Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Rolling Stones From the Vault LA Forum Live in 1975

Recorded (logically) on the same tour that gave us Love You Live, this set is a 2-CD, 1-DVD set with what must have been the band's entire set as the CD's total 160 minutes. I don't know how much overdubbing is done on this - there used to be a joke that the Stones would spend more time in the recording studio for their live albums than for their studio records - but the band is truly hot here, with excellent contributions from the legendary Billy Preston (on piano and synth as well as his regular organ) along with Ian Stewart and assorted percussion and horn players.

Overall, it's a super strong set, starting with an extended vamp on "Honky Tonk Women" and moving into "All Down the Line", a medley of "If You Can't Rock Me" and "Get Off of My Cloud" (which was part of Love You Live, as well), the lewd "Star Star", "Gimme Shelter", "Ain't To Proud to Beg" (one of the tunes from their then most recent album, It's Only Rock'n'Roll), Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move" (nice variation from the LP version), a long jam take on "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Happy", "Tumbling Dice" and "It's Only Rock'n'Roll".

CD two continues with "Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)", the funky "Fingerprint File", an electric version of "Angie" that adds a lot of differences from the studio take, including some excellent keys from Billy Preston, "Wild Horses" is also done electrically but still keeps its lovely style, Preston gets to take a couple of numbers, a vocal on "That's Life" (with a wild synthesizer solo) and the groovy instrumental "Outta Space" (done a lot heavier in the Stones' hands and when they sent Mick soaring over the crowd on a tightrope). They come back with the heavy hitters starting with the incredible "Brown Sugar", Mick's harp and drama workout song, "Midnight Rambler", that turned into a massive, 15 minute jam, a completely frantic "Rip This Joint" that segued into a long rave-up of "Street Fighting Man", then a rockin' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" with another lengthy solo section and closing for good with "Sympathy for the Devil" and yet another big jam session - kind of a bit much after a while, as good as they were.

The DVD is from a high-quality, multi-camera shoot and it shows off everyone (although Bill is obscured a lot of the time), including Billy Preston trying to get as roadie's attention when his mic screws up!  It sounds like there were some overdubs on the CD versions that don't appear on the DVD, so we get the live flaws, which makes the band a bit more human but no less rockin'! Ya gotta dig the interaction between Ronnie and Keith, too! Preston throws in a bunch of nursery rhyme tunes on the piano in "....Cloud" that I didn't notice before, Jagger fights an inflatable penis in "Star Star", Wood takes Richards' leads for "Gimme Shelter" (and Preston's synth covers some - but not all - of the female vocals, which are missed), everyone comes up to two mics for "You Gotta Move", making a nice sound and a nice visual, somehow Keith's guitar strap is twisted around all the time, despite changing guitars throughout, Wood tosses off a scorching solo in "Can't Always...", even with some bum notes, and did Keith stop playing slide all together when Ronnie joined? Mick seems to be speaking in tongues at times, not that there is anything wrong with that, Wood covers the solos in the electric take of "Wild Horses", Preston rocks his well-deserved solo spots, even while keeping an eye out for - and laughin' at - Jagger, who is prancin' around during "That's Life" and then he shows off some groovy'n'funky dance moves in "Outta Space" and gets a little sexy with Jagger (not as good of a dancer), who then takes off over the audience on a version of a bungee cord (and funnily, Ollie Brown, the percussionist, takes over the funky drums and Charlies moves to percussion), Bobby Keys makes a guest appearance on "Rip This Joint" and "Street Fightin' Man" (maybe he was on probation up until this point?), MIck pours water in stead of rose petals on the crowd during an overly long "Jumpin Jack Flash" ending and for the finale, Mick leads a conga line of foxy women for "Sympathy For the Devil".

Yep, this is a pretty great set, overall and a cool souvenir of "the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world" while they were still contenders.