Sexy Intellectual, never an imprint to back away from controversy, has decided to nail down the zenith of the illustrious Mick Jagger to his 20s, a claim with which I can only partially agree, but, as usual, the case is so strongly made here that I found myself sitting on my critic's reactionary zeal and heeding the narrative in The Roaring 20s. In truth, every period the Rolling Stones went through resulted in great music, far more often superlative than otherwise, but, really, c'mon, from Their Satanic Majesty's Request forward, most specifically including Beggar's Banquet, was where the band hit its epochal maturity and made iron-clad art, the blues at the bottom of it all most vividly evident during that era. Of course, it's well known that Jagger and the lads look upon Satanic as throwaway, but, hey, that's what critics are for: to letcha know when even the creators are completely off their rockers. Thus, where Roaring 20s* claims Mick's full prowess significantly earlier than I would, I'm quite happy to meet 'em half way, and fascinated to follow their argument.
Don't get me wrong, this DVD fully acknowledges that latter period but as a wrinkle in the decade-long process; I say all which came before was merely preparatory to the overwhelming strengths and originality that emerged in Satanic and Beggar's, everything previous being an apprenticing for what was inevitable as 1968 turned things ugly, especially in matters American, and signified how the Stones would trans-generate their work until the later more commercial days of Harlem Shuffle and such (great stuff, btw, but not imbued with the grit clearly helping to monkeywrench the social machinery at the end of the 60s).
The Roaring 20s takes care to trace the roots of Jagger's rapid transformation from digging on the formative rock of his day to a discovery of the real blues, a mode that hit him as solidly as Clapton had undergone his own apotheosis. Starting with Dick Taylor's, an old school chum's, on-film recollections, the departure from an avidity for basketball to collaborating in an informal band, Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys, is illustrated and thence on to more serious pursuits…including an enrollment in the London School of Economics (!!!). Many period snippets of Mick 'n da boyz as well as personalities like Alexis Korner (England's John Mayall) pepper the narrative, and the subject of Brian Jones enters through the side door.
However, wanna know where Mick got all those moves? Check out the comparisons 'twixt he and James Brown, for whom the liver-lipped warbler has always held immense respect. Seeing the hopscotching footage makes the case far better than words ever could. All along the way, various Brit crits and others, Chris Welch included, provide running analysis, dragging in the myriad orbits of individuals like Marianne Faithful. And here, an incipient controversy sidles in, one much similar to the Lennon/McCartney re-analysis provided by the Pride label elsewhere, only touched upon here, really, but very interesting for what's portended: the writing credits for all those legendary songs may lay in much higher percentage than the 50% normally credited, Mick's contributions perhaps in need of re-appraisal. A significant percentage of all this is portrayed in the singer's chameleonic accommodation of what the fanbase desired, transforming himself and the band from artists to bad boys—not that difficult a task, one muses, everything taken with everything—which played very well into the British and American landscapes, what with all the anti-Establishment drug and sex escapades then under the law's persecutions. Still, just how pervasive were Mick's strong temperament and oft invisibly crafting hand? It's an interesting inquiry and one critics need attend with much more seriousness.
Then there are those questionable acting jobs in Performance and Ned Kelly as well as the Altamont tragedy…but, hey, the rest is for you to discover, and the disc will most likely slide your cognizance of many myths, truths, and mysteries over into clearer light, probably even re-appraisal. The Roaring 20s: Mick Jagger's Glory Years is another documentary slowly transposing what film can do for and as rock journalism. Sexy Intellectual, MVD, Pride, and precious few other imprints are uplevelling the format from what Eagle Vision and others formerly carried off so well, now over to a more scholarly set of dissertations with just enough distance to never turn into adulation, the chief problem point of the past. I suppose I should be a bit worried, seeing as how I'm one of those threatened over here in my inky scribe's realm, but, frankly, I'm digging this stuff way too much to fret for even a moment.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles