Blu-ray Review: Ladies & Gentlemen – The Rolling Stones

Eagle Rock Entertainment | 1973 | 75 mins. | PG


Man, it feels like The Rolling Stones have been around forever. Formed backed in 1962, they were part of the British invasion, and have been and integral part of rock ‘n roll ever since. Though The Stones aren’t touring and they haven’t released a studio album since 2005, 2010 turned out to be a great year for fans of the band.  Earlier this year, we got a reissue of one of their best albums, Exile On Main Street, complete with 10 previously unreleased tracks. Then in June we got Stones In Exile, a terrific documentary about the making of Exile on Main Street. Now, Eagle Rock Entertainment has released the live concert Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling Stones.

In 1972, The Stones had been together for a decade and were at the height of their popularity. They had just released the fourth album in a string of LPs that are widely considered to be some of the greatest albums ever made. Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling Stones comprised of four shows recoded in Texas during the Exile on Main Street Tour in 1972; the songs in the film are picked from those shows and are songs recorded from 1968-72.

Tracklisting:

1. Brown Sugar
2. Bitch

3. Gimme Shelter
4. Dead Flowers
5. Happy

6. Tumbling Dice
7. Love in Vain
8. Sweet Virginia

9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

10. All Down the Line

11. Midnight Rambler

12. Bye Bye Johnny

13. Rip This Joint

14. Jumpin’ Jack Flash

15. Street Fighting Man

All the guys are in top form here. The classic rhythms of Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman are consistent throughout, and Keith is clearly having a great time; feeding off the full strut stage antics of Mick Jagger. I also have to give big props to Mick Taylor. Though Brian Jones was a founding member of the group, Taylor is the unsung hero. Taylor’s guitar playing is first rate and  it shouldn’t be overlooked that his tenure with The Stones (1969-1974) was also their most commercially successful. I was kind of disappointed that Taylor spends all of Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling Stones in the background dutifully playing guitar, seemingly content to let Mick and Keith grab the spotlight. But, Taylor has always struck me as a guy who likes to let his music do the talking.

If you’re a fan of  The Stones, this Blu-ray gives you the chance to see the band at their best. Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling Stones deserves a spot right next to Gimme Shelter on the shelves of any DVD/Blu-ray collector.

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.82:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, this Blu-ray release is better than the original print, but it still looks dirty, uneven, and poorly lit. Blacks are not very deep and you really don’t see a lot of detail. If you are looking for a pristine 1080p HD presentation of a 38 year-old film that was captured by a handful of cameramen, you are expecting way too much. However, since HD wasn’t even a concept in 1972, what we get here isn’t terrible.

Of the three soundtracks; Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and LPCM stereo, I preferred the LPCM 2.0 option. The surround mixes came across as very uneven; both volume levels and the absence of bass information. Mick Jagger isn’t the clearest sounding singer on a good day, but he was more than fine with the stereo mix. It’s almost ironic how much better the stereo mix sounds, especially with the advances in audio. The sound is more balanced and natural sounding.

We get the following special features:

Tour Rehearsal – raw footage from a rehearsal session including performance of the following three songs:

— Shake Your Hips (2 min, 480/60i).
— Tumbling Dice (5 min, 480/60i).
— Bluesberry Jam (4 min, 480/60i).

Old Grey Whistle Test Interview – In English, with optional English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese subtitles. (6 min, 480/60i).

Mick Jagger Interview 2010 – Mick Jagger offers an excellent technical analysis addressing the quality of the newly restored Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones. He also recalls what the tour was like, how the tour was filmed, etc. In English, with optional English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese subtitles. (11 min, 1080i).



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