Entertainment Weekly - 10/25/96, p.116
"...The just-clowning-around vibe gives the proceedings an unpretentious feel that nicely evokes the era's spirit. Upped a notch for historical resonance." - Rating: A-
The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger (vocals); Keith Richards (acoustic & electric guitars, background vocals); Brian Jones (electric & slide guitars); Bill Wyman (bass); Charlie Watts (drums).
The Dirty Mac: John Lennon (vocals, guitar); Eric Clapton (guitar); Keith Richards (bass); Mitch Mitchell (drums).
Additional performers: Jethro Tull, The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, Yoko Ono, Ivry Gitlis, Nicky Hopkins.
Producers: Jimmy Miller, Jody Klein, Lenne Allik.
Recorded live in England on December 10-11, 1968.
Includes liner notes by David Dalton.
Personnel: Keith Richards (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar); John Lennon, Pete Townshend (vocals, guitar); Ian Anderson (vocals, flute); John Entwistle, Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, Yoko Ono (vocals); Brian Jones (guitar, slide guitar); Eric Clapton, Jesse Ed Davis , Mick Abrahams (guitar); Ivry Gitlis (violin); Nicky Hopkins (keyboards); Clive Bunker, Keith Moon , Mitch Mitchell, Chuck Blackwell , Charlie Watts (drums); Rocky Dijon (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Jonathan Y.B. Porath.
Liner Note Author: David Dalton.
Recording information: 12/11/1968-12/12/1968.
Illustrator: Marvin Mattelson.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Alisa Ritz; Iris Keitel; Magadaline Voliatis; Roger Talkov.
THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS documents a December 1968 show, originally intended for broadcast on British television, that featured clowns, acrobats, tigers, a fire-eater, the Rolling Stones and a menagerie of musician friends that included the Who, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The show never aired. The Stones, unhappy with their performance, shelved it. A clip of the Who performing "A Quick One While He's Away" made it into the documentary "The Kids Are Alright," but the rest of the show remained on the shelf until the 1996 release of a laser disc, video, and this soundtrack.
The Stones put together this circus shortly after releasing BEGGAR'S BANQUET. Ringmaster/producer Mick Jagger recruited the above friends along with Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal and the relatively-unknown Jethro Tull. Twenty hours of filming resulted in a production that alternates between vaudevillian spectacle and magical rock and roll performances. Especially noteworthy is a blistering version of the Beatles' "Yer Blues" by the Dirty Mac, a supergroup featuring John Lennon on rhythm guitar and vocals, Eric Clapton on lead, Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums.
The Stones went on at 1 in the morning on December 11, performing a set that included several songs from BEGGAR'S BANQUET and the not-yet-released "You Can't Always Get What You Want," sometimes playing a song two or three times to get it right for TV. Despite the numerous takes and the late hour, the Stones' intensity never flagged. This is, despite what they thought, a great performance. It builds up to a hypnotic "Sympathy For The Devil" and a rousing sing-along version of "Salt Of The Earth" that ends the circus.