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Rolling Stones – No Flash No Gimmicks (Halcyon)

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No Flash No Gimmicks (Halcyon)

Will Rogers Memorial Center, Fort Worth, TX – July 18th, 1978 

Disc 1:  Let It Rock, All Down The Line, Honky Tonk Women, Starfucker, When The Whip Comes Down, Beast Of Burden, Miss You, Just My Imagination

Disc 2:  Shattered, Respectable, Far Away Eyes, Love In Vain, Tumbling Dice, Happy, Sweet Little Sixteen, Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash 

The Fort Worth recording from July 18th is the best sounding recording from The Rolling Stones’ legendary 1978 Some Girls tour.  It was previously released on Handsome Girls on The Swingin’ Pig (TSP-CD-200-4), Handsome Girls on Dandelion (DL 030/031/032/033) and reprinted on Out On Bail on Vinyl Gang (VGP-278), Cowgirl Barbeque, Gorgeous Girls Redux on Sister Morphine (Morph 024), and From Lakeland To Oakland (RED 006/007).  Last year it was included on the excellent four disc set Handsome Girls:  Definitive Version on Devil Productions. 

Now Halcyon has issued No Flash No Gimmicks.  This label by the Empress Valley people has an impressive track record in improving already great tapes and this title isn’t a disappointment.  Last year’s Devil Productions was great, but this one is dramatically better.  The stereo separation sounds wider, louder, clearer and generally livelier.  Balance between the vocals, instruments and audience is close to perfect and the music seems to leap out of the speakers and pummel the listener that is rare even for an official release much less an underground recording like this.  The recording is so vivid and clear it is easy to see Mick dancing around and Keith slashing the strings on the guitar.

This concert is close to the end of the tour and the set list is set with no surprises.  “Satisfaction” and “Street Fighting Man” were played in some of the early shows but were dropped by then and the long crowd pleasers “Midnight Rambler” and “Sympathy For The Devil” were not played at all.  The horn section and back up singers that accompanied the band in 1972 and 1975 are missing and the Stones are joined only by Ian Stewart and Ian MacLagan on various keyboards and pianos.  

Unlike previous tours where they were making social commentary and basked in the light of being cultural heroes, this is the Stones as a rock and roll band playing intense music.  As one person states, this is the Stones at their most slutty and sleazy.  Others say this is the Stones at their most sloppy and drunk and was the reason for their more professional attitude when they toured three years later.  Certainly some shows like the July 4th Buffalo concert were lackluster affairs.  Since Fort Worth was being filmed and recorded they sound sober and deliver a blistering set.  Seven of the ten songs on Some Girls constitute the core of the set list (with “Some Girls”, “Lies” and “Before They Make Me Run” being omitted).  “Honky Tonk Women” has a reference to Dallas which pleases the audience.   “Is there anybody in the balcony?” Mick asks before “When The Whip Comes Down”.

The highlight of the first disc is “Miss You”.  It is curious that on this tour they played the 12″ extended dance club version and the track last for eight and a half minutes with several instrumental interludes (but no harmonica).  The Watts/Wyman rhythm section sounds like a pile driver as they pound the dance beat into the ground. 

In “Just My Imagination” Mick quips “we’re gonna raise a family…ain’t that cute?”  Before an energetic version of “Respectable” Jagger says the now well known line “if the band is lacking in energy it is because they spent all night fucking…but we’ll do our best.”  Doug Kershaw plays the fiddle on “Far Away Eyes” and his contribution is the only complaint one can have since he is buried far down in the mix and is hard to hear.  Although this is a professional source lifted from the King Biscuit Flower Hour’s DIR archives it is hard to say there are any bad versions. 

But No Flash No Gimmicks is such a dramatic improvement over previous releases it is hard to expect any improvements in the future.  Like all other Halcyon releases the inserts are printed on very thick glossy paper with the star holograms implanted in the mix.  The cover has the close up picture of Keith and a dramatic live shot in the inside.  It can confidently be said that Halcyon have released the final word on the Fort Worth tape. 

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