The Brussels Affair ’73 (RS731017)
Forest Nationale, Brussels, Belgium – October 17th, 1973 (1st & 2nd Show)
(79:33): Opening, Brown Sugar, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Star Star, Dancing With Mr. D, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), Angie, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Rip This Joint, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The Rolling Stones have finally begun to assemble and release their vast archives. Setting up The Official Rolling Stones Archive online, their first release is The Brussels Affair ’73 which ranks among their greatest live performances. Past releases on vinyl and CD focused upon the KBFH tapes which edited the Brussels shows with the September 9th, Wembley show in London. The latest unofficial release, Bunnies, Bombs, Busts & A Princess on Halcyon, focus solely upon the early show in Brussels.
The official Brussels release takes a slightly different tact. Instead of offering the KBFH broadcast or an individual show, it is an edit of the two Brussels shows on October 17th. Since it’s using a previously unheard show, there is much material absolutely unique to this release including the two songs from the set which were never broadcast, “Star Star” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).”
The way this breaks down is that of the fifteen songs three, “Brown Sugar,” “Midnight Rambler” and “Street Fighting Man” were previously heard on the KBFH tapes.
Six songs from the 2nd show have been available from the soundboard on unofficial release such as Back To The Graveyard (Dog n Cat DAC-113): “Gimme Shelter,” “Happy,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Star Star,” “All Down The Line,” and “Rip This Joint.” The other six, “Dancing With Mr. D,” “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” “Angie,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Honky Tonk Women” and “Jumping Jack Flash” all come from the evening show and have been previously unreleased.
Assuming this is a loss-less download, the sound quality should be identical. Regardless, it is in fantastic stereo and has professional level sound. A further credit is the light studio tweaking. Unlike their other official live releases, they didn’t see the need to fix every little imperfection in the music. The only overdub is found in “All Down The Line” where Mick Taylor’s guitar solo from the early show was overdubbed into the late show.
Also, in general, the guitars were raised higher in the mix and the auxiliary instruments, the piano, keyboards and horns, were mixed lower.
Although this is certainly exciting, the Stones’ management offer this only as downloads from the website. In the spirit of satiating collector’s appetites, The Brussels Affair ’73 (RS731017) offers the download on a silver disc for the collection. The label is not identified, but the artwork looks like Idol Mind of recent vintage. The artwork is printed on only one side and the front cover is the graphic from the website associated with this release. The packaging is very basic but the music is fantastic.
According to the website, “The new edition, pulled exclusively from the two Brussels gigs, was taken from the original multi-track masters recorded by Andy Johns on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Longtime Stones collaborator Bob Clearmountain applied the final mix.”
“Brussels was the penultimate stop on a European tour that the Stones embarked upon in the autumn of 1973 to promote the album Goats Head Soup. At the time, the Stones were by far the biggest stars on the planet, and the 21-city tour was met by ecstatic crowds, causing the band to frequently perform two shows a day, as they did at the Forest National arena in Brussels. Despite the frenetic pace, the road trip yielded some of the band’s greatest music on stage.
“Although the Stones began readying a live album of the show for commercial release, the idea was ultimately shelved – a tragedy given the ferocity of the set and the definitive live versions of Stones classics that it presents. Fortunately, that has all changed today. If there was one Rolling Stones bootleg that needed to find its way into the mainstream, Brussels ’73 was it.”
Early copies of The Brussels Affair ’73 come with a bonus CDR with the KBFH broadcast with material from both Brussels and London. Other copies lack the bonus. This is a good release for those of us who like our music on physical media, something which the Stones don’t seem to want to do. It is worth having for filling that niche.