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Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Unreleased Rockumentary week ended last night with a viewing of Cocksucker Blues, the Robert Frank documentary following the Rolling Stones on tour in 1972. It was quite the contrast to the MC5 film I'd seen earlier (read review here). Both films are shot with amateur techniques, but at least True Testimonail directs itself in a professional fashion. Cocksucker Blues, by contrast, is a poor attempt at Pennebaker style rock verite that degrades into a mess of muddy audio and piss poor picture quality. This film has no concept, other than to capture the daily lives of Keith, Charlie, Bill, Mic, and the other Mic as they tour in support of Exile on Main St throughout 1972. Sure, it's got the drugs and sex angle covered, but in such a stuporous manner that you begin to wonder why rock and roll culture was ever interesting to begin with. Depiciting rock stars and their hangers-on as they stand around saying insipid things while watching television in hotel rooms does not a classic film make!

It can be, however, thoroughly entertaining at times. It's fun to laugh at what an ass Lou Reed can be, talking in his best Black Panther voice about his organization of "heroin enthusiasts". The same goes for Mic Jagger, who, after snorting huge lines with Keef backstage just before showtime, nonchalantly states: "I don't care, it's only San Diego."

The live concert footage, while nowhere near as nice as Woodstock or Festival Express, bring some much needed purpose to the otherwise aimless film. Even during their most loutish, junkie-laden days, the Stones' ability to play with vitality stands up in the performance segments. Actively seeking out groups that could rock harder than them as their touring mates, the Stones benefitted from encore jams with Stevie Wonder and Ike and Tina Turner. Shots of Stevie and Mic dancing like coordinated rabbits can be powerful images for those of us who have to sit through all the dull heroin fare that sadly takes up 3/4 of the whole film.

If you've already seen Sympathy for the Devil or Gimme Shelter, I'd suggest you skip this film and try to find downloads of the concert footage instead, as you'll be thoroughly disappointed with the lack of effort the filmmakers put into this tragic piece of shit. I was far more entertained by Alex at Amphetamine Blues' dream she had about the Rolling Stones, which she told me about over the phone this weekend just after she woke up from it:

"I saw the Stones play live, but it was in the 70s, in their heydey, when they were still young dudes. Mic Jagger was sitting on stage cross-legged on an armchair behind a table, with a bottle of cranberry juice in front of him. But he kept calling the cranberry juice 'canny'. He'd sit there and say, 'I want my canny!'"



I'll have the playlist up from last week's "Border Bending" special up later tonight or perhaps tomorrow. Please check out an updated review of the LCD Soundsystem / MIA show, as some photos have been added.


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