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Bruce Gowers
The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor)
Writing Credits:

The show was filmed at London's legendary Marquee club on March 26th 1971, shortly after the finish of the band's 1971 UK tour and about a month before the release of the 'Sticky Fingers' album in late April.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 39 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 6/23/15

• Alternatative Takes of Two Songs
• “Brown Sugar” on Top of the Pops
• Bonus CD
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

Rolling Stones: Marquee Club Live in 1971 [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 17, 2015)

When the calendar flipped to 1971, the Rolling Stones hadn’t played their native England in quite some time – by the era’s standards, at least. After they toured the UK in the fall of 1966, they wouldn’t play that domain again until March 1971.

After this brief 17-show tour, the Stones performed a special gig at London’s Marquee Club on March 26. The Stones played the Marquee back in their formative days, so this made sense as the location for a filmed concert.

We get the results of that shoot via the aptly-titled Marquee Club Live in 1971. The program includes eight songs, four of which stem from 1971’s then-not-yet-released Sticky Fingers: “Dead Flowers”, “I Got the Blues”, “Bitch” and “Brown Sugar”. 1969’s Let It Bleed produces “Live With Me” and “Midnight Rambler”, while we also get 1965’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. A cover of Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” rounds out the short set.

This doesn’t offer a replication of the band’s typical 1971 UK show. They tended to play 14 songs during that March tour, and seven of those appear here. “I Got the Blues” didn’t pop up during the prior gigs.

When I first screened Marquee, I did so without knowledge of its chronological place. Based on the quality of the performance, I guessed it took place before the tour, as Marquee sounds like a rusty band working out the kinks, not a group who just finished a 17-gig outing. Marquee did take place 12 days after the end of the tour, so maybe that brief rest caused the band to lose their momentum.

Or maybe they just had an off night. Don’t get me wrong: Marquee offers a pretty good Stones show. It just doesn’t excel in many ways and it seems like the band never quite comes together. It often feels like they’re really, really close to ignition, but they don't get there.

The most obvious musical problem comes from Keith Richards’ playing. He holds it together for much of the show but he always seems like he’s on the verge of collapse, and he occasionally falls over that edge.

For instance, his solo during “Let It Rock” simply stinks. Guitarist Mick Taylor compensates for Keith at times, but Richards’ problems – almost certainly related to his well-known affinity for various substances – do a fair amount of harm to the concert.

Though not drug-related, Mick Jagger encounters his own problems. Perhaps due to the strain of a tour that encompassed 17 concerts over 11 days, Jagger sounds awfully hoarse much of the time, and not in a good way. His vocals fall short of expectations, and he also seems somewhat distracted/annoyed through a lot of the show.

Perhaps the nature of the set-up bugged him. For Marquee, the Stones played to an “elite” crowd that included peers such as Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. That sounds good on paper, but this doesn’t become the most enthusiastic audience. They can be scary quiet at times, and I suspect this lack of energy may have affected the band.

Even with all these drawbacks, Marquee still gives us a good look at the Stones in their prime. I’m not sure the Stones circa 1971 could’ve put on a truly bad show, and Marquee still works pretty well much of the time. It doesn’t become great Stones but it’s cool to see.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

The Rolling Stones: Marquee Club Live in 1971 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No one will view this as a killer presentation, but it matched the source well.

This means one shouldn’t expect visual delights from a videotaped concert shot in 1971. Sharpness varied quite a bit. At best, the program showed fairly nice clarity and delineation, but it could go soft on more than a few occasions. These instances occurred in wider shots, as those seemed more than a little fuzzy.

Add to that circa 1971 video capabilities and inconsistent delineation became inevitable, but I found the sharpness to seem perfectly acceptable and often better. The program opted for a lot of close-ups and those tended to be pretty appealing. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. The source depicted a mix of concerns via rolling bars at times, but those remained minor; they showed up occasionally but weren’t a substantial distraction.

In terms of colors, the lighting offered the most obvious variation in hues, and these elements were up and down. Sometimes the colors seemed pretty peppy, while on other occasions, they looked less vivid. They remained more than adequate given the filming conditions and videotape origins. Blacks came across with reasonable depth, and low-light shots gave us fairly nice clarity. I didn’t expect much from a 44-year-old videotape, but I thought Marquee offered good visuals given its origins and age.

As for the concert’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it required no equivocation, as it delivered a positive auditory experience. The mix took advantage of the five speakers in an engaging manner. Vocals remained up-front, and most of the instruments concentrated on logical locations as well, with good stereo spread across the forward channels; the elements popped up in appropriate, natural places. The surrounds added a light, supportive layer of crowd noise. I didn’t note any unique instrumentation from the back speakers, and that was fine with me.

Audio quality was always good. Vocals were natural and crisp, while the instruments sounded accurate and distinctive. The mix seemed balanced, with clean highs and warm bass. The audio held up well over the last 44 years.

A few extras flesh out the set. Taken from the Marquee Club shoot, we get Alternatative Takes of “I Got the Blues” and “Bitch”. We find two renditions of each song; all together, these run 21 minutes, 57 seconds. These offer an interesting look at the band’s problems during the show, with an emphasis on Keith Richards’ issues. For the two versions of “Blues”, Keith can’t keep it together; the first take collapses due to him, and the second requires Mick Taylor to play the intro because Keith can’t execute it. He pulls it off for the version used in the final product, but just barely.

“Bitch” fares better and it’s not as clear why the band felt the need to do multiple takes of it. Keith still seems iffy, but he doesn’t fall apart during “Bitch” like he does in “Blues”. All the extra takes offer a fascinating look behind the scenes.

Next we locate a version of “Brown Sugar” from Top of the Pops. In this four-minute, seven-second clip, we see the band mime the backing track while Jagger sings live. The latter aspect makes it worth a look.

A second disc provides a CD copy of the main Marquee show. It includes the eight songs from the primary program as well as the four alternate takes. I’m happy to have this so I can listen to the show wherever I want.

Finally, the package includes a booklet. It provides an essay from Richard Havers along with photos and archival elements. The booklet acts as a good complement to the discs.

One could argue the Rolling Stones peaked in or around 1971, but Marquee Club Live in 1971 doesn’t make a great case for that argument. While the show has its strengths, it comes with too many concerns to be viewed as stellar Stones. The Blu-ray offers reasonably attractive visuals, solid audio and a few decent bonus materials. As a lifelong fan, I’m delighted to own Marquee but it doesn’t stand as a great Stones performance.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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