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First of all we would like to say that:

a. we LOVE the Library of Congress

b. we love the Library of Congress movies


c. we love the fact that last night when we went to see “Gimme Shelter” the Mary Pickford theater was full, and full with

people born after the Altamont free concert took place.

Now a little back info on the story behind the Maysles documentary:

The Altamont Free Concert was a famous rock concert held on December 6, 1969 at the then-disused Altamont Speedway in Northern California, between Tracy and Livermore. It featured The Rolling Stones and other bands such as Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jefferson Airplane. Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some speculated it would be “Woodstock West.” Filmmakers Albert and David Mayslesdocumentary film entitled shot footage of the concert and incorporated it into a subsequent Gimme Shelter.

The event is best known for having been marred by violence, including one killing and three accidental deaths (two of the deaths were caused by a hit-and-run car accident, another death was the result of a drowning in a drainage ditch). There were also four births.

(the cd from the concert Recorded live on December 6, 1969 at the Altmont Raceway, California. and
Released in 1997 by Vinyl Gang
is also available and invitably fascinating (the movie contains only the first few songs of the show) and features (in order of performance)


1. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
2. Carol
3. Sympathy For The Devil [I]
4. Sympathy For The Devil [II]
5. The Sun is Shining
6. Stray Cat Blues
7. Love In Vain
8. Under My Thumb [I]
9. Under My Thumb [II]


1. Brown Sugar
2. Midnight Rambler
3. Live With Me
4. Gimme Shelter
5. Little Queenie
6. (i can’t get no) Satisfaction
7. Honky Tonk Women
8. Street Fighting Man

The movie itself, is a nugget of a time and innocence lost. The Mick Jagger we see at the beggining of the movie, sassing around Madison Square Garden (the footage also includes a priceless performance by Ike and Tina Turner from the same event – never has a microphone been handled quite so deftly) is definetly NOT the Mick Jagger on the stage on December 6, 1969.

who is fighting, and for what????

he pleads into the mass of 300 000 fans (referred to by the authorities as the Lemming of the sea, in one rare humorous scene).

people, lets just chill out.

and for a mass of decidedly (and artificially/chemically) chilled out people-they don’t.

and as “Under my Thumb” plays, you sense, from both the faces in the crowd, and the faces on stage that things are out of control.

The Maysles (who also directed “Grey Gardens” and a wonderful Truman Capote short) cut between the concert footage, and footage of the Stones viewing the editing process of the movie. Restrained, poised, not pushing any information or conclusions on you. Not much dialogue, just face reads.

No sex, no (visible) drugs, just (potentially lethal) rock’n’roll.

we recommend you:

listen to it.
see it.