The Rolling Stones
During the opening sequence of this documentary on the Canadian music industry from 1973, The Rolling Stones rip through “Jumping Jack Flash” as the crowd at the Montreal Forum go wild. Mick Jagger struts across the stage, before dousing the audience with a bucket of water and handfuls of rose petals—why? I dunno, each to their own, I suppose…
Not to be outdone, Keith Richards plays his guitar as if each chord struck will bring pestilence, plague, death and disaster down on some faraway land. Richards plucks at his guitar with great gothic dramatic posturing—while in the background Mick Taylor plays the tune.
By 1973, the rock ‘n’ rollers of the early 1950s were middle-aged, mostly married with kids. The new generation of youth who filled their place were long-haired, turned on, tuned in, many believing that music could change the world. Where once rock had been about having a good time, now the feelings it engendered were the driving force for political change. Pop music made the kids feel good—and that feeling was how many thought the world should be.
Well, it never happened, as music—no matter how radical—is in the end… entertainment. Those who took their political education from twelve-inch vinyl platters were quickly disappointed and soon awakened by pop’s utter failure to liberate the world, bring peace and harmony and all that. Nice though this idea certainly was, it was all just a pantomime—like Keef having fun hamming up his guitar playing.
Of course, the music industry is a far more sinister business than this—as this documentary Rock-a-Bye inadvertently points out. From the start, our choice of music was manipulated by long hairs with no taste in fashion as shown by their suits and ties and ill-fitting tank tops. These men picked the records that received the necessary air time to guarantee their success—thus making billions for the music industry. As Douglas Rain quotes one cynical record plugger in his commentary, who claimed if he played the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” on the radio often enough it would be a hit. The youth were only there to be manipulated and sold product—plus ça change….
This is a good illuminating documentary and apart from The Stones, there are performances from Ronnie Hawkins (plus interview), Muddy Waters and Alice Cooper. There’s also an interview with Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful who lets rip a four-letter word (mostly bleeped out) tirade on the state of music in the 1970s. What Yanovsky forgets is that music is a business and only the amateurs and the rich will play for free.
Watch the entire documentary, after the jump…