The Rolling Stones “L’Olympia 1995” (Rattlesnake RS 259 / 60)
Disk One; Honky Tonk Women / Tumbling Dice / You Got Me Rocking / All Down The Line / Shattered / Beast Of Burden / Let It Bleed / Angie / Wild Horses / Down In The Bottom / Shine A Light / Like A Rolling Stone (60:50)
Disk Two; I Go Wild / Miss You / Connection / Slipping Away / Midnight Rambler / Rip This Joint / Start Me Up / It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It) / Brown Sugar / Jumpin’ Jack Flash (68:03)
Continuing the series that they began with their ‘Brixton 1995’ release, the Rattlesnake label have released the second ‘small show’ gig from Paris’ L’Olympia on the 3rd of July, 1995.
The gig, the second of 3 professionally recorded concerts that would make up part of the ‘Stripped’ album, their answer to MTV’s ‘Unplugged’ releases, the album was going to represent the band as they were, without the overdubs and measures of extra studio work (Although sessions for ‘Unplugged’ were never strictly one take tracks – Plenty of rehearsals went on behind the works.)
If you own the first release in this series, the Brixton set, you know the score – Apparently taken from video, the source has been studiously worked out in the studio and brought to it’s best sound. Even through speakers alone, this recording sounds stunning – you can hear the depth of the room, the fact that there are very few people in attendance but they’re not stunned in to submission by the fact that they’re at a small concert, they’re positively psyched to be there. Unlike the Brixton set, the channels are mixed leaving Keith in the right, Ronnie in the left. You don’t have to pretend you’re a guest in the wings this time.
True to the smaller shows too, the set list was changed around from the usual ‘Voodoo Lounge’ tour, while some songs remain the same.
The show begins with a reasonable if unfussy, ‘Honky Tonk Women’, while ‘Tumbling Dice’ starts to really gee up the crowd. ‘You Got Me Rocking’, very new to the set, gets a quieter response at first until after the first verse when the audience start to warm up to the ‘Hey, hey’ refrain of the song then really latch on.
Much more appreciated and anticipated is ‘All Down The Line’ from “Exile On Main Street”, played pulverisingly fast, it makes you wonder how Mick manages to keep step with it all. ‘Shattered’ appears next, played to around the same speed, furious and threatening, even the backing vocals are a scream as the repeated, ‘Shattered’ mutters are heard clearly in the mix.
‘Beast of Burden’ slows the set a tiny bit but the excitement is still within before a nasty, foxed, ‘Let It Bleed’ thunders in to view.
For the acoustic section of the show, ‘Angie’ is played, after a little more of Mick’s French. It must be difficult enough remembering all these lyrics, never mind a foreign language, luckily, Mick doesn’t really attempt an accent either but the crowd, doubtless, would be too polite to haul him up on any inaccuracies if he threw any out. The delicate mood continues with ‘Wild Horses’.
Back to speaking franglish, Mick introduces, ‘Down In The Bottom’ (‘Meet Me In The Bottom’) with the suggestion that it’s a lesser played track, the zippy slide parries with the honky-tonk piano to build a golden moment.
The Stones then unveil a real rarity of the time, ‘Shine A Light’, it’s opening lines receiving some of the biggest cheers of the night for this stripped up take on the song. A glorious, rousing rendition.
The first disk concludes with the bands version of the Dylan song, “Like A Rolling Stone”. The Parisian crowd are almost mixed out of their response while the track is played so this time, we don’t get to hear their singing along.
The second disk begins with “Voodoo Lounge’s”, ‘I Go Wild’ – Another screaming, wild version of the track followed an extended call and response between Mick and the crowd backed by the tour’s skeletal ‘Miss You’. This time you can hear the crowd join in with their spirited harmonies but it’s a very faint howl in the back ground. the lyrics are swopped around to suggest these are ‘Bad Parisian girls’ who are dyin’ to meet you.
A beautiful sax solo by Bobby Key’s is like pure molten sugar while it leads in to an extended jam. There follow the usual band introductions for the night, after the bands ‘supports’, the audience start to lead a long and enthusiastic chant for Charlie, even after Ronnie has been introduced, this continues. Poor Ronnie.
Keith’s tracks tonight are, again, “Connection” and “Slipping Away”, the guitarist’s standards for this tour, Jagger was going to do the leg work for remembering all the lyrics, all Keef has to do (!) is remember the licks.
“Midnight Rambler” as we all know, is monstrously long, preceded by Mick warming up on harp, those initial bars are instantly hair raising as you know you have to settle in for this one. It sounds like the most fun to perform too as Mick finishes his first chorus, the band seem to look over one another and break out the jam, conspiring with one-another to bust a gut, speeding toward a climax before slowing down to a breathless heap. As the track picks itself up again, the crowd join in with the bloody fun, repeating the whipcrack howls and clapping along lustily before Mick makes his return.
This, of course, leads to the last quarter of the show as the band start to whip up a deluge of end-of-the-night excitement.
“Rip This Joint” from ‘Exile’ is brief but brilliant. Bobby is the star of the song as you might expect but Chucks dizzying keys are a great fold, “Start Me Up” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)” showboat it towards the end, the former highlighting some shy soloing by Keith, the latter straightening itself up after a fumbled start to become the expected gushy, whirling anthem to the day job. Mick and Lisa sparing over the vocals. The lyrics change to reflect the venue at points as Mick dirty talks the girls of Paris. they’d be shot down today of course but in 1995, they’d be been taken as pure dirty rock and roll talk.
“Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” wrap the night up after a little more of Mick’s French. “Brown Sugar” overstays it’s welcome a little to my ears before it wraps up but it’s nothing to the French crowd, the band leave the stage before returning for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Wordlessly they boulder in to the song and begin to wipe the floor. The version unfortunately comes out a little anaemic when compared to the rest of the set, maybe it’s because it’s the four core members for the first half with Lisa, Bernard and the brass sneaking in later. It ends to a short, pulsing, Chuck Berry beat before the band wrap up. Rattlesnake at least have the sense to leave in a good swathe of the audiences appreciation before fading down as the excitement of the evening continues to rumble on.
Another expertly produced release, though we expect no less from this label. Both the LP boxed set on Wonder Minnow and the CD set here are superb productions. A full colour booklet, terrific write up and colour disks as standard.
The liner notes draw our attention to a possible Paradiso release too. Another much recommended release to your Stones collection and as we’ve already seen, this one will get copied too. Grab the original while you can!
Nice review Stuart, very thorough and informative. I was always going to add this title to my collection and have found another label has pressed it at a very nice price. Bring on the Paradiso release.