Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Stones Boots 69-81

I can remember being in Bookstop 10 or more years ago and reading through Relix(or some other magazine like that) and found an article on Rolling Stones bootlegs from their '69 Tour. It listed the set lists for the shows and the quality of the recordings. I realized then that I should start seeking out some of their shows. Understand that as far as I'm concerned, anything the Stones did after '82 is pretty much shit(excluding Undercover Of The Night). So, that would put limitations on shows I would be searching for. I didn't really find a whole lot until I got on the internet, but since then it's been a virtual flood of Stones in my ear hole. I'm gonna list(from memory) some of my favorite shows. Take in mind that some of these shows circulate under MANY different names and I'm gonna go for quality rather than quantity.

7.5.69 London, England: I actually have this as a bootleg DVD that is more of a psuedo documentary of their performance in Hyde Park from Granada Television. A pro-shot performance with Mick Taylor replacing Brian Jones for the first time, who had died just 2 days earlier. With Brian's death there was some question as to whether or not the show should go on as planned. But since he had been kicked out of the band a few months earlier, I guess they decided they should press on and turned the show in to a tribute to his memory(complete with Jagger reading a eulogy for Jones). Excellent performance footage(though a little tentative at times) spliced in with interviews from the band and fans alike. A very sedate crowd(most of the 250,000 are seated) despite the fact that the Hells Angels were doing security detail as they would at Altamont later in the year. But I guess that's the difference between English and American Angels. The biggest problem that days seems to be people climbing up in to the trees to get a better vantage point of the stage. This is where the idea for the Angels to do security in California stemmed from. Mistake #1!

11.9.69 Oakland, CA(2nd show): I have this as a boot called Live'r Than You'll Ever Be. There is also a 30th anniversary edition that I assume has been remastered. An excellent soundboard recording. A little less than a month before their horrific experience at Altamont, also in Northern California. A very nice document of the '69 American Tour, their first with Mick Taylor. The first show circulates on a bootleg called Pot Boiler and is from an audience source with little to no audience noise, but is a bit distant and muffled. Still a nice listen, though.

12.6.69 Altamont Speedway: This is the exception I'll make to quality. I have this as a bootleg called The Killer Festival(yikes!). Even on this sub-par audience recording you get the sense that death was hanging in the air that day. Very spooky. Lots of crowd noise and distant sounding. When the Grateful Dead refused to play(Mistake #2) because the Hells Angels(Mistake #3) were getting out of control(including punching Marty Balin from the Jefferson Airplane in the face and knocking him out cold), the crowd sat around for a few hours while the Stones waited for the sun to go down because they wanted their lightshow in the movie they were filming(Gimme Shelter). Mistake #4. In the Phil Lesh autobiography "Searching For The Sound", he states that perhaps it would have been better for the Grateful Dead to have played that day because it would have placated the audience and Angles. But hindsight is of course 20/20.

3.13.71 Leeds, England: Bootleg title Get Your Leeds Lungs Out. There is also a version with "Revisited" in the title that has been digitally remastered from the original tapes. I've seen this listed as a sbd and FM broadcast, either way it's a fantastic performance and recording. One that should be in every Stones lovers collection. My favorite version of 'Stray Cat Blues' is on this cd. To be honest, all the tracks on this disc are phenomenal. Get it!

6.24.72 Fort Worth, TX(evening show): Ahmet Ertegun, Thank You Kindly is the name of the boot. A fantastic soundboard from their legendary '72 American Tour. Get it! There's a great scene in the movie "Cocksuckers Blues" where the cameras catch a bit of duality in the backstage area of a Stones concert. The cameraman is in the hallway and has the view of two locker rooms, one has Jagger and Ahmet(famous record executive) talking business as Jagger paces back and forth. As the camera pans over to the other room we can see Keith Richards in the arms of an anonymous groupie slowly fading away in a heroin stupor. The camera goes back and forth between Jaggers feverish pacing and Keith nodding off more and more until finally his head is in the lap of the groupie chick. The Glimmer Twins, indeed!

2.24.73/2.26.73 Perth & Sydney, Australia: 2 disc bootleg named Happy Birthday, Nicky. The title refers to the song being sung for piano player Nicky Hopkins during the Perth show band introductions. Great soundboard recordings. However, only a portion of each show is present on these discs. Not too disappointing, though. Both have a nice running time and plenty of great material is played. Band seems to be in a good mood despite the fact that they were refused entrance visas in to Japan and had to cancel all the Japanese shows scheduled for this tour. As a result, they would not play in Japan until 1990. Replacement shows were booked in Hawaii instead(that's a hell of a compromise!). The Perth portion of these recordings also exists on a bootleg called Exiles Afternoon Revisited. The following night 2.27 exists on a recording called Welcome To Australia, but I have never seen or heard the disc. It was also the first complete Mick Taylor era soundboard recording to surface.

10.17.73 w/ 9.9.73 Brussels, Belgium & London, England: The Rolling Stones in one of their finest hours. Many different versions of this combo of shows circulate because it has been aired via the radio(notably King Biscuit Flower Hour) in many different forms. Too many to denote here. Do a Google search and you'll find at least one very in depth description of the songs and versions aired. The most popular bootleg I've found this to exist on is titled Bedspring Symphony. Again a version with "Revisited" in the title circulates with 20-bit digital remastering performed on the original tapes(I assume). This also circulates under the title Brussels Affair. A fantastic collection of songs played masterfully from each concert in pristine quality. The instruments jump out at you and grab a hold of your nuts, making you squirm about like Jagger himself. Mick Taylor is at his tastiest form here. Unfortunately, this European Tour would be the last for Mick Taylor, but thank goodness we have such a wonderful document of it to remember this line-up by.

7.13.75 Los Angeles, CA: This venue(the LA Forum) is the only set of recordings I have from this year, although I've read that they toured quite a bit during 1975. I have an audience recording(somewhere in the pile) of 7.11.75 and don't remember being that impressed with its quality. However, I do have a pro-shot DVD of this nights performance playing on the set right now. Looks like it might be a generation from the source, but still very good sound and video. With the new line-up(Ronnie Wood replacing Mick Taylor), the birth of the mammoth Stones stage, props, and shows came to life. They did have a bridge riser that went behind Charlie's drum set during the '73 tour, but what evolved in '75(and onward) dwarfs all that petty stage dressing. Before they even set foot on stage there are men running with 20' long Chinese Dragons through the audience to the sound of firecrackers exploding all around them. The boys come on stage to the sounds of 'Fanfare For The Common Man' and never look back. During this tour they were performing an excellent version of 'If You Can't Rock Me' that segued in to a rockin' version of "Get Off Of My Cloud' that is much faster than the recorded version. Very nice energy from the band at this show. Also showcased during this tour was a great version of 'You Got To Move' that found Keith, Ronnie, and Mick flanked by Billy Preston(piano & child molester) and Ollie Brown at the foot of the stage all singing together in to one mike as soulfully as they could. Keith looks really unhealthy and skinning during this show. Way to beat the odds, Keith!

6.28.78 Memphis, TN: This FM broadcast is titled Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others. Great quality, but a little short on songs. Only 10 of the 14 songs performed that evening are present here. It's nice to hear Mick cussing on the radio, if nothing else.

7.18.78 Ft. Worth, TX (and various other dates): Handsome Girls chronicles the best of this sometimes sloppy, but still magical tour of America in wonderful soundboard quality. This comprehensive 4 disc set has the Ft. Worth show in its entirety, complete with alternate mixes of 8 songs on the 2nd disc. The 3rd & 4th disc have a variety of songs from many different stops along the way including Houston, Lexington, Detroit, and Memphis. The Memphis show has a very rare version(only performed twice) of Big Mama Thornton's 'Hound Dog'. While The Ft. Worth show has a wonderful rendition of 'Faraway Eyes' with Doug Kershaw on violin. One of my all time favorite collections! Get it now!

12.13.81 Phoenix, AZ: I can't seem to find this 2 disc recording amongst all my cd's, but I know I have it because I was really impressed with the performance when I listened to it some time back. I did a check and it apparently circulates under the titles Satisfaction Guaranteed & Welcome To Phoenix. This is last great era of the Stones live shows as far as my ears can tell. Sloppy at times, but not during this show that's for sure. Although, I don't have it within my reach at the moment, it does stick out in my mind as a very fine show in excellent soundboard quality.

12.18.81 Hampton, VA: Another great show from this tour in excellent quality. Taken from a nationwide(?) FM broadcast, this show is nice and long as were most of the shows on this tour. The Stones trying to give the fans their moneys worth(25 songs in the set list). There's also a 2 disc dvd set that circulates from a pay per view broadcast of this show, produced by none other than Bill Graham himself. I have it and it's great. It opens with Bill Graham and Bill or Charlie(I can't recall) playing a game of ping pong backstage while George Thorogood opens the show. It's got Jagger playing guitar which was a bit of a poser move on his part, but to his credit he was doing back as early as '75. I think he was the original lead singer to pick up and start playing just to show everyone he could. Eddie Vedder and many others would follow his lead(lame!). The notoriety of this show is that when the band began the encore, "Satisfaction", thousands of balloons were released and a fan, taking advantage of the confusion, ran past security and onto the stage, directly at Keith Richards, who proved that they don't call guitars "Axes" for nothing! The best part is that Keith nails the guy with a Telecaster, then puts it back on and keeps playing! Here's a screen grab of the moment.


So, there you have it. Some of the best Rolling Stones recordings out there. It's a shame that more fine audience recordings of the Stones don't exist. I'd like to hear the crowds reaction as long as it doesn't interfere with the sound, that is. But those that I have heard(mostly from the early 70's were lacking is fidelity and overall quality). Not to mention that Stones fans are a rowdy drunken lot!


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