Sheep-Dip-Blues (Dog N Cat DAC-104)
(70:48): Waiting On A Friend, Black Limousine, Los Trios Guitaros, Stay Where You Are, Brown Leaves, Broken Head Blues, Golden Caddy, Guitar Lesson, Fiji Jim, Up Against The Wall, Brown Leaves, Heaven, Piano Instrumental, Sheep-Dip-Blues, Broken Toe. Bonus tracks (not on original LP): Memory Motel, I Love Ladies, Hot Stuff
Although the material on Sheep-Dip-Blues has been pressed many times before, most notably on Place Pigalle (Vinyl Gang VGP-362), this is the first pressed version of the original Sheep-Dip-Blues on Outsider Bird Records (OBR 479032). The sound quality is very good but very bass heavy and slightly distorted in louder parts.
Eleven out of the original fifteen tracks originate from Pathe Marconi Studios between January 5th and March 2nd, 1978, the period for the recording of Some Girls. Outsider Bird Records notes on their cover that this is the third part of their “Paris Results” series of outtakes from that era (joining Paris ResultsVol. 1 and Vol. 2 and Better Results).
All studio outtake material is interesting for committed fans of the Rolling Stones. But, Sheep-Dip-Blues, with exotic sound rarities like “Trios Guitaros” and “Broken Head Blues,” sounds much more exotic and interesting than it really is. Many of these tracks are meandering instrumental exercises never meant for development or release, and listening to the disc can be laborious and confusing if you’re not paying attention to what you’re hearing.
The first song on the album is a 1981 recording of “Waiting On A Friend.” It was recorded in an unknown warehouse in Paris and mixed in New York. This recording is very close to the version as it would appear on Tattoo You except it has a different saxophone solo in the middle. “Black Limousine” dates from the 1978 sessions and, except for an extra guitar riff in the beginning, is similar to the commercial version.
“Los Trios Guitaros” is a three minute long instrumental dating from the initial Some Girls session in Paris in October 1977. As the title suggests, has Mick, Keith, and Ronnie strumming riffs together to a happy sounding beat. It is nothing noteworthy but a fun track to hear.
“Stay Where You Are” is a ninety second slow paced workout with Keith playing a distorted lead. “Brown Leaves” is a three minute long fast paced tune with Watts riding the cymbals and “Broken Head Blues” is a two minute long blues piece with great solos by Ron and Keith.
“Golden Caddy” exists in two forms. The first is a shorter, lasting almost two minutes. The second, which is included on this disc, lasts over three minutes long. It’s a slow paced, dreamy ballad with distorted leads. It would have been interesting to hear what kind of lyrics Jagger would have written for the song.
The first side of the old vinyl release ended with “Guitar Lesson.” This dates from the January 1979 Emotional Rescue sessions in the Bahamas. Lasting four minutes, it’s an interesting instrumental. Richards and Woods take turns playing surf guitar melodies in the style of Dick Dale. It is one of the strangest outtakes in the Rolling Stones archives.
“Fiji Jim” (aka “Fiji Gin” and “Come Bring Your Electric Guitar”) dates from 1978 and exists in three different versions. One fades in, the second has a count-in with the mix favoring the lead guitar and the third has the count-in but with the mix favoring the rhythm guitar. Vinyl Gang used the third take in Place Pigalle, but DAC include the second version with the count-in.
“Up Against The Wall” is blues track over a hard rock beat by Charlie lasting four minutes and features slide guitar. It is followed by a full six minute instrumental take of “Brown Leaves.” The Stones played with this melody many times during these sessions and even resurrected it in 1979 during the Emotional Rescue sessions in an outtake called “Dancing Girls.” It is an interesting riff which could have developed into something, but ultimately rests in obscurity.
“Heaven” dates from the October 1980 sessions in Paris. This is an early version of the Tattoo You track with guide vocals. The “Piano Instrumental” dates from 1978. The title is a bit of a misnomer. While the piano is dominant in the mix and plays the melody, there are drums, bass, guitars, and xylophone in the tune. The honky tonk style of the piano suggests Ian Stuart playing. An upbeat tune, it’s a shame this wasn’t developed further since it is extremely catchy and fun to listen to.
“Sheep Dip Blues” is a thirty-seven second long fragment of a slow blues with harp and “Broken Toe” is a two minute long instrumental more in the vein of the classic Rolling Stones groove.
The three “bonus” tracks (i.e., those not from the original LP) date from Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, from March 25 – April 4, 1975 during the recording of Black & Blue. “Memory Motel” is seven minute long instrumental and includes a count-in.
“I Love Ladies” is the same take that appears on Munichland Melodies (Dog N Cat DAC-088) but in far inferior sound quality. The old track lasts 4:41, but this one lasts 6:14 with the addition of another guitar solo. Legend relates that Jeff Beck rehearsed this song with the Stones with the idea of replacing Mick Taylor. The first four and a half minutes disputes the notion because nothing in it sounds even remotely like him. But the final ninety seconds has a guitar solo which vaguely resembles Beck’s style. Whomever is playing makes the instrument meow like a cat, and Jagger scats along! It’s a remarkable piece of music which lends some creedence to Beck’s involvement. The final track is an instrumental take of “Hot Stuff.”
Sheep-Dip-Blues is a good release for those who enjoy extreme obscurities. The fragmented musical pieces and predominance of instrumentals means this won’t be played too often. But getting past the surface does reveal many interesting ideas bandied about by the Stones in one of their more fertile periods of recording.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)