The Rolling Stones: Truth And Lies (Eagle Media, 2006)

The Rolling Stones: Truth and Lies, an alleged documentary covering the history of one of the world's most celebrated rock bands, does not contain a single second of The Rolling Stones' music.

There. Now that I've said everything you really need to know about the DVD, the only people still reading this review are those with enough morbid curiosity to wonder just how bad it could get. Obviously the producers did not have the participation or cooperation of the band; on the bright side, I guess that means that Mick and the lads can't be blamed for this debacle. Instead, The Rolling Stones: Truth and Lies relies on news reels concerning the band, plus stock footage that generally has nothing to do with The Rolling Stones. Commentary is provided by David Hepworth, Chris Welch, Pamela Church Gibson, and Paul Gambaccini. The commentators try their best to place the Stones' music and image in a cultural and historical context, but given no actual performance footage to support them, their statements feel hollow. Outside of the commentary, most of the documentary revolves around the various times the Stones made the news. The narration is completely unimaginative; when not discussing a particular wedding or drug bust, the narrator dryly mentions the chart placing of each album, without going into any depth about the music contained therein. The DVD also tries to adhere rigidly to a year-by-year chronology -- except when an awkward edit jumps the story several years ahead in the blink of an eye. There were several of these that I could pick out on just one viewing, but the most embarrassing of these was the abrupt jump from the middle of 1964 to the release of the album Aftermath in 1966. In case you didn't know, "Satisfaction" came out in 1965.

The only moment of insight comes from Gambaccini recalling an encounter he had with Mick Taylor, who replaced Brian Jones as the Stones' second guitarist in 1969 and left the band in 1974, to be replaced by Ronnie Wood. Standing by himself outside a concert hall after a show while the rest of the band partied inside, Taylor lamented to Gambaccini that partying just wasn't his scene. One of England's top young blues guitarists when he joined the band, Taylor was an excellent fit musically for the band and made significant contributions to some of the Stones' best music. He was just too low key to stick around long, though, and Gambaccini's description of Taylor provides depth and even evokes sympathy for the band's most overlooked member.

Otherwise, The Rolling Stones: Truth and Lies has nothing to offer anybody already familiar with the band's story. People curious about The Rolling Stones would be better served by searching out 25x5, a documentary I saw on PBS a few years back which did have the band's active involvement. Of course, you could always just let the music speak for itself. That would certainly be better than sitting through a documentary in which the music doesn't speak at all.

Overall grade: D-

Reprinted with permission from The Green Man Review
Copyright 2007 The Green Man Review

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