Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Robert Greenfield, "Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye" (2014)

A former Rolling Stone journalist revisits material he has already written on several times before.

As a brief book devoted to about 10 dates on a tour (half in the UK, and the rest in USA and Canada), Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye is a snapshot of a foundational period in the history of the Stones. The ideas for Exile on Main Street were percolating, the band was still somewhat trigger-shy about touring the US after the disaster at Altamont, and the Stones had decided to leave the UK to evade heavy taxation.

Where the book was most interesting was not its commentary on the 'regular' members of the Stones, but in its profiles of their retinue. Whether discussing the various wives and girlfriends (as well as their relationships - particular Anita Pallenberg and Bianca later-to-be-Jagger), or the supporting musicians and tour workers, Ain't It Time ... offers a unique look into a rock institution in development.

Some of the profiles that help to 'flesh out' people often mentioned in passing with regard to the Stones include:
- Nicky Hopkins: pianist
- Chip Monck (tour operative): joining the Stones entourage for their 1969 American tour, he called lighting cues, selected pre- and post-gig house music, and cleaned up the house post-gig
- Ian Stewart ('Stu'): former member of the Stones, he now set up the drum kit, played piano on a few songs, and drove occasionally
- Bobby Keys: saxophone, 'bigger than life' Texan
- Jim Price: horn section,
- Rose Millar: Mick Taylor's future wife

For those with an eye for details, the book also provides a nice behind-the-scenes perspective on the venues the Stones were playing, and some of the logistical aspects of life on the road.

Kirkus Review pretty much sums it up with a less than laudatory assessment.

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