Goin’ Back To The Roots (Dog N Cat DAC-102)
After a short five day break in The Stones Touring Party, they played a massive show in Washington DC on the Fourth of July holiday followed by three shows in Norfolk, Charlotte, and Knoxville. Robert Greenfield in his book STP, who at this time was exiled from the tour, writes of this period:
“As the sine curve of offstage life reaches its low point, the music on stage peaks. In Norfolk and Charlotte and Nashville, the set seems to fly from beginning to end, the musicians completely locked into one another and on time, like a championship team in its finest, most fluid moments. But only people who listen, like Ian Stewart, and the Stones themselves and their supporting musicians, are aware of the magic that’s going down.” (STP, page 222).
Goin’ Back To The Roots on Dog N Cat collects together two of those documents. The first disc has the common July 6th Charlotte show from one of the best audience recordings from the era, and the second has the July 5th Norfolk show from an acceptable new audience recording.
Coliseum, Carlotte, NC – July 6th, 1972
Disc 1 (68:04): Bitch, Rocks Off, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Love In Vain, Sweet Virginia, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, All Down The Line, Midnight Rambler, band introductions, Bye Bye Johnny, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
Charlotte is one of the best sounding recordings from the STP and has been booted many times in the past including Back to 1972 (Power Stick POW-901502), Bring It Back Alive (VGP-054), disc two on Drippin’ Honey (VGP-294), and most recently on Sweet Charlotte (Exile-2008EXA001) and Going Back To 1972 (SODD 054). DAC claim to use a “younger” generation tape than is found on VGP-294. It sounds similar to the Exile and SODD efforts albeit a bit less compressed.
The press was enthusiastic and some copy stated that: “But they have changed so much since 1966 that only Jagger and Richards hold the image. When the two step to center stage and crouch close together and begin to scream ‘you can’t always get what you want,’ the undulating mob for fifty feet in front of the stage knows that it got what it needs. ‘Midnight Rambler,’ and a second rendition of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ were the numbers that glued the minds of at least four thousand people on the floor of the coliseum.
At that point all they could do was move from side to side, clap hands and shake with the music.” Also, “Six youths were arrested during the concert for trespassing, five for disorderly conduct, six for marijuana, and one each for possession of needle and syringe, possession of pyrotechnics, and larceny. According to police reports the larceny arrest occurred when one youth grabbed a police officer’s cap and ran across the coliseum floor with it.”
The taper misses the opening song and comes in halfway through the second song in the set “Bitch.” There is a bit of tape flutter, which soon clears up, and he thankfully captures a blistering Mick Taylor guitar solo at the song’s end. After a quick intro the band rip into “Rocks Off” and with Mick singing “headed for an overloooaaad” it is apparent this will be a special night. The out-of-tune horns do not even sound so offensive.
Jagger whispers the introduction to “Gimme Shelter” and they deliver another classic version of one of their greatest live pieces. “Love In Vain” is introduced as a “blues” and deliver one of the more majestic versions of the piece and following Jagger says, “We’re gonna do an acoustic song for you now. I mean a song played on acoustic instruments.
This is one we wrote especially for you.” “Sweet Virgina” is the lone holdover from the previous tour’s two song acoustic set (“Prodigal Son” and “You Gotta Move”) and is nice break. He continues the mysterious dedications following the song by saying mysteriously “keep cuddling. Cuddle your young loved ones.” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” starts mellow but builds in intensity. Thankfully nine and a half minutes of “Midnight Rambler” are still present on the tape and Charlotte is a particularly violent version before a stunned audience.
Things thankfully lighten up a bit during the band introduction and the fast numbers “Bye Bye Johnny” and “Rip This Joint.” The final song of the evening is “Street Fighting Man” with no encore. At a time when many bands were playing long two hour sets the Stones play just over an hour. This concert is so potent it makes one wish they would play even longer and add more jams to the set.
Scope, Norfork, VA – July 5th, 1972
Disc 2 (76:45): Brown Sugar, Bitch, Rocks Off, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Love In Vain, Sweet Virginia, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, All Down The Line, Midnight Rambler, band introductions, Bye Bye Johnny, Rip This Joint, Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, outro
The Scope show in Norfolk was first released on the old vinyl ‘Goin’ Back to the Roots’ American Tour – July 1972 first issued by Rubber Dubber Records and copied several times. Goin’ Back to the Roots American Tour-July 1972 (GBTTR 72001), Going Back to the Roots (VGP-062). DAC uses another source than is used on VGP-062. This has the complete show in good sound quality. The taper was relatively close to the stage and it has good sound quality with the instruments and vocals. It is however also a bit thin and distorted. There is tape flip after “Sweet Virgina” but it’s otherwise complete.
The press were unanimous in their praise for the orderly, violence free audience and marveled at Jagger’s spell over the audience. One author went so far as too call him “evil,” opining: “As Mick Jagger prances, stomps, marches and pumps his elbows like an albatross on the wing, one realizes that they come to see him for more than music. He is so deliciously evil in imagery. In short, parents should hate him. That, in itself, makes him the greatest to his fans.” (Mal Vincent in Virginian Pilot).
The opening half hour of the show is very determined. Jagger doesn’t speak much and the band are focused, confirming Greenfield’s observation. They deliver very tight versions of the songs, especially with “Gimme Shelter.”
But after “Tumbling Dice” things begin to loosen up considerably. While introducing “Love In Vain” Jagger tells the audience “this is the part where you can get close to one another. Pass a joint around for that” to some snickers in the audience.
And afterwards he tells them that “we’re gonna do one for you now with an acoustic guitar, if you can dig that. This is one that was written especially for you. So, if you know it … it’s called ‘Sweet Virgina’ so if you know it…” There is obviously a roar of approval at the mention of the state’s name and Jagger respons to the reaction, saying: “we thought it was gonna go down well!”
Common to all the stops, this song goes down very well at the mention of wiping the “shit right off my shoes.”
Mick Taylor again takes over the long “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with a commanding solo. He plays a catchy, lyrical melody which soars above the rest of the band. It’s a testament to his talent and versatility that he can play that, and then in “Midnight Rambler” play chilling melodies and riffs.
Jagger introduces the band before the finale of the show which includes Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny,” the expected nod to their muse. The show ends with “Street Fighting Man” and several minutes of crowd noise, ending with Chip Monck telling the remaining audience good night.
Goin’ Back To The Roots is good for the Norfolk show. It is an obscure and well played concert, and the sound quality makes it worth having. Quite why DAC paired it with Charlotte isn’t evident. The label pulled this before with 1973 Wembley shows, issuing the early show on two different titles paried with the New York 1972 and the late Wembley show in 1973. This would have been just fine as a one disc set with Norfolk.