For a generation which gets off on being around for the heyday of The Rolling Stones, all they are left with are puff pieces of a time gone by. Envy and jealousy are par for the course when seeing someone could view The Band, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith all over the course of a long weekend but that is to their generation what a long weekend of booze and Britpop reunions are now. Dirty words and dirtier drinks spilt in the here and now of the internet and the connection to a past which is easily accessible, engaged with easier than it was when records were hunted down as the only source of artist engagement rather than novelty collector’s item. We all have Sony PS-LX kits and cry out at the sound being better. Was the sound better when The Stones and Brian Jones were around? Maybe so, documentarian Nick Broomfield is certainly convinced.
Ripped right from the heart of BBC television comes The Stones and Brian Jones, separated by an “and” because Jones he is now a poster boy for estrangement and legacy not appreciated at its time. Tragedy is a tough word to place, but as the opening crawl displays, the tender narration declaring Jones will cement his personality, it is clear to see his shine shone brightly and briefly. Melody Maker makes an appearance, an advert there pushing him through to connecting with the big players who joined Jones and Jagger. Archival bits and pieces are cut and mushed together with good grace, showing the early years of The Stones is a treat for those who do not know what to search for on YouTube.
With the benefit of Bill Wyman explaining how Jones impacted the band, The Stones and Brian Jones is a heavy-hitting piece for those Stones enthusiasts. Archives, voices and explanations from those of this era reminisce but do not admit to the power which soon followed his appearances, his impact. There is a bit missing from all the archival footage which is harder to appreciate now everyone can flick on a biopic and be blown away by the wildcard details thrown in the mix of an out-of-proportion adaptation. For Jones, it does not appear such a move will happen although it is a story ripe for such big-screen reflection. Tensions between Jones and Mick Jagger are explored well, appropriately enough for a documentary which does well to rehash the same few facts which lingered at the time and on the minds of everyone there for the fallout.
At a few turns throughout this documentary, it is difficult to see where it will leave the well-trodden path of animosity and altercation. It comes through from time to time, particularly Dawn Molloy’s recollection of how Jones did not realise he was fighting against a double of himself in Jagger. Again and again, the concert footage pans to the audience, gushing and gasping over those who love the bands. What an intensely strange time it was. At least groupies and mad fans are tamer now. Nobody at a Bob Dylan gig is spry enough to leap the stage, although, for those at the Hull gig, they know someone was wild enough to sprint the aisle. Carnage followed The Stones to their tours and the fights and frailty of the fans trying to get a grab at the success of these people is maddening. So too is their massive and unwavering interest in them. There they go, mad as anything. The Stones and Brian Jones highlight that more than anything else.