The Rolling Stones, ‘Licks Wiltern 2002’ (No Label)

 ‘Licks Wiltern 2002’ (No Label)

Jumping Jack Flash / Live With Me / No Expectations / Beast Of Burden / Stray Cat Blues / Everybody Needs Somebody To Love / That’s How Strong My Love Is / Going To A Go Go / Rock Me Baby / Bitch / Honky Tonk Women / Start Me Up / Brown Sugar / Tumbling Dice (69:01)

Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA. 4th November, 2002.

In 2002 the Rolling Stones were gearing up for their Forty Licks tour – Four decades of the Stones on tour and of studio hits.

The tour was due to set ship through the world, beginning in Canada in August of 2002, finishing in Hong Kong in November, 2003. Naturally, being the groundbreakers that the Stones are, this would be the first tour that would be upended by an epidemic – though it would only affect the dates in Asia and Canada, both of which were reassigned to later dates.

Though most of the tour, the Stones were afforded a great deal of good fortune by the press – Their prestige at being one of the only original bands to reach the 40 years mark and keep most of their members (ahem!) alive was quite the occasion. Nowadays, it most likely seems quaint.

Various tour dates were recorded for prosperity, the 18th January 2003 gig at Madison Square Gardens was broadcast live on HBO and, obviously, spawned a sackful of bootlegs as well as being officially released on the ‘4 Flicks’ DVD boxed set along with shows from London, England and Paris, France.

On the same set, 4 tracks from the Wiltern Theatre show on the 4th November, 2002. ‘Beast Of Burden’, ‘You Don’t Have To Mean It, ‘Rock Me Baby’ and ‘Bitch’ were included, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’, a duet with Solomon Burke, was included on the 2 CD release, ‘Live Licks’, the rest of the 21 song show, put away for another time.

That is until the BBC broadcast a series of four special broadcasts in June / July 2022 titled, ‘My Life As A Rolling Stone’, a new collection of interviews alongside archival footage of the Stones told through the words of the existing group (plus Charlie for whom is no longer around to tell his tale), in time for the Rolling Stones’ 60th anniversary. The series was also joined by the first televisual broadcast of a longer Wiltern show. A 15 song set including the Solomon Burke duet.

Initially aired on the 2nd of July, 2022, the concert drew more favourable comments than the recently released ‘Live In NYC’, Sam Wheat seemed to get praise for clearing up and mixing the audio for broadcast, for this audio rip on the No Label label, Graf Zeppelin, the choice of remixers for a couple of years now, was apparently given the job of mixing for this unofficial release.

Beginning with the muffled and rather muted stage intro for the Stones, the band crash through ‘Jumping Jack Flash’, Jagger showing tiny signs of breathlessness as he skips and shuffles around the stage, Keith’s guitar just a notch louder than Ronnie’s, Charlie’s drumming a little lower than Ronnie. Over all, however, the sound is very broadcast nuanced, mastered distinctly for DVD as opposed to radio or CD.

The gig a brilliant mix of, well, vintage tracks and covers – It’s great to hear some lesser known variations bunched in the mix alongside the war-horses. My vote goes to ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’ and ‘Going To A Go Go’ – not particularly rare at the time but now, after 20 years, I’d like to think things like this would go down a storm.

The cover is a lovely looking thing, mainly gold and blacks, littered with full colour images of the gig – You will need a good light to read it however as the mixture of the colours had me struggle when it got a little darker later in the day.

Apparently this disk sold out of it’s first pressing on release so the label pressed it again. Parts of it have been released (with different mixes, obviously) already, however, as I assume you’ve purchased these previous, I’ll commit to telling you to pick this one up.

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