But every few years they churn out a new collection of tunes and hit the road to smash touring records yet again. There are glimmers of greatness - the Shine A Light movie for example has some really cool moments. And if their recent albums were pared down from 15 tracks to the 10 strongest, they'd be pretty good.
But honestly, the band jumped the shark once Keith cleaned up. Coincidence? No idea but I am reading his autobiography and we'll see if I can glean any tidbits for you all.
My favorite era of the Stones is the Mick Taylor era. So I was majorly geeked to get the recently released Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, a concert film from the 1972 Exile on Main Street tour.
This DVD reminds me of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. Charlie and Keith are the tightest rhythm section around. Bill Wyman pumps out some great bass lines. Jagger is at his full-throated screaming pilled-up best. But the real star of the show is Mick Taylor, who basically solos throughout every song, adding those tasty, tasty licks that seem so effortless but add incredibly to the music.
Highlights are the roughly 10-minute Midnight Rambler, Tumbling Dice, Gimmie Shelter and an unreal version of Love In Vain. In his book, Keith talks about how the young pre-fame Stones just wanted to 'be black guys' and play the blues. Later of course they got into other areas but the blues was always their fallback, and Love In Vain is top of the pile here. It does not hurt that Taylor gets two solos - one one slide and one not.
Even tracks like Dead Flowers - a song that seems like a bit of a novelty on the studio release - shine, as Keith and Mick share the mic for the harmonies and Taylor adds tasty leads throughout.
The bonus features include the band rehearsing stuff from Exile to get ready for the tour. That is worth the price of this DVD alone. Unreal.
Watching this DVD made me reach back into the bootleg community and score copies of live shows from 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976. There are some real gems out there, people. This band was tight in the 70s, despite the stories of addiction and debauchery. Especially look for the March 1971 Leeds, the October 1973 Brussels, and the July 1972 Madison Square Garden shows. All very good.
And get this damn DVD - it's great! Here is a clip: