Devils And Deserts (GR 346/347)
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ – December 13th, 1981
CD1 (74:21): Take The A Train Intro, Under My Thumb, When The Whip Comes Down, Let’s Spend The Night Together Shattered , Neighbors, Black Limousine, Just My Imagination , Twenty Flight Rock , Going To A Go Go, Let Me Go, Time Is On My Side, Beast Of Burden, Waiting On A Friend, Let It Bleed,
CD2 (79:55): You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Band introduction, Little T & A, Tumbling Dice, She’s So Cold, Hang Fire, Miss You, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar, Start Me Up, Jumping Jack Flash, Satisfaction,
Bonus Tracks: Down The Road Apiece (SB), Mona (SB) (JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA., USA, 9/26/81), Tops (AUD) (JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA., USA, 9/25/81), Star, Star (AUD) (Candlestick Park, SF, CA., USA, 10/18/81), Chantilly Lace (AUD) (Festhalle, Frankfurt,W. Germany, 6/29/82), Street Fighting Man, Outro Chuck Berry’s School Days & Fireworks(SB) (JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA., USA, 9/26/81)
The Stones U.S. 81 tour is a favorite of mine as it is, along with the 82 tour, the last to feature just the stripped down core band with keyboards and a horn player or two. It is also one of the best documented early tours before the long layoff in the 80’s in both quantity of shows available and sound quality of silver boot releases. There are a large number of excellent quality Soundboard silver disc boots available with many having been released by the Dogs N Cats Label just a few short years ago. Rumor has it that this recent flood of SB silver disc releases are from a Stones Collector who supposedly owns tapes of the complete 81 U.S. tour.
The Arizona tape used in this release by Godfather has long been in circulation and is an excellent quality well balanced soundboard recording. There have been several releases of this show over the years including a very nice long out of print 4cd box set from the original Rattlesnake label released in 2000, titled “Ride Like The Wind”, which in addition to the complete Tempe SB, includes two additional CD’s worth of bonus tracks from various dates on the 81 U.S. Tour.
The packaging for “Devils in the Desert” release is the usual tasteful trifold cardboard mini album layout with photographs from the 81 tour. The discs are enclosed in separate paper sleeves and are imprinted with the black Godfather label logo which was borrowed from the legendary movies of the same name. Also included in the release is a bifold insert with a very well written overview of the tour and includes a detailed song by song review of the Tempe show. There is also a small folded bonus mini replica of the car pop art 81 tour poster.
Godfather uses judicious mastering on the already excellent soundboard tape resulting in a very noticeable expansion of the soundstage. This also helps to separate all the instruments which results in a recording which makes you feel like you are onstage with the band. If I was to compare this to other label releases I have heard I would probably say it is very similar in sound to the well respected Sister Morphine’s CDR Label mastering techniques.
While the mastering really opens up the recording I did notice that the bass and midrange were thinner than the Rattlesnake release which had the effect of stealing some of the power from the instruments and made the high end a little shrill at times. There also seemed to be a very subtle added reverb to the recording which, considering this show was in an outdoor open stadium, was a little out of place but not overly distracting. Playing with the eq helps to restore some of the bass and tames the high end but I was not able to recapture the low end to midrange warmth of the Rattlesnake release.
The performance is very fast paced and is one of the better shows of the 81 tour I have heard with the band being very tight with crisp playing. While every song is well played the highlights for me are the older mid 60’s songs like “Under My Thumb” and “Time Is On My Side”. I also thought the boys did a great job integrating the new songs from the recently released “Tattoo You” album with my favorites being “Black Limousine” and Keef doing a great rocking version of “Little T&A”. There are 7 bonus tracks included at the end of disc 2 and Godfather did a nice job picking not only VG+ to EX sounding tapes but also making sure to include some rarely played songs like “Mona”, “Tops” and “Chantilly Lace”. My favorite bonus track was actually the old war horse “Street Fighting Man” which has a very unique opening which has an almost punk rock flavor to the guitars. It really adds life to this old concert favorite.
As a side note, one of the possible incentives for the Stones excellent performance may have been that this show was also filmed by director Hal Ashby for the 1983 official Stones concert film release “Lets Spend The Night Together” which included 13 songs from this concert in addition to songs from the November 5th and 6th shows at Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey. The video and audio of this film are fantastic but while it has been officially released in various part of the World it has curiously never been officially released in the U.S. on DVD. It is a nice companion to this cd release if you find an import copy.
Godfather has done a great job breathing new life into this older well traveled soundboard. The unique sound is so much different then the other standard SB releases I have heard that I would recommend this not only to the average fan but also to those who already have copies of this show from other labels. Highly Recommended!