Archive for Rolling Stones

With The Live Material From 1971 Included, The “Sticky Fingers” Re-release Gets Us Closer To The Promised Land

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Bardists, as they like to be called, dream of finding an unpublished Shakespeare play.  Our needs are simple: we’ve only been waiting for 40+ years for a decent live album from the greatest tour of all time — the Rolling Stones’ 1972 foray across the U.S. — to emerge from the gauze of bootlegs and into the bright shimmering light of an official release.  As of today, we’re very, very close.

For those who signed up for the Extra Super Duper release of Sticky Fingers, or whatever it’s called, last night came a happy email: all 33 tracks had, like the Midnight Rambler himself, vaulted our hedge and hidden away deep in our iTunes collection.  Yeah, yeah, an acoustic version of “Wild Horses,” and all that.  As far as we’re concerned the release of the Eric Clapton version of “Brown Sugar” simply drives down the value of our red vinyl pressing we’ve carried us with everywhere since 10th grade. The good stuff is the 18-songs worth of live material, recorded on the Stones’ 1971″Farewell Tour” of England, prior to loudly going off as exiles on the main street near St. Tropez.

It’s not the ’72 tour, but it’s the same band with the essential sidemen: Mick Taylor on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns.  We call Taylor a sideman, and that’s not really fair, but let us just posit that these four, added to Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Wyman completed what is unquestionably the greatest rock’n’roll live band of all time — a band that could swing, and turn on a dime, and kick at the stall all night.

Some weeks ago, a friend sent us someone’s long rave about how the version of “Midnight Rambler” on the officially released “Brussels Affair” is, I don’t know, the Stones’ most transcendent moment.  Yeah, but that had Billy Preston on it, playing organ! These tracks have Nicky Hopkins.  On piano.  Game over.

It’s weird that we have a partial album recorded at the end of the tour at the Roundhouse in London — “Live With Me,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love in Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” and then “Honky Tonk Women.”  Where’s the rest of me?   Then there is what we assume was the entire set of a concert at Leeds University — “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Live With Me,” “Dead Flowers,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Bitch,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Little Queenie,” “Brown Sugar,” “Street Fighting Man,” and “Let It Rock.”  (An aside: whomever was student music coordinator at Leeds U in the ’70/’71 school year deserves to be knighted, for he/she booked, in the same year, the Stones and The Who, out of which came Live At Leeds, and now this. But we digress.)

We’ve heard much of the Leeds set on the bootleg Get Your Leeds Lungs Out, but the sound here is just: So. Much. Better.  We always knew what that show musta sounded like, because the version of “Let It Rock” has been around forever: it was what they had to press onto the Spanish release of Sticky Fingers after the Franco government banned “Sister Morphine.” Here everything is to that level, though perhaps not at a Get Yer Ya-Yas Out level of fidelity.

On both collections, the Stones have some ragged moments, as of course they did: Keith singing off key, Mick Taylor missing his entrance.  But all in, these are fantastic performances by a band approaching its peak.  A song like “Stray Cat Blues” isn’t improved over what came out of the ’69 live recording — you don’t need piano and horns on this relic.  And of course on the ’72 tour, and subsequently over the years, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came near the end of the set, and Taylor had developed an entire vocabulary of tricks to work into his leads as the show climaxed.  But what’s apparent here is how quickly the Stones incorporated horns and piano into what would become the ephemeral, yet greatest sound of their career, rambling on, as it has done, for 50 years and counting.

We can see why they included the Roundhouse set — it’s better, the band a little crisper, the sound a little warmer.  And after listening to, oh, two dozen boots of different shows from the ’72 tour — such that we can tell you, definitively, the version of “All Down the Line” recorded in New York on July 24th was better than the version they’d played in Ft. Worth — we really don’t mind having versions of “Live With Me” to choose between.  If you are downloading songs one by one, start with the Roundhouse versions.

Last year, when Reprise, or whomever controls the Captain Beefheart estate, released the full Lick My Decals Off, Baby, we checked off one of the key missing pieces of our musical collection.  I guess we can say we are still living for the digital release of Henry Badowski’s 1981 masterpiece, Life Is A Grand.  But honestly, now that we have heard Nicky Hopkins tickle the ivory while the greatest Southern horn duo ever backs up the Stones on a non-bootleg version of “Bitch,” we are just that much closer to the Promised Land.

What “Crossfire Hurricane” Gets So Right About The Stones

Posted in Music with tags , on November 16, 2012 by johnbuckley100

Crossfire Hurricane had its U.S. premiere on HBO last night, and what, you think the folks at Tulip Frenzy were going to miss it?  It had much to offer, and we have the usual complaints.

We loved hearing Brian Jones speaking to the camera.  We can never get enough of the video footage, not to mention Dominique Tarle’s still images, of the band recording Exile On Main Street.  But it was the usual pastiche of footage we’ve seen, edited together kaleidoscopically, from movies such as Charlie Is My Darling, Gimme Shelter, Cocksucker Blues, etc.  And it always makes us mad that, in these sorts of films, we can’t get no satisfaction of seeing any given song played live for more than, say, 30 seconds.

But there was one thing — a big thing — that director Brett Morgan completely got right.  The two-hour movie takes the Stones from 1962-1981 and ends there, recognizing that by then, they no longer had it, and the 31 years of hugely profitable touring since then has largely been a scam, if not an embarrassment. A subtraction from, not an addition to, the greatness of the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world, and our first love.

But the arc of the movie even more profoundly makes the essential point about the Rolling Stones story.  Over 100 minutes, we see the Stones rise from their shadow-Beatlemania phase through their Golden Age — from “Jumping Jack Flash” through the ’73 tour of Australia.  The movie stretches out a little, takes its time, from the period between Brian’s death and the Exile era.  We actually get to see more than 30 seconds of “Midnight Rambler” during the ’72 tour, which Tulip Frenzy has long posited was the apogee of the art form, not just the Stones’ greatest tour but perhaps rock’n’roll’s highest moment.  And then, following those shows and the subsequent  tours of Australia, Hawaii, and Europe, Mick Taylor decided he needed to leave the band, if he were going to survive in the Sandy-like destructive wake of Keith’s heroin addiction.  The movie spends two or three minutes on Mick’s departure.  And while the Stones welcome Ron Wood into the band, the director makes his feelings known — and it is a sentiment we completely agree with — that while we used to love them, it’s all over now.  We see a few minutes of footage from those dire Black and Blue days, and then it’s all over, save for a momentary respite when the Stones, challenged by punk, exerted themselves to produce Some Girls.

The movie effectively ends the moment Ron Wood joined the band.  And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. The day Mick Taylor left, it was over.

The Stones are celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a band.  We celebrate the first 10, maybe 12 years.  And we regret the rest.  Apparently so does Brett Morgan.

Listening To The Rolling Stones “Brussels Affair” As An Official, Not Bootleg, Album

Posted in Music with tags , , on November 17, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Those very clever folks at Google Music have figured out a way to get confirmed iTunes customers, such as the entire crew at Tulip Frenzy, to sign up — by releasing exclusives one must have, or at least check out.  Brussels Affair has long been one of the most widely distributed, best-sounding Stones boots, recorded off a soundboard during the Stones ’73 tour, and then broadcast as a radio show.  Now thanks to Google Music we can hear it in its “official” form, with Bob Clearmountain having been brought in to tidy up Andy Johns’ recording for release.  We’d have been more joyous if it had been something from the ’72 tour, of course, for the substitution of Billy Preston for Nicky Hopkins was not a step up.  But still… And it sounds great.  (The bummer is if you have an iPhone, you can apparently listen to your music only with Safari open and connected to your spanking new music.google.com account.  Surely there’s a work around to get the music to actually download onto the device?  Please tell, oh army of Tulip Frenzy readers.)

RollingStones.com also has concurrently launched something called The Rolling Stones Archives, promising to release stuff from the vaults.  Is it possible the Stones have gotten smart enough to go the Dylan route and actually let us hear what they recorded in their prime?  We shall see.

UPDATE: listening to the bootleg and the “official” release back to back, there’s no question they’ve done some work to make it sound like a “real” live album — the bass comes through, the guitars sound less tinny, and the overall sonic quality is akin to what was broadcast over the radio.  It’s definitely worth going through whatever contortions Google forces upon us to listen to it.

Gloriously Wonderful Article On “Exile On Main Street”

Posted in Music with tags , on April 25, 2010 by johnbuckley100

From The Guardian, and very much worth reading, as it combines reporting with the many myths about the recording sessions in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Stones’ “Plundered My Soul” Out

Posted in Music with tags , , on April 21, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Have you ever had a dream where a deceased loved one is alive and talking to you?  That’s a little bit what it’s like to hear the glorious “Plundered My Soul,” out this week as a teaser from the forthcoming Rolling Stones reissue of Exile On Main Street. Hearing Keith Richards singing, not croaking, backup vocals, not to mention Nicky Hopkins on piano, is surreal — and wonderful.  The song has a definite “Tumbling Dice” vibe, but is no augmented fragment — from the great and fully formed lyrics to the performance by seemingly the whole Exile-era band, this feels steeped in the dank basement musk of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Just where did this song fit in the recording sessions that made up the Exile-era?  We know that tracks for “Stop Breaking Down” were recorded as early as 1970 in Olympic Studios in London, and that the backup vocals for “Tumbling Dice” and “All Down The Line,” for example, were recorded in the Spring of ’72 in LA.  Sounds here like aspects of the background vocals — Mick singing falsetto, for example, which he didn’t really begin to do in earnest til later in the ’70s — were probably what they added most recently in the studio.  Moreover, there’s a trace of an organ in the background, which does make one wonder whether Billy Preston might be in there somewhere.

But you can’t bring Nicky Hopkins into the studio these days; he’s gone to the same place where Keith’s high-end vocals went.  It sounds like the lead is Keith, not Mick Taylor, but I could be wrong.

This feels a little bit like that first time you heard “Tumbling Dice” blaring from a dorm room window in May ’72.  A thrill, and a tonic to the soul.

Christmas In May: Stones “Exile” Re-release To Feature 10 New Songs

Posted in Music with tags , , on February 27, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Good Lord, the Stones finally figure out the value of the vault.  Ten new songs — not three, as had been reported — aspects 0f “C*cksucker Blues” released in a new DVD, and maybe that long version of “Loving Cup” previously heard only on the bootleg Taxile On Main Street. Thank Heaven Tulip Frenzy is ready.

From this morning’s NYT:

If, after listening to all 18 tracks and 67 minutes of the Rolling Stones“Exile on Main Street” you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Boy, I could really do with a few more scuzzy, skeevy, down-and-dirty Stones tracks from those same recording sessions,” your ship has just come in. (And we think that’s Keith Richards dangling perilously from the crow’s nest.)

Universal Music said that it will re-release “Exile on Main Street,” the 1972 Rolling Stones double-album that the band recorded in Britain, France and Los Angeles amid a tax dispute with the British government and the haze of various controlled substances. The new version of the album, which will get a United States release on May 18, will include 10 new tracks, with titles like “Plundered My Soul,” “Dancing in the Light,” “Following the River” and “Pass the Wine.” It will also feature alternate versions of songs like “Soul Survivor”and “Loving Cup” (which may or may not have been the first dance at a  certain ArtsBeat blogger’s wedding).

A deluxe edition of the album will also include a DVD of a new Rolling Stones documentary, called “Stones in Exile,” which uses footage from an earlier, unreleased Stones film whose name we cannot print here. (The second part of its title is “Blues.”)

Ethan Russell’s “Let It Bleed” Is Superb

Posted in Music with tags , , , on December 21, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Santa came a little early, and dropped off the coffee-table book entitled Let It Bleed by Ethan Russell.  Russell is important as a photographer both for the Rolling Stones and Rolling Stone, having  served the Stones as staff photographer on the ’69 tour, and shot album covers for the Beatles (Let It Be), Who (Who’s Next), and Stones (Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out).  All that’s missing from his resume is that Dylan album, you know what I mean?

As a narrative, Let It Bleed is missing the comprehensiveness of Stanley Booth’s Dance With The Devil, which would have been called No One Here Gets Out Alive if it hadn’t already been taken.  Because he’s a photographer (and Grammy-award winning video director) he’s not primarily a writer, and thus Russell’s book relies on the memories of Booth, and Michael Lydon (whose Rock/Folk was a superb early ’70s series of features on the likes of the Stones), as well Jo Bergman, and Ronnie Schneider, and others on what later (in Robert Greenfield’s chronicle of the ’72 tour) would be called STP — the Stones Touring Party.

What’s revelatory about this book is the way it shows the incredibly ad hoc nature of the Stones’ 1969 tour.  Here was possibly the single greatest tour in the history of rock and it was kind of thrown together with Allen Klein’s nephew (Schneider) managing it, with a single Vietnam vet running security, and a total of 16 people in the bubble, including Bill Wyman’s girlfriend Astrid, and the famous Cathy and Mary — groupies pressed into action as drivers of cars provided by the conman John Jaymes who told the Stones he worked for Chrysler,  and Chrysler he worked for the Stones.

The ’72 tour was better musically, as the Stones effloresced with Nicky Hopkins and the Bobby Keys-Jim Price horn section, and of course, by then — post Sticky Fingers, with Exile in the bag — they had all the songs they’d ever need to work with.  But the ’69 tour was more important, because it changed the entire context of rock music, by bringing to the sprawl of  late ’60s expectations an incredibly tight combo as happy to play Chuck Berry songs (in 3:47, not 29 minutes) as their own compositions.  There was no noodling or messin’ around, they just came, conquered, played a seriously great set that kids actually listened to and were out the building before the audience had screwed their heads back on.  Iggy Pop said it was the greatest concert he ever saw, and we’re not going to argue, even though we didn’t pick up the thread for three more years.

As Russell makes clear, the Stones’ ’69 tour was the epochal event that put the capper on the ’60s, and we haven’t even mentioned Altamont, which in the context of his book, really does take on its epic bad trip aura in a shambling, accidental fashion as the Stones just fumbled their way into it.  Political correctness and the bad vibes attendant to the high ticket prices ($7.50 being the highest price – clearly the Stones got over their squeamishness about being capitalists soon thereafter) led to Mick’s declaring they’d do a free concert, with San Francisco the locale, and the rest is a Maysle Brothers documentary.

We know from the incredible Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out 40th Anniversary package — Russell did the photographs, and the liner notes — that the Stones made a grand total of $600,000 for the tour.  Since at least the 1980s, they’ve made more than that for a single show, and even their most loyal defenders will admit the kids got a better value back then.

Russell’s on-stage photos of the band are great, and some of his backstage photos are pretty good — some are amazing —  but it’s a relief, as a photographer, to see the images he took that were blurred, and even when he was focusing accurately, there’s a really soft look to everything — fast film, not great lenses — that was corrected by the time he photographed the ’72 tour.

It’s a great book.  I’m glad he published it.  Not too late to ask Santa for it. Provided you’ve been nice, not naughty.

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