Rolling Stones – Birmingham Odeon (Dog N Cat DAC-067)

 Birmingham Odeon (Dog N Cat DAC-067)

Birmingham Odeon is a compilation containing the complete September 19th, 1973 early show in Birmingham on the first disc and fragments from the two October 14th concerts in Rotterdam a month later.

Odeon Theater, Birmingham, England – September 19th, 1973 (early show) 

Disc 1 (69:20):  Brown Sugar, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Star Star, Dancing With Mr. D, Angie, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man

Birmingham was the final stop in England on this tour and the tape for the early show has seen several releases in the past. Birmingham Odeon 1973 (Oh Boy 1-9168) has the complete show and was released by the same label on Birmingham Odeon 1973 (Oh Boy Records PD 012).

The sound quality is very good, but the tape runs 5-6% too slow. British Tour 1973 (Stone Crazy SC 004) has worse sound than the Oh Boy releases. Other titles documenting this tape include Rainy Days In Birmingham (Stonehenge STO 002), Birmingham Odeon 1973 (Phoenix Records D357070a) and Birmingham 1973 (SOS-730919).

The most recent releases before Dog N Cat are Birmingham Remaster 1973 (IMP-N-016) and as a bonus cdr by the SODD label with Afternoon In Munich. The Dog N Cat, as well as the other recent releases, runs at the correct speed and sounds very good. The higher frequencies are emphasized with the guitars sounding very clear and distinct with the vocals.

The bass can be felt more than heard, with the drums sounding very low to almost being non-existent in the mix. There is slight tape deterioration between “Happy” and “Star Star” which causes minor volume fluctuations in the left channel. All of the releases have been sourced from very low generation tapes and the IMP, SODD and DAC all are virtually hiss free indicating it comes from an even lower generation tape.

The set list reflects a further rethinking of the set list by the Stones. Various songs from Goats Head Soup appear in the set list before the band settled on four: “Star Star,” “Dancing With Mr. D.,” “Angie,” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” to appear in most of the shows.

The third of the four was dropped for the September 13 show in Newcastle and would be employed only sporadically, appearing in at least five shows in Europe. The short introduction leads to the opening “Brown Sugar” followed by the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter,” one of the greatest rock songs ever written. The heavy mood is alleviated by “Happy” and Jagger says, “Thank you Keith” at the end.

“Tumbling Dice” from the previous album Exile On Main Street is performed before Mick says, “Hello Birmingham…good for you. We’re gonna do a few new songs for you from our new record” before playing all the new stuff as one subset in the set list.

The final “sad song” of the set is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” which contains a saxophone solo that foreshadows Ernie’s Watt’s interpretation of the melody almost ten years later. There is a small cut and fade before “Honky Tonk Women.”

Birmingham is a tight performance and the audience in the Odeon didn’t know it at the time, but would be Mick Taylor’s penultimate show in England with The Rolling Stones and, unless the tape for the evening show appears, the final live document in the archives.

Sport Paleis Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands – October 14th, 1973

Disc 2 (72:37):  Brown Sugar, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Star Star, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo. Late show: Dancing With Mr. D, Angie, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man

The second disc contains fragments of the two shows on October 13th (and not October 14th as it says on the cover) at the Sports Palace in Rotterdam making it a duplicate of the first disc of Keep Your Pussies Clean! (Dandelion 122/01).

Both tape sources are fair to good with a distance from the stage. According to one collector, the Dandelion sounds more crisp while the DAC sounds more bass heavy.

Quite why DAC include this disc along with the Birmingham is a mystery. There is no obvious relationship between the two concerts except they occur on the same tour, and including this disc would make more sense if it were included with the other tapes from Rotterdam giving it thematic unity. As it is, it is tacked on here with the wrong date, something which the label should have caught.

Otherwise, The Stones held their rehearsals for the 1973 European tour from August 18th to the 23rd at De Doelen, Kleine Zaal in Rotterdam.

Taylor uses extra grease for his slide in “Brown Sugar” and it is good to have a rare version of “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” from the evening show in this collection. There is a cut before “Midnight Rambler” but the songs are otherwise complete.

Birmingham Odeon is a good release if one is looking for the Birmingham show on a silver disc, but the superfluous second disc raises many questions about the motives of the label. As good as it is to have something from this great tour, nothing is achieved with this release and given that Dog N Cat are capable of producing excellent quality releases hopefully they can do so for these tapes again in the future.

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