50 Years: The Rolling Stones - Views from the inside, views from the outside (Part 1)
When I was first contacted about writing a review of this book, and told what would be between the covers (or eCovers), I must admit that my initial thoughts were sceptical. My primary issues were:- firstly, we have previously seen numerous literary works encapsulating the Rolling Stones' career, both written by independent authors and by band-members themselves. Secondly, fans have just been graced with "The Rolling Stones: 50", a 350-page photo-book telling the Stones' story from start to finish through rare photographs and captions constructed by the Stones themselves. So, putting these together, what else could be brought to the table that would capture my mind and make me want to spend $14.99 on another Rolling Stones book?
For a start, what other Stones publication can boast a massive 2,000 pages from start to finish? Note that Part 2 is yet to be released (expected 2013), but Part 1 contains just under 1,000 pages. And what is splashed across these pages? A biography of sorts. If you do not know everything there is to know about the Rolling Stones, you will after reading this book. There are fifty chapters in the entire compilation, one for each year of the band's career thus far. Each one commences with an essay written by best-selling author and journalist Hanspeter Künzler that tells us not only what each band-member was up to that year, but also what was going on in the world in general. This lets the reader put the Stones' work into a more social and sometimes political context, a key feature for Stones fans who started listening to them at a later date or who was born well after the swinging sixties.
The book also sports a unique compilation of news reports regarding the Rolling Stones. This too allows the reader to put into context the public's general reception of the band's music before and during their fame. By way of example, just one of the hundreds of articles included is from the Record Mirror, written by Norman Jopling and originally published on 11th May 1963. He writes, "The Rollin' Stones are probably destined to be the biggest group in the R&B scene if it continues to flourish". One cannot help but chuckle with appreciation for the gross understatement made, and the book is full of insights like this that show fans how the band grew up in the eyes of the media, from the initial contempt for their ragged looks and long hair to the booming Stones that grew to be the greatest rock 'n roll group of all time. Some articles include rare photographs which are always a thrill for a hardcore Stones fan. Further context of the Stones' work is added in a musical sense, though not an any in-depth manner. Each chapter is rounded off with a list of key musical releases from that year. This gives us the opportunity to consider what other rock bands which worked alongside the Stones had to offer through the years. On some occasions more detail is paid to the musical context, for example, in 1967 when the Rolling Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request the media saw it as a cheap rival to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album of the same year.
I would definitely recommend this book both to hardcore Stones fans who want to find out all they can about the history of the band but do not have the resources, together with any fan that wants to gain a detailed insight into the history of the band from start until present, including what else was going on in the world and on the music scene. All in all, this book provides a rich biopic of the band presented in a unique and brilliant fashion - a way in which no book that I have ever seen has done before. I personally hold myself to have a firm knowledge of the Stones' history, but their key works were before my time. Not only has this book strengthened my knowledge of the history of the band but it has provided me with a foundational look into the social mindset of those living in that period. And, of course, a social-context is pertinent to many of the band's classic songs and media publicity has always played a large role in the band's career. So if you want a biopic of the Rolling Stones and you want it from every possible perspective, I would definitely recommend "The Rolling Stones - Views from the inside, views from the outside".
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