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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Roll up for the Stones' rock circus
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

The Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus
The film features some of the cream of the UK's 1960s rock talent
The Rolling Stones' legendary Rock And Roll Circus concert is released on DVD for the first time on Monday.

The original Stones line-up came together in public for the last time on 10 and 11 December 1968 to film the Rock and Roll Circus.

Accompanied by fellow rock luminaries such as The Who, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Jethro Tull, they recorded five key tracks from one of the most creative periods of their career.

The show, filmed at a north London TV studio mocked up to look like a big top, was originally conceived as a BBC TV special. But it never aired.

STONES SETLIST
Jumping Jack Flash
Parachute Woman
No Expectations
Sympathy For The Devil
Salt Of The Earth
The Stones were reputedly dissatisfied with their performance, and the footage remained in the vaults until it finally appeared on video in the mid-1990s.

Now cleaned up for DVD, it makes for a fascinating document of the rock aristocracy in late 1960s London, as the wider world was coming to terms with student riots and the Vietnam war.

The group called on friends like Lennon and Clapton to perform alongside them as Mick Jagger, dressed in ringmaster's costume, introduced some of the acts.

Brian Jones
The concert was Brian Jones' last filmed performance

An excitable audience was asked to don brightly-coloured capes to create a carnival atmosphere, as the musicians played through the night until dawn.

The Stones showcased tracks from their new LP Beggars Banquet, while Lennon fronted a mini-supergroup to play Yer Blues from The Beatles' recently-released White Album.

The impression given is that of an informal, relaxed gathering of musical pals, who also just happened to be some of the world's biggest rock stars.

The almost nonchalant coming together of such major artists in the heady atmosphere of Swinging London gives the film a uniquely evocative quality.

STONES SUPPORT
Jethro Tull
The Who
Marianne Faithfull
Taj Mahal
The Dirty Mac (John Lennon with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell)
David Stark was a 15-year-old Beatles fanatic who won two tickets to the show through a prize draw in NME.

Mr Stark, who now runs a music publishing newsletter, recalled: "I had to go to the loo and I walked past four guys having a chat - it was John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton!

"Everything was much more accessible then. It was like a little club. It was an awesome experience, a dream come true."

In retrospect, watching the Stones flow effortlessly through some of their best material, it seems they may have been over-critical of their own performance.

The Who
The Who gave an acclaimed performance in the show
They reputedly felt overshadowed by The Who's incendiary display, while guitarist and founder Brian Jones' drug use was causing internal frictions as his health deteriorated.

In the footage, Jones' demeanour and body language clearly point to his decline. He was sacked a few months later, and on 3 July 1969 he was found dead in his swimming pool, aged 27.

Yet if anything, the concert shows the Stones at the peak of their powers, loose yet focused, with Jagger at his most youthfully supple and charismatic.

Daryl Easlea, head of catalogue publicity at Universal, said it was time to reappraise the show.

He said: "I don't think the Stones performance is as bad as some people have suggested. You have to remember they were exhausted with recording and filming projects, and they were working through the night until 5am.

"What you see is a curio and a snapshot of what it was like when you could call the hottest bands of the day at short notice and have all these people in one place - it's textbook rock 'n' roll."




SEE ALSO:
Rolling Stones drummer has cancer
14 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Jagger: It's only rock 'n' roll
12 Dec 03 |  Entertainment
Stones tour licks up $300m
27 Nov 03 |  Entertainment


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