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Ladies and Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, PCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles (Interviews Only): English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 12, 2010
  • List Price: $19.98

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Purchase Ladies & Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

If any other band had recorded four universally praised albums in a row and then just quit after that, it would be enough to make them rock legends. That the Rolling Stones did put out four classic albums in a row after having already established themselves as one of the premier rock bands in the world, and then continued to release quality music beyond that makes them rock gods. The Rolling Stones run from 1968 to 1972 is one of the greatest in rock history. It included the classic albums Beggars Banquet (1968), Let it Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), and the double album Exile on Main St. (1972).

Over the course of those four albums, the Rolling Stones honed, and arguably, defined, their classic sound, a combination of all the musical influences they had absorbed from the States over the years. Listen to any one of those albums, and you’ll hear blues, country, bluegrass, gospel, r&b. Perhaps none of them brought those influences together more fluently than 1972’s Exile on Main St., a gritty, ballsy, all out rock ‘n’ roll tour through the dark underbelly of life. Listen to any track and you might find yourself being assaulted by a roadside juke joint, honky tonk, and all out gospel  — all in one song, like in “Sweet Virginia,” for example.

Ladies & Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones is the film — long missing in action —  that captures the band during their Exile on Main St. tour. Filmed in Texas over four nights in 1972, the concert film features one of the greatest track lists of any Stones concert and one of their best performances captured on film. It’s a rough and ready performance with no backup singers and only a small group of extra musicians to backup the band, leading to a more immediate sounding version of “Tumbling Dice” and an even more agitated sounding performance of “Gimme Shelter.”

The set list is all taken from the 1968 to 1972 period, so fans looking for great numbers like “Get off My Cloud,” “Under My Thumb” or “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” may be a bit disappointed, but the band makes up for those missing numbers in sheer energy. There is not a dull or slow moment in this entire show. The tempi, unless it’s my imagination, seem to get quicker, as the film progresses, although that could very well be a trick of editing just like Mick Jagger’s amazingly quick costume changes.

The lineup for the show included the core band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor, with the band’s longtime musical collaborators Bobby Keys on sax, Jim Price on horns, and Nicky Hopkins on piano.

Stones fans, rock and roll fans, music fans in general, owe it to themselves to pick up this classic rock ‘n’ roll film.

Track List:

  1. Brown Sugar
  2. Bitch
  3. Gimme Shelter
  4. Dead Flowers
  5. Happy
  6. Tumbling Dice
  7. Love in Vain
  8. Sweet Virginia
  9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  10. All Down the Line
  11. Midnight Rambler
  12. Bye Bye Johnny
  13. Rip this Joint
  14. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  15. Street Fighting Man

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Ladies & Gentlemen, according to the 2010 Mick Jagger interview segment on the disc, was in very bad shape and had to be cleaned up a lot for this release. Still there is plenty of source damage still visible, like scratches right down frames, dust and dirt, but thankfully they have not completely scrubbed the film clean of all evidence of grain, detail, and texture in this 1.85:1 AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encoding.  Still, the lighting and production of the day filled with moody and dark stage settings has the image and the band lost in shadows, there’s lots of black crush, and picture is quite soft most of the time. This is not reference material by any stretch of the imagination.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix of Ladies & Gentlemen has been remixed and remastered from the original multitrack masters. The sound is big and ambient, really like what a 70’s quadraphonic mix would sound like. The surround channels are mixed very aggressively, with instrumentation often sounding like it is off to the side rather than in front with reverberation in the rear. Crowd noise in minimal during performances, but is very loud in between songs. The overall balance in the front is what the Stones ought to sound like — grungy, gritty, and rather closed in. Jagger’s vocals are forward in the mix, much more so than on the actual “Exile” studio album.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Ladies & Gentlemen is supplied with exactly the sort of bonus material I like to see on a concert disc. There are extra performances captured during the “Exile” tour practice session at Montreux, there’s an archival interview segment with Mick Jagger and a new 2010 interview with Jagger on the concert. It’s all relevant to the concert, and the bonus performances will offer lots of replay value.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Tour Rehearsal (1.33:1; 480i/60; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1):
    • “Shake Your Hips”
    • “Tumbling Dice”
    • “Bluesberry Jam”
  • Old Grey Whistle Test Interview (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:05.43) — A 1972 interview with Mick Jagger from the Old Grey Whistle Test show.
  • Mick Jagger Interview 2010 (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:10.23) — A new interview with the Stones’ frontman in which he offers  his thoughts on the 1972 concert film.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Gimme Shelter may be famous, or infamous, because of all the events surrounding the actual concert, but you will probably not find a better Rolling Stones concert on film in terms of performance and song selection than Ladies & Gentlemen. This long missing film has finally been restored and re-released in a spruced up high definition release from Eagle Rock that should be in every Stones fan’s collection.

Additional Screen Captures:

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Purchase Ladies & Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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