All Along The Rhein River (Vinyl Gang VGP-023)
Sporthalle, Cologne, Germany – June 2nd, 1976 (1st Show)
Disc 1 : Honky Tonk Women, If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud, Hand Of Fate, Hey Negrita, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, Fool To Cry, Hot Stuff, Star Star, You Gotta Move
Disc 2 : band introductions / happy birthday Charlie, Happy, Nothing From Nothing, Outa Space, Midnight Rambler, It’s Only Rock And Roll, Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The Rolling Stones played two shows in Cologne in Germany on June 2nd and both exist in very good audience recordings. The early show is captured in a very good to almost excellent stereo tape which first surfaced on vinyl on Germany ’76 (RS 020676-1/2) missing “Brown Sugar” and Eau De Cologne (ATR 004) with the incomplete show.
Vinyl Gang are the only label to press it onto silver disc. Germany 76 (VGP-023) was first released in 1996 with the complete tape and with the bonus track “Gimme Shelter” from the 1973 tour rehearsals in Rotterdam. The recent re-release by Vinyl Gang differs from the earlier release by the omission of the bonus track and with the band introductions and “Happy” being placed at the beginning of disc two.
One of the best recordings from the tour of Europe that summer, it is extremely detailed and well balanced with all the dynamics of the performance preserved with only a hint of distortion in the louder parts. The concert itself is an intense but short affair. They dropped “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (usually played after “You Gotta Move)” and “Tumbling Dice” (usually played after “Happy”) probably because they were running past schedule and had to finish before the second night’s show.
The tape cuts in right before the opening verse of “Honky Tonk Women.” The first new song of the set “Hand Of Fate” sounds particularly aggressive this night at the hands of Ron Wood, sounding like he’s justifying his choice as the new guitarist (as Jagger refers to him later on in the show).
“Fool To Cry” gives an excuse for the Cologne audience to sing along with Jagger’s falsetto voice and afterwards he asks, “are you hot enough? Are you hot ENOUGH??” before their dance inspired “Hot Stuff.”
“Star Star” and “You Gotta Move” are played quickly. During the band introductions Jagger acknowledges Watts’ birthday (“I’ve forgotten how old he is” he quips) with a quick out of tune “Happy Birthday” before introducing Keith to sing “Happy.” Billy Preston’s little set is the usual high energy keyboard fueled funk before the violence of “Midnight Rambler.” “It’s Only Rock And Roll” sounds very out of place for some reason.
Perhaps it’s the levity of the subject matter following the gravitas of the preceding song. “Jumping Jack Flash” has a unique instrumental introduction before the set ends with “Street Fighting Man.”
Vinyl Gang package this exactly as they did with their older releases. The lower insert is printed on one side with another insert with the headline “Did you miss these other issues?” Overall this is a good warm up show before the important Paris dates and a good document from the tour.