To begin, let me be clear that I’ve never been the biggest fan of “The Rolling Stones,” and for good reason: In 1981, they went on a world tour and claimed it would be their last world tour ever. The plan was to retire after the tour, but, of course, they lied. Therefore, the best rock station we had in Portland, Oregon, played “The Rolling Stones” day and night as a means to over-celebrate their entire career. We would even have “Stones Weekends,” and we would endure even more of their music, as if beating into our heads Monday through Friday just wasn’t enough. It was complete overkill, and it literally made me despise the band for several years to follow. Not to mention, I also learned the lesson of loathing corporate radio.
I will not deny they have influenced many bands that followed them, and they are one of the best, and biggest, rock bands of their time. I’ll give them credit where credit is due, but I was always more of a “Beatles” guy. “The Rolling Stones” simply never connected with me, yet they did have a decent collection of songs I admired, such as “Angie,” “Satisfaction,” “Brown Sugar,” and pretty much a lot of their older hits. In the 1980’s, I felt they endured to become more annoying, and I really never followed their music further. To be honest, I wouldn’t have a clue about any of their albums from 1980 to today. I simply felt their peak was in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but whatever they did after that never caught my attention.
Granted, they have gone on to this day selling out arenas worldwide, making more music and doing the occasional cameos in movies. In recent times, Keith Richards shares the honor as Captain Jack Sparrow’s father in the last two “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Nevertheless, I truly wish they would retire. When you start looking like the skeletons from “Jason and the Argonauts,” don’t you think it might be time to find an island in the Caribbean and give it up? Keith Richards alone could be the poster boy for “Say no to drugs,” or at least a picture of him says, “This is what happens when you do drugs, kids”.
On the “Some Girls” Blu-ray, we get a restored concert in Texas in 1978. At the time, “Some Girls” was among “The Rolling Stones” biggest albums and a cherished favorite of many of their loyal fans. Therefore, the concert lineup is Mick Jagger on vocals, Ron Wood and Keith Richards on guitars, Bill Wyman on bass, and Charlie Watts on drums. The performance itself has a lot of heart and passion, and it’s nice to see the band in a youthful time before the drugs began to punish them and make their faces look like a Rand McNally road map. The concert footage itself is restored from 16 mm film and looks absolutely atrocious. It is quite literally one of the worst-looking Blu-rays I’ve ever seen. I felt there must have been a time warp in my living room, and I was sent back to VHS in 1981. Yep, it was that bad.
All the same, the performance is what’s key here, and I’m sure any fan would be satisfied in that department. I have to say, though, this Blu-ray is probably best suited only for the most ardent “Rolling Stones” fan, considering the video value may be too disappointing for those expecting pristine quality simply because it’s a Blu-ray. I admit it sounded like a good concert and it’s full of great hit songs; I just can’t get over how horrible the video looks. Fortunately, the audio is not nearly so bad, although I have heard much better. Keep in mind, it was recorded live in 1978, so don’t expect audiophile sound. Rest assured, however, it does exceed the video quality quite nicely in comparison.
I admired the overall performance, and I’ve always found “The Rolling Stones” have a good, tight rhythm section, if riddled with the sloppy blues style of Keith Richards. As a lead guitar player, when I tried to learn any of their music, I felt I had to have a few cocktails belted down before I could proceed. It was a way of loosening up and slopping my way through the timing Keith has. Now, I’m not saying that as a bad thing; it is quite simply a blues style that carried on in many bands through the 1970’s and even today. In America, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry accomplished the sloppy blues style quite successfully. I could carry on all day and make an entire list of guitar players that fit into that style, but I assure you Keith Richards was not the founding father of it. Blues itself goes back to the late 1800’s, so it’s been around a long time. Within blues itself, it’s all about what you feel, and not so much about how accurately it’s played. It is truly a musical style of the heart, and there are a multitude of musicians that have perfected it with grace, one of them being Keith Richards.
The disc presents the video in 1080i high definition widescreen at 16:9. But as I mentioned, it quite literally looks like it came from someone’s old VHS copy. If all the heavy noise and grain doesn’t bother you enough, there’s plenty of softness and blur to drive you crazy, too. The cover claims it was restored from 16 mm film, but, of course, there never really are any details as to how the restoration process was handled. If you want my opinion, it doesn’t look as though they restored a damn thing. You’d be better off seeing if you could find some old VHS tape of the concert because this Blu-ray looks no better. For me, Blu-ray should most certainly be about improving the quality and bringing any restoration into the light of hi-def. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray fails to follow the path of its own principles, leaving the picture quality quite disappointing.
The audio comes in your typical Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks, but what it is possibly restored from is anybody’s guess. It does fill the room quite nicely and has a fair resonance considering the age of the live recording. Where I found it weak was in the overall tone, which can tend to be a bit dry, flat, and almost monotone. There is the usual background clatter from the live audience, which should come as expected, but it rarely distracts from the music. Overall, it is about as stereo quality as anything was back in the late 70’s for a live concert. Converting it to Dolby and DTS is a neat trick, but I didn’t find it as some major night-and-day difference.
Not too many extras to mention here: There’s an interview with Mick Jagger, which appears may be in high-definition but looks more like standard DVD. The interview itself is nothing special for me, but I’m sure it will appeal to Mick’s fans. There is also a band interview on the ABC News program “20/20” from the late 1970’s. It’s a cute addition that should please their fan base, but, again, the video quality is nothing to shout about. The other extra is a set of cuts from when they appeared on “Saturday Night Live” in the late 1970’s. Sadly, none of these segments are in high-definition, and the disc presents them in a standard 1.33:1 format, meaning you get the black bars on the left and right of the screen. Not to mention, the picture quality on the SNL extras is also quite atrocious.
While I’m extremely disappointed in the picture quality, I thought the performance was enjoyable on a musicians’ level. Then again, I honestly think “Some Girls” on Blu-ray was solely meant for devoted “Rolling Stones” fans only. I would not suggest this disc for the buyer who expects pristine quality simply because it’s a Blu-ray. Overall, it’s an honest, enthusiastic live performance from a historical rock band; it’s just, as I say, presented with a really bad picture.