[Cohen] does a masterful job of using his long-ago, two-weeks-on-the-road sojourn with the Stones to craft a book that provides an energetic and evocative history of the band; exploring the nature and meaning of creativity, celebrity and fame, and the prices paid. He interviewed a vast number of sources, visited places that were important stops on the Stones' raucous journey and offers his own clear-eyed observations. Hundreds of books have been written about this particular band and Cohen seems to have read most of them. His will rank among the very best of the bunch.
Mr. Cohen interweaves his firsthand accounts of the men in the band with the well-trodden history of the Stones, from inception around 1963 through the golden period of 1968 to 1973 and then hopscotching through time to bring us up to when he met the band. The research is meticulous. Mr. Cohen’s own interviews even yield some new Stones lore ... The book is strongest when Mr. Cohen shares his own experiences. While he is an unabashed fan, he tempers his initial gobsmacked amazement with a sharp reporter’s eye for human imperfections.
If Cohen’s new book has some apparent shortcomings, they tend to mirror the band’s own — apathy, bluster, ruthlessness. Not coincidentally, that puts it on the short list of worthwhile books about the Stones ... While the book is stuffed with insights, too often Cohen explains how he visited a site of interest or interviewed someone who was once close to the Stones, only to toss away what he found there. Like Richards, he’d much rather just riff.
You might expect an author in that position to become a bit of an apologist, and it’s true that Cohen does, at one point, declare the Stones better than the Beatles. But he’s no company man ... The book follows a narrative line, charting the birth and growth of the Stones. We travel with Cohen to many of the locations important to the band’s history and visit with the tragic, former Mick-flame Marianne Faithfull. You will, as with the best music bios, want to follow along on vinyl or Spotify. Cohen also has a strong sense of how to softly frame the larger story within his personal history.
Cohen’s initial gig turned into a very long relationship with the rock icons so this biography of 'the greatest rock n’ roll band of all time' reeks of authenticity ... Cohen clearly loves Keith and Charlie but it’s the looming presence of Jagger that stalks this book ... Cohen has penned a truly fascinating tale: Mick and Keith’s chance meeting on October 17, 1961 on a Dartford railway platform; the sex scandals; the drug busts; Altamont; the 1980s breakup; the 1990s reconciliation; and the creation of endless hits during the 'golden run' of the 1970s.