Most of the so-called “critical reviews” out there are nothing more than people I don’t know telling me why I should like a band. I don’t need someone to tell me why someone was great or to tell me that certain songs are better than others. We’re all capable of listening to the music and figuring it out for ourselves what’s great to us.
However, The Rolling Stones: Under Review 1962-1966 was actually much better than I initially expected. The first hint that this was going to be better than most was the fact that the riffs I heard were from actual Rolling Stones music, rather than being sound-alikes trying to imitate them in the studio.
The Rolling Stones: Under Review 1962-1966 is actually more of a biography than a review, and that’s just fine. It does a terrific job covering the early years of the Stones, bringing to the surface their roots in the blues music that’s been lost to many modern listeners of rock -n- roll.
Covered here are the early years with their covers of many blues tunes out there. There is plenty of time is spent discussing their blues recordings at Chess Studios. Many of these recordings have never been released, and unless you dig up some extremely early releases by the Stones (before Satisfaction) you’re missing out. It’s nice to see this period of time covered, especially for people who think their popularity began with the release of Satisfaction.
The build-up to the release of that breakout hit is evident. The history presented doesn’t stop, although it seemed to relish the earlier music much more, probably because so much less is known about that and talked about in a society where we want to know about the hits first, and the history later. Once the Stones had some success, the pressure to keep it going was enormous as it seemed necessary to release a hit single every two to three months. This had mixed results, as this DVD details.
The people commenting in The Rolling Stones: Under Review 1962-1966 might not be people I know, but at least they are people with connections to the band itself. Among those interviewed for details on the early years of the band is Dick Taylor. He was the first bass player for the Stones and went on to play in Pretty Things.
The Stones were the “bad guys” as opposed to the Beatles, who were “the good guys”. It’s one of the reasons the Beatles reached out to them at times and there was less of a rivalry than the media would have you believe. It’s amazing to watch this and realize that Keith Richards was actually pretty good-looking at one time. With the exception of the friction in the band involving Brian Jones, there’s little behind-the-scenes information or details of their personal life. This is pretty much all about the music and steers clear of things that would come out in the gossip columns.
There’s plenty of vintage footage from early performances, along with photos taken at the time. Most of this is in black and white, but it looks fine so there has been some attention paid to restoring both the film and photographs.
There are some “extras” on the DVD. Probably the most worthwhile is the “contributor biographies” section. Instead of thinking “Who are these people? Why do I care what they say” this helps make a case for it. But overall I like the tone better of them giving the history of the band more than actually being “critical”. There are also some additional stories about the Rolling Stones that didn’t make the cut of the hour-and-a-half main presentation.
Between the early footage and the terrific way this covers their early blues roots so in-depth, I can actually say The Rolling Stones: Under Review 1962-1966 is worth checking out.
• “True Stories” – Those Who Knew the Stones Spill the Beans
• The Hardest Rolling Stones Quiz in the World Ever
• Contributor Biographies