The Rolling Stones are literally our favorite band of all-time. Yeah, the title of this here music blog should have already given that away, but watching a decade or so of vital Stones history fly by over six episodes on the new The Ed Sullivan Show Starring The Rolling Stones DVD set cemented it yet again.
Over the course of watching these installments of the star-making variety show -- shew? -- you can watch the band go from these proper -- but still dangerous -- blues students into a beautiful and demonic rock juggernaut.
The story begins on October 25, 1964, in glorious, stark black and white with screaming girls hearing "The Last Time" and ends with their last appearance in 1969 performing "Gimme Shelter," closing out the '60s in vivid, violent color. By this time, even Ed Sullivan has sideburns, Brian Jones is dead and replaced with Mick Taylor, and Keith Richards has morphed into Keef, with a thatch of black hair and a pirate's grin.
The best part of this DVD set is that you get the complete Sullivan episodes, and not just the Stones' performances pulled out of them, though on the disc menu you can do just that. We say watch the entire episodes all the way through to feel that anticipation of seeing the boys that the studio audience felt. These poor kids have to sit through Itzhak Perlman and "old people" before they see the Stones.
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Watching Sullivan quell the crowd with hushes and hand gestures is also quality viewing. After their first appearance in October 1964 he was so put off by their unkempt appearance, at least compared to the relatively clean-cut Beatles that he broke in the US earlier that year, that he was adamant about them never returning. A look at the show's ratings and a few concessions made by the Stones camp and they returned the next May.
Mick Jagger is simply in his most pure and decadent form, with an unlined face, devastating sneer, and big, doll-like eyes early on. Of course, Charlie Watts is still the stoic time-keeper behind them all, with Richards constantly laughing or nodding his head in time. Jones' duties change as the Stones sound evolves, with him playing sitar and slide at certain points. Bassist Bill Wyman is seen holding his instrument almost upright, naturally.
Including in the full episodes are comedy routines, classical music revues, dancers, pop acts, and of course some of the gems of the Sullivan canon like Topo Gigio. Fans of Mad Men will thrill at the vintage commercials for Lipton Iced Tea, headache medicine, and butter.