Rolling Stones – Live At The El Mocambo (SODD 105)

Live At The El Mocambo (SODD 105)

El Mocambo Club, Toronto, ON, Canada – March 4th & 5th 1977

(75:39):  (STEREO REEL) Hand Of Fate, Route 66, Crackin’ Up, Around And Around, Worried About You, Route 66, Crackin’ Up, Let’s Spend The Night Together, (Band Introduction), Little Red Rooster
(MONO REEL) Crazy Mama (ACETATES) Dance Little Sister, Little Red Rooster, Route 66 (FINAL MIX) Mannish Boy, Crackin’ Up,  Little Red Rooster, Around And Around

The circumstances surrounding their appearance at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto sometimes overshadow the gigs and recordings themselves.   It was for this session that Keith Richards was arrested in February, busted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for possession of 22 grams of heroin at Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto Canada.  He was originally charged with “possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking.”  Richards had his passport confiscated and he and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg along with their three children were forced to stay in Canada until April.

The reason for these club dates was to add one side of their double live album Love You Live devoted to covers of blues standards recorded in a venue similar to the Marquee in London c. 1963 to serve as a contrast to the other side recorded at the four Paris shows the previous June.  El Mocambo was chosen because of that kind of intimacy.  The two shows had April Wine opening for them and the Stones were played $400 per gig, the going rate at the El Mocambo. 

The two shows were recorded by Eddie Kramer and four songs, “Mannish Boy,” “Crackin’ Up,” “Little Red Rooster” and “Around And Around” were included on the album on side three.  It is interesting to note that, even though the intent was to cover classic rock and blues songs, they did play a full sets each night.

According to sources, March 4th included:  “Route 66,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Hand Of Fate,” “Fool To Cry,” “Crazy Mama,” “Crackin’ Up,” “Around And Around,” “Melody,” “Star Star,” “Worried About You,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” “Little Red Rooster,” “Luxury,” “Brown Sugar” and “Jumping Jack Flash.”  March 5th saw them play “Honky Tonk Women,” “All Down The Line,” “Hand Of Fate,” “Route 66,” “Fool To Cry,” “Crazy Mama,” “Mannish Boy,” “Crackin’ Up,” “Dance Little Sister,” “Around And Around,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Happy,” “Hot Stuff,” “Star Star,” “Worried About You,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” “Worried Life Blues,” “It’s Only Rock And Roll,” “Rip This Joint,” “Little Red Rooster,” “Luxury,” “Brown  Sugar” and “Jumping Jack Flash.”

Several days later, between March 6th to 8th, Keith, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts laid down the overdubs at Sounds Interchange Recording Studios which can be heard in the final product.  SODD-105 gathers together four separate documents related to this appearance.  The first and longest tape is an unedited stereo reel with songs from both nights.  It is in excellent but raw sound quality with the emphasis on the guitars at the expense of the vocals. 

It opens up with a great version of “Hand Of Fate” from Black And Blue, the most recently released Stones song in this collection.  “This is where the critics sit” Mick Jagger jokes afterwards.  “Route 66” was first recorded by the Stones in January 1964 and released on England’s Newest Hit Makers.  It was played at both shows and was considered for release but was ultimately cut.  These two renditions are different but it’s not clear if they are two takes from the same night or from different nights.  A few seconds of “Crackin’ Up” follows before a cut in the tape.     

Jagger continues the critics jokes before “Around And Around” asking, “everything alright in the critics section?  We hope the critics like show.  That’s all we’re here for.”  Another, more polished version of “Route 66” follows “Worried About You” (a song played for the first time live).  Jagger makes an obscure reference, saying, “It’s a bottom pincher from last night…watch your bottom Keith…what shall we do?  Right, if you feel like dancing, wait.  It’s all yours apparently Ronnie” before “Crackin’ Up.”  This performance is the unedited track used on the LP.  There is a quiet version of “Let’s Spend The Night Together” which as a small cut at 3:38.  There stereo reel ends with a version of “Little Red Rooster” that was not used on Love You Live.

The mono reel “Crazy Mama” is distorted and lasts only twenty-four seconds.  It’s included here for completeness sake and is interesting since this is the first live performance of the song.  The next three numbers are from the acetate and begin with “Dance Little Sister” with Jagger’s introduction “feeling loose now?  You feeling relaxed?  I feel like stroking everybody… stroke me Billy.”  “Dance Little Sister” was performed only on the first show of the 1975 Tour Of The Americas in Baton Rouge and at El Mocambo making this an extremely rare liver performance.  It is followed by the same “Little Red Rooster” on the stereo tape and the second “Route 66” from the same tape.

Live At The El Mocambo (SODD 105) ends with the four tracks used on side three of Love You Live pulled straight off of the remastered version of the album.  The overdubs are apparent as is the richness of the performance.  “Mannish Boy” doesn’t appear on any other tape in this collection.  The overdubs and which show it belongs to are impossible to determine.  “Crackin’ Up” and “Around And Around” are both also on the stereo tape which is probably March 4th and “Little Red Rooster” is a different performance than what is on the stereo tape.  In addition to the overdubbed guitars and bass, there is a crunchiness to the guitar sound not obvious on the raw recordings.

SODD have been issuing very good compilations of late and this is another very good one.  The El Mocambo shows are legendary in rock mythology and having as comprehensive a collection as this is worth having.  This could be topped if the Stones were to open the vaults again (as they did with Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out last November) and issue both of these shows in their totality and unedited.  But since that is unlikely this fills a considerable need. 

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  1. Hmm, received this disc and after listening found it to be pretty much the same material that’s been around for years. The same version of Route 66 appears three times on this disc, with very slight mix variations. These are tapes from when the Stones were working on Love You Live, overdubbing guitar parts in the studio for potential inclusion on the “live” album. Much of this has Ron Wood dutifully overdubbing learned guitar parts and solos. One can plainly hear three guitars in several tracks here. The stereo reels sound very good, but if you’re looking for “Live” at the El Mocambo this isn’t quite what you’d think…

  2. First new boot CD I’ve ordered in many moons. Really looking forward to hearing most of this material for the first time. Keith never played guitar the same again after these 1977 El Mocambo shows. He came close in some of the 1982 Euro shows and the Jerry Lee Lewis tribute TV show, but still it wasn’t this crazy almost out of control riffing he was up to 1975 -1977.


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