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29 DECEMBER 2014

Sympathy for the Devil (One + One)

"This is one of those rare and unsettling examples of a rock film which has the all the immediacy of reportage from a distant war–zone. The terrain is Olympic Studios in London in June 1968, where the Rolling Stones, recovering from the critical mauling of At Their Satanic Majesty's Request, are at work on the tracks that would become Beggars' Banquet. The film–maker was Jean–Luc Godard, at the height of his reputation as Europe's most daring director. Godard had briefly left Paris for London in the wake of the Paris riots of May '68 with the aim of making a film about art, power and revolution. The Stones, at their most dazzling and Luciferian, were, as Godard saw it, perfect for the role of agents of anarchy in a movie whose stated aim was to 'subvert, ruin and destroy all civilised values'. ...

As the track is worked and reworked, we glimpse the inner dynamics of the Stones. Bill Wyman and Brian Jones are on the margins (Jones spends most of the film shuttered away, ostracised, playing an inaudible and irrelevant acoustic guitar). Charlie Watts is every inch the dapper jazz mod, as spare with his incisive drumming as he is meticulous with his clothes. Jagger is languid, bored and then sexually ambiguous and cruel, coming only properly to life when he sings the lyrics. Most compelling of all is Keith, changing rhythms and cues at will, eyes gleaming, restless and fiercely intelligent, a million miles from the stoned zombie of legend. When he choreographs and leads the band and acolytes (including the witchy Anita Pallenberg) into the 'whoo, whoos' that make the track so malicious, it is sinister and stunning."

(Andrew Hussey, 21 May 2006, The Guardian)

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TAGS

1960s1968 • agents of anarchy • Anita Pallenberg • Beggars Banquet (1968) • Bill Wyman • Black Panthers • bloodied corpse • bluesy grind • bookseller • Brian Jones • car park • Charlie Watts • Dave Mason • first-person narrative • jazz mod • Jean-Luc Godard • Jimmy Miller • JLG • Keith Richards • languid • left-wing idealsleftwing activistLondon • Lucifer • Maoist hippies • Mein Kampf • Mick Jagger • music documentarymusic recording • music studio • Nicky Hopkins • Olympic Studios London • One Plus One Sympathy for the Devil (1968) • Paris May 1968 • radical chic • recording artistsrecording sessionrecording studioreportage • Ric Grech • rock musicrockumentary • Rocky Dijon • samba • sexually ambiguous • sixtiessixties cool • studio scene • The GuardianThe Rolling Stones • urban guerrilla • Watts Street Gospel Choir

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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