The Rolling Stones

Big Cocksucker Blues

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To be indelicate about the matter: what exactly makes Big Cocksucker Blues different than plain old Cocksucker Blues, the legendary rarely-seen film of the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour? Well, while the original Cocksucker Blues has frequently been bootlegged since the pre-DVD era, this Big Cocksucker Blues has that 95-minute film and well over an hour of extras. The extra footage, you should know, does not contain Cocksucker Blues outtakes, but does offer a good amount of rare clips from 1967-1974 that should interest any hardcore fan of the Stones during this era.

Cocksucker Blues itself was never a film that looked especially good, though its transfer here is about as good as it's gotten on any bootleg. Those looking for a tour documentary à la Gimme Shelter will be disappointed, as there's not a whole lot of on-stage musical footage, and what such footage is here is pretty raw. The main focus of Cocksucker Blues is the behind-the-scenes tedium and tawdriness of one of the first truly mammoth American Rolling Stones tours, including notorious scenes of groupie sex (one aboard the band's plane), drug use, and decadent behavior (most famously in the bit where Keith Richards and Bobby Keys throw a television out a hotel window). Cocksucker Blues is not an easy film to watch, and really not all that good a film -- the dialogue is frequently barely audible, the images often seemingly shot in a deliberately hard-on-the-eye black-and-white, and the scenes juxtaposed with no exposition. It does, however, capture some of the seamier sides of backstage life, and perhaps inadvertently makes touring with the Stones seem like a largely boring endeavor behind the glamour.

All of the bonus DVD "extras" are in fair-to-excellent condition, though no doubt they'd look a little-to-a-lot better if the transfers were on an officially sanctioned release. These include about ten minutes from their December 1969 rehearsals at the Saville Theatre in London; a half-hour Australian TV documentary about their tour down under in early 1973; five promos for songs from their Goats Head Soup and It's Only Rock 'N Roll albums that find the band (especially Mick Jagger) in a glam-influenced stage visually; a 1973 clip of "Brown Sugar"; "You Can't Always Get What You Want" from a 1969 David Frost Show performance; a 1967 interview with Jagger from around the time of his drug bust that year; and footage of Jagger's early-'70s wedding in France.