The Rolling Stones – Rubber Bowl 1972 (Sweet Records SV-71172)

Rubber Bowl 1972 (Sweet Records SV-71172)

Rubber Bowl, Akron, OH – July 11th, 1972

(78:59):  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

The Rolling Stones played their only show in Akron, Ohio, on July 11th on the monumental 1972 tour.  It was one of only two outdoor venues on the tour (the other was in Washington, DC), and was scheduled, according to tour manager Peter Rudge, “to support the Akron promoter who has done much to better and promote Rock and Roll.”

Rubber Bowl 1972 presents the same audience recording utilized on the previous releases.  The first was in 1994 on Akron-Rubber Bowl 72 (Idol Mind Productions IMP-CD-029) in very good quality but missing the final song “Street Fighting Man.”  Idol Mind edit the end of “Jumping Jack Flash” with Mick Jagger’s “thank you” and “good night” after the final number, so the cut seemed intentional to save space. 

In 2002 Akron was included on the second disc of Alabama Jubilee (Vinyl Gang VGP-306) along with the June 27th Mobile show.  Vinyl Gang has the same sound quality as Idol Mind, but includes the missing final number “Street Fighting Man.”

Sweet Records, released a decade after Vinyl Gang and almost forty years after the event, is a marked improvement.  The sound is much more broad and lively stereo with very little problems.  There is a tape flip before “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” cutting off the opening notes, a tape pause 5:18 in “Midnight Rambler” (the taper wanted to see how much tape was left), and a small cut right at the end of “Jumping Jack Flash.”

Akron, located outside of Cleveland, is one of the low-key shows on the tour, attracting none of the attention that the shows in Los Angeles, New York and Fort Worth did.  However, this is one of more eventful concerts of the summer. 

Before the show began, someone planted a pipe bomb under the stage which was destroyed upon detonation.  A riot ensued during Stevie Wonder’s set, prompting Chip Monck to interrupt the set to settle the audience down.  While nothing of the sort occurred during the Stones’ set, but do have deal with an enthusiastic audience and a PA system cutting out on them several times during “Tumbling Dice.”

The tape opens with the first song of the night “Brown Sugar.”  The Cleveland Press reported that “Jagger was dressed in a skin-tight purple velveteen jump suit with sequins. He had a gold sash, purple belt and a purple scarf around his neck. He came on stage wearing a Levi jacket, a purple and white jockey hat and white boots. The hat and jacket came off during the first number, a sweet million seller called Brown Sugar.”

Much enthusiasm comes through in the opening songs, which include perhaps the best version of “Gimme Shelter” of the summer (the horn section play in tune).  Despite the problems in “Tumbling Dice,” the band continue as if nothing had happened.  Afterwards Jagger tells the audience,  “I’d like to thank everyone who came along to Ack-RON….We’d like to do a blues for you” before they start “Love In Vain.”  

Before “Sweet Virginia,” Mick tell them “we’re gonna do an acoustic song.  I hope it doesn’t get blown away in the wind.  If it does it’s just too bad.  Turn the guitar up now!”

Perhaps the highlight of the night is “Midnight Rambler.”  The Cleveland Press goes into some detail reporting the events of this song, saying:  “Then came the scorching Midnight Rambler, a song about late-hour sexual prowls. During this tune Jagger whipped off his golden sash and started flogging the stage with it, and the spotlights turned to satanic crimson light. Then the purple belt and scarf came off and Jagger used them to tease ecstatic girls near the edge of the stage. Jagger also plays harmonica during this 10-minute rocker, and finally puts on one of his trademarks – a red, white and blue Uncle Sam top hat. The crowd crushed forward and moved a wooden fence in front of the stage, but a menacing Jagger look and a gesture for them to back off was immediately obeyed.”

The show ends with a loud and wild “Street Fighting Man” and very LOUD fireworks detonated over the Rubber Bowl. 

Rubber Bowl 1972 is yet another great release on Sweet Records, the no label Rolling Stones label.  They’ve set the bar high for their releases and have met it again with this.  It’s not only a great improvement over past versions of the Akron show, but is a fantastic document on the STP spectacle, illustrating why it was one of the rock and roll cultural landmark tours.   

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