The Rolling Stones on eBook | Review

In celebration of the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary, the eBook People are publishing a 2-part, 2000-page electronic publication, providing the most thorough fans with the most thorough documentation of this iconic band’s dense history.  It is entitled The Rolling Stones: Views from the Inside, Views from the Outside; currently, the first part is available, and the second part will be released later in the fall.  Each part focuses on 25 years, with a chapter devoted to a calendar year.  Chapters begin with a narrative reviewing the year, which is then followed by historically preserved articles, interviews, photographs, and Stones’ album reviews from that year.  Each chapter/year also includes a list of any significant albums from key artists of that time.  This last piece is particularly interesting from a historical standpoint because it provides a frame of reference for each year of their career relative to other bands. 

Written by Hanspeter Künzler, this massive “book” may be best approached as a reference, rather than a cover-to-cover read.  With that mindset, it is a veritable playground for the diehard Stones fans that find music history (almost) as fascinating as the music itself (I know I can’t be the only one out there).  The first part of the eBook explores 1962 through the end of 1986.  Encompassing the first 25 years, it addresses the true meat of their career, those precious years that made the Rolling Stones a household name.   

Being a creature of habit, I went straight to the chapters addressing the years I love most, from about 1968 to 1972, when the Stones hit an unprecedented production stride, ferociously cranking out some of the best rock albums available to date, such as Beggar’s Banquet, Let it Bleed, and Exile on Main Street.  This music is enormously personal to me, as it is to many others, and I have high expectations of any writing addressing this time.  The book’s prolific author, Mr. Künzler, handled the task of writing for overly anxious fans with grace and intelligence.  His writing is steeped with gritty personal and professional details about the band; additionally he provides cultural and political history that gives a further sense of meaning to the Stones’ career. 

Overall, the eBook is thorough and frill-free, presenting readers with copious facts and quotes, and providing an unbiased view of the Stones’ history.  Although, Künzler occasionally tosses in a little personal rhetoric that serves as a warm reminder that he too is a fan.  For example, he writes: “Exile on Main Street was released on 12 May [1972] to mixed reviews (the best records often take their time to sink in, of course!”.  His narratives are then supported by reproductions of articles, interviews, photos, and album reviews.  The album reviews are a delightful treat, briefly allowing a reader to slip into a nostalgic revelry, providing the fodder to toy with experiencing a world where, for example, Exile on Main Street is released as a work of art for the first time (unless you happen to be lucky enough to have experienced it yourself).  Overall, the sheer quantity and density of information make the Stones’ eBook not for the faint of heart, however it is a respectful and comprehensive homage to a band that is often dubbed “The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.”

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