Vintage Rock have a new special out focusing on The Rolling Stones, and I’m in it with a feature on Performance, the 1970 psychedelic psychological horror thriller starring Mick Jagger as a pretentious pop star who finds himself on a collision course with East End gangland, which was considered so shocking at the time that Warner Bros. removed around twenty minutes from it and then refused to release it for two years, and even then the British Board Of Film Censors insisted on the removal of a couple of easily imitated scenes of violence and another featuring some mild hints of extremely soft S&M, which the great big spoilsports just didn’t want anyone else to be imitating if they weren’t. When it eventually came out, nobody really noticed, but over time Performance has come to be appreciated as a murky and grimy minor masterpiece set squarely in the decaying-yet-leafy ‘Weird’ London that was all over movies and television in the late sixties and early seventies. This is an in-depth look at Performance‘s troubled production and release history, with some thoughts on the missing footage, the often overlooked tie-in paperback novel, and just why so many nineties indie bands were so obsessed with it.
Elsewhere in the issue you can find my history of The Rolling Stones’ early television appearances – from Top Of The Pops and Ready Steady Go! to the controversial clashes with Sunday Night At The London Palladium and Juke Box Jury to the less expected encounters with World In Action and that Rice Krispies advert, and of course approximately seventy four million ITV variety shows that were only ever seen once in one region before being lost forever – and some thoughts on the band’s eighties and nineties albums, some of which are much better than you might expect and some of which are, well, Dirty Work. And yes, there is a mention of Bitter Sweet Symphony in there…
You can get Vintage Rock Presents The Rolling Stones in all good newsagents and directly from the magazine’s website here.
© Tim Worthington.
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