- Feb 16, 2010
- Reaction score
HED: New DVD Focuses on Gibson Les Paul Legend Mick Taylor?s Rolling Stones Years
If the recent tricked-out reissue of Exile On Main St. didnt make the point, the new DVD The Rolling Stones 1969 1974: The Mick Taylor Years puts a spotlight on Gibson Les Paul Standard virtuoso Taylors contributions to the bands so-called Golden Era.
During that period, the Stones recorded Let It Bleed, where Taylors slide guitar playing on Country Honk and his licks on Live With Me were part of his audition for the band, as well as the masterpieces Sticky Fingers, Exile, Goats Head Soup and Its Only Rock n Roll a roll call of their greatest studio works, with the possible omissions of Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed.
The DVD, which features Taylor in concert playing a Gibson ES-335 alongside Keith Richards and Mick Jagger on its cover, blends live performances with analysis from music journalists including Barney Hoskyns of Mojo and the Village Voices Robert Christgau, the recollections of Taylors pre-Stones mentor John Mayall, Exile session musicians Al Perkins and Bill Plummer, and music historian Alan Clayson, among others including, of course, Taylor himself. When the conversation turns to the excesses of the arena-rock 70s, of which the Stones were major architects, theres even a cameo by Led Zeppelin, with Jimmy Page wailing on a live performance of Black Dog with his Les Paul slung low.
The first hour of the DVD focuses on Taylors arrival in the band. In mid-1969, British blues legend John Mayall was about to disband the electric-guitar-centric version of his Bluesbreakers that launched the careers of Gibson Les Paul gods Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Taylor in favor of a more acoustic and experimental sounding group. Mick Jagger called, fishing for leads on a guitarist to replace Brian Jones, and since 21-year-old Taylor held Mayalls lead guitar chair at the time and was about to lose his gig, Mayall suggested him.
Taylor explains that his playing with Mayall did me a lot of good, thanks to the considerable freedom the bandleader gave his musicians. During his Bluesbreakers years, Taylor also experimented with jazz and Latin music, on which hed draw for such Stones tunes as Heartbreaker and Time Waits for No One.
As the film details the making of Exile, Goats Head Soup and Its Only Rock n Roll, Taylor is depicted live and in a series of photographs with the armada of Gibsons he used during his Stones years. These include an array of gorgeous Sunburst Les Pauls from the original 1958 to 1960 run, expertly reproduced today by the Gibson Custom Shop as the 50th Anniversary 1960 Les Paul Standard.
Taylor purchased his first Burst in 1965 when he was a member of short-lived rock outfit The Gods, and acquired his second from Keith Richards in 1967, when he was in the Bluesbreakers. That Sunburst was outfitted with a Bigsby vibrato arm and can be seen in Richards hands on another DVD, the recent reissue of The T.A.M.I. Show.
Other Gibsons employed by Taylor during his tenure in the Stones include the ES-335 he used for the Exile and Sticky Fingers sessions, and an SG he may have used for Exile and carried on the road from 1969 to 1971.
As the tale of Taylors Stones years unwinds, the experts discuss Taylors lack of writing credits Taylor has claimed to be co-author of Time Waits for No One and a number of other Stones classics that seem to pivot on his playing and purposeful omissions from Keith and Micks decisions regarding the group plus rumors of Richards jealously erasing Taylors tracks and replacing them with his own. They offer various reasons for Taylors departure to bass giant Jack Bruces band in 1974, but Taylor provides his own perspective.
After five-and-a-half years Id had enough, he tells the camera. I cant give you one overriding reason for leaving. I cant say it was totally due to being frustrated artistically. A lot of people say Im crazy for leaving. Why didnt you just stay where you were? You could be a millionaire by now. But Ive never really looked at it that way. To me they peaked then, and I dont think theyve done as many good albums or written as many good songs as they did while I was with them and prior to the period I joined them.