Shine a light
Thursday, 21 October 2010
You know whats odd? Growing old with rock and roll – that’s fucking odd! And somewhat strange. I mean lets get this in context. Here I am in 2010 watching Scorsese’s film about the Stones – “Shine a Light”. The first thing I have to say is yes The Stones are still one of the best live bands around – in fact they’ve been one of the best live bands around since 1963. Earlier tonight I watched a DVD featuring the NME poll winners concerts from 1963, 1964, & 1965 and you know what – even against the Beatles live, the Stones still come out on top. Don’t get me wrong – the Beatles are better on record – for a start The Beatles only did 9 albums (less compilations) and The Stones have done too many so-so ones – but when it comes to live – well they are just a nose ahead of Springsteen. But to get around to the original point of growing old with them. Well for Gods sake I remember when they started. I bought their fist single (Come On). Unlike the Mersey Beat boys the first few Stones records didn’t hit the top straight away but, as an example of how popular they were, I remember a certain teenage party – now back when we were 15-16 or so, parties were about snogging, boozing, smoking and showing off your latest records. I mean in the days before pirate radio all we had was Luxembourg and listening to other peoples records at parties. A party was where you took your latest records to show everyone else how hip, modern, fab, gear and groovey you were. Thats how I got to listen to Motown for the first time, The Beach Boys and Dylan, and the Kinks and Sham the Sham and the Pharoes but that’s a different party! Anyway at this party of around 30 or so people there were eight copies of The Stones EP 5 x 5 and seven copies of their first EP The Rolling Stones. In that group of people that was a high average. I mean there was only one copy of The Beatles “All My Loving” EP – there was some Dylan (the EP with Corinna Corinna on it, can’t remember what it was called now) but that music was left for the early morning survivors, those that could still move enough to change records. Now you’ll notice the no one took an LP. That’s was because they were expensive, and people had a tendancy to scratch or pinch them and you didn’t want to risk that! So the Stones were popular – at least round our side of the town and I’ve no reason to suppose that the east side of Leeds was much different to anywhere else.

So I grew up with them – I followed their progress bought their records, watched news itens like the arrest for pissing in the street, the drug busts, the death of Brian Jones, Altmont and even went to see their I-Max movie. Eventually I got to see them live. Despite living in London in 1982 I travelled to Roundhay Park in Leeds where I saw them supported by the J Geils Band (so so), George Thoroughgood and the Detroit Destroyers (brilliant) and oddly enough Joe Jackson (great but so out of his depth).

Throughout my adult live The Stones were and always have been there – a new album every so often, a new marriage here and there, a new bit of tabloid scandal just to keep the PR boys happy and shift a few more units and every two or three years a world tour. They were and, heres the point. still are, one of the hardy perennials, one of the constant, one of lifes reliable things to anyone of my age.

Despite being old and craggy and they still dominate and strut their stuff better than bands a quarter of their age. In 2008 (2010 on my telly) they are on that stage owning every inch of it, singing “As Tears Go By”, one of the first songs they ever wrote and the song they were so embarrased about writing they gave it to Marianne Faithfull and buried it on an album – and guess what, it still sounds good, still sounds fresh, despite the lines on Kieth Richards face looking like a road map of the Rockies and his knuckles looking that those of a bare fisted prize fighter. How does anyone – let alone a band – stay at the top of their game for so many years? How does Jagger keep so fit? How does Charlie look even cooler than he did back in the 60’s (some of us still remember that unfortunate 70’s moustache!), and let face it – how is Kieth still alive, let alone playing better than ever? They are like a rare magic bottle of malt whisky that bettered with ageing – but one that you’ve opened and drunk and been drunking from for nearly half a century, and still hasn’t emptied. In those years of playing they have passed many milestones and gravestones along the way. Perhaps in 1961 they really did sell their souls to the devil on a Dartford pedestrian crossing. No wonder they sang “Sympathy for the devil” – he has all the best tunes you know, and all the best bands. In 1964 I had the following etched on my school bag – “Long Live the Rolling Stones” – fuck knows where that bag is now. In those days we didn’t have the concept of a “bag for life”, a bag just lasted as long as it did, but little did I realise I’d have the band for life! The Stones are still up there head and shoulders above anyone else. May God bless ‘em and all who sail with them.