'Crossfire Hurricane' is a tantalizing but peculiar and incomplete look at the Rolling Stones. It's audio interview of the Stones' remembrances of their early days placed over some fairly compelling, illustrative footage. Most notably, we're told that "no cameras were allowed" (when recording the interviews). One can't help think that seeing the rockers up close - Jagger's now famous wrinkles, Richards' ravaged features - would have stolen more than a few measures of energy from the tales of their sixties and early seventies heyday. Jagger is as sharp a business mind as they come and Keith - to the shock of all - remembers everything (as his brilliant biography attests to). So, those restrictions come across as a calculated decision to me. Can't say I blame them, but it gives a production a distant, paint-by-numbers feel at times.
The production pores over their early 60s meet-up through Ronnie Wood's 1975 entry into the band. That means we get a deep dive through that period, through first brushes with stardom and fan hysteria, Brian Jones' dismissal/departure (a particular high point of the film), Mick Taylor's entry and subsequent taking of leave (love Keith calling Taylor a 'virtuoso') and then Wood's arrival. The film doesn't track too closely to albums (think about how obsessively similar Beatles productions do), so I'll best describe things by saying that it there's a fairly constant 'touch' of music up through about Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street...with 'Exile' getting more attention than anything else due to the debauchery of the recording sessions in France.
Then, suddenly, it's the 'Some Girls' tour and - even more suddenly - there's a coda of the now-aged band belting out 'All Down the Line.' All well and good for the focus on the best parts, but doesn't this editing play right into the hands of those who say (and there's quite a few that make this claim) that the band's done nothing relevant since 'Some Girls'?
Still, this movie is catnip for any Stones fan. My favorite part of the film: footage of the young Jagger and Richards offstage at work. Encouraged by their label to write their own songs (no doubt by the success of Lennon and McCartney, whose brilliance as songwriters set the music world on its ear) they sit together grinding out an early effort, the sweat of creativity at work. It's nothing memorable, but those humble beginnings sowed the seeds of Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Sympathy for the Devil, It's Only Rock 'n Roll and hundreds of other pieces of creative genius that have become pillars of rock and roll songwriting.