Archive for November, 2012

Exiled By Main Street

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

When I was a child my sister and I shared a room and my mother would regularly read to us when she put us to bed.  AA Milne was a frequent contributor and our favorite of all was a poem called “The King’s Breakfast”.  My mother would perform all the roles with different accents and voices for the characters and we demanded it regularly.  Eventually the book she read from became a prop as the story became integrated into our collective minds.  If ever my mother skipped a line or used the wrong voice it would incite a howl of outraged protest form my sister and I.  I am sure to this day if you got us started we could recite the poem in its entirety.  I know it so well it has become a sacred relic in my memory.

Last night I went to Massey Hall to see a group called “Classic Albums Live” perform the Rolling Stones opus “Exile On Main Street” which was advertised as a note for note reproduction of the songs in their original sequence.  I was looking forward to it – I loved the album as a teen and would listen to it ad nauseum in my room, studying the liner notes like they were the Rosetta Stone.  I met Andy Johns, the original engineer, in Los Angeles a few years ago and nearly swallowed my tongue in excitement.

And I was disappointed.  I am not sure why I thought I wouldn’t be.  I don’t think I would enjoy watching a talented professional repaint the Sistine Chapel and this is the same sort of idea.  It always irks me when people do cover versions of classic songs and don’t change a thing.  The singer did a note perfect rendition of Jagger but with none of his mannerisms nor his appeal.  You cannot disregard the raw sexuality and energetic menace of the Stones in their prime which brings a dimension to the music that a talented house band cannot reproduce.

This is Mick Jagger (in the Exile Years)

This is not.

It was like my bank manager wandered on stage to do some kick ass karaoke.

While some of the songs were faithful reproductions of the originals, others were not.  The female back up singers were brought up front in rotation to take a few utterly pointless co-leads (one of which ruined one of my favorite songs).  While I understand that this may be the politically correct thing to do in band management, it made the performances suffer.  And I am entirely sure the Glimmer Twins would assure you Rock and Roll is not a democracy.

Again, I cannot fault the performers for their efforts, which were certainly valiant.  I will just have to exercise more caution when I start playing archaeologist with my past.