California Grooving (Exile EXM-022A/B)
Alameda Co. Coliseum, Oakland, CA – May 20th, 1979
Disc 1 (73:32): Introduction, Sweet Little Rock’n Roller, Buried Alive, F.U.C. Her, Mystities Me, Infekshun, Rock Me Baby, Sure The One You Need, Lost And Lonely, Breathe On Me, Love In Vain, Let’s Go Steady Again, Apartment Number Nine
Disc 2 (52:59): 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 New Barbarian’s legendary eighteen show tour came to an end in San Diego om May 22nd. The penultimate gig of that trek was on May 20th at the Alameda Coliseum in Oakland. California Grooving is the first and only silver release of the soundboard recording of the gig. It’s sound quality is similar to the other soundboards that have surfaced from this tour. It is clear and percussive but also dull and with hints of distortion at points. There is a cut at the end of “Lost And Lonely” cutting off the beginning of “Breathe On Me” and a cut at the end of “I Can Feel The Fire.”
The tape begins with the promoter saying, “Ladies and gentlemen…the New Barbarians!” Ron Wood comes out on stage saying “‘ello, ‘ello, let’s get barbaric!” before they start with “Sweet Little Rock N Roller.” The Chuck Berry cover is appropriate since both Wood and Richards are the closest aligned with the original rock and roller.
A string of Wood originals follows beginning with “Buried Alive” from the new album Gimme Some Neck. “We’ll do a dirty song for you” Wood jokes before “F.U.C. Her.” Another new song “Infekshun” sounds really tight in this performance with it’s catchy melody and beat. Before “Rock Me Baby” Wood says, “you know there ain’t gonna be any special guests. You’re the special guest” probably in reference to the riot that broke out in Milwaukee when special guests were rumored but didn’t appear.
Wood perpetuates the loose party atmosphere by changing the words in the second line, laughing “rock me baby / I just spilled my drink.” Richards takes the vocals for the first of several times in the show for “Sure The One You Need,” the “lost” Rolling Stones classic. Before “Lost And Lonely” Wood tells them this is their second to last gig as the New Barbarians before they all “sort of disemboweling.”
“Love In Vain” is played as an uptempo variation of the Stones version of the Robert Johnson song with Wood on vocals. Richards again takes vocal for three of the next four songs starting with Sam Cooke’s “Let’s Go Steady Again,” “Apartment 9” (“you asked for it, you got it” Richards says before), and “Worried Life Blues.”
The highlight of the show is reached with “I Am Grooving You.” Lasting ten minutes, it includes a little short Stanley Clarke bass solo in the middle before segueing into the single from Gimme Some Neck “Seven Days.”
Afterwards Wood gets into a long spiel, saying: “Well you can’t say we ain’t rock and roll crusaders. Anybody who doesn’t like rock and roll please leave the auditorium. Who’s that moose? Get him out of here. If he can’t take a joke then fuck him. This one is from Some Girls. The Stones never did. That’s kinda the reason why this band is touring you know? You can hear things like ‘Before They Make Me Run’ for instance.” The show ends with a long version of “Jumping Jack Flash.”
Given the paucity of New Barbarians boots available California Grooving is an essential title. The show is an excellent example of their style of controlled mayhem and chaos, what one writer calls the ID of the Rolling Stones. This title is a perfect compliment to the great Empress Valley sets released several years before this. And as with many of Exile’s releases, they did not apply too much mastering on the tape so there is none of the reside present on some of their other release.