THE BP basement exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery coincides with the publication of a retrospective on Jagger called Mick Jagger The Photobook. The pictures on display feature The Rolling Stones posing for Their Satanic Majesties Request album cover shot. Yet as it sits on the wall in front of you, in exuberant colours, even the avid stones fan may look at it in a different light. Strange, Medieval goblin hats abound in a magically colourful and whimsical set, with peacock feathers propping up the frame and a sparkling domed palace with a candelabrum crowning the summit. Photographs of the four Beatles are subtly included in the image and one cannot help but notice the influence of the earlier Sgt. Peppers record sleeve. But it is a great photograph and cover in its own right with the Stones looking, ironically, slightly stoned as they gaze out from under the brims of their peculiar hats.
Another striking image in black and white shows Jagger in front of his Aston Martin DB, wearing a pinstripe jacket and a wide psychedelic tie, combing the stiff upper class lip of the English with the outrageous acid-induced frenzy of the times.
Another shows a topless and reclining Jagger, louchely puckering up for the camera as though stung by a bee on the lips on the set of the film Performance. Alongside this is Jagger in ’67, wearing an old red military uniform taken by Colin Jones for an Observer piece entitled ‘The End of the Thin Red Line’. Another striking image in black and white shows Jagger in front of his Aston Martin DB, wearing a pinstripe jacket and a wide psychedelic tie, combing the stiff upper class lip of the English with the outrageous acid-induced frenzy of the times.
It is interesting to contrast the photo set of the Stones in black and white aside dilapidated residential blocks with Watt’s yawning next to a great full technicolour shot in 1964 in Tin Pan Alley, where they recorded their early hits revealing long gone street views that are now mythologised.
There is also an eerie portrait of Jagger shot by Cecil Beaton who is ‘not determined whether he is beautiful or hideous’. Finally, a stunning full colour shot adorning a singular wall, taken in Hampstead of the band posing for the record Beggars Banquet in ’68, a variant of which was used for the original LP gatefold. It is a decadent and bizarre image showing an apparently inebriated, bawling Jagger wearing a torn tuxedo and clutching a bottle whilst in the foreground a chain mailed Richards with a dog on his lap and a menacing knife in his hand and there is plenty else going on beside.
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Mick Jagger: Young in the ’60s runs from 3 May – 27 November 2011
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