Keith Richards & The X-Pensive Winos – L.A. Connection (KR812141/2)

L.A. Connection (KR812141/2)

Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA – December 14th, 1988

Disc 1 (72:04):  Take It So Hard, How I Wish, I Could Have Stood You Up, Before They Make Me Run, Too Rude, I Wanna Be Your Man, You Don’t Move Me, Make No Mistake, Time Is On My Side, Big Enough, Whip It Up, Locked Away, Little T & A, Struggle, Happy

Disc 2 (14:47):  Connection, Rockawhile, It Means A Lot

Even as The Rolling Stones were on hiatus and had unofficially disbanded by 1988 there were no lack of live shows featuring members of the Stones.  Jagger was promoting Primitive Cool with tours of Japan and Australia including a one-off in Jakarta and Ron Wood was touring a blues guitar revue with Bo Diddley.   

While Jagger’s effort received negative reviews (his tour never made it to the States or Europe), both Richards’ solo album Talk Is Cheap and the fifteen date US tour with The X-Pensive Winos received high critical praise.  One of the final gigs was professionally recorded at the well known Hollywood Palladium and  released officially on Live at the Hollywood Palladium, December 15, 1988.

L.A. Connection documents the previous evening’s show on December 14th at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles.  

The taper was close to the stage and made a very nice recording of the gig.  There some shouts from the audience and clapping close to the microphone but nothing too distracting at all.  It has a very nice warm live atmosphere.  

Fragments of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Whip It Up” and “Take It So Hard” were broadcast on NBC that night in a news report, but nothing has ever been released from this show.  L.A. Connection was first pressed onto silver disc in the early nineties on Swingin’ Pig Records.  This was a one disc release with the main set but omitting the three encores “Connection,” “Rockawhile” and “It Means A Lot.”

This version was pressed afterwards in Japan.  In addition to the main set, it has an 8mm mini disc with the three encores.  The front cover is the same Keith Richards publicity shot and is packaged in a two disc fatboy jewel case.  The sound quality is the same, but it’s superior for having the complete show.  

“Take It So Hard” fades in.  It is the first song on the album and the first single from the album.  He follows with two more songs from Talk Is Cheap, “How I Wish” and “I Could Have Stood Up To You” (with his chilling proclamation to see if “we can rock this house”).  

“Before They Make Me Run” from Some Girls is the first Stones era song in the set.  The quick paced travelogue of his time in Toronto is followed by “Too Rude” from Dirty Work.  One of his more interesting creations, the band hit upon the mid-paced reggae groove.  In addition to Keith’s guitar, Bobby Keyes plays “Skokian” on the saxophone throughout the piece.  

He humorously revives “I Wanna Be Your Man,” the Stones cover of the Beatles tune and one of their earliest hits.  Things take a more deliberate and serious turn with “You Don’t Move Me.”  Richards’ guitar is fine but his vocals are awful in this song.  He sounds self-conscious afterwards, almost embarrassed for his performance.  

Much better is “Make No Mistake,” partially sung by Sarah Dash, and “Time Is On My Side,” completely sung by Dash.  

The show hits high points with “Big Enough,” “Whip It Up” and “Locked Away.”  The show comes to a close though with “Little T & A,” “Struggle” and an elongated version of “Happy.”  The three song encore set is found on the 8mm mini disc.  The first is a “Connection,” a Stones rarity from Between The Buttons, “Rockawhile” with Dash on vocals and the funk “It Means A Lot.”

L.A. Connection is a rare Keith Richards title from the first X-Pensive Wino tour.  This version is about twenty years old now and very hard to find.  But, given the sound quality, the great performance and overall rarity it’s a nice title to obtain.  

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