Rolling Stones – Pontiac 1981

Pontiac 1981 (no label)

Silverdome, Pontiac, MI – December 1st, 1981

Disc 1:  Take The A-Train~Under My Thumb, When The Whip Comes Down, Let’s Spend The Night Together, Shattered, Neighbours, Black Limousine, Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me), 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

Disc 2:  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, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones’ December 1st show in Pontiac, Michigan was the second of two at the Silverdome and occurs near the end of the long Tattoo You tour in 1981.  A good audience recording of the complete show exists and has been released on CD on Pontiac 81.  Eight songs, “Under My Thumb,” “Shattered,” “Black Limousine,” “Twenty Flight Rock,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Going To A Go-Go,” “Time Is On My Side,” and “Waiting On A Friend” were broadcast over the radio and have seen several releases.  These include Ride Like The Wind (Rattlesnake RS 041/042/043/044), a four disc set with the complete Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona, December 13th soundboard which was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour and filmed for the concert movie Let’s Spend the Night Together on the first two discs, and various other material including the second Detroit fragments. 

This was copied on Ride Like The Wind:  The 1981 Collection (Original Masters Series OMS 049/050/051/052).  Black Limousine (Lobster 018/2) and Live In Detroit (Best Of Live Bols 005) are two releases that contain only the songs from the Detroit broadcast, and in 2001 Vinyl Gang included all but “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in the 1981 tour compilation On Top Of Old Smokey (VGP 280).  Several years ago the soundboard surfaced and was released on Going To A Go-Go (DAC 034), a four disc set that also includes the soundboard from the November 30th show.  This release was among an avalanche of Tattoo You soundboards pumped out by the label and tends to get lost in the discussion concerning all those recordings.

Pontiac 1981 is a new release featuring a mixture of the soundboard, radio and audience sources.  The manufacturers (there is no identifying label) claim to use primarily the FM radio source which is characterized by excellent sound and the audience cheering much higher in the mix than is normally the case with the ’81 soundboards.  The soundboard recording used on the DAC release is described by one collector as being more “punchy” and “dynamic,” so it is a matter of one’s personal taste.  Three songs are not present on the radio source so “Beast Of Burden,” “Start Me Up,” and most of “Satisfaction” come from the soundboard which sounds more compressed and thin that the rest.  The last ninety seconds of the final track, beginning at 5:30, is sourced from the average sounding audience recording to make this show complete. 

This show occurs by the end of the Stones’ long tour for Tattoo You which began on September 25th in Philadelphia.  Their famous Pay-Per-View appearance would be two weeks after this show and by this time the set list had solidified and the band were very tight.  The set lists were very long by Stones’ standards and featured numbers from most of their albums.  “Going To A Go-Go” had been added as well as the excellent saxophonist Ernie Watts.  Watts added a whole other dimension to their sound that, through his solos, offered a jazzy cabaret vibe to their sound.  With old Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan and Ian Stewart as well as a horn section, the band had a considerable pallet of sound to work with.  Another interesting feature is the extended jamming where songs like “Just My Imagination” on this recording reaches ten minutes with Watts trading solos with both Keith and Ronnie.

Jagger quips “I think I feel like watching TV…” after “Let’s Spend The Night Together” and begins the Shadoobees before the band launch into “Shattered.”  Ernie Watts plays a blistering sax solo during “Neighbours.”  Before “Twenty Flight Rock” Mick says, “We’re gonna do two real oldies that we never recorded before.  The first is an old fifties song which is done by Eddie Cochrane called ‘Twenty Flight Rock.’  I wish I was down there with you.  It must be warm down there.”  “Going To A Go-Go” has a reference to the motor city.  The band has some equipment problems before playing the Emotional Rescue track “Let Me Go,” but Keith delivers an effective solo in the middle.  All of the songs in the middle of the set are stretched past their studio counterparts, routinely hitting the seven-minute mark. 

“Waiting On A Friend,” the closing track from the new album which featured Sonny Rollins in the studio sounds much more hyper with Watts filling in.  By the latter half of the performance “Miss You” serves as an extended jam.  The mix is chaotic at the beginning but recovers quickly.  There is a small cut in the tape before “Honky Tonk Women” but with no music or talking lost.  Pontiac 1981 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and the manufacturers use thick glossy paper for the inserts.  The graphics on the art looks similar to the unnamed people who produced various Neil Young and Bob Dylan titles several years ago.  In the end this is a good, comprehensive version of the second Detroit show that is worth having. 

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