill Wyman, and banging Charlie Watts' drums as they dance madly. And it's not the girls! It's mostly boys, their ancient Irish warrior blood up and marching: charging hormone-infused masses who just want to touch the rock & roll Pandoras unleashing those joyous inner demons. Ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.