http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/fc1f37e6025dfdd07fc6a16443dd4fcc463e56b1.jpg Stage Fright

The Band

Stage Fright

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September 17, 1970

Step right up ladies & gents! Don't be shy, anybody can play this game. Want you to join me as we explore the appearance of another strange mystery in our midst. Thrills! Enigmas. Exquisite loveliness! Disappointments. Engaging sobriety! Murky slumbers. It's all here, folks —all that, plus five lifetimes in our recent generation, crossing, merging, walking toward separate rainbows! Losing stride, marching gloriously on.

In this game —most of you already are hip to this, I know — nothing is ever quite what it seems. And that's why, ladies & gentlemen — that's why we've got to resist the temptation simply to assume it's what it seems to be. If you can dig my far out meaning.

Glory is the operative word at this stage of the game. What this third Band record seems to lack is the glory of the first two.* Ah, but we've only begun to play; what seems to be at this stage, this early after the kickoff, may be only a fake handoff —a Statue of Liberty play, executed with great finesse by one of the most deceptive teams ever fielded, as seen by a killer linebacker who's busted through the protective cup and is just about to squash the quarterback, himself arched and coiled, arm cocked as if he was still holding the ball, waiting to get hit with a secret smirk behind the knowledge that some kind of amazing shit is happening elsewhere on the field, he's winning, you can't even see it yet, oh brother the laugh is on you, but we'll all laugh together when we all see it. That's the way these cats play this here game, looking from over here in the linebacker's spot. Stand someplace else and you might see it totally different, but, you know what they say: 'twas ever thus.

If you'll allow me, momentarily, just for as long as this paragraph takes to read, I'll change the frame of reference to one where sometimes you meet some people or maybe an individual person, let's say a dame — in terms of a cat who's meeting a lot of dames all the time and developing some meaningful exchanges out of these meetings sometimes, sometimes not, but anyway he's got an eye out for lusciousness, the more the better —and this dame, this one particular dame (in the long-term encounter which I am just about to describe), when he meets her she's nice and kind of groovy and they have a pleasant time and get to be pleasant friends, and they see each other now and then and it's OK, they dig it, but no big thing, until, after some weeks of time, or months (or it could be two and a half years in some documented cases), finally they turn a corner one day and there's this deep love relationship with flashing lights and throbbing hearts.

* Well, yessir, as a matter of fact there are at least two bootlegs on the under-the-counter market throughout the great underground, but let's just say that the unofficial stuff is the same game, except a different stadium from this one here today, and, so the rap don't get out of line, let's not mix metaphors more than we've got to. These things happen, and often they get their start with a merely pleasant first encounter with somebody or something or whatever you got in whatever area of life you want to discuss.

Art's like that, religion's like that, heck, life's like that, and so is a new Band record, for many people, be they linebackers or any walk of life.

Time for the play-by-play of the first half. Let me apprise you up front that it looks like the team hasn't had much of a warm-up and (peeking ahead toward some of the later reels) I can tell that the second half, by contrast, is gonna have a lot more thrills and chills. The first half is marred by near fumbles and incomplete plays. Or is it? It seems to be ...

How many times do we have to sit through this movie to see it?

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