Lost Legal Live Tracks (Rattle Snake RS 235/236)
The enclosed informative thick front insert that has become standard fare for the infamous and much heralded Rattle Snake label best introduces what we are about to discover with this 2 CD collection of live Stones performances, as it should: “The Rolling Stones in concert is a magical title for a magic experience…But The Rolling Stones have also released many live tracks that have never gotten onto European or American copies of their live albums. So here starts the journey through the past, the story of great vibes on stage transformed into fantastic grooves on live Promo-CD’s, B-Side only releases, rare vinyl only tracks and expensive Japanese Bonus Tracks. Above that, these 35 tracks do represent a live album of rarities on their own. Mention the word sound quality since all these tracks were officially and professionally recorded and mixed by the Stones crew and you know you’re in for two and a half hours of live magic by the greatest rock’n roll band in the world”.
The lengthy and well written introductory liner notes, by themselves, are worthy here of honorable mention. This CMR reviewer, however, somehow passed over them while listening to this 157:59 minute collection and was in for quite a surprise when stumbling upon them just before listening to the 2nd to last track of DISC TWO and having compiled the notes/comments for this review up to that point. So, in my case, I experienced reaffirmation of my own conclusions about this collection after the fact. Hence my forthcoming comments, however, are in no way biased which is a good thing. I was grappling with how I would tackle this mammoth collection of tracks as they are sequenced, one by one, from different venues/dates except for 2 batches of 4 successive back to back tracks from Madison Square Garden and Olympia Theatre, So, as Keith would say, let’s get on with the “show”…
I had “coincidentally” elected, before my above belated discovery, to articulate brief impressions on a track by track basis reflecting my thoughts/reactions to sound and/or performance quality of ALL of these respective tracks which, in and of itself, is a departure for me. I had also listed, on a track by track basis, the venues below which are not included in the back insert of the scan.
DISC ONE [79:11]
(1). “Let It Rock” – which it most certainly does from Leeds University, March 13th 1971 (2). “Mannish Boy” March 4th/5th 1977, Toronto – with the Stones getting down to their blues roots (3). “When The Whip Comes Down” July 6th 1978, Detroit – this version sounds “current” capturing the spirit of the studio release and what a blistering offering (4). “Beast Of Burden” November 25th 1981, Chicago – a solid rhythmic rendition (5). “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” July 6th 1990, London – nice blues jam (6). “Play With Fire” November 26th 1989, Clemson – the Stones nailed this one with their upbeat performance (7). “Undercover Of The Night” December 19th 1989, New Jersey – tremendous fidelity from the infamous Atlantic City concert (8). “Harlem Shuffle” February 27th 1990, Tokyo – didn’t have the swagger of the studio track (9). “Tumbling Dice” August 24th 1990, London – well recorded and spirited interpretation with powerful crowd response throughout the last portion of the track (10). “Gimme Shelter” November 26th 1989, Clemson – crystal clear fidelity, the guitars are striking + Lisa, bless her heart, kept it simple (11). “Factory Girl” July 6th 1990, London – interesting transition that works, Jagger is on the mark (12). “Street Fighting Man” August 25th 1990, London – sounds bouncy with solid pulsating beat from Charlie, great version (13). “2000 Light Years From Home” June 14th 1990, Spain – another good transition and great classic track that still evokes that feeling of psychedelia (14). “I Go Wild” November 25th 1994, Miami – what a blistering recording (15). “Black Limousine” July 19th 1995, London – the tempo is accelerated and the Stones are in their element (16). “All Down The Line” May 27th 1995, Holland – the Stones set a ferocious pace that they maintain and sustain with ease (17). “Live With Me” July 19th 1995, London – the Stones drive this one up in high gear with this raucous performance (18). “Gimme Shelter'” May 26th 1995, Holland – a slower more intense and deliberate rendition with another more restrained performance from Lisa, yes… (19). “Angie” March 6th 1995, Tokyo – the fidelity is striking and powerful. Listen to the striking guitar at about the 2:10 mark from the right channel. This one is a keeper
DISC TWO [78:48]
(1). “Tumbling Dice” July 3rd 1995, Paris – how about the revival-like intro, phenomenal sound (2). “Like A Rolling Stone” July 19th 1995, London – great transition, Jagger owns this one (3). “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” July 1st 1998, Holland – this is a slow barn burner (4). “Out Of Control” January 16th 1998, New York – letter perfect transition with hypnotic introduction, Jagger nails the vocals + the instrumentation is exquisite featuring the twin guitar attack (5). “Memory Motel” July 5th 1998, Holland – keith also on lead vocal + sounds ever so smooth, the vocal trade-offs are really something and quite unusual for the Stones (6). “Gimme Shelter” October 25th 1997, New York – the “single-like” version that ends way too quickly (7). “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” January 18th 1998, New York – this is the 1st of 4 successive back to back tracks from Madison Square Garden that is more of an audience recording compared to the stellar soundboard sources up to this point (8). “If You Can’t Rock Me” January 18th 1998, New York – a different source than the above but what a sense of urgency; the Stones are firing on all cylinders (9). “Honky Tonk Women” January 18th 1998, New York – Cheryl Crow breathes some “outside” life and freshness into this one (10). “Thru And Thru” January 18th 1998, New York – vintage Richards, the band really lets it out on this 6:32 minute brilliant offering from Keith (11). “Before They Make Me Run” July 17th 2003, Paris – Keith really sounds chipper here with this energized rendition (12). “Hand Of Fate” July 17th 2003, Paris – the 2nd of 4 successive back to back tracks from the Olympia Theatre venue (13). “Dance Part 1” July 17th 2003, Paris – always great to unearth this gem which doesn’t disappoint (14). “Stray Cat Blues” July 17th 2003, Paris – Charlie’s on fire (15). “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” August 24th 2003, London – an extended 7:49 pumped up version (16). “Undercover Of The Night” October 29th 2006, Beacon Theatre, New York – great instrumentation
The well-read and put together detailed accompanying liner notes conclude with: “This anthology, ladies and gentlemen, is much more than a collection of rare live tracks, it is The Rolling Stones 10th live album and it serves as a document of hidden treasures. And more importantly, it proves that over these years the Stones have been giving their songs new life, a new meaning and a new destination. One that is not finished and will be hopefully continued sometime next year with more old and new stages to be explored”.
This 2009 Rattle Snake release packs it in with some tremendously sounding tracks that sequence and transition well. I felt that there was a smooth continuity between the performances, considering of course that these tracks are spliced together. This, in my opinion, sets the bar for the way that live album collections can and should be heard. Although some of us may have some of these performances in our respective collections, I would highly recommend securing this release because of the fine way it was put together and it represents, collectively, one fine listen.