Rolling Stones Exhibit Opens Tomorrow At London’s Saatchi Gallery

Images via The Rolling Stones Archive

London loves honoring its cultural provocateurs. The V&A, for instance, staged both David Bowie Is in 2013, and McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015. And the current Punk.London: From 1976-2016, will give anarchy a proper encomium throughout the city this year.

But, let’s face it, with a story littered with drug busts, drowning deaths, sexual transgressions and, well, houses burning down, who’s badder than Mick, Keef and the boys? And surely nothing can properly prepare one for the over-the-top celebration of notoriousness that is Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones, which opens tomorrow, April 5, at London’s Saatchi Gallery. The music, the lifestyle, the art, the fashion that have defined the Stones’ 54-year history will all be on display—the greatest rock & roll band in the world fittingly the subject of the greatest rock & roll exhibit of all time.

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Keith Richards reveals, “While this is about The Rolling Stones, it’s not necessarily only just about the members of the band.”

To be sure, three years in the planning, and occupying nine galleries on two floors, Exhibitionism will showcase original stage designs, backstage paraphernalia (reasonably edited, of course—no used needles or court filings), guitars, costumes, artwork and the culture-altering results of a multitude of collaborations the band undertook with the likes of Andy Warhol, Martin Scorsese, Shepard Fairey and other such cultural iconoclasts over the course of their unstoppable career.

As Mick Jagger puts it, “We wanted it to be on a large scale, so the process has been like planning a tour.”

Sure, it’s only rock & roll, but when it comes to the Stones, seriously—what more could you want? See a preview, below: 


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The Rolling Stones Premiere ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ At The Ziegfeld

In a recent glossy magazine feature on the lives of the post-millennial East London hipsterati, the writer, somewhat embarrassingly, blathers on fawningly about her subjects indulging in such, um, establishment-defying activities as "trading pork belly recipes" and "obsessing over fair trade coffee."It’s precisely such a banal, eviscerated 21st Century version of youth rebellion that makes it all the more seditiously provocative when, in the new Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane, Mick Jagger matter-of-factly conveys that the band was only half the reason so many fired-up young lads were flocking to their early shows; the other half, he insists, was for the singular fuck-the-old-crusties thrill of "participating in a riot." Indeed, the film electrifyingly recalls how rock ’n’ roll once seethed with all the violence and anger that young people felt towards "he generation that is running our lives." The teenagers were, literally and figuratively, storming the barricades. 

Crossfire Hurricane, which has already had a run across the pond and will premier stateside on HBO this Thursday, was introduced by the Stones themselves at the Ziegfeld Theater Tuesday night; and Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and (perhaps a bit less) Charlie Watts still seemed, fifty years on, to be every bit the rock & roll hellions who had initially inspired all that adolescent fury. Uniquely formatted with current interviews (in which interim guitarist Mick Taylor also participates) laid over a lightning-paced pastiche of ’60s and ’70s era clips, it leaves out the gossip (no Jerry Halls, no Anita Pallenbergs), letting the blindingly revolutionary music—and culture-altering behavior—speak for itself. It also unabashedly canonizes the band’s shameless, glorious depravity. An unidentified commentator sums it up: "Parents become homicidal at the sight of them." To which the late Brian Jones counters with a satisfied sneer, "We’ve been called everything from beautiful to revolting."

And revolting they were, specifically against the grey, post-war misery of a still culturally clenched Britain run by stunted old farts. It was "goodbye to all that" times a thousand, the virtual ground zero of us-against-them.

The live clips are, of course, incendiary. From the ragged, anarchic early shows, with audiences full of thrashing boys and screaming, fainting girls (who were, apparently, according to Jones, literally wetting their pretty little panties), to the wildly histrionic ’70s arena clips, the Stones (despite a few inexcusable fashion faux pas) are depicted as nothing less than the coolest, baddest, greatest motherfucking rock ’n’ roll band ever. Truly, watching them tear through "Sympathy For The Devil," "Street Fighting Man," and "Jumpin’ Jack Flash" with such snarling but deadly earnest exuberance is alone worth the price of admission. 

Specific epochal episodes—Brian Jones’s funeral, the fatal pandemonium at Altamont, the band’s drug-drenched tax exile in the South of France (which, by the way, resulted in Exile On Main Street), and Richards’s genuinely career-threatening heroin bust in Toronto—are all treated with an intelligence and poignancy by director Brett Morgen, traits usually lacking in rock documentaries. Yet never are such matters allowed to get in the way of the hedonism, debauchery, and, well, balls-out fun. 

Indeed, post-bust, an impressively unshaken Richards proudly refers to himself as rock’s Jesse James. "I never had a problem with drugs," he sniffs. "I only had a problem with the cops."

The film’s only concession to normal human reality comes by way of Jagger’s not-all-too-concerned observation that, "You can’t stay young forever." Still, Richards—being Keith Richards—leaves us with an unconditional warning, nay manifesto: "Don’t fuck with the Stones."

It’s a gas, gas, gas. 

Photo Credit: ©Rolling Stones Archive

Battle of the Stones Covers: First Aid Kit vs. The Walkmen

In which we take a break from discussing that Fleetwood Mac indie-rock tribute album to bring you dueling Rolling Stones covers. BBC’s Radio 6 is in the midst of a 50th anniversary tribute to Mick, Keith and the gang, featuring a whole lot of special programming, audio documentaries, interviews and a poll in which you can vote for the greatest Stones song of all time (although, surprisingly, the BBC’s list includes a few covers, including their version of Muddy Waters’ classic "Mannish Boy").

Anyway, for said tribute month, more contemporary artists are coming in and offering their takes on a few Stones classics. Back-to-back, we’ve had Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit strip down the plaintive B-Side "Play With Fire" (which, like many of their other songs, has been used at a poignant moment in a Wes Anderson movie, this case The Darjeeling Limited) and The Walkmen with the lovelorn "Blue Turns to Grey," a deep cut for the Stones (although a standout for the late Brian Jones) but a hit as a cover for the decidedly less rock ‘n’ roll (per canonical standards, anyway) Cliff Richard & The Shadows. 

The Walkmen’s take on "Blue" is pretty straightforward, with echoes of Jagger and Richards’ original heavy harmonies and a bit of that effortless rock feel towards the end. First Aid Kit stray a bit further from the original, opting for more spare instrumentation (no harpsichord or harmonica here)—just a guitar and occasional glockenspiel, but they stay rather true to the tone, maintaining the sneer on "she gets her kicks in Stepney" and building harmonies capable of haunting a house and then burning it down. Listen to both below. 

The Walkmen – "Blue Turns to Grey"

First Aid Kit – "Play With Fire"

Acoustic Favorites From Best Coast To Duran Duran

“We never really do acoustic or unplugged things,” says Bethany Cosentino, the mastermind behind Best Coast. So it’s all the most exciting that an acoustic clip of the band, which just released its sophomore album, The Only Place, has surfaced.

Part of a Rhapsody session that included the songs “How They Want Me To Be” and “Last Year,” the just-released “No One Like You” video shows Cosentino and musical partner Bobb Bruno playing the heartbreaker of a tune outside of a park and completely acoustic, but without losing any of the intensity of the album version.

It’s not the first time a band has surprised us with an unplugged session, however. Here are some of our all-time favorites.

Nirvana’s “The Man Who Sold The World.”

The Rolling Stones’ “Love In Vain”

Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World”

Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out”

Mick Jagger Hosting Season Finale of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Eli Manning will bring his, erm, comedy talents to the small screen this weekend when he hosts Saturday Night Live, but the show has saved the biggest name for last: Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger will host this year’s season finale, making his opening-monologue debut. This can only mean one thing, and that is probably a Keith Richards shocker appearance on Weekend Update. With Stefon. Or something.

The rock icon, whose band celebrates its 50th (!) anniversary this year (although their tour had to be postponed, likely until 2013), will do double duty as host and musical guest. This position has been a bit of a crapshoot over the years, yielding some notoriously bad results (Garth Brooks presenting alter-ego Chris Gaines as the musical guest and leaving heads a-scratchin’ everywhere) and some unforgettable laughs (perma-host Justin Timberlake, who in his double-shift episode, gave us the ubiquitous "Dick In A Box").

Jagger’s episode will air May 19th. In the meantime, to tide you over, here are two previous examples of musical guest/host ‘slashies’ and the range of results that can occur: Garth Brooks with Chris Kattan’s "Mango," and Justin Timberlake’s instant-classic digital short, "Motherlover."

Marianne Faithfull and Others Pay Tribute to The Rolling Stones

It’s been forty years since The Rolling Stones released Hot Rocks, their first best-of compilation which included their biggest hits from the years 1964 to 1971. The album is still the Stones’ biggest-selling to date, and includes enough material for a huge tribute concert. Such an event took place last night at Carnegie Hall under the supervision of City Winery’s Michael Dorff, who culled together an impressive line-up of classic rock ‘n’ rollers and a handful of revered indie acts for a mind-blowing concert in celebration of one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history.

Stand-outs included Steve Earle performing “Mother’s Little Helper” (“This is the first song he learned to play on guitar,” he announced, “which is probably why I’m so fucked-up”), The Mountain Goats with a toned-down piano-heavy version of “Paint It Black, a surprisingly bluesy and suble "Heart of Stone" from Peaches, Rosanne Cash’s sultry voice leading vocals on “Gimme Shelter” (she later joined Jackson Browne and Marc Cohn to perform “Wild Horses”), and actress and singer Juliette Lewis, who kicked off her sequined heels and jumped and jived across the stage during her rendition of “Satisfaction.”

Opening the show was Italian rapper Jovanotti, members of TV on the Radio, and the Young Audiences New York Chorus with a spirited rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which actually closes the album but was performed first on account of it being a school night. Taj Mahal, who performed at last week’s Robert Johnson tribute, brought his daughter Deva Mahal to join him in a deep country rendition of "Honky Tonk Women." I shouldn’t even have to mention how amazing it was to see rock legend Marianne Faithfull in person, much less to hear her perform “As Tears Go By,” the song that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote especially for her. After the proper Hot Rocks line-up, Faithfull returned to the stage to perform “Sister Morphine,” which she co-wrote with Jagger. It was enough to cancel out the only low point of the night when The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard, who ended his cover of “Under My Thumb” with the chorus from Them’s “Gloria,” as if he decided that Van Morrison needed some representation.

Proceeds from the show went to charities Church Street School for Music & Art, The Pinwheel Project, Music Unites, The American Symphony Orchestra, Young Audiences New York, Fixing Instruments for Kids in Schools, Midori and Friends, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, and The Center for Arts Education.

Check out the video below for a short clip of the entire line-up performing “Tumbling Dice” from the seminal Exile on Main Street as the encore.

Photo by Bobby Bank

The Rolling Stones Release Never-Before-Heard Track from 1978

The Rolling Stones are re-issuing their 1978 album Some Girls along with a previously unreleased, recently re-discovered song called “No Spare Parts”. Recorded in Paris it’s about a journey from LA to SanAntonio. Listen to it below.

The new edition of Some Girls will also include new liner notes, unseen photographs of the band,and a seven-inch single of “Beast Of Burden”. It’s out Nov. 21.

Track list: Disc 1

1. Miss You 2. When The Whip Comes Down 3. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) 4. Some Girls 5. Lies 6. Far Away Eyes 7. Respectable 8. Before They Make Me Run 9. Beast of Burden 10. Shattered

Disc 2

1. Claudine 2. So Young 3. Do You Think I Really Care 4. When You’re Gone 5. No Spare Parts 6. Don’t Be A Stranger 7. We Had It All 8. Tallahassee Lassie 9. I Love You Too Much 10. Keep Up Blues 11. You Win Again 12. Petrol Blues

Are The Rolling Stones Back on Top?

With an almost inconceivable number of classic records to their name and a firm position as the second-most successful band in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, you’d forgive The Rolling Stones for kicking back, putting up their feet, and whiling away their retirement with a bottle of Jack or two and some old blues records. Indeed, the Glimmer Twins and compatriots have been relatively quiet ever since their world-record-shattering “A Bigger Bang” tour wound up in 2007. But this month they’re breaking their inaction with a re-release of their classic 1972 album Exile on Main St. and the premiere of a brand new documentary on the making of the album, titled Stones in Exile. This, in and of itself, isn’t shocking — many older bands pursue re-release projects as a way of generating revenue without committing to the stress and hassle of producing all new product — but what is surprising is how well these projects are tracking. The album re-release, which includes a bonus CD of 10 brand new refurbished tracks, and the documentary are shaping up to be two of the most successful Stones releases in recent memory.

The Exile on Main St. re-release, which came out on May 18th, is currently sitting at the top of the U.S. Amazon.com album chart and is number three on the U.S. iTunes album chart, meaning that the Stones could have the top album when the sales week is up. As MusicWeek reports, it’s also possible for the album to achieve a number one spot in the UK, an incredibly rare feat for an catalog release:

If the Stones do hold on to the top spot by the end of the week, Polydor and the band would have pulled off a very rare chart achievement. Although catalogue titles have topped the singles chart on numerous occasions, it is very unusual for a catalogue release to reach number one on the albums chart outside of best of sets, although it has happened before.

The Stones in Exile documentary is also poised to perform extremely well. The buzz out of Cannes, where the film will premiere this afternoon, is that the band is already lining up licensing agreements left and right. With deals for the Latin American, Brazilian, German and Israeli markets already essentially signed, the documentary is shaping up to be a smashing success.

Much of the accolades for the impending re-ascendancy of The Rolling Stones should doubtless go to Universal Music Group, which signed the Stones to a new record contract in 2008 and has rolled out a huge marketing push for these latest releases, including a week of promotion on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a Universal owned property.

It still remains to be seen whether the projects will truly deliver commercially, but, for the moment, it looks like 2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for the iconic band.

Green Day Rips the Joint on Jimmy Fallon

For those of you not in the loop, The Rolling Stones, “The Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band In The World,” are re-releasing the greatest rock ‘n roll album of all time (I will brook no contention on this point) Exile on Main St. next week on May 18. To celebrate/promote the Exile re-release, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is hosting a series of contemporary artists performing classic songs from Exile every night this week. Last night’s artist was Green Day, and they tore the roof off the 30 Rock studio with an electric performance of “Rip This Joint.”

“Rip This Joint” is an interesting choice for a lead-off performance: it’s widely beloved and appreciated among Stones fans for being one of the fastest and most brutal songs in the band’s catalog, but it was never released as a single. Also interesting is the choice of Green Day themselves, as the band is one of the few of their generation who have followed the Stones’ career trajectory. Once considered punk upstarts, Green Day quickly grew into mainstream sellouts, then reinvented themselves as a major stadium act. Mick Jagger has even commented in the past that Green Day is one of the few bands he sees as having the potential to reach the Stones’ commercial level (whether that’s a good thing is another matter).

There seems to be a fair amount of professional admiration between the two bands. Here’s a video of Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong discussing his Stones fandom, way back in 2001:

For a full list of the musical artists performing Stones songs this week, click here.