Handsome Girls: Definitive Version (Devil Productions DPCD-09/10/11/12)
Disc1, KBFH: Let It Rock (6th July Detroit), All Down The Line (19th July Houston), Honky Tonk Women (19th July Houston), Starfucker (19th July Houston), When The Whip Comes Down (6th July Detroit), Lies (19th July Houston), Miss You (6th July Detroit), Beast Of Burden (19th July Houston), Shattered (28th June Memphis), Respectable (19th July Houston), Just My Imagination (6th July Detroit), Far Away Eyes (29th June Lexington), Love In Vain (6th July Detroit)
Disc 2: Tumbling Dice (6th July Detroit), Happy (6th July Detroit), Hound Dog (28th June Memphis), Sweet Little Sixteen (19th July Houston), Brown Sugar (19th July Houston), Jumpin’ Jack Flash (19th July Houston), Miss You (29th June Lexington), Lies (29th June Lexington), Beast Of Burden (29th June Lexington), Shattered (29th June Lexington), Just My Imagination (29th June Lexington), Respectable (29th June Lexington), Sweet Little Sixteen (29th June Lexington)
Disc 3, Will Rogers Memorial Center, Fort Worth, TX – July 18th, 1978: Let It Rock, All Down The Line, Honky Tonk Women, Starfucker, When The Whip Comes Down, Beast Of Burden, Miss You, Just My Imagination, Shattered, Respectable, Far Away Eyes, Love In Vain, Tumbling Dice, Happy
Disc 4: Sweet Little Sixteen, Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash. Bonus tracks: Tumbling Dice (19th July Houston), Happy (19th July Houston), Brown Sugar (29th June Lexington), Jumping Jack Flash (29th June Lexington), Street Fighting Man (14th June Passaic), Satisfaction (26th July Oakland), Don’t Look Back (11th July St.Louis), Beast Of Burden (Saturday Night Live), Respectable (Saturday Night Live), Shattered (Saturday Night Live)
The Some Girlsalbum and tour were the Stones incorporating the current musical trend of punk into their repertoire, despite the disco inspired “Miss You” being the big hit off of the album. The songs from that album, “Lies”, “When The Whip Comes Down”, et al were minimalist affairs with the Stones’ closest approach to being a garage band. The set list for the tour was a machine gun like approach with long jams like “Midnight Rambler” and “Sympathy For The Devil” strangely absent.
Never before or again would they sound as dirty and slutty as they do on these U.S. dates (with no corresponding European dates as in the past). It is known that the June 14th Passaic, New Jersey, June 28th Memphis, June 29th Lexington, July 6th Detroit, July 18th Forth Worth and the July 19th Houston concerts were all professionally recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Parts of these tapes were issued on vinyl on on Lacerated (IMP 2-108), Lexington ’78(RSL 78) and the mis-named Live From England 1974.
Handsome Girls on The Swingin’ Pig (TSP-CD-200-1/4) was released in the early nineties from Europe and contained the complete Fort Worth soundboard on the first two discs and the second two discs containing the contents of the vinyl releases plus “Sweet Little Sixteen” from Houston among other new tracks. All of the tracks are in excellent stereo soundboard quality and for the first time with uncensored words of Mick!
Four tracks, “Tumbling Dice” and “Happy” from Houston and “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from Lexington, which are on the LP Live From England 1974 are not on this release. This was later copied in Japan with the same 12″ box. The Dandelion label followed this with their own version of Handsome Girls(DL 030-33) with the four tracks restored and with three additional tracks: “Street Fighting Man” from Passaic, “Satisfaction” from July 25th Oakland, and “Don’t Look Back” July 11 St. Louis, all from audience sources, included.
These tapes were remastered by Cool Cool Hand and released as Gorgeous Girls Redux on Sister Morphine (Morph 024). Other notable releases include Out On Bail 1978 (VGP-278), Cowgirl Barbeque, From Lakeland To Oakland (Red Devil 005/006) and Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (Home Records HR 5985-1). Handsome Girls: Definitive Version is definitive because it collects all of the songs from the other Handsome Girlssets and includes the October 7th, 1978 appearance on “Saturday Night Live”.
All of the songs are in amazing soundboard quality. Fair to good audience recordings are used for three tracks. The first is the “Street Fighting Man” from Passaic, picking up at two and a half minutes. This song was played only three times on the tour and this is perhaps the best recording. “Satisfaction”, only played twice, from the July 26th Oakland show, and Jagger’s duet with Peter Tosh on “Don’t Look Back” from St. Louis.
The final three songs on the release come from a fair to good tape off of the NBC television broadcast. The Stones are the only musical act to play three songs on the show in one complete set instead of spreading out their appearances as other musical guests do. They are also the only musical guests to also host the same episode (although New York Mayor Ed Koch delivered the opening monologue with John Belushi).
Their performance is notable for Mick’s voice which is very hoarse and painful to listen to. At the same time it is a great bonus to have a clear version of the set. For all the other tracks the sound quality is simply mind-blowing. Since there are professional recordings the stereo separation is perfect as well as the balance. Given the limited scope of the set list the tracks do become a bit repetitive but several rarities like “Hound Dog”, performed twice, are included. The version of “Far Away Eyes” from the Fort Worth show on disc one includes Doug Kershaw on fiddle to go along with Mick’s extremely exaggerated hick accent and Eddie Money guests on saxophone on the Lexington “Miss You”.
Devil Productions are manufactured by the same people behind the Eric Clapton label Paddington Records and they put a lot of work into their titles. The artwork, taken from the original TSP release, is printed on thick glossy paper looking very high class. This is in the best possible sound quality available and is very much recommended as an excellent collection of four hours of vintage 1978 Stones in sterling sound quality.
I very much agree that this is a highly enjoyable release. However, and I don’t like having to bring up the issue of proper normalization again, there’s a very noticeably obvious difference in loudness between most of the non-bonus material, especially tracks such as Track 1 on both Discs 1 & 4, and most of the bonus tracks on Disc 4, esp. such as ‘Satisfaction’. That is, the former is way louder than the latter. Otherwise, I’m considerably happy & glad to have gotten this one last Friday – along with the Cream 1-CD “Winterland” on the Blackie label, which is also highly recommended.