So The Stones are a tricky thing. Chances are you’re at least somewhat of a fan. Even better are the chances that your parents are fans (And you probably each think you “get” the band better than the other one.) Nikki Sixx is a big fan… so are The Asteroids Galaxy Tour… as are The Smashing Pumpkins…and The Black Angels… Belle & Sebastian, too…Most people enjoy themselves a bit of Mick and Keef from time to time. You can hear them at parties thrown by UArts hipsters… or at South Philly construction sites… or at your co-workers’ wedding… However, all Stones are not equal Stones… and those of us under forty, with our own blogs, who can name all four members of The Smiths and a minimum of ten Godard films tend to think that we know, definitively, what Stones matter and what Stones don’t: Anything recorded after the death of Brian Jones is not legitimate Stones… not that that means it can’t still be good; Exile on Main St. is not their best album, Their Satanic Majesties Request is; and, most importantly, it has been about three decades since the Stones have been even slightly transgressive, subversive, or offensive (or any more likely of “breaking new musical” ground than your dad, himself), but their output in their first decade on the planet has rendered them forever loveable… no matter how many lamesauce commercials feature their music.
Out this week on DVD and Blue-ray, courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment, is Some Girls Live in Texas ’78. So where exactly do Some Girls, this Some Girls tour documentary, and The Rolling Stones in 1978 in general, fall on the scale of mattering? Well, with punk making itself official in 1977, Some Girls was the first album the Stones released as official members of the dinosaur rock community… and it did include a handful of disco tendencies… but it also included some of their best post-Jones material ever (“When the Whip Comes Down,” “Far Away Eyes,” and “Respectable,” all of which found their way onto this release). They had a little offense left in them… but it was minimal. In response to the looming “maturation” of the band and their inevitable acceptance by parents, they decided to strip down to basics for their S.E.A.T. tour (“Seventy Eight American Tour”), leaving all traces of a “stage set” (even inflatable penises) behind and, in some cases, even returning to slightly humble venue settings. The show captured for Some Girls Live in Texas ’78 was set in the 3,000-capacity Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. And although it’s impossible to crush the pomp of established anthems like “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Suger,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” seeing them on a stage that’s only about twice the size of my apartment, does make them seem slightly more exciting than usual.
So what’s the verdict? Well, it really is impossible not to enjoy any Stones show filmed in its entirety (Yeah, there may be a few lame things here and there, but there are also undeniably awesome things as well.) And the fact that this particular show wasn’t shot on twenty cameras in a stadium setting does make it seem slightly cooler. Sure, the band had done away with their overt androgyny and excess by 1978 but, at that point in time, there were still traces of it in the air. Basically, I don’t expect that a lot of Philthy readers will be picking up this bad boy (I’ve always wanted to say that and I feel like it’s so appropriate here.) for themselves, but Some Girls Live in Texas ’78 would make the perfect Christmas gift for your uncle with a pickup truck… and if you and he do manage to sneak away from the turkey and toddlers, so you two can watch the DVD in the basement while he can tells you about how back in the day he was actually a rebel, it does kind of kick ass.