The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
|The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus|
|Directed by||Michael Lindsay-Hogg|
|Produced by||Sandy Leiberson|
|Starring||The Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, the Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, the Dirty Mac, Yoko Ono, Sir Robert Fossett's Circus and the Nurses.|
|Cinematography||Anthony B. Richmond|
|Edited by||Ruth Foster, Robin Klein|
|Running time||66 min|
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a film released in 1996 of an 11 December 1968 event put together by The Rolling Stones. The event comprised two concerts on a circus stage and included such acts as The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull. John Lennon and his fiancee Yoko Ono performed as part of a supergroup called The Dirty Mac, along with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards.
It was originally meant to be aired on the BBC, but the Rolling Stones withheld it. The Stones contended they did so due to their substandard performance, because they had taken the stage early in the morning and were clearly exhausted. Many others believe that the true reason for not releasing the video was that The Who, who were fresh off a concert tour, upstaged the Stones on their own production.
Concept and performance
The project was originally conceived by Mick Jagger as a way of branching out from conventional records and concert performances. Jagger approached Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who had directed two promos for Stones songs, to make a full-length TV show for them. According to Lindsay-Hogg, the idea of combining rock music and a circus setting came to him when he was trying to come up with ideas; he drew a circle on a piece of paper and free-associated.
The Stones and their guests performed in a replica of a seedy big top on a British sound stage - the Intertel (V.T.R. Services) Studio, Wycombe Road, Wembley  - in front of an invited audience. The performances began at around 2 pm on 11 December 1968, but setting up between acts took longer than planned and the cameras kept breaking down, which meant that the final performances took place at almost 5 o'clock the next morning.
By that time the audience and most of the Stones were exhausted; Jagger's sheer stamina managed to keep them going until the end. Jagger was reportedly so disappointed with his and the band's performance that he cancelled the airing of the film, and kept it from public view. This was the last public performance of Brian Jones with The Rolling Stones, and for much of the Stones performance he is inaudible, although his slide guitar on "No Expectations", maracas on "Sympathy for the Devil", and rhythm guitar on "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Parachute Woman" remain clear. The last song, "Salt of the Earth", was sung live by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger to the pre-recorded tape from the Beggars Banquet studio album where the song had been released.
According to Bill Wyman's book, Rolling with the Stones, the Stones also performed "Confessing the Blues", "Route 66" and an alternative take of "Sympathy for the Devil" with Brian Jones on guitar.
Some of the footage of the concert was thought to be lost until 1989, when it was found in a bin in the Who's private film vault. A significant segment of footage of The Who from the production was actually shown theatrically in the documentary The Kids Are Alright (1979), the only public viewing of the film until its eventual release. The Stones' film was restored and finally released on CD and video in 1996. Included on the recordings are the introductions for each act, including some entertaining banter between Jagger and Lennon.
This concert is the only footage of Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi performing as a member of Jethro Tull; he was a member for this show only as a favour to Ian Anderson while they looked for a replacement for Mick Abrahams. The band mimed to the album version of "A Song for Jeffrey" and "Fat Man" as the Stones told them to cut their time down and it would save time on rehearsing, "Fat Man" never made the final release. This footage also included some of Ian Anderson's first attempts of his now famous flute-playing position, with one leg in the air.
In a 1996 review, Janet Maslin called the film an "uneven but ripely nostalgic show"; although "rumor had it that the Stones... thought they looked tired and felt upstaged by the high-energy Who", "it hardly looks that way as Mick Jagger's fabulous performance nearly turns this into a one-man show." She called Jethro Tull's performance a "shaky start" by "arguably the most unbearable band of their day", said The Who "turn up early and stop traffic, delivering a fiery [performance]", and notes Yoko Ono's "glass-shattering shrieks" are "dutifully" backed by The Dirty Mac. She calls the concert-ending sing-along of "Salt of the Earth" smug and condescending, a "song about little people living in the real world".
A DVD version was released in October 2004, with audio remixed into Dolby Surround. The DVD includes footage of the show, along with extra features which include previously "lost" performances, an interview with Pete Townshend, and three audio commentaries. Of particular interest in the Townshend interview is his description of the genesis of the Circus project, which he claims was initially meant to involve the performers travelling across the United States via train (a concept used for a short concert series in Canada that was later documented in the feature film Festival Express). The remastered DVD also includes a special four-camera view of The Dirty Mac's performance of The Beatles' "Yer Blues" (showing Yoko Ono kneeling on the floor in front of the musicians, completely covered in a black sheet).
DVD track listing
- David Dalton's written historic introduction (0:33)
- "Entry of the Gladiators" (Julius Fučík) – Orchester /
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus Parade /
Mick Jagger's introduction of Rock and Roll Circus (2:10)
- Mick Jagger's introduction of Jethro Tull /
"Song for Jeffrey" (Ian Anderson) – Jethro Tull (3:43)
- Keith Richards's introduction of The Who /
"A Quick One While He's Away" (Pete Townshend) – The Who (7:40)
- "Over the Waves" (Juventino Rosas) – Orchester (1:20)
- "Ain't That a Lot of Love" (Willia Dean Parker, Homer Banks) – Taj Mahal (3:52)
- Charlie Watts' introduction of Marianne Faithfull /
"Something Better" (Barry Mann, Gerry Goffin) – Marianne Faithfull (2:37)
- Keith Richards's introduction of Danny Camara /
"Fire Eater and Luna (Donyale Luna)" (1:28)
- Mick Jagger and John Lennon's introduction of The Dirty Mac (1:05)
- "Yer Blues" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – The Dirty Mac (4:26)
- "Whole Lotta Yoko" (Yoko Ono) – Yoko Ono, Ivry Gitlis, The Dirty Mac (5:03)
- John Lennon's introduction of The Rolling Stones/
"Jumping Jack Flash" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) – The Rolling Stones (3:38)
- "Parachute Woman" (Jagger, Richards) – The Rolling Stones (2:57)
- "No Expectations" (Jagger, Richards) – The Rolling Stones (4:07)
- "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (Jagger, Richards) – The Rolling Stones (4:27)
- "Sympathy for the Devil" (Jagger, Richards) – The Rolling Stones (8:52)
- "Salt of the Earth" (Jagger, Richards) – The Rolling Stones (4:56)
- Credits, to the sound of "Salt of the Earth" (2:45)
Sideshows (DVD extras)
- Interview – Pete Townshend (18:26)
- "Checkin' Up on My Baby" (Sonny Boy Williamson) – Taj Mahal (5:39)
- "Leaving Trunk" (Sleepy John Estes) – Taj Mahal (6:28)
- "Corinna" (Taj Mahal, Jesse Ed Davis) – Taj Mahal (3:51)
- Brian Jones' introduction of Julius Katchen /
"Ritual Fire Dance" – Julius Katchen (4:21)
- "Sonata in C 1st Movement" – Julius Katchen (2:11)
- "Yer Blues" TK2 Quad Split – The Dirty Mac (4:35)
- Bill Wyman's introduction of The Clowns /
"The Clowns" (2:01)
- "Close, But No Cigar" – John Lennon and Mick Jagger (0:43)
- "Sympathy for the Devil" (Fatboy Slim Remix Video) – The Rolling Stones (4:29)
- Maslin, Janet (12 October 1996). "Taking a Trip Back in Time To the Sleek Young Stones". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus". CD Universe Store.
- The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus at the Internet Movie Database
- Brusie, David (12 Feb 2009). "1996: The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus". Tiny Mix Tapes.
- See infobox picture for appearances
- Fischer, Russ (04.02.2008). "STONES ON FILM: THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS (1968/1996)". Chud.com.
- "London's old (and present) ITV studios". An incomplete history of London's television studios.
- Shooting The Rolling Stones Rock'n Roll Circus 10 - 12 December 1968: London, Intertel Studios
- Farley, Christopher John (18 October 2004). "Starry Circus". Time. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- DVD Extras on Amazon: Unseen Footage