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.