Brown Sugar & White Snow / 100 Years Ago (no label)
Even though The Rolling Stones’ 1973 European tour has been meticulously documented on tape, vinyl and compact disc, it is the best sounding tapes such as Brussels and Wembley that receive most attention. It makes perfect sense since Brussels comes from a professional DIR recording and the Wembley early show is documented by one of the best sounding audience tapes in circulation.
And while many of the lesser-known shows have received some attention, some others have lapsed into relative obscurity and have not received much circulation. Some were released on vinyl many years ago but have been overlooked despite the torrent of Rolling Stones silver boots manufactured over the years.
Such is the case with the October 9th show in Essen, the first of two nights at the Grugahalle. The second Essen show, on October 10th, has received some attention most recently on The Stars In The Sky They Never Lie (Dog N Cat DAC-100). But the first night has never been issued on compact disc before.
It might have been ignored because the master cassette has never surfaced. The show is also incomplete, missing the final three songs of the set. Brown Sugar & White Snow / 100 Years Ago (no label) is the silver pressed debut of the first Essen show. The label also includes fragments from the September 28th Munich late show and a copy of another vinyl boot called 100 Years Ago featuring material from the Vienna concert.
Grugahalle, Essen, Germany – October 9th, 1973
Disc 1 (74:23): Opening, Brown Sugar, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Star Star, Angie, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line. Olympiahalle, Munich, Germany – September 28th, 1973 (2nd show): Rip This Joint (audience), Jumping Jack Flash (audience), Street Fighting Man (audience / soundboard), Brown Sugar (soundboard), Gimme Shelter (audience / soundboard)
Brown Sugar & White Snow (Caution AS.TS 198) contains a good to very good recording of the incomplete Essen show. It is slightly distant from the stage but it captures the dynamics of the concert very well. It has slight traces of distortion and the volume drops momentarily in the middle of “Midnight Rambler,” but overall it is a very enjoyable recording, certainly no worse than other tapes from this tour that have been pressed (such as Glasgow and Copenhagen).
It runs from the start of the show through to “All Down The Line.” The final three songs, “Rip This Joint,” “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man” are missing.
There is a cut in the tape after “Star Star.” It could be a simple tape flip, but it becomes problematic since one of the songs from the Goats Head Soup set is not present. After “Star Star” they would play “Dancing With Mr. D” (or “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” on rare occasions like in Hamburg and Copenhagen). It would be strange for the vinyl manufacturers to drop the latest single, so in all probability no song was played in that spot.
The recording starts with the promoter introducing the band before the hit the stage with one of the sleaziest versions of “Brown Sugar” on record. And with the following “Gimme Shelter” it is apparent this will be a visceral performance.
Mick Jagger sings in his best rough-proto-punk vocals, emphasizing and competing with the brutality of the dual guitar attack of Richards and Taylor.
It seems at time the two guitarists are trying to out-play the other. It’s obvious in “Star Star,” where they both try their best Chuck Berry imitations in both melody and solos. It sounds at times they are even duck-walking past each other onstage. The result is one of the most entertaining versions of the Stones’ smut on tape.
Taylor’s solo in “Angie” is very delicate and mournful. Afterwards Jagger introduces “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as “another sad song…well…it’s not really a sad song.” Someone in the audience shouts out “Billy Preston!! Hey!!” when they start playing the song. The saxophone solo is very annoying in the song, but Taylor again plays something memorable.
The volume drops a bit in the middle of “Midnight Rambler” However the duel guitar attack by Taylor and Richards is thrilling to hear. Taylor plays slutty slide and Richards responds with an exaggerated emphasis upon the blues chords.
A joyous “All Down The Line” closes out the tape. It’s a shame the final three songs are missing. They are compensated with the same three from the September 28th Munich late show. The poor to fair audience recording is used for “Rip This Joint,” “Jumping Jack Flash” and the first two and a half minutes of “Street Fighting Man” before it fades into a professional source.
The soundboard is also present used for the opening song of the show “Brown Sugar” and the first minute forty-eight seconds of “Gimme Shelter” before fading into the audience tape again. The final two songs are included because they are part of the same soundboard source.
The professional recording comes from German ARD TV, which showed those clips on May 30th, 1976 on “Kaetschap.” They’re not necessary, but a nice bonus.
Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria – September 1st, 1973
Disc 2 (46:59): Opening, Bitch, Tumbling Dice, 100 Years Ago, Sweet Virginia, Dancing With Mr. D, Silver Train, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The second disc contains a vinyl transfer of the old vinyl release 100 Years Ago (Kam Loon & Mig Pte Ltd. 0501 W) containing about half of the opening night of the tour in Vienna. It is a different tape source used for the other compact disc releases including Scream All Night In Vienna (Exile Records EXCD-014/15) Complete ‘73 Affair (Godfather Records GR334/335) and The Golden Era 1969-1974 Vol. 1 (SODD-092/093). It is much closer to the stage, louder, and more enjoyable.
Like many opening nights the Stones sound a bit tentative, nervous and unrehearsed. An eyewitness Manolo Gioppo snapped some pictures of the Stones arriving to the Stadhalle that afternoon. He also heard the rehearsal and attended the show, relating that the band “came in a brief rehearsal at the Stadthalle, but I only heard a very loud discharge of drums and bass; no other instrument was played. In the night the show was delayed, not started at 19.30, the people in the arena very tired to wait, start to shout and to toot; Preston started at (maybe) 21.00 o’clock or after….The stadium was not full, maybe 3/4 ( 7.000 fans ? ), it seemed a very personal concert!!”
Itis unfortunate this tape is incomplete but it does capture the rarities of the show. Vienna and the following show in Mannheim are the longest from the tour, each with eighteen songs. (No tape circulates for the third night of the tour in Cologne the following night).
It is a night of debuts of songs from the recently released Goats Head Soupincluding “100 Years Ago,” “Star Star,” “Angie,” “Dancing With Mr. D” and “Silver Train.” The tape starts off with the mc announcing the band’s presence. The first song “Brown Sugar” is dropped so the tape starts with the second song of the night “Bitch,” another rarity that would be dropped from the set after a few nights.
Jagger says it’s nice to be in “Wein” and telling them “you’re nicer than the last time we were here.” For the other new songs, “100 Years Ago” fares best. The horn section is given a vigorous work out and it could have developed into a monster song on this tour.
“Sweet Virginia” is a nice hold over from the 1972 STP, but “Silver Train” sounds awkward. “Jumping Jack Flash” and, after Jagger demands lights be shown on the audience, “Street Fighting Man” close the performance. Overall Brown Sugar & White Snow / 100 Years Ago is a good two-disc compendium of very rare sources from one of The Rolling Stones’ legendary tours. The presence of the first Essen show insures this to be a necessary title for the collection.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)