Charlie Is My Darling: Ireland 1965
directed by Peter Whitehead
starring The Rolling Stones
2012 marks the Rolling Stones’ fiftieth anniversary, and the vaults have opened. An expanded Some Girls and Exile on Main Street have been welcomed by their obsessive fans (of which I am definitely one), but even more eagerly awaited are proper releases of what previously were only available on dodgy bootlegs. Earlier this year we saw the digital release of The Brussels Affair, a monumental concert from 1973 that ranks among the greatest shows captured on tape, and now this, Charlie Is My Darling, showing the early Stones on tour in Ireland in 1965.
The band’s flamboyant manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, came up with the idea of a short film, a “trial run” for the group in movies and an answer to The Beatles’ efforts, such as A Hard Day’s Night. While The Beatles went on to find success with other celluloid ventures — Help and Yellow Submarine to name two — the Stones never revisited the form, at least not by their own hands, instead forging new ground as a touring sensation, while the Beatles camped out in Abbey Road after quitting the road in 1967.
Perhaps if Charlie Is My Darling had turned out better, the band might have gone on to further cinema adventures, but sadly, even at only 65 minutes, the film drags. Where The Beatles were natural actors with a sharp wit as seen in A Hard Day’s Night, the Stones are anything but. Backstage banter is largely unintelligible, the interviews with Charlie Watts or Brian Jones show the sheer boredom of the road reflected in their faces and attitudes. But where the movie, and the Stones, shine is in the live footage. The period that the film focuses on sees the band in their beginning stages of moving from a rhythm and blues cover band to a functioning songwriting team. From “Play with Fire,” the pop classic “Tell Me,” and their enduring “Satisfaction,” the band had started to move away from covering the latest Chess Records’ hits to forge their own sound.
Within a few years of this tour Brian Jones would be dead, Keith Richards would find solace in the needle, and the Stones would become more famous — and infamous. The Limited Edition of this set includes the movie on both DVD and Blu-ray, a live show from London in 1965 on CD and 10-inch vinyl, and another CD containing the Oldham-created soundtrack of the film, which has some unique moments in Stones history, featuring the “Andrew Oldham Orchestra” playing such numbers as “Theme for a Rolling Stone” and “Blue Turns To Grey.”
Only hard-core fans (such as myself) need all of this, but anyone interested in the early days of The Rolling Stones and their potent live performance needs to view the film, at least once. Just fast-forward past the interviews and backstage antics, and revel in the music. When Charlie Is My Darling shows the band pumping through “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” or a blinding “Route 66” before being swept off the stage by fans, this is rock and roll personified.