'Crossfire Hurricane' review: Rolling Stones' early years

(L-R) Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and (L-R) Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones attend "The Rolling Stones Crossfire Hurricane" Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. (Nov. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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REVIEW

THE DOCUMENTARY "Crossfire Hurricane"

WHEN | WHERE Tonight at 9 on HBO

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Using recent audio interviews with the Rolling Stones and the band's archival footage, documentarian Brett Morgen weaves together the story of the band's tumultuous first two decades.

"Crossfire Hurricane" takes the band from its early days as a blues-rock cover band through the release of the "Some Girls" album in 1978 and the corresponding tour, which the band sees as the start of the second major chapter in its legendary career. Though they certainly cover the heady early days, filled with screaming girls and their cultivated persona as the anti-Beatles, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards aren't afraid to keep it real. Both show some interesting insights into their success, with Jagger revealing how he portrays a different character for each of the band's singles, and Richards saying that "Midnight Rambler" is the song he is most proud of in the band's catalog.

They cover the darkest moments of the band's career -- the death of guitarist Brian Jones, their arrests for drug use, and the tragic Altamont concert. Jagger said the Rolling Stones realized their concerts tapped into something bigger in the culture, where their music was only half of the experience, while "the other half of the show is participating in a riot."

MY SAY The Stones and Morgen spend so much time on the tough times of the band's career that some of the magic gets lost. Many of the performances are used simply to use a heavier point rather than for the pure rebellious joy the band revels in creating. The most telling revelation isn't Jagger's bare behind (though that's there, too), but the idea that most bands count on the drummer to keep the beat. But Stones drummer Charlie Watts follows Richards, which makes their sound slightly less stable and much more dangerous.

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BOTTOM LINE Early Stones history painted black

GRADE B

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