The Drug Dealer Tapes Vol. 1 (Empress Valley EVSD-196/197/198/199/200)
Ron Wood recorded and mixed his third solo effort Gimme Some Neck at Pathé-Marconi studios in Paris between January 5th and March 1978 with Roy Thomas Baker as producer at the same time he was working on Some Girls with The Rolling Stones. Mixing was completed in Los Angeles later that year before its April 20th, 1979 world-wide release. The album was a surprising minor hit and, with the Stones in hiatus after recording sessions for Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You in February, Wood set out for support of his new album.
Richards and Ian McLagan supported Ron Wood for one show on July 14th, 1974 at the Kilburn Gaumont State Theatre in support of Wood’s I’ve Got My Own Album To Do which Wood has since dubbed the “First Barbarians.” Wood formed the New Barbarians for an eighteen date tour with Keith Richards, Stanley Clarke on bass, Ian McLagan on keyboards, Bobby Keyes on saxophone and ‘Ziggy’ Modeliste on drums. The tour began with two Canadian National Institute For The Blind Benefit Concerts on April 22nd in Oshawa, Ontario. Since this was in fulfillment of Richard’s sentence for his 1977 arrest, this was a hybrid New Barbarians / Rolling Stones bill with the new material in the first half and a Stones set with Mick in the second.
The New Barbarians tour proper began at the Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor on April 22nd and ended a month later in San Diego with one final show on August 11th at the Knebworth Festival in support of Led Zeppelin. They made news in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when fans rioted, apparently due to their expectation that the show would feature “special guests”, who did not appear and the New Barbarians played a make up date in Milwaukee on January 16th, 1980 with a pick up band that included Andy Newmark, Reggie McBride and MacKenzie Phillips. The Drug Dealer Tapes Vol. 1 is the first of two Empress Valley sets with the more important documents from this era.
Capitol Center, Largo, MD – May 5th, 1979
Disc 1 (68:23): Introduction, Sweet Little Rock’n Roller, Buried Alive, F.U.C. Her, Mystifies Me, Infekshun, Rock Me Baby, Sure The One You Need, Lost And Lonely, Love In Vain, Breathe On Me
Disc 2 (62:08): Let’s Go Steady Again, Apartment Number Nine, Honky Tonk Women, Band introduction, Worried Life Blues, I Can Feel The Fire, Come To Realise, Am I Grooving You, Seven Days, Before They Make Me Run, Jumping Jack Flash
The Largo soundboard is the most common New Barbarians tape available. It was released previously on Buried Alive (The Swingin Pig TSP-CD-066), Rebel Yell (64 nb 108/9), Two Stones Alone Vol. I(Living Legend Records LLRCD 079) and Two Stones Alone Vol. II (Living Legend Records LLRCD 080), discs one and two of Buried Alive (VGP-316) and finally officially on Buried Alive: Live in Maryland on Wooden Records along with a DVD of the event.
Sound quality for the Largo tape is very good to excellent, except for the introduction on disc one which is muffled. All of the instruments are well balanced and defined in the mix. The lack of audience noise does lend a somewhat sterile feel to the sound but otherwise there is no doubt why this one has been released so often. The mono video soundtrack is used to fill in a gap 4:37 in “Lost And Lonely” to the beginning of “Love In Vain,” for audience noise after “Honky Tonk Women,” “I Can Feel The Fire,” “Come To Realize” and for the encore “Jumping Jack Flash” in its entirety.
The set is typical for the tour with several covers and songs from Wood’s solo albums with an emphasis upon the recently released Gimme Some Neck. Chuck Berry, the creative muse for both the Stones and Faces, is appropriately represented at the very beginning with “Sweet Little Rock And Roller,” a song that played a large part in the Faces’ set lists during their career. “We have a vast range of songs for you tonight” Wood says afterwards. “I hope you like them” before the excellent and sleazy songs “Buried Alive” and “F.U.C. Her.”
Wood refers to the news songs as “a couple off of Gimme Some Neck, my new obscure one” before introducing “Mystifies Me” from his first solo album. Keith takes the vocals for “Sure The One You Need,” the song written by him and Jagger for Wood in 1974. The great “Lost & Lonely” is followed by the first straight Stones cover “Love In Vain.” The emphasis is upon the instrumentals with long and slow guitar duels. The vocals come in much later and sound almost like an afterthought.
Before Richards sings “Let’s Go Steady Again” Wood again makes reference to a critical review by saying “some people said we weren’t gonna give them variety. But if you want variety…” and never completing his sentence. Wood switches to saxophone for the Sam Cooke cover tune and during the George Jones cover “Apartment #9” Keith sings while Wood plays pedal steel. “The rebel yell from London England Mr. Keith Richard” Wood brags afterwards.
The beginning “Honky Tonk Women” is taken at a snail’s pace as is much of the song, and Wood sings about the divorcee in Washington instead of New York. After the mid-tempo “I Can Feel The Fire” Wood jokes, “How you doing Washington, alright? We’ll be stranded a hundred yards out and still get back in….we’re gonna keep rocking about that tempo as well” referring to “Come To Realize.”
The highlight of the set comes in the long “Am I Grooving You” which emphasizes a booming bass solo by Stanley Clarke before the song segues into “Seven Days.” The Stones’ “Before They Make Me Run” closes the set and “Jumping Jack Flash,” along with a reprise, is the only encore preformed. The popularity of this set is due to it being representive of the entire tour and for the fun atmosphere throughout the show.
Tour rehearsals, Santa Monica, CA – April 1979
Disc 3 (60:31): Let’s Go Steady Again, Run Rudolph Run, Take A Look At The Guy I, Take A Look At The Guy II, Worry No More, Breakin’ My Heart, Have Some Mercy (Reggae Jam), Infekshun I, Infekshun II, Infekshun III, Infekshun IV, Infekshun V, Buried Alive I, Buried Alive II, Buried Alive III, Buried Alive IV, Act Together
Disc 4 (60:17): Worry No More, Blues Jam, Jimmy Reed Jam, Munich Hilton, Reggae Jam I, Reggae Jam II, Reggae Jam III, Reggae Jam IV, Reggae Jam V, untitled, When You’re Gone
The third and fourth discs are filled with two hours of rehearsals and impromptu jamming from the week preceding their tour. Empress Valley create a huge error by lumping what are four separate tapes together as one and give it the wrong attribution. The liner notes claim these are from the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin rehearsals but no tape exists from those sessions.
The first two songs on disc three, “Let’s Go Steady Again” and “Run Rudolph Run” are from a soundcheck in Milwaukee on April 29th. The first song was a constant in the set. The second is a rarity since it wasn’t included in the set. It is a cover of the 1958 Chuck Berry tune which Richards recorded and released as a single on December 12th, 1978 (Rolling Stones Records RS 19311, -US) with “Harder They Come” as the b-side. It seems to be played simply because it is Richards’ most recent single and they wanted to warm up with a Chuck Berry song.
The bulk of the rehearsals, from “Take A Look At The Guy” on disc three to “Munich Hilton” on disc four are from the Santa Monica tour rehearsals. Boz Scaggs and Neil Young were present but are not audible on the tape. The sound quality is very good and clear with noticeable hiss over the music. It is interesting listen to Wood direct the band to get the songs correct but, what is very strange, is that most of the songs rehearsed were not played on the tour. “Take A Look At The Guy” is from Wood’s first solo album and was played live by the Faces but the New Barbarians never did it. The rehearsal consists of two takes totaling only three minutes before being dropped.
The Jerry Williams cover “Worry No More” and “Breaking My Heart” are the first two songs on Gimme Some Neck and the first number received quite extensive work. The “Worry No More” run throughs at the start of disc four are many spliced together lasing about ten minutes, but neither song was played live on the tour.
“Have Some Mercy” is the title given to one of the more interesting pieces in this collection. It is a thirteen minute instrumental reggae jam that again was not played live. McLagan’s organ is predominant in the mix and the instruments take turns with the melody. Bobby Keys’ saxophone is leads at the beginning before giving way to Wood’s guitar in the latter half. There is absolutely no development of the song and no lyrics, but it is a fun sounding exercise for the band. Both “Infekshun” and “Buried Alive” were mainstays, appearing in every show on the tour and are worked through several times.
Finally, at the end of disc three, is the band running through the Jagger / Richards song “Act Naturally” from Wood’s first album which was not played live. Since it is a mid tempo ballad, it might have been considered in lieu of “Apartment Number Nine.” Regardless, the band work on the tune several times to various effect. The professional quality rehearsal tape ends with a quick reference to “Munich Hilton,” the Rolling Stones outtake.
Twenty five minutes are occupied with an amateur recording from a Los Angeles hotel room sometime in April 1979. Since no body seems to know much about it there is little to say except that it is simple Wood, McLagan and Keys playing reggae style rhythms with Wood singing inaudible lyrics over the instruments. The songs are repetitive and don’t go anywhere. Disc four ends with two polished studio recordings. “Untitled” is a hard rocker with strong use of the Hammond organ but no lyrics to speak of. “When You’re Gone” aka “Red Eyes” is the second instrumental in excellent quality and would be officially released in 1981 on Wood’s solo album 1-2-3-4.
Sports Arena, San Diego, CA – May 22nd, 1979
Disc 5 (51:36): Buried Alive, Love In Vain, band introduction, Am I Grooving You, Seven Days, Before They Make Me Run, Jumping Jack Flash. Mystery bonus track: Breakin’ My Heart (monitor mix)
The New Barbarians tour of the US came to an end on May 22nd in San Diego. Disc five contains a rough forty-five minute excerpt containing only six songs from the show and is thus far the only silver pressed title with this tape. It is a shame the entire isn’t present because Bob Welch makes a surprise appearance on some of the song but none of them seem to be present. San Diego is also perhaps the wildest show to exists on tape expressing the inebriated excitement of this outfit in its gory details.
“Buried Alive” picks up near the beginning from a rough sounding soundboard. Wood slurrs “I want to do my solo if you keep hitting girls” before attempting an elongated solo in the middle. “Love In Vain” comes from a distorted audience recording and might even be from a different show.
The band introduction is sourced from the same tape as “Buried Alive” and is funny for Wood trying to sound witty in introducing the band. “I’ll be glad to hand this job back to a lead vocalist.” Richards keeps interrupting Wood as he works through introducing the band on stage. McLagan is a “horrible person but a good player,” Richards receives the the biggest applause and Wood even includes himself “on a stretcher.” Stanley Clarke again dominates the long “Am I Grooving You” and the encore “Jumping Jack Flash” is pushed to eight minutes before the soundboard fades out.
Empress Valley include a secret track at the end of disc five. It’s not listed on the artwork, but it is a monitor mix of “Breakin’ My Heart,” the second song on Gimme Some Neck. Wood can be heard asking if the monitor is back on before the tracks begins (“there it is” he says). He can be heard over dubbing a minor guitar part of the basic track. It is in good sound quality and, although not revelatory, is interesting to have and is nice for EV to include it. Overall The Drug Dealer Tapes Vol. 1 is a good introduction for most of the essential New Barbarian tapes with the expected excellent packaging.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)