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The recent publication of "According to the Rolling Stones" to coincide with the Forty Licks Tour, is classic Stones-style media manipulation. Looking back over their career & my collection of Stones videos, books & CD's, it is obvious that once again Jagger (& to a lesser extent, Richards) are attempting to revise their personal history and somehow cleanse themselves of their bad-boy image. This particular effort is the penultimate revision of a well-documented history.
From the outset, the choices made by the books' editor (Dora Lowenstein, daughter of the financial advisor to the Stones, Prince Rupert Lowenstein) as to whom to include make it obvious this will be a trip thru the past brightly. The single most glaring omission is that of Bill Wyman; yes, he's not currently a Rolling Stone, but one would think that 25+ years as an official Stone would count for something. Obviously, Dora & Co. didn't agree. Other omissions include Mick Taylor (only the spark for the finest Rolling Stones guitar interplay recorded), Andrew Loog Oldham (even Jagger/Richards admit they probably never would gone beyond the Crawdaddy Club without ALO), Bobby Keys (Keith's best friend for many years & the leader of the Stones horn section since 1969) and the Stones women, past & present. Marianne Faithfull & Anita Pallenberg were considered adjunct members of the Stones for many years, most of them the most productive and artistically satisfying of their career. The list of those Missing In Action could also include dead, but on-the-record Stones members such as Brian Jones and (especially missed!) Ian Stewart who was the original founder with Jones of the band. Stewart knew where all the bodies were buried, and never failed to take the Jagger/Richards egos down a peg or 10. Ian's contributions to the Stones legacy are glossed over at best.
Instead, in the tween-chapters essays, we have represented two journalists (one of whom has no claim to any contact with any Stone at any time), Peter Wolf of J.Geils Band, Sheryl Crow, Prince Rupert and Ahmet Ertegun. Needless to say, their contributions tend more towards the sycophantic than the enlightening.
Many excellent photos, a number of them full-page, are reproduced here, but again, almost none of Wyman, and very few of those in the inner circle. The majority of the photos are (in descending order) Richards, Jagger, Watts & Wood. Poor Ronnie, although a Stone now since the mid-70's, is still attempting to rationalize the fact that he has almost never been giving song-writing credit even when he was the primary catalyst of a riff.
The main pleasures of "According to the Rolling Stones" are hearing Charlie Watts speak out openly, especially concerning his period of substance abuse in the 80's. He analyzes and philosophizes on many aspects of the Glimmer Twins collaboration, as well as the contributions of some of the more ignored members of the organization. It's as much a pleasure to read Charlie's words, as it is to hear his lovely, economical drumming.
Ronnie is his usual entertaining self, & Keith comes up with some classic quotes as usual. Jagger's contribution is to once again prove what a jerk he's become in the past 20 years. "Exile on Main Street" not a good album? Apparently Sir Mick thinks the sound too muddy. I hate to mention this, your Lordship, but you did start out as a blues band, after all. "Exile" is one of the greatest blues albums ever recorded by anyone. The Mick of 1962 thru 72 would have adored this album. Just goes to show....(and of course, we all know what Mick's solo work has sounded like). Mick is quoted at one point as justifying the Stones later work by saying "as long as it works live, that's all that matters". Keith, on the other hand, offers that he can't stand playing such recent dreck as "Emotional Rescue" or "Undercover of the Night". At least someone in the band still has some musical integrity left!
So there it is. "According to the Rolling Stones" won't change anyone's mind about any of the band members, although Mick & Dora might wish it would. I am just praying, that we, the "peeps" in the audience, won't be subjected to a 50th Anniversary Tour/Commemorative Book. The thought of a 70 year old Sir Mick wiggling his geriatric fanny is really too grotesque to bear!