14 March 2007, gsparaco @ 9:47 pm
Wizards From New York (Dog N Cat DAC-061)
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – June 25th, 1975
The Rolling Stones’ show on Wednesday evening, June 25th at Madison Square Garden in New York is the fourth of six sold out concerts near the beginning of the fabled Tour Of The Americas. All six were taped and have been released before on silver disc. The other five all have numerous releases including editions on Dog N Cat’s predecessor label Vinyl Gang, but this one has been neglected more than the others. It first surfaced in the early nineties on the eight compact disc Italian box set Tour Of The Americas (RS 01-08), grouped with the June 12th Boston, June 22nd New York and July 18th Seattle tapes. That version contains the complete show in very good quality and eleven tracks were released on 6 Nights At The Garden on Sugarcane Records (along with “Sympathy For The Devil” from the final New York date).
Wizards From New York is the first release of the complete tape in a long time and is very much welcomed. It is a good and listenable audience recording taped a distance from the stage. The music and Mick’s interaction with the audience are clearly heard. Compared to the version in the box set, DAC have increased the gain to the point of significant distortion and makes the tape sound worse. The tape speed has been noticeably slowed down which, compared to other tapes from this tour, sounds correct. Between “Brown Sugar” and “Midnight Rambler” Jagger lets out a “war cry” by shouting three times which is present on the box set but DAC in explicably cuts from their release.
It sounds as if the label wanted to brighten the tape, but the results are a distorted mess and this show is still waiting for its definitive release. It is a shame because this show has been unfairly overlooked over against the others. The Stones spent the afternoon before the gig at Electric Lady Studios in the city working with Eric Clapton and his band where seven of ten takes of ”Carnival To Rio” were recorded. (The song has never been released due to contractual reasons, but Clapton recorded a version called “Carnival” and was released on No Reason To Cry). The show itself begins very perfunctory with very little interaction with the audience.
All Jagger will say to the audience is “New York” in seeming disbelief. “Gimme Shelter” however sounds very good with the synthesizer replacing the female vocalists at the beginning. “Ain’t To Proud To Beg” is also very good with Mick and Billy Preston going back and forth by the end saying “docha know”. “You think you got the groove? Can you clap in time?” Jagger says before ”You Gotta Move”. There has been some debate about the merits of this, the ’75 electric version compared to the ’69 acoustic, but each has its separate charm. It is fun to see the band standing on the stage as a small chorus singing the song together. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” contains another classic Ron Wood solo. “Happy” usually followed in the set list but is dropped this night. The more recent material follows “Tumbling Dice” from the last two albums, Goats Head’s Soup and It’s Only Rock And Roll.
“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo” is played in the same style as the live performances in 1973 and all versions of “Fingerprint File” sound great including this one. “Angie” and “Wild Horses” form the slow, sad ballad section of the show before Billy Preston is given his little set with “That’s Life” and “Outa Space”, which he plays for those who want to be entertained. On some nights he comes close to upstaging the Stones and does so here, getting the audience to react loudly. “Midnight Rambler” lasts for thirteen minutes and reaches moments of unbearable tension which are relived by “Rip This Joint” which runs right into the set closer “Street Fighting Man”. This is perhaps the best choice for a finale with its tempo speeding up at the end leaving the band and the entire audience feeling drained of energy.
“Jumping Jack Flash” is the standard encore for this tour. The New York and Los Angeles dates had the additional encore of a ten-minute workout of “Sympathy For The Devil.” For all the shows they were joined by special guests The Steel Association playing steel drums adding to the jamming frenzy during the performance. Preston also adds some synthesizer lines to the fun. Wizards From New York is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and the inserts contain several excellent photos from the era. It is commendable that Dog N Cat are making this show available again after not seeing many releases and it is a good but not great job. This is a step in the right direction because they corrected the speed of the tape, but the definitive version of this night still has yet to be released.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)