|Rolling Stones - Rock of Ages: An Unauthorized Story on the Rolling Stones
Available in stores on September 29th, Rock of Ages: An Unauthorized Story on the Rolling Stones attempts to capsulate into a mere 76 minutes the nearly fifty-year history of one of rock Ďní rollís most beloved and tenured acts. To what degree the film succeeds in this bold claim depends upon the expectations of the individual viewer.
As the documentary opens, fans are treated to glimpses of rare promotional clips of the original lineup featuring bandleader/guitarist Brian Jones hamming it up for the camera circa 1962-1964. Surprisingly, since the Stones were marketed as the antithesis of the "fab four," the boys antics are reminiscent of "Hard Dayís Night" era Beatles, or (dare I say) televisionís Monkees of a few years later. While this stock footage is priceless, it is the filmís marked dearth of Rolling Stones music that soon becomes clear. Probably due to licensing restrictions (thus the "unauthorized" label), the documentaryís music-scape is limited to forgettable instrumental drivel of unknown origin. Nary is a single concert clip of a performing Stone cast. Nowhere are the chords of "Satisfaction" heard to ring or are references to early singles followed by convenient sound-bytes to jar the viewerís memory.
That being said, the distinctly British narration provides a pretty compelling story of the meteoric rise of arguably the most successful rock Ďní roll band in history. Tangential moments notwithstanding, casual fans can glean a pretty good overview of the bandís decadent decades-long reign and calculated reinventions of later years. The eras of the 1960ís and 2000ís are substantially more well-represented than the equally important 1970ís and (to a lesser degree) 1980ís. The film seems to jump from Altamont to Forty Licks with little more than mere mention of milestone markers along the way; i.e., the "Exile on Main Street" era tax exile, Ron Wood joining the group, etc. The chart-successes of Some Girls and Tattoo You following the poorly-received Black and Blue LP are inexplicably omitted. Rather, tedious footage of promotional interviews surrounding slight solo ventures is showcased.
In the opinion of this reviewer, Rock of Ages: An Unauthorized Story on the Rolling Stones works best as supplemental viewing for newly-initiated fans who are familiar with the music but somewhat unfamiliar with the back-story. Hardcore fans may want to consider the DVD solely to review the rare promotional clips strewn throughout the first half of the film. In either case, I recommend playing a cherished Rolling Stones album or CD in the background.