Released as yet another celebration of the Stones turning 50 Crossfire Hurricane is a great Rolling Stones documentary – if you’ve never seen one before. And given the band has been the subject of a bunch of docos, both official and not-so-much, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a lot of what is here before.
The trick with this is that the Stones, now – including past members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor – chat about the old footage. So as black’n’white video and stills take up the screen you get men in their 60s and 70s talking off-screen about what it was like to be the bad boys. There are some nice moments of reflection. But you’ll forget all of that when you get to see Mick Jagger’s name as producer and three other Stones in their too with production credits.
You’ll do some fast reflection of your own.
Brian Jones’s role in the band has now been rewritten somewhat, it’s no longer just a sad story of a creative visionary who was pushed to the side slightly and succumbed to his own demons/died of sadness for being ousted from his own band. Not now. Now it includes extra digs at Brian being irresponsible, irrepressible and never likely to stick around, just passing through, a hopeless fool…but quite good at slide guitar and things.
Worse, Ian Stewart – once thought of lovingly as “the sixth Stone” is not even in the picture. Well, if you squint you’ll see him in some footage but he won’t get a mention. Not in this vision (version) of the Stones.
This 50 year celebration tells a great few yarns across 1965-1975 – and within that busy decade specifically those golden years from 67-72 but that’s about it.
The 1989 documentary, 25 X 5 – made for the band’s 25th anniversary and celebrating the release of Steel Wheels – tells a far better/fairer story.
Crossfire Hurricane might dazzle true believers and new converts keen to seem up with the play as the old gods almost dead do another victory lap. But all it really shows is that the Stones exist now purely to celebrate themselves – and only up to a point. That point being, pretty much, 1978.
Tattoo You, generally thought of as the last decent/great Stones album (I’d still plump for Steel Wheels, you know) isn’t acknowledged. We get a trace of the 1981 concert film footage but really by the time Ronnie’s in the band – cemented (or, if you like, more often plastered) the storytelling is done.
Jagger the businessman knows what sells. And hearing that the Stones have done nothing of value creatively would not fit with the story of celebration. So this stops – oddly – before the superior documentary that celebrated the band when it was half as old.
This is, arguably, a scam, a fraud, a sneaky, snaky, snarky half-adventure. Lip service to when the lips were in service as part of the Best Band In The World.
Five years of work and twenty-years of hanging around, Charlie once quipped. Well you can add another 25 years on to that and it’s best spent, apparently, reminding everyone that there was a time, longer and longer ago, when they great.