Tour Of Europe ’76 (The Godfather Box G.R Box 20)
Les Loups Dans L’Abattoir – The Complete 1976 Paris Tapes
To celebrate Godfather’s 20th box set they chose to focus on the Rolling Stones’ European Tour of 1976, most specifically a four night stand in Paris at the famous Pavillion De Paris. This was met with some criticism since some of the shows have been released before and there was nothing “new” to the collecting community. An interesting discussion, one that seems to get under ones skin so to speak and while I get the argument I am choosing to write this review from a different perspective, one of a Rolling Stones newbie. My Stones collection is relatively small number, 26 titles to be exact and is made up of mainly their explosive 1969 American tour plus a few from 1970-1972. After reading Gerard’s reviews of the band’s 1975 Madison Square Garden shows I stepped outside my comfort zone and grabbed a couple up and was pleasantly surprised as I consider myself a fan of the Mick Taylor years. Not only was Woody a great addition to the band personality wise, I found out he could really hold his own when playing some killer leads. Having no boots from the 1976 tour made this set a no brainer for me, and I eagerly looked forward to delving into these shows and see if they lived up to the hype.
Having read Keith Richards’ autobiography it provided input of not only his colorful life but also helped me understand his love for all kinds of music, a love that would allow the band to delve into different directions, sometimes to wondrous heights, other times falling short but one thing we all can agree on is that it was at least interesting. Enough of my rant, lets talk about the Box…
Typical Godfather box set, four double disc sets packaged in a deluxe box set adorned with record (Black And Blue) graphics with the Eiffel Tower superimposed on the cover. All four individual sets are jammed packed with mainly live shots of the group. There is a small replica of the European tour book, a poster and of course an 8 page booklet with informative liner notes by one Ian Iachimoe. Doing research on these dates was fairly easy, although I did find out there is a considerable amount of footage for these gigs as they were recorded on audio and video by the band for what was to become the Love You Live release, this is for me the only downside to this box that there was no DVD to accompany this set. Having all known footage on 2 DVDs would have really put this set over the top.
You Should Stay Up For Four Days And Nights… (G.R.BOX 20 A/B)
Pavillion De Paris (Les Abattoirs), Paris, France – June 4, 1976
Disc 1 ( 45:13) Introduction / Drums, Honky Tonk Women, If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off My Cloud, Hand Of Fate, Hey Negrita, Ain’t To Proud To Beg, Fool To Cry, Hot Stuff, Star Star, You Gotta Move, Angie
Disc 2 (51:48) You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Band Introduction, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Nothing From Nothing, Outta Space, Midnight Rambler, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The first of the Paris gigs, the audience recording is very good near excellent quality, well balanced with all vocals and instruments being well represented in the mix, there is a small amount of hiss but does not detract to ones listening pleasure. The recordings has seen previously released as Pavillion de Paris (DOG n CAT Records DAC 046), Alright Charlie Watts (Dirty Work Production DWP 001), FIRST DOSE IN PARIS (EXILE EXCD-031/032) and Pavillon De Paris Day 1 (Sweet Records SV – 6476A/B).
The performance is great; the band had a good 20 plus dates prior to this run and was in fighting shape. The atmospheric recording starts as the Drum intro is played that leads into the first song, “Honky Tonk Women”. “If You Can’t Rock Me” is fused perfectly with “Get Off My Cloud” as they had done the previous year in America. Of the new songs I found myself most surprised by, “Fool To Cry”, it sounds almost cheesy when you first here Billy Preston’s keyboard intro but Mick’s vocals immediately win you over and they play a great version of the song, Woody’s guitar is mesmerizing. “You Gotta Move” sounds different than the ‘69 versions that I am most used to.
The show really begins to heat up with a really great version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”; Mick even gets into a little audience participation. From there the concert just smokes and the finale of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” into “Street Fighting Man” gets the audience and listening fired up as the band finishes in a frenzy of riffing.
The Blues Have Always Been A Part Of Our Music (G.R.BOX 20 C/D)
Pavillion De Paris (Les Abattoirs), Paris, France – June 5, 1976
Disc 1 (57:47) Introduction / Drums, Honky Tonk Women, If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off My Cloud, Hand Of Fate, Hey Negrita, Ain’t To Proud To Beg, Fool To Cry, Hot Stuff, Angie, Star Star, You Gotta Move, You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Disc 2 (42:17) Band Introduction, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Nothing From Nothing, Outta Space, Midnight Rambler, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man
The least booted show of the four, the audience recording is very good to excellent sounding most similar to the previous nights recording with a bit more crowd mixed in but it gives it more of a party feeling. I could only find one previous reference to the show as Aux Abattoirs (Vinyl Gang Product VGP 241).
The recording begins with the drums intro but as the band takes the stage and the music starts it sounds as if some fan is pounding on his seat. After it doesn’t really go away I had to start wondering if it is some reverb noise coming through the recording as it does not sound rhythmically like a drum or something. It does go fade lower in the mix and gets way less annoying by the time the group is playing a spirited version of “Hand Of Fate”. The fusion rock and reggae of “Hey Negrita” is real strong and Keith and Ronnie really kick it up a notch. Ian Stewart plays some nice piano fills during “Hot Stuff” and “Angie” moves up a few spots in the set list and sounds somewhat sparse and melancholy. Thankfully a rollicking “Star Star” follows that finds Woody laying down some excellent leads and the song gets a nice ovation from the crowd.
Mick does a lot of speaking in French, his band introductions are a fun listen and is followed by Keith and “Happy”, his vocals sound particularly raspy compared to Mick’s backing vocals. The band goes into a false start to “Tumbling Dice” that has Keith playing out of tune. As with “Angie” the band sound most sluggish but the second half of the song finds the band picking up speed for the finale. The momentum continues with the Billy Preston set and for the rest of the show and one can surmise that sometimes the less booted shows make for some of the best listening.
Playing Reggae Is Like Playing Backwards (G.R.BOX 20 E/F)
Pavillion De Paris (Les Abattoirs), Paris, France – June 6, 1976
Disc 1 (60:41) Introduction / Drums, Honky Tonk Women, If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off My Cloud, Hand Of Fate, Hey Negrita, Ain’t To Proud To Beg, Fool To Cry, Hot Stuff, Star Star, Angie, You Gotta Move, You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Disc 2 (44:49) Band Introduction, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Nothing From Nothing, Outta Space, Midnight Rambler, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Outroduction
For the third show Godfather utilizes both audience and soundboard recordings to complete the show. Of course Stones collectors have had this show as it has been released as PARIS AUX PRINTEMPS (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-126), French Made (DOG n CAT Records DAC 009), LIVE 666 (Tarantura TCDRS-7-1,2), Les Abattoirs Paris 76 (Speedball Company SBC002-2), and Godfather’s first release of the show Tour Of Europe ’76 Revisited (The Godfatherecords G.R. 227/228), a release that features a bevy of bonus tracks.
The audience source is good but distant and the soundboard is superb quality, Bill Wyman’s bass sounds incredible and the tape is a joy to listen too, and supplies the bulk of the tape used for this release. For the most part the audience recording fills in gaps between songs and for small snippets and the splicing is extremely smooth and well done. If anything, the soundboard leaves one feeling slightly sterile once there is virtually no audience in the mix, only when the audience source is used.
GS commented in his review of the Tarantura LIVE 666 title that some of the band’s average performance on this night were due to the death of Richards’ son, a subject he does touch on in his autobiography as he freely acknowledges his use of narcotics and his mind frame during this period. As Gerard states in his review the band are slow starting but turn in good performance and I have to agree that “Midnight Rambler” is one that can be compared to past versions with Mick Taylor as Jagger and Company paint a very black picture.
Everyone Knows The Image (G.R.BOX 20 G/H)
Pavillion De Paris (Les Abattoirs), Paris, France – June 7, 1976
Disc 1 (61:09) Introduction / Drums, Honky Tonk Women, If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off My Cloud, Hand Of Fate, Hey Negrita, Ain’t To Proud To Beg, Fool To Cry, Hot Stuff, Star Star, Cherry Oh Baby, Angie, You Gotta Move,You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Disc 2 (46:04) Band Introduction, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Nothing From Nothing, Outta Space, Midnight Rambler, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Brown Sugar, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Outroduction
For the final Paris gig Godfather once again uses the excellent soundboard for the bulk of the show with a good audience source to fill several small gaps throughout the gig. The soundboard is not as clear as the previous night and does have some hiss present but most certainly better balanced. The splices are once again seamlessly smooth transitions. The band is in much better form and turn in a lively performance to close out the four night stand. Of course this show has had a myriad of releases such as DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS (RATTLESNAKE RS 066/067), Vive la Fance! (Singer’s Original Double Disk SODD 009/010), Europe 76 (A Vinyl Gang Product VGP 056), VIVE LA FRANCE! (A Vinyl Gang Product VGP 350), Europe 76 (DOG n CAT Records DAC 087), Paris Par Excellence (A Vinyl Gang Product VGP 147), PARIS PAR EXCELLENCE (Singer’s Original Double Disk SODD 067/68), Vive la France!-2010 Remaster version– (Singer’s Original Double Disk SODD 115/116), VIVE LA FRANCE (King snake Records KS-006-2CD), and Live In Paris (Golden Stars GSCD 2096).
The new songs from Black and Blue are well played, most specifically “Hey Negrita”, you can hear a lot of Billy Preston’s organ fills that is very nice and the song has a thicker sound in this recording. The band also play a rare for 1976 version of “Cherry Oh Baby”, most certainly inspired from Keith’s time spent in Jamaica and the reggae musicians that inspired him during this period. Billy Preston’s backing vocals during “Fool To Cry” are excellent, he provides some much needed soul into the sound and Ian’s boogie piano gets things shaking.
The bands stripped down version of “You Gotta Move” showcases the bands adoration for the blues, You swear you were in the deep south listening to a life long blues man pouring his heart out until Billy Preston liven things up and takes it higher to a gospel standard that it was initially known for. The service continues for a nice drawn out “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, part of the charm of these shows is Jagger’s communication with the audience, he does most of his chatting in French and the audience appreciates him for it, the French have been long time supporters of the band and are riled up at the songs conclusion.
Of the two Preston songs “Outta Space” is the best, rock soul and funk all compressed within, the star is Keith, his playing is simple but intricate as he pushes the song higher. Again the weight of the show falls in its last 30 minutes; the playing is fast and furious. “Midnight Rambler” is like a chase versus a stalking, Jagger’s harmonica howls like a dog in the night, the middle section finds Keith and Ronnie trading leads and riff most effectively but the real star of the song is Charlie Watts, his drumming is simply superlative. “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” sounds clumsy but “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and an insane “Street Fighting Man” bring the show to a rousing close.
While most hardcore Stones collectors have had this material for some time and this release offers nothing new, for the general Stones collector like myself this is an excellent way to check out what the mid 70’s Stones were like as they continued to morph and change colors like a musical chameleon. A very solid effort from Godfather and one that should have garnered much more praise and less negativity. Are these sources definitive? I am not one to judge but are most certainly in the running for top spot.