The Rolling Stones – Tempe 1981 (No Label)

The Rolling Stones, ‘Tempe 1981’, (No Label) 

Disk 1 – Take The ‘A’ Train / Under My Thumb / When The Whip Comes Down / Let’s Spend The Night Together / Shattered / Neighbours / Black Limousine / Just My Imagination / Twenty Flight Rock / Going To A Go Go / Let Me Go / Time Is On My Side / Beast Of Burden / Waiting On A Friend / Let It Bleed (71:20)

Disk 2 – You Can’t Always Get What You Want / band introductions / Little T&A / Tumbling Dice / She’s So Cold / Hang Fire / Miss You / Honky Tonk Women / Brown Sugar / Start Me Up / Jumping Jack Flash / Satisfaction / The Star Spangled Banner (63:00)

Live at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona. 13th December, 1981. 

Originally released by the No Label gang a few years ago – as well as, on estimation by the DBboots website, another 27 separate releases via LP or CD – this soundboard / audience recording matrix from Phoenix, AZ has been newly mixed by Graf Zeppelin (Taking a little time away from his or her day job mixing Led Zeppelin recordings) and released by the No Label crew with a new title (To differentiate it from their earlier recording, ‘Phoenix 1981’.) Originally taken from a vinyl source (Assume that the original tapes were unavailable to No Label?), I assume that the idea would be to offset some of the extraneous noise on the earlier version. 

I used two comparisons for this review, the first being the original No Label set, the second being Vinyl Gang’s, ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’. 

‘Phoenix 1981’ has the same running time for both disks almost – (71:20) and (62:59) respectively. The sound is obvious from the very beginning as the PA pumps ‘Take The A-Train’ through the nights air – The new remaster of ‘Tempe’ features a clearer, steadier sound. It flattens out a little neater and while the telltale sound of vinyl crackle is present it’s a little less pronounced on the new set. As for ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’, the track timings are a little different, the sound is a little more mushy, less bright, however, Bill’s bass is more pronounced, the Graf Zeppelin remaster builds up the bass marginally while keeping the brighter sound of ‘Phoenix’. 

While it’s tentative, I prefer the sound of the new master to that of Vinyl Gangs production and it removes any pitch issues of the ‘Phoenix’ original. All said and done however, it’s not, to my mind, a ‘classic’ show – Around half-way there taking in to account Mick’s breathlessness at points. I would also have welcomed No Labels take on the two tapes that JEMS uploaded to the internet in 2019 titled, ‘Barroom Queen In Phoenix’ – Especially the Ruff Mixes. 

A brilliant effort, well executed but there are better shows. 

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