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The Rolling Stones – Toronto 1989 1st Night: Steel Wheels Canadian Tour (No Label)

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Rolling Stones - Toronto 1989 1st NightToronto 1989 1st Night: Steel Wheels Canadian Tour (No Label)

CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – September 3, 1989

CD1 (77.16) 1. Continental Drift, 2. Start Me Up, 3. Bitch, 4. Sad, Sad, Sad, 5. Undercover of the  Night, 6. Harlem Shuffle, 7. Tumbling Dice, 8. Miss You, 9. Ruby Tuesday,  10. Play With Fire, 11. Dead Flowers 12. One Hit, 13. Mixed Emotions,  14. Honky Tonk Women, 15. Rock in Hard Place, 16. Midnight Rambler

CD2 (67.06) 1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want, 2. Little Red Rooster, 3. Before They Make Me Run, 4. Happy, 5. Paint It Black, 6. 2000 Light Years From Home, 7. Sympathy For The Devil, 8. Gimme Shelter, 9. It’s Only Rock’ N Roll, 10. Brown Sugar, 11. Satisfaction, 12. Jumping Jack Flash

After almost a decade of bad blood and tour inactivity Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met on the Caribbeanisland of Barbados to clear the air and begin writing the bands 1989 comeback album “Steel Wheels”.

The Steel Wheels/ Urban Jungle tour to support the new album would last just over a year beginning on August 12, 1989, at the tiny 700 person capacity Toad’s Place club in New Haven, CT., and finishing on August 25, 1990 at the massive Wembley Stadium before 60,000 rabid Stones fans.

In what would become a new paradigm in the concert industry the Stones sold the whole tour, concerts, merchandising, TV and film rights, to Canadian promoter Michael Cohl of Toronto’s Concert Productions International (CPI) for about $70 Million U.S dollars. Backed by tour sponsor Budweiser Cohl  guaranteed the Stones their paychecks assuming all financial risks for a share of the tours profits.

This new arrangement marked a break in the 20 year relationship with promoter Bill Graham which when, as he described in his excellent Robert  Greenfield co-authored autobiography “Bill Graham Presents”,  combined with his addiction to sleeping pills almost drove him to suicide and took him a full year to get over the disappointment of losing the tour.

The concert on this No Name Label release is from the first night of a two night stand at 60,000 person capacity CNE Stadium in TorontoCanada. This show has been released before incomplete in SB quality on the Swingin Pig title “Live in Toronto” (TSP-CD-150-2). This release is missing 10 songs from the middle of the show starting with Honky Tonk Woman” up to and including “Sympathy for the Devil” and is most likely sourced from the incomplete proshot video in circulation.

This date was also released complete by the Vinyl Gang Productions label using the existing video source with an audience source filling in the missing songs on their “Sweet Toronto” (VGP228) title.  Other audio releases by the Sister Morphine, Great Dane and Dandelion labels have used some of the songs as bonus tracks to fill space on the CD’s.

The most recent CD release of the newer complete SB, most likely sourced from a Wolfgang’s Vault stream, was on the Goldplate label titled “Steel Wheels Toronto 1989” (GP1306CD1/2DVD1) which also includes a single DVD of the incomplete proshot video which the label claims is the best quality ever. The label also claims to have sync’d the existing video with the new WGV audio for an improvement in sound quality.

As mentioned above there is an incomplete proshot video which was first released by the 3Logy label titled “Toronto 1989” which while watchable is many generations removed from the original source tape as the color is washed out with bleeding evident and there is significant loss of facial detail especially on distance shots.

In addition to the 3Logy and Goldplate label silver DVD releases there is also a dual layer DVDR release on the Mission from God label titled “CNE Toronto 1989” (MFG-78).  This title fills in some of the missing songs with audience shot video footage but is still missing “Rock And A Hard Place” and “Midnight Rambler” with “Honky Tonk Women” being incomplete.  (Source: dbboot.com database)

This No Name Label 2CD release once again mines the recent bonanza of Rolling Stones streaming Wolfgang’s Vault soundboard recordings and as expected the recording is a sharp excellent sound quality professional recording of the complete show.

The recording, while razor sharp, has a more homogenized soundstage with regards to instrument separation then the other WGV sourced releases I have heard as there is a fair amount of instrument bleed into adjacent channels.

Mick’s vocals are prominent in the mix, as are Charlie’s drum and Bill’s bass guitar, which slightly over shadows  Keef’s and Ronnie’s guitars which are noticeably back in the recording  but have just enough presence to round out the soundstage. If I had one nitpick it would be that Ronnie’s guitar disappears at times but Keef’s rhythm guitar fills the void admirably. The mix integrates audience feedback in perfectly giving the recording an excellent live ambience which can really be appreciated when listening through headphones.

As with all performances I have heard from this tour the band is very tight and puts on a good performance but I find some of the shows to be rushed at times and this show is no exception as the band charges from one song to the next with very little in between song banter from Mick. I also noticed that Mick seemed to be slightly out of sync with the band at times which was very evident to me on tonight’s version of “You Can’t Always Get What  You Want” with Mick’s vocals lagging behind the music slightly which made the song sound a bit disjointed to me.

The only major flub I heard was during the opening number “Start Me Up” where the rest of the band seems to miss their cue and is singing the chorus “Start Me Up” while Mick had moved onto the line “You Make a Grown Man Cry” but the band recovers while not missing a beat and the song holds together nicely.

The band does a great job mixing in oldies from the 60’s with rarely played songs from the 70’s and new songs from the new and previous album. Highlights of the show for me included the three songs off of the new album, “Sad, Sad, Sad”, “Mixed Emotions”, and Rock in a Hard Place”. I also enjoyed the versions of the two songs, “One Hit to the Body” and “Harlem Shuffle”, from the much maligned 1986 album “Dirty Work” which had not been played live before this tour.

The No Name Label release comes in the usual clear slim line double CD jewel case with a glossy single sheet front insert and tray card with clear period photos of the band in action. With all the SB quality titles available from this tour this release is hardly essential but with the excellent sound quality and solid performance it would make a nice addition to any Stones fans collection.

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If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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