In 1989 Lorne Michael produced 25 x 5: The Continuing Adventures of The Rolling Stones. The film, done in cooperation with the band in celebration of their twenty-fifth anniversary, was a definitive account of their incredible history, telling the ups and downs of their career. For 12-year old me, it was just amazing, and I wore out my VHS copy watching and rewatching the documentary. It helped make me into a fan.
This past Thursday I was at a screening of a new Rolling Stones documentary, one done in celebration of the band’s fiftieth anniversary. How does Crossfire Hurricane stack up against 25 x 5? Check out the trailer and then find out after the jump!
Crossfire Hurricane, directed by Brett Morgan, features contributions from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood (all through voiceovers), and does its best to convey the effect the band had on the youth in North America and Britain when they burst on the scene back in the 60’s. Through the use of lots of amazing archival footage, the audience is given an incredibly clear picture of the chaos and riots that would ensue whenever the Stones hit the stage.
That rare footage is really the main selling point for Crossfire Hurricane. Seeing interviews with Brian Jones prior to his death and watching the revealing backstage footage from the late 60’s and 70’s is spectacular, and a gift to fans who thought they’d seen it all. Especially poignant is listening to Mick Jagger reminisce about having to fire Jones from the band, and then hearing Jagger’s reaction when he’s reminded that it was just two weeks between the firing and Jones’ death.
However, as far a biography goes, Crossfire Hurricane pales in comparison to 25 x 5, simply because the former is more inclined to paint the band as cultural revolutionaries, while the latter managed to combine that while still telling the story of the band’s musical progression. Crossfire Hurricane wants to make a big picture statement, and it does, but at the expense of the music.
Longtime Rolling Stones fans will find much to love about Crossfire Hurricane, without question. But if you’re just discovering the band, try and track down 25 X 5 first. Together, they’ll give you the definitive picture of the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.