Rolling Stones – The Ultimate LA ’75 (Top Of The Line / 4 Reel)

The Ultimate LA ’75 (Top Of The Line / 4 Reel)

The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – July 11th, 1975

Fanfare For The Common Man, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, If You Can’t Rock Me, Get Off Of My Cloud, Star Star, Gimme Shelter, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, You Gotta Move, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Happy, Tumbling Dice, It’s Only Rock’n Roll, band introductions, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), Fingerprint File, Angie, Wild Horses, That’s Life, Outta Space, Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, Rip This Joint, Street Fighting Man, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Sympathy For The Devil.  Bonus track:  1975 tour newsreel clips

The Top Of The Line / 4 Reel people have given themselves the project of releasing, in their eyes, definitive versions of many of the classic Rolling Stones films and videotapes from the seventies.  Their previous releases Ladies & Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones and Hampton ’81 received very positive reviews on this site and their latest, The Ultimate L.A. ’75 is worthy too of high praise.  This is the only professionally filmed footage of their Tour Of The Americas and it is amazing to have a complete and uncut performance. 

Pieces first surfaced on the famous Hot As Hell video but the complete tape has been booted many times including  Rocking At The Forum, Rockin’ At The Forum, Live At L.A. Forum 1975 on Jointrip (Jointrip JTDV-SP-006) and the semi-official L.A. Blues on Ganja.  (The latter title used to be available through Amazon.)  The video on the 4Reel is very good for thirty-year-old videotape.  There is some fuzziness and bleeding between the colors and black, and the quality drops when the stage is bathed in blue and red.  There is also the occasional drop out, flicker and jumpiness in the picture which doesn’t occur too often but is present.

Some claim this is audience shot but that is definitely not the case.  At least three cameras are used including one on stage.  Its origin of the tape is a mystery.  Its aspect ratio is 4:3 and looks like it was taped for a television appearance or for the closed circuit television at the venue.  For a two and a half hour performance tremendous effort was put into the editing which is impressive.  Every minute of the footage is present beginning with the Chinese dragon being marched through the Forum to the pedals of the flower closing at the end of the final encore. 

Jagger in particular gives the lotus shaped stage full use and the cameras capture the nuances of his movements.  4 Reel also put the dual layer to good use and the pixilation problems that usually accompany the format are thankfully absent.  The label uses a fake 5.1 surround sound, but even the stereo sounds very nice.  The vocals are still sometimes very low, but the guitars, which had been singled out for particular complaint, are boosted higher in the mix and sound fine.  Little details are also audible like the tambourine sounds and Billy Preston banging out “Mary Had A Little Lamb” at the beginning of “Get Off Of My Cloud”.

The performance itself is very enjoyable.  “Gimme Shelter” has keyboards instead of the tenor sax duplicating the female vocals at the beginning and Jagger gives a mysterious dance during the instrumental passages.  But it is true that “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, with both a Ron Wood guitar solo and a sax solo, is a highlight.  Richards is very hoarse during “Happy” and is helped by Jagger.  “Heartbreaker” and an awesome “Fingerprint File”, with Jagger assuming a fetal position by the end, is the “funk” section of the set.  The “slow” section with two ballads, “Angie” and “Wild Horses”, follows this.  “Sympathy For The Devil”, augmented by dancing girls with tambourines marching around the stage is the rare encore and is thankfully captured in its entirety.

The bonus track contains two unedited newsreels.  The first has an excerpt from “Honky Tonk Women” from one of the Maryland dates with WNEW’s Allison Steele providing the voice over speaking about the stage and fashions.  The second again has a snippet of “Honky Tonk Women” from an unknown location with a male voice speaking about “three Stoneless years”.  The negative of this footage is in reverse so all the guitars appear left-handed.  Whether or not this is the definitive version is debatable but it is very enjoyable.

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