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DVD reviews of 'Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones'

As more material emerges from the archives, Universal Music Enterprises with Sofa Entertainment has produced a pair of DVD sets with several Stones’ appearances.

Rolling Stones
Four Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones
Universal Music Enterprises/Sofa Entertainment

Rolling Stones
Six Ed Sullivan Shows Starring the Rolling Stones
Universal Music Enterprises/Sofa Entertainment
By Brent Frankenhoff

Many Rolling Stones fans have seen at least bits and pieces of the Stones’ appearances on the long-running variety program, “The Ed Sullivan Show,” but, unless they were there for the original shows that aired from 1964 to 1969, they haven’t seen these performances as part of the whole show in more than 40 years.

Now, as more material is emerging from the archives, Universal Music Enterprises with Sofa Entertainment has produced a pair of two-DVD sets with four of the Stones’ appearances and six appearances, respectively.

In addition to the Stones’ numbers, each episode has all the other performances from that evening’s show and the original commercials — a tremendous time capsule to be sure. Both sets go in chronological order, with the six-episode set adding one earlier performance (Oct. 24, 1964) and one later performance (Nov. 23, 1969) to the package. Watching them in order, one can easily see the evolution of the Stones’ sound and stage presence. In the earliest shows, Mick Jagger seems nervous and clutches the microphone in a death grip, while by the later shows, he struts, prances and shows what a charmer and force of nature he can be. Keith Richards’ style evolves similarly, going from a fresh-faced musician with a Beatlesqe look-alike in 1964 and ’65 to the rockin’ hellraiser of 1969. And then there’s Charlie Watts on the drums, who looks as though he’d rather be anywhere else on every appearance. He and Sullivan could give each other a run for their money in the stoneface department.

Rolling Stones Ed Sullivan Show

On the other hand, watching Sullivan trying to quiet the screams of the fans during each show gives the viewer insight into how much in control Sullivan had to be with his program. Witness the lyrics change on “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and Jagger’s and Richards’ reaction to it. For the casual Stones fan, the four-episode set is sufficient to see how the Stones evolved and how the audience reacted to them on the Sullivan show. The hardcore fan or the completist will want to spend the additional $20 on the six-episode set as those extra two performances are worth that higher price by themselves, not to mention the 24-page booklet with behind-the-scenes information and photos, plus a facsimile ticket to the Sept. 11, 1966, Sullivan show. The remastered sound, offered in both Dolby Stereo and Dolby 5.1, is outstanding.