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Let’s Spend the Night Together by Hal Ashby []



I remember watching the Rolling Stones in Let’s Spend the Night Together a few times on television when I was in high school.  I know this sounds unbelievable, but VH1 used to show concert films and was actually a music station back in the day.  Maybe I couldn’t get behind the 1981 renditions of the classic 60’s tunes at the time or was distracted by Mick Jagger’s football tights … truth is, I didn’t really dig the concert film when I first watched it.
Fast forward to last night.  I popped in this dvd for nostalgia sake and wound up really enjoying myself.  The performances are unbelievable!  In addition, I made the statement to my friend who was sitting next to me on the sofa that “this just might be the best Stones concert film ever.”
The boys barrel through 24 songs in under 90 minutes with the right blend of machismo and camp that we expect from the band.  Despite playing a huge stadium, they’re very, very loose with unexpected bendy guitar riffs distributed throughout by Ron and Keith , jazzy drum fills care of Mr. Watts and Mick’s wild singing.  If you look close enough, you may even see a smile on Bill Wyman’s face, too.  Some of the older songs appear to be unrehearsed to a certain extent while more recent cuts from Tattoo You, Emotional Rescue and Some Girls are played tight like a classic rhythm and blues review.  We’re also treated to a bonus keyboard section featuring Ian McLagan (of the Small Faces & Faces fame) sitting behind the organ and classic stones session man Ian Stewart on piano.
It’s also important to note that a serious filmmaker was on staff for Let’s Spend the Night Together.  Hal Ashby, whose credits include Harold & Maude, The Last Detail, Being There and many other fantastic titles, directed the film.  It’s always interesting to see the difference between a standard concert film and one that was overseen by a true artist.  Martin Scorsese’s work on the Last Waltz and D.A. Pennebaker’s Montery Pop are other excellent examples.  They tend to spend more time with the performers and not make pointless quick cuts.  There is something to be said in what these filmmakers find interesting and insist the audience see on stage.
The real lesson learned however is that it doesn’t hurt to revisit films you may not have enjoyed at one stage in your life.  You never know in what direction your taste may take you.

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