The Rolling Stones – The Midnight Ramblers In The Midnight Hour (Tarantura TCDRS-50-1,2)
Disk 1; Crowd / (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction / Ain’t Too Proud To Beg / If You Can’t Rock Me > Get Off Of My Cloud / Hand of Fate / Around And Around / Little Red Rooster / Stray Cat Blues / Hey Negrita / Hot Stuff / Fool To Cry / Star Star / Let’s Spend The Night Together / You Gotta Move / You Can’t Always Get What You Want / MC (78:05)
Disk 2; Intro / Dead Flowers / Route 66 / Wild Horses / Honky Tonk Women > Country Honk / Tumbling Dice / Happy / Nothing From Nothing (Billy Preston) / Outa-Space (Billy Preston) / Midnight Rambler / It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It) / Brown Sugar / Rip This Joint / Jumpin’ Jack Flash / Street Fighting Man (70:17)
Knebworth Fair, Knebworth, England, 21st August, 1976.
At Knebworth Park in 1976, the hottest summer that Britain had known for a long time, the Rolling Stones played the first of their last ever shows. ‘Newest recruit’, Ronnie Wood not even a part of the band properly yet, however there were rumours abound that the Stones were about to join the dinosaurs of rock as the burgeoning punk scene would quickly flourish and burn. In answer to that though, the Stones, despite some ragged and hung appearances earlier on this tour were still as hot as hell and as punk as some of their younger contemporaries pretended to be with a hint of the boogie sound that had served them well so far this decade.
The Knebworth festival was put together by promoter Freddie Bannister and would have been one of the contenders for one of the great festivals, it’s reach big enough to get the Rolling Stones obviously, 1976’s other hot tickets, Lynyrd Skynyrd were just below them on the bill with a grand cumulation of other up and comers joining them, the frankly obscene sounding £4.75 that the tickets cost at the time were too good a chance to pass up. The next time that this would happen would be Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton’s double header at Blackbushe and there are more than a handful of fans in the UK who are prepared to tell you that they were there.
The Japanese Tarantura label have recently unearthed a new audience tape from the evening, featuring just the Rolling Stones set (With additional Billy Preston), the tape has had parts fixed between which were not caught by the taper – For instance; the start of the show has been fused in from a partial, alternate recording for the first minute before dropping in to the new source, secondly, at the end of ‘Hot Stuff’ in to the intro of ‘Fool To Cry’ uses nearly a minute of a soundboard soundboard source (where an audience source was unavailable) and then at the last half of ‘Honky Tonk Women’ through ‘Midnight Rambler’s’ beginning were missing from the latest source so the label have turned to a lesser audience recording.
Due to there being no available audio between ‘Honky Tonk Women’ and ‘Country Honk’ and the first few seconds of ‘Nothing From Nothing’, the label had nothing to work with and so, have elicited to owning up about their absence in the packages liner notes. Despite the festival having been released numerous times before (The internet suggests Midnight Beat’s ‘Knebworth Fair 76’ having been the best sounding previous release, it is, if course, incomplete and it’s cool stereo soundboard that arguably shows up some of the Stones more vulnerable moments).
Our new source is an very good recording from the right side of the stage (facing), there’s enough of each member to be heard (Arguably, in Charlie’s case, a little less though that all depends on your own taste, it’s that marginal), a little thinner than the source that greets us and the crowd bust in a couple more times than not, however, the quality of the recording puts you right there in the centre, you may very well be sat on your sweater on the ground, surrounded by flagging fans and beer cans. While it’s not the close to audiophile experience we’ve been spoiled with, it’s more of a live experience in the nostalgic sense.
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The packaging is the usual Tarantura thick carded duo-fold sleeve – Some beautiful colour and B&W shots from the gig itself, a set of liner notes (As noted) with a break down of the sources and an eye-witness account from the taper, Mike B, which makes a nice change. I’d have holes to pick with the typo, “M. Jaggar” and the quote used on the obi-strip and the front of the insert (“You’d Better Get Those F*ckin’ Monitors going” is hardly worthy of the Nobel prize for literature, is it?) but at least the label have made the package a little more discrete than some of their other productions.
Certainly one of those ‘destined for your collections’ captures – You’ll lap this up more than a few times, I’m sure. The first pressing being limited to only 150 copies, let’s hope that the label quickly turn round another pressing when this one deservedly sells through.