The Rolling Stones – A Destructive Element (Godfather Records GR661)

A Destructive Element (Godfather Records GR661)

Odeon Theater, Birmingham, England – September 19th, 1973 (early show) 

Disc 1 (68:46):  Brown Sugar, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Star Star, Dancing With Mr. D, Angie, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man

Birmingham was the final stop in England for The Rolling Stones on the European ’73 tour.  The circulating audience recording is very clear and powerful, one of the best recordings from the era and has been pressed several times in the past.  The earliest pressings are on Birmingham Odeon 1973 (Oh Boy 1-9168) and Birmingham Odeon 1973 (Oh Boy Records PD 012), both of which run 5-6% too slow and come from a higher generation cassette.

British Tour 1973 (Stone Crazy SC 004) has worse sound than the Oh Boy releases. Other titles documenting this tape include Rainy Days In Birmingham (Stonehenge STO 002), Birmingham Odeon 1973 (Phoenix Records D357070a), Birmingham 1973 (SOS-730919), Birmingham Remaster 1973 (IMP-N-016), as a bonus cdr by the SODD label with Afternoon In Munich, and most recently on Birmingham Odeon (Dog N Cat DAC-067), a two disc title with the October 14th Rotterdam show on disc two.  

A Destructive Element uses the same tape source as the others.  It’s louder and slightly cleaner compared to DAC.  The loud clicking heard at the beginning of “Brown Sugar,” for example, is almost non-existent in Godfather.  There is more presence to the music with a deeper, richer mix.  

The set list reflects a further rethinking of the set list by the Stones. Various songs from Goats Head Soup appear in the set list before the band settled on four: “Star Star,” “Dancing With Mr. D.,” “Angie,” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” to appear in most of the shows. The third of the four was dropped for the September 13 show in Newcastle and would be employed only sporadically, appearing in only five shows in Europe.

An mc introduces the band before they start with a very heavy and serious “Brown Sugar” followed by the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter.”  The audience sound mesmerized afterwards. The heavy mood is alleviated by Richards singing “Happy.”  Jagger even thanks you afterwards, saying “Thank you Keith” at the end.

“Tumbling Dice” from the previous album Exile On Main Street follows.  Mick greets the audience and tells them “we’re gonna do a few new songs for you from our new record” before playing all the new stuff as one subset in the set list.

“Star Star” has already become an effective live number, but “Dancing With Mr. D” sounds a bit too affected and silly to be taken seriously by the Birmingham audience.  Jagger hits several bum notes in “Angie” but Billy Preston adds some pretty little frills in the arrangement

The final “sad song” of the set is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” which contains a saxophone solo that foreshadows Ernie’s Watt’s interpretation of the melody almost ten years later. There is a small cut and fade before “Honky Tonk Women.”

“Jumping Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man” close the show.  Birmingham is a tight performance and the audience in the Odeon didn’t know it at the time, but would be Mick Taylor’s penultimate show in England with The Rolling Stones and, unless the tape for the evening show appears, the final live document in the archives.

A Destructive Element is a very good release by Godfather.  Far from being a useless reissue, the improvement in the quality of the tape makes it stand out from past releases and is worth having.  

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