Rolling Stones, ‘L.A. Forum: Live in 1975′ + ‘Hampton Coliseum: Live in 1981′ – DVD Reviews
A couple of years ago, the Rolling Stones finally decided it was time to start raiding their vaults for some goodies. That's great news for fans, and the first round of vintage Stones in their new 'From the Vault' series features two live performances from 1975 and 1981.
'L.A. Forum: Live in 1975' captures the band at a somewhat shaky point in their story. Wunderkind guitarist Mick Taylor had left the band and his replacement, Ron Wood was just finding his feet. The show starts off with a slightly sluggish 'Honky Tonk Women, but quickly kicks into gear with a frantic take on 'All Down the Line' from 'Exile on Main Street.' Wood, who was doing double duty that year with the Faces on their last hurrah, delivers some tasty slide guitar and the band is hot. Keyboardist Billy Preston lends a hand on organ and vocals as well.
They rip through a 25-song set, hitting heavily on their early '70s material. 'Tumbling Dice,' 'Angie,' and 'It's Only Rock and Roll' are but a few of the classics they dish out. A rauchy and raw 'Star Star' sizzles while 'Rip This Joint' does, in fact, rip it up. Some songs, however, are less than stellar. 'Happy,' for instance, is a total mess. Keith Richards' voice is just shot and he forgets to come in singing. Later, Charlie Watts jumps the gun on a break during 'Tumbling Dice.' Though there are lots of fans who love this ultra-sloppy side of the band, it's simply a wreck in spots. Mick Jagger is bordering on a parody of himself here, unlike the 1972 tour where he was still able to pull off a certain mystique.
Watch 'Star Star' From 'L.A. Forum: Live in 1975'
'Hampton Coliseum: Live in 1981' captures the band on their 'Tattoo You' tour. This performance is notably more together than the '75 show. They deliver a tighter and more energetic performance. 27 songs tagging back to a few choice nuggets from the mid-'60s, such as set opener 'Under My Thumb.' They roll out hit after hit, as well as material from their then-new album, 'Tattoo You' and choice favorites from 'Some Girls' such as 'Shattered' above. At this point in the career they were trying to prove they could keep tabs with the young guns, which they do without question. The addition of Ron Wood's old partner in the Faces, Ian McLagan, on keyboards, adds a nice touch as well.
The two-and-a-half hour show was originally broadcast as a pay-per-view event on cable television and was filmed on Richards' birthday. A celebratory mood permeates the entire performance. One memorable moment, that anyone who saw the original broadcast will remember, is when during '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction,' an over-zealous fan runs onstage. Keith simply takes off his guitar and swings it at the guy, then straps it back on and continues the song. All in all, the Hampton concert is the winner of the two, though both have their distinct merits.
Both concerts were professionally filmed, with multi-camera, crystal clear presentation. The audio as well is sharp as can be, restored and newly mixed by famed producer Bob Clearmountain. The shows are available on DVD, Blu-ray, double-CD, triple-LP and digital versions. A nice booklet is also part of each package.
While it's fantastic that the Stones are finally digging into their vaults, the question remains, however, how did they arrive at these particular shows to issue? There are several incredible quality recordings from the famed 'Exile' tour from 1972 when the band were truly on fire, not to mention earlier performances form the mid-to-late '60s. Good as they are, these both seem like odd choices in the large scheme of things.
The Rolling Stones were never what you would call a tight band when it came to live performances. Loose was always their calling card, but it didn't always work. Thankfully, the magic outweighs the tragic here, but be warned, you do get both sides of that coin on these videos.
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