The Rolling Stones, Ireland and Charlie Is My Darling
The digitally re-mastered Charlie Is My Darling is more than a documentary about The Rolling Stones, it’s a rock and roll time capsule.
Perhaps it is appropriate that not only is Charlie Is My Darling being re-released on the 50th anniversary of the Stones formation in 1962 but also a few days after Halloween, as for a long time the Rolling Stones have been the living dead.
Just take a look at the haggard face of Keith Richards bereft of any vestige of youth and you see the image of a life lived well, perhaps too well.
The Rolling Stones as an entity are similarly in state of living death and have been for a long time. The hedonistic cocktail of sex and drugs continued, their world tours are still the highest grossing in the world after five decades, but when people listen to the Rolling Stones in 2012 it’s invariably a greatest hits compilation.
It’s a long time since Jagger et al stopped being musical innovators in the mid-1970s.
Charlie Is My Darling captures a different period in the Stones development, a period where their music was the soundtrack of an era and their lifestyle the personification of the 1960s.
Charlie is My Darling was a documentary commissioned by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and directed by Peter Whitehead while the lads were still in their early 20s and in their third year of existence.
The film includes interviews with the band in their formative years and electric performances of a band on their way up artistically rather than a stagnant spent force. It also catches the Stones when they, even more so than their perennial rivals The Beatles, represented the ideals of liberty, freedom, sexuality and rebellion of the 1960s.
Nowhere is this captured better than in Charlie Is My Darling which incongruously was filmed during the Stones two-day tour of that western bastion of conservatism, repression and prudishness that was Ireland in 1965.
In a moment of clarity Jagger ruminates, "Young people have started a big thing where they're anti-war, they love everybody and their sexual lives have become freer . . . but it's up to them to carry on those ideals instead of falling into the same old routine their parents have fallen into."
Insights like that from Jagger and the poignant reflections of the late Brian Jones add to the musical greatness of the Stones that saw fans rush the stage in a state of euphoria during that visit to Dublin in ’65.
Perhaps it’s a blessing that, for various reasons, Charlie Is My Darling got a very patchy release in 1965 and that on the 6th November we will be treated to this digitally re-mastered version.
The documentary doesn’t play as a greatest hits album now, but as a compelling insight into a band that had captured lightening in a bong - smoked it and exhaled plumes of feverish lyrics, sex and rock and roll that even got stiff Catholic Dublin and tension-filled Belfast riled up in '65.
For a music fan a viewing of this carefully crafted and fortuitously filmed portrait of one the biggest bands in history is a must, even for the startling footage of Richards and Jagger strumming away and jamming Beatles’ songs.
Set that to the backdrop of Ireland and a host of extras added to the DVD and Blu-Ray release and it ticks all the boxes.
The Rolling Stones have been gathering moss for a while, but once upon a time in Ireland they rocked an rolled like no other band since.
Charlie Is My Darling is available on 2nd November on Blu-ray and DVD.