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The Rolling Stones Go Home, Again

After its triumphant U.S. run in theaters and on Imax screens, followed by its successful release on home DVD, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will offer a special UK Collectors Edition DVD of the Martin Scorsese Rolling Stones concert film, “Shine A Light.” The package is now available by pre-order. It will be released on November 3.

Along with the DVD, one of the great features of these UK Limited Edition numbered packages is that they will also include a DIGITAL COPY version of the film, which can be viewed and listened to, on an iPod, an iPhone, a laptop, or computer in Mac or PC environment (Mac OSX 10.3.9+ and Windows XP/Vista).  The UK Limited Edition package also contains extensive production notes that are found within its sixteen-page collectors booklet. The Limited Edition is visibly differentiated by its packaging.

Because of its digital format, DIGITAL COPY enables fans to download high quality digital video without having to experience the delays of long downloads, while at the same time, offering a simple process. Twentieth Century Fox’s DIGITAL COPY remains at the forefront of this technology, with its availability of this format now offered in conjunction with selected titles on Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray releases.  DIGITAL COPY was introduced in The States earlier this year, and the success of this format resulted in a transfer rate that increased sales of Special Edition DVDs, reflecting a transfer rate via iTunes of almost sixty percent.

In addition to the special UK Collectors Edition DVD, the UK release of the film will also be offered by Twentieth Century Fox in a Blu-ray version and a standard DVD version in the UK. It is the Limited Edition, however, that will be most coveted, with its numbered packaging and its DIGITAL COPY disc.

All three of the UK DVD versions will contain four bonus tracks that are not included in film’s theatrical release. Those performances are “Undercover Of The Night,” “Little T&A,” “I’m Free,” and “Paint It, Black.”  One of four those songs, “Undercover Of The Night,” is not included in the double CD soundtrack album.

In addition to the film “Shine A Light,” the UK DVD versions will also contain fifteen minutes of candid scenes in a Featurette. There is also noteworthy special Multi-Angle offering of the Stones performing their timeless anthem “Jumping Jack Flash.”

Listening to these hypnotic Stones performances, whether via the Blu-ray, the DVD, the digital version of the film, using an iPod, a laptop, an iPhone, a Mac or a PC, the result is quite exceptional, yielding an extraordinary level of quality in the film’s sound that was mixed by Bob Clearmountain.

The entirety of Scorsese’s “Shine A Light” is the hallmark included in these packages. Filmed at the shows that were held at New York’s Beacon Theatre from the “Bigger Bang” shows on October 29 and November 1, 2006, with direction from Scorsese, whose numerous credits include “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” “Kundun,” “The Departed,” “Casino,” “Goodfellas,” and “Raging Bull,” several award–winning cinematographers captured the band on stage, including Robert Richardson (“The Aviator”), Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood”), Andrew Lesnie (“Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship Of the Rings”), John Toll (“Legends Of the Fall”), Ellen Kuras (“Summer of Sam”), Stuart Dryburgh (“The Piano”), and Declan Quinn (“Leaving Las Vegas”).

Directed by Scorsese, the film was produced by Steve Bing, Michael Cohl, Zane Weiner and Victoria Pearman. It was executive produced by band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. Jane Rose serves as co-executive producer. The film is dedicated to the memory of the late Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun.

Here is a bit of interesting trivia that can be noted for the record here. In “Shine A Light,” while introducing the band at New York’s Beacon theater, former President Bill Clinton states, “I actually did open for the Rolling Stones once before. They did a concert in Los Angeles in 2001 to raise awareness of the treat of climate change.” Clinton, who was apparently so stoked to introduce the Stones, that he made an error in saying that. The California show to which Clinton referred had actually been held two years later, on Thursday, February 6, 2003. While briefly speaking to the audience at the Beacon, Clinton referred to the opportunity as “a birthday present.” With Ciinton’s birthday having been on August 19, obviously prior to the Beacon shows, arrangements had been made prior to the benefit show for the Stones to involve themselves in yet another fundraising effort for Clinton’s charitable organization. The DVD offers a close-up glimpse of President Clinton, along with his wife and members of the Secret Service, at the October 29 show, as they hold a meet and greet session with the band. Reference is made to the seating provisions for the former President’s sixty guests who will be attending the show, and their balcony seating.

Amused, Stones guitarist Keith Richards remarks, “Hey, Clinton, I’m bushed!”

As a bit of a recap of what is seen in these DVD packages, in the early moments of the film, Scorsese and Jagger pontificate over potential song lists, an immense feat in itself, considering the band’s prolific catalogue, in addition to the many cover songs the Stones have performed over the years. Scorsese wanted a sequenced set list prior to the show, in order to be fully prepared to get the shots he would ultimately need. With almost twenty cameras simultaneously filming various angles, choosing the shots to be included in the film would require skillful editing, which would subsequently be done by David Tedeschi. The resulting choice comprised of countless close-ups and well-chosen pan shots make the film move quickly. Among personnel working the cameras were longtime pros that include Al Maysles, dual Oscar winner John Toll, and two-time Academy Award winner Robert Richardson.

We see glimpses of the rehearsals for numbers that include “She Was Hot,” for which Jagger referred to a lyrics sheet. As expected, the band looks great and plays beyond perfection throughout the film. Bassist Darryl Jones is particularly dapper this evening, fine-tuned for a peak performance. Richards is strikingly elegant, donning a black, glittery bandana. Jagger’s energetic non-stop drive is punctuated by his many changes of clothing, well chosen for the evening’s attire. The vocalist’s glittery jackets and shirts sparkle as they attract attention, while he prances like a firefly, or conversely simmers down at other times during the evening’s performance. Guitarist Ron Wood remains animated throughout. We get to see the other players, including the band’s horn section, Kent Smith on trumpet, and Michael Davis on trombone, during numbers that include “All Down The Line.” Ries, who plays keyboards, also plays sax at various times.

Back-up singer Bernard Fowler, sporting short dreads, is performing next to back-up vocalist Lisa Fischer, who is wearing an alluring black, mid-calf length dress. They both look and sound incredible, as does vocalist Blondie Chaplin, who also plays guitar during numerous songs. Chuck Leavell is seen on keyboards near Tim Reis on horns, as the band covers the Temptations song “Just My Imagination.”

 

The inspired blues torcher “Champagne And Reefer” by Muddy Waters is taken on by the band, as they are joined by the amazing Buddy Guy. As would be expected here, Jagger proficiently plays harp during this highlight of the film. The band rolls “Tumblin’ Dice” during the performance, and other live sequences include “Connection.”

Interspersed throughout the film, older Stones catalogue is heard in the background, including snippets from “Paint It, Black,” “Under My Thumb,” and “Have Your Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow?”

Concert footage from the Beacon includes performances of “Jumping Jack Flash,” “All Down The Line,” and “As Tears Go By,” a song that was also recorded by Marianne Faithfull. The audience is also treated to “Shattered,” with its shots of interplay between Jones and Richards. During “Loving Cup,” the band is joined by Jack White of the White Stripes, who plays acoustic guitar, as does Jagger throughout the song. Christina Aguilera steps in for a rowdy version of “Live With Me.” The tongue-in-cheek number “Far Away Eyes,” features Ronnie Wood on his Emmons pedal steel guitar, and back-up vocalist Blondie Chaplin on acoustic guitar. During the chorus, the band harmonizes, making the song as authentically countrified as Willie Nelson, himself, could. Richards laughs during the country gospel tweaked harmonies that strikingly ring as a work of perfection, with tonalities so clearly appropriate for this song.

Although during the performances, certain lyrics differ from their original studio recordings, particularly during the live performance of “Some Girls,” in no way does this detract from the film, and most of the band’s fans likely already have all of the original studio recordings anyway. Some lyrics are changed for apparently no reason at all. While performing “Some Girls,” Jagger inexplicably changes the lyrics from, “Some girls I give all my bread to, I don’t ever want it back,” to “Some girls I give all my love to, I don’t ever get it back.” While performing the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination,” Jagger, playing an electric guitar, ad libs, “But in reality, she doesn’t fucking know me.”

Richards greets the crowd by saying, “It’s good to see you. It’s good to see anybody!” He then performs “You Got The Silver,” joined by Ronnie Wood on acoustic slide. Richards, who has silver trinkets hanging from his hair, is also wearing a skull, with two red swords crossed through it, pinned onto his jacket. Richards acknowledges Wood’s contribution to the song’s performance. “Sympathy For The Devil” is also offered, featuring more shots of Charlie Watts. “Start Me Up” is performed, as is “Brown Sugar,” with Bobby Keyes’ transcendent saxophone solo. The anthemic “Satisfaction” makes it onto the set list, as well.

Much of the humor in the documentary comes from Jagger. The film flashes back through interview footage from decades ago, in which Jagger tells one reporter, “I never thought we’d be doing it more than two years. I think we’re at least pretty well set up for another year.” A flashback from a 1972 episode of the Dick Cavett Show offers a view of a heavily mascaraed Jagger, wearing red lipstick with blue glitter on his forehead. Jagger is asked, “Can you picture yourself at age sixty doing what you do now?” to which he replies, “Oh, yes. Easily.”

When drummer Charlie Watts is asked subsequent to their second tour in the Sixties about the immense success of the band, and “What happened,” his innocently quiet response is, “I don’t know.”

In other interview footage, Richards is asked what he thinks about during his performances. “I don’t think on stage,” responds Richards, “I feel.” Through Scorsese’s lens, in turn, we inherently feel Richards, and at times, the experience is nothing less than hypnotic. Scorsese flawlessly zeroes in on such moments, as he shines a light on Richards. The highlight of the film is haunting, and where “Shine A Light” is at its most powerful, in the poignant, yet almost painful, cinematographic moment that is so elegantly captured on film, as Richards is seemingly drained on stage, accentuated by his demeanor. Seeing Richards in this immensely exhausted state after his intense performance, we are left as breathless as he is. The impact of the scene effectively drives home the magnitude that Richards has given of himself, both emotionally and physically to millions of fans for over forty years, pouring out both his spirit and soul on stage. The moment is heart-rending, expressive and as compelling as is Richards’ performance. Beautiful, yet making one feel awkward and awestricken at the same time, we are taken aback, as we witness Richards’ delivery and his alluring presence. We become acutely aware of how much we take from him, and the demands we make, for which he always delivers far more than what we ask.

This passionate scene shows Richards’ humanity, bringing to the screen a person who sweats and bleeds, rather than simply redelivering the one-dimensional stereotype that the media has perpetually doled out about Richards for several decades. Here, we see Richards in his most human form, not just the so-called “human riff,” but also the man, himself, behind the riff.

A segment of the media is another aspect included in the film that is interspersed with press footage, both in black and white and in color, from various tours, going back into the Sixties. Members of the press ask the band ridiculous questions, and are often unprepared for their interviews; despite their credentials and job titles, they are unqualified in a variety of ways to be reporting on the band. One reporter giggles while asking Mick Jagger his age. One portion of footage shows the absurdity of Jagger being confronted by a former Attorney General and religious leaders for promoting “anarchy,” as the singer explains that he is not attempting to be a role model for religion. Jagger and Richards are questioned about drug busts, after the two had been released from arrests, and a flurry of rumors had subsequently hit the press. The band is asked about creating controversy, as the next sequence in the film shows the band posing in drag for promotional photos. A late seventies interview gets the response from the band, “Every tour they say is the last tour.”

President Clinton makes an appearance on stage, as he had previously done at a Los Angeles Staples Center gig during a 2003 “Forty Licks” gig, and he is briefly seen with his wife Hillary. Jagger very briefly comments on Clinton’s environmental organization. Meanwhile, Richards is seen, joking, “Hey, Clinton, I’m bushed!”

The film’s ending scene shows the band leaving the venue, as the final shot transcends into a magnificent, panoramic view of New York City, ascending into the night skyline, and then dramatically, the full moon splendidly turns into a tongue logo.

The Supplemental Featurette section features additional newsreel footage that was not included in the theatrical version of the film. It continues to show a parade of hopelessly inept, pathetic interviews the band is subjected to doing on a constant basis. The ironies are glaringly obvious (at least to some of us), but these moments still manage to provide great entertainment due to their utter stupidity.

Here is one such exchange from 1973:

Interviewer: “There’s in England, kind of an underground talk about people that are expected to die soon.”

Richards: “I’m on the list.”

Interviewer: “You have taken the number one position on the list on there.”

Richards (irritated, barely concealing his contempt): “Great. Okay, I’ll let you know.”

Stupid questions still plague the band to this day, and it dawns on the viewer that an entire film could be made, consisting entirely of stupid questions people ask the Stones, and how they respond.

There is also ample footage of Mick Jagger. As a result, we revisit some of his many incarnations, reflecting numerous trends and fashions from various periods of the band’s career.

Drummer Charlie Watts says he’s happier at home than on the road, and he has a discussion with Scorsese about wardrobe.

Ron Wood offers a few recollections of his own.

The viewer is treated to not only live performance footage, but also scenes musical moments that include Keith Richards playing riffs from “She Saw Me Coming.”

In part of the DVD’s main feature, “Shine A Light,” Richards is seen wearing a red and silver pirate pin, a skull with crossed swords. It was a gift to him for his performance in “Pirates Of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” It is seen on his long black jacket as he performs “You Got The Silver.” As it turns out, in the Supplemental Featurette, there is a scene, presumably during a break of some sort, where Richards is alone on stage, engaged in his thoughts, and playing guitar. What he was playing sounded familiar. After an immediate second listen, I realized it was “Only Found Out Yesterday,” the same song Richards plays in “Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End,” in his role of Captain Teague.

The words from the song’s title, “Only found out yesterday,” are also lyrics heard in his heartfelt track “Thru And Thru,” from the “Voodoo Lounge” album. There is also part of the melody line that is reminiscent of that song, as well.

What is the connection with the line “Only Found Out Yesterday? That is an interview question that no one has asked yet.  This melody is one of those that can be heard at the end of the UK version as the credits roll.

The long wait for the “Shine A Light” DVD release in the UK is certain to result in high-ranking sales for this holiday gift-giving season. All three “Shine A Light” packages will undoubtedly be extremely popular in the UK.

To quote a few lyrics from the Stones, “First the sun, and then the moon. One of them will be around soon.”

PHYLLIS POLLACK lives in Los Angeles where she is a publicist and music journalist. She can be reached through her blog

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