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Pleased To Meet Me Re-issue

The Replacements

Sire / Rhino 3CD + LP

Following the successful transformation of Don’t Tell A Soul into Dead Man’s Pop, the same team have turned their attention to Pleased To Meet Me. Unlike Don’t Tell A Soul, Pleased To Meet Me got a very positive reaction when originally released so why re-do it now? Although originally sceptical about this re-release I have been won over.

In chronological order CD Two contains the demo sessions from Blackberry Way studios in Minneapolis from August 1986. These were the last sessions to feature wayward but brilliant guitarist Bob Stinson: by the time the album sessions proper started in November of that year Bob had been sacked from the band he started. There is little difference between these demos and the tracks the band would go onto cut without him. Bob Mehr’s excellent liner notes suggest he contributed little to the Blackberry Way sessions and Paul Westerberg was a sufficiently skilled guitarist to take up the slack. So PTMM was recorded by a three piece band, who only returned to a four piece when live dates loomed. The strongest of the demos not to make the finished LP were those written and sung by bass player Tommy Stinson, especially Hey Shadow. His Trouble On The Way is equally strong.

The LP was recorded over two months at the end of 1986 at Ardent Studios in Memphis with maverick producer Jim Dickinson.  CD One gives us a 2020 remaster of the 11 tracks that were released as Pleased To Meet Me in 1987 and it sounds great, like it always has. What is intriguing is to compare these tracks with those on CD Three, described as Rough Mixes. The Rough Mixes were what the band took back to Minneapolis with them at the end of the Ardent sessions. Dickinson then spent three weeks remixing and tinkering with the tracks using the studios newly acquired Fairlight sampler. It is these remodelled tracks that would be released as Pleased To Meet Me. There are some obvious differences, for example the Rough Demos feature organ on Valentine and rockabilly piano on IOU, and Can’t Hardly Wait ends rather than fades. There are also a lot of subtle differences between the two versions. The Rough Mix version of Alex Chilton is Rock, the Pleased To Meet Me version is Pop. The material on the Rough Mix version is not as strong – Birthday Gal and Kick It In are not adequate substitutes for the absent I Don’t Know. The thirteen Rough Mixes are also pressed on a vinyl LP, which sounds terrific.

The remaining tracks are out-takes and cover versions cut in studio downtime, engaging but mostly inessential. Lift Your Skirt is the most blatant Chuck Berry rip Westerberg has ever managed. Most of the out-takes that have circulated amongst fans are here, with the exception of I Tried To Make This Your Home and the “Going Out Of My Head” version of I Don’t Know.

Tommy Stinson describes this LP as their first grown-up record, but you would never describe it as mature. Whether Dickinson should have been allowed to digitally remodel the Pleased To Meet Me tracks is academic at this late stage. Certainly the Rough Mixes were less radio-friendly and might have resulted in Sire not picking up their option. And as Mehr’s Trouble Boys depicts in excruciating detail, the commercial failure of the Mats had many causes, mostly down to the band’s behaviour rather than their music.

“One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter

The sweet smell that they adore, I think I’d rather smother. “

Please identify this picture!

Mick Jagger onstage with the Stones – circa 1970 ? Can anyone identify the gig and the date ? Answers please to

The 16th Best Live Review in Record Collector’s history!

The new edition of RC (November 2020) includes Tim Jones’ pick of 16 writers to cover the 16 years of the Live Reviews pages. I just scrape in at number 16:

My full review of the gig is here

Get Your Rocks Off – Eddie And The Hot Rods

Jungle FREUDLP079

I was delighted to be asked by Alan Hauser at Jungle Records to write the sleeve notes for this double LP, just released in time for Record Store Day 2 (you can also get it via the usual digital services). 

The Hot Rods were such a breath of fresh air when they hit London in 1975. They weren’t punks but nor were they Tales From Topographic Oceans. We saw them a lot and I was lucky enough to attend one of their sweatbox Marquee dates where their thrilling live EP was recorded. If you enjoyed that EP then this LP is very much more of the same. Recorded in  France in May 1976 with Marc Zermati (RIP) in attendance this set is just like being there. An added bonus on side 4 of the vinyl is three studio recordings featuring Lew Lewis on harp (also available to view on the Skydog YouTube channel. And the discs themselves are a fetching shade of red and blue.  Great pics from Michael Beal and a spiffy gatefold sleeve. Highly recommended.

Side 1

  1. The Kids Are Alright (Pete Townsend) Fabulous Music
  2. IT Came Out of The Sky (JOHN FOGERTY)
  3. On the Run (Higgs) Universal/Island Music
  4. Cruisin’ In the Lincoln (Higgs/Hollis) Universal/Island Music

Side 2

  1. WoolLy Bully (Domingo Samudio) Carlin Music Corps
  2. Writing on The Wall (Higgs/Hollis) Universal/Island Music Limited
  3. Horseplay (Higgs/Hollis) Universal/Island Music
  4. Gloria (Van Morrison) Carlin Music Corps
  5. Double Checking Woman (Higgs) Universal/Island Music

Side 3

  1. Get Out of Denver (BOB SEGER)
  2. Moving On (Higgs/Hollis) Copyright Control
  3. Bye Bye Johnny (Chuck Berry) Jewel Music Pub. Co. Ltd
  4. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards) Abkco Music Ltd/Onward/Westminster Music

Side 4

  1. Writing on The Wall (Higgs/Hollis) Universal/Island Music Limited
  2. Horseplay (Higgs/Hollis) Universal/Island Music
  3. Get Out of Denver (BOB SEGER)

Tracks 1-13 recorded live in at the Royer, Epernay, France May 14th 1976

Tracks 14 -15 are studio tracks recorded some time in 1975




Barrie Masters – Vocals

Dave Higgs – Guitar

Paul Gray – Bass

Steve Nicol – Drums

Lew Lewis – Harmonica (tracks 14-16)



By late 1975 something new was definitely going on in London. Dr Feelgood started it – roaring out of Canvey Island all narrow lapels and short, sharp songs. Their influence would prove to be massive, not least in New York where Blondie drummer and anglophile Clem Burke returned from a UK holiday with a copy of the first Feelgoods album that influenced the nascent NY club scene both in terms of sound and vision. The success of the Feelgoods spurred on another local band, who had just changed their name from Buckshee to Eddie And The Hot Rods, in homage to the popular Cruisin’ re-release series of LPs. Singer Barrie Masters, guitarist and songwriter Dave Higgs and drummer Steve Nicol were joined first by 15-year old bass player Paul Gray and then by harmonica player Lew Lewis. Another crucial recruit was ex-DJ and madcap record collector Ed Hollis who was assigned the job of manager.

Ed Hollis exposed the band to a wide variety of music, so that in addition to the predictable Who and the Stones cover-versions the bands repertoire expanded to include songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival, the J.Geils Band, Bob Seeger and garage bands such as ? and the Mysterions, Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs and Them. A big fan of Detroit’s proto-punks MC5, Ed also encouraged a more aggressive stage act with songs performed at a fearsome pace.

Eddie and the Hot Rods made their London debut at the Kensington on May 17 1975 as Barrie remembered to Devorah Ostrov. “This Irish fellow named Matt Farley used to run the Kensington. He said, ‘I’ll take a chance.’ The first week there were like ten people there. And Matt said, ‘You can come next week if you want to.’ We were only getting £10 or £15 for playing. Anyway… the next week twenty people turned up. By the third week it was full and the fourth week it was heaving. Then suddenly the phones started ringing. And we didn’t stop after that! We just got loads and loads of gigs!”. The band signed to Island under the guidance of sympatico A&R Howard Thompson and released their first single Writing On The Wall / Cruisin’ In The Lincoln in February 1976, both songs being Higgs/Hollis compositions. Soon afterwards the band parted company with Lew Lewis (“he drove us mad after a few months”).

Which brings us to May 1976, the Hot Rods speeding through France together with Skydog Records supremo Marc Zermati and arriving at a small club in Epernay. The town is famous as the epicentre of the Champagne district and the band’s performance positively fizzes with energy. This recording is crucial as it documents the band at a pivotal stage in their development. There were still plenty of cover versions but some cracking originals were beginning to appear such as Double Checking Woman, Horseplay and the extended On The Run where Paul Gray’s Hawkwind influences became apparent. When I saw the band later that summer in July during their sweatbox residency at London’s Marquee Barrie Masters used the lengthy instrumental break during On The Run to disappear from the stage, only to reappear shrouded in loo roll like a mummy. A manic Get Out Of Denver ended the set at a speed so close to the velocity of sound itself that the song seems to end several minutes before it began” (Charles Shaar Murray, New Musical Express). Three encores were demanded and delivered, including a Higgs/Hollis original called Moving On which was never released officially.

As a special bonus Side 4 contains live in the studio versions of three Hot Rods favourites recorded with Lew Lewis on harmonica doing his best Magic Dick. The addition of mouth harp adds real texture and drive to the sound, making Lewis’ early exit from the band a real disappointment

Listening back to these tracks today I marvel at the verve and economy the Rods showed at a time when both were in short supply. The Nicol and Gray rhythm section were simple and powerful, always driving the songs forward. Dave Higgs was an excellent rhythm guitarist who could do the Wilko Johnson/Mick Green trick of combining lead and rhythm when needed. And Barrie Masters was a commanding front man and a powerful vocalist.

Things began to come together for the band when the Live At The Marquee EP recorded at the aforementioned London residency reached #43 in the UK singles chart. Ed Hollis then indulged his MC5 fantasies further by bringing in Southend’s Graeme Douglas (ex-Kursaal Flyers) on second guitar. Graeme’s songwriting skills resulted in the anthemic “Do Anything You Wanna Do” – “the best pop single of 1977’ according to Back Door Man magazine. The Rods had made it.

But it’s a mighty long way down rock’n’roll and the class of 1977 was more image-conscious and politically outspoken than the Hot Rods. The success of the Clash, Pistols, Buzzcocks et al eclipsed that of the Hot Rods and the band started to look a little old-fashioned. Different incarnations of the Hot Rods recorded and toured until Barrie was the last remaining original member. Dave Higgs died in 2013, Barrie in 2019.  Paul Gray records and tours with the Damned and Steve Nicol still drums on occasion. Ed Hollis died in 1988 after struggling with drug addiction for many years.

This record is a fine tribute to the first and finest line up of the Hot Rods, the band who blew away the remnants of pub rock and cleared the way for punk. On a good night they were the most thrilling band in the land. Now the excitement of a full live set has been captured on vinyl. You gotta go!

Sleevenotes: Simon Wright

For more on Ed Hollis and the story of Speedball Records check out


The Joy Of Less

A house revamp necessitated me putting all my records, books, CDs and DVDs into storage. A year later and they are back and I am delighted to be reunited with my old friends.

However before they went back on the shelves I did some thinning and ejected around 80 items, a combination of books I don’t read, DVDs I don’t watch and music I don’t listen to. Some went to Oxfam and some went onto eBay where I am about halfway through the selling process and have made over £300 thus far.

The real joy of editing my collection in this way is realising how much I love what is left. If I like a band my tendency is to buy everything they have done. Very few bands can justify this type of investment. I can count the bands whose entire output I own on the fingers of one hand – the Only Ones, the Replacements, the MC5. For everyone else being selective is crucial. Be honest: just because you love The Who Sell Out do you ever want to hear It’s Hard again?

The other thing I ditched is innumerable recordings of gigs I attended. I have kept the professionally recorded versions such as the the Stones in Hyde Park but endless audience CDRs of the Stones at Wembley? Life is too short.

Give it a go. Less is more. Keep the stuff you really love. Get rid of the compilations / Greatest Hits / solo albums / imports with a different cover photo.

Then you will have the space to buy more stuff.

(written for Record Collector magazine)

We’re back – Stones Oakland 1969 is latest release from 1960s Records!

Available  now at

The Rolling Stones – Live At The Oakland Coliseum 1969

Let The Airwaves Flow Volume 4


  1. Sympathy For The Devil (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
  2. Stray Cat Blues (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
  3. Prodigal Son (Robert Wilkins)
  4. You Gotta Move (Fred McDowell and the Rev. Gary Davies)
  5. Love In Vain (Robert Johnson)
  6. Live With Me (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
  7. Gimme Shelter (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)
  8. Little Queenie (Chuck Berry)
  9. Satisfaction  (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)

All tracks recorded live at the Oakland-Almeda County Coliseum, California on November 9th 1969 (Second Show) and broadcast on Radio KSAN at the behest of Bill Graham



Mick Jagger – Lead vocals

Keith Richards – Guitars, vocals

Mick Taylor – Guitar, vocals

Bill Wyman – Bass

Charlie Watts – Drums

Sleeve Notes: Dan D. Lion

The opening night of the Stones 1969 tour – a low key warm up in Colorado – was their first gig in the US since Honolulu on July 28th 1966. In the intervening three years much had changed for both the Stones and the States. Founder member Brian Jones had been eased out of the band and replaced in May 1969 by twenty-year old guitarist Mick Taylor. Keith Richards had “got heavily into open tuning guitar riffs – the big new sound – and this was the first tour they had been let loose on audiences”. Onstage amplification and lighting had also greatly improved which allowed the band to be seen and heard, crucial for  an audience now more into listening than screaming. The 17 date, 23 day tour sold out in hours and grossed $1,907,180. Ticket prices ran from $4.50 to $8 in New York. Criticism of such “exorbitant” ticket prices fuelled demand for a free concert, which would eventually result in the darkness of Altamont.

The tour received rave reviews, with The New Yorker stating that “the Stones present a theatrical musical performance that has no equal in our culture” whilst New York Daily News noted that “the Rolling Stones took the fans by storm, preaching male chauvinism, sex, drugs, freedom and violent revolution”.  The onstage prowess of the band was captured by the Wally Heider Mobile  at gigs in New York and Baltimore,  resulting in the ten track LP Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! released in September 1970 and described by the NME as “arguably the best thing the band has ever done”. An expanded version was released in 2009, adding five further live numbers plus songs from support acts B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner.

Before Ya-Ya’s came out an unofficial document of the tour emerged in hipper record stores. This LP was called Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be, initially released on Lurch Records. Recorded by “Dub” Taylor at Oakland using a Sennheiser shotgun microphone and a Uher Report 4000 reel-to-reel tape recorder Live’r was the first live rock bootleg to be widely distributed and of remarkably good quality for an audience recording: read Clinton Heylin’s fascinating Bootleg! for the full story. Comparing Live’r to Ya-Ya’s shows that the latter benefitted from considerable studio over-dubbing. Richie Unterberger has noted that whilst the recording of Live’r is inferior to the sound quality of Ya-Ya’s, it displays a spontaneity that the official recording lacks. In Rolling Stone magazine John Peel opined that Live’r was the greatest live album, ever.

By concentrating on the tracks broadcast by KSAN we can present the Oakland concert in best-yet quality. A slightly tentative Sympathy For The Devil showcases a lengthy Taylor solo, underpinned by Richards’ unrelenting rhythm. Stray Cat Blues reduces the age of its subject to thirteen for a spot of épater le bourgeois and features some x-rated guitar action. The acoustic interlude of Prodigal Son and You Gotta Move is a delight with Jagger’s vocals devoid of affectation  and Richards’ acoustic guitar sounding surprisingly clear considering the primitive amplification available. Love In Vain  features a fine train impersonation and lyrical playing from Taylor. Such subtlety is elbowed aside by a stomping Live With Me, Jagger improvising lyrics to address an unspecified onstage problem. Compared to later live versions Gimme Shelter is compact and to the point, ending a bit abruptly for some of the band. On this tour Ian Stewart would usually slide behind the piano for the irresistible chug of Little Queenie but there is no sign of him here. The set ends with a rousing Satisfaction, Jagger testifying over rhythm kings Watts and Wyman and the interlocking guitars of Richards and Taylor.

Ya-Ya’s  kicked off with tour manager Sam Cutler’s onstage introduction of  “Ladies and Gentlemen…the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world…The Rolling Stones!” . On this evidence, less an arrogant boast and more a statement of fact.


Between The Lines – The Complete Jordan/Wilson Songbook ’71-81

I’ll Have A…Bucket Of Brains

The Flamin’ Groovies

Grown Up Wrong! CDs

Now that Big Star are virtually mainstream the Groovies have inherited their mantle of “The Best Band You Never Heard Of (Unless You Are Jack White)”. The LPs Flamingo (1970) and Teenage Head (1971) showcased the initial songwriting partnership of guitarist Cyril Jordan and singer Roy Loney. These two Grown Up Wrong! CDs highlight the very different second phase from 1971 onwards when Roy Loney was replaced by singer/guitarist Chris Wilson. The Wilson/Jordan songwriting partnership lasted ten years and every song they wrote is contained on Between The Lines in chronological order.

First up is the lo-fi but totally committed Let Me Rock, later to be re-recorded in higher-fi in 2016. Dog Meat is in a similar vein, these tracks coming from San Francisco 1971. The third track from this session is a more thoughtful original entitled Blues From Phyllis: inspired guitar from Cyril underpinned a lyric about a guy in the terminal stages of VD. It would be remade in 1977 as Don’t Put Me On with lyrics changed to attack a music journalist, including a rare useage of the word poltroon.

Enter Dave Edmunds and Rockfield studios and a brace of total 100% classics in You Tore Me Down and the immortal Shake Some Action. Whilst they would appear sounding box-fresh on debut Sire LP in 1976, the tracks were actually recorded in 1972. What do they sound like ? A heady cocktail made from the Stones, Beatles and Byrds in variable proportions, coincidentally the ingredients from which the afore-mentioned Big Star created their magic. Good as these tracks were the next two songs were even better – a demo of Shake Some Action and When I Heard Your Name. Cut for Capitol in July 1973 they have a harder edge than the Edmunds tracks, with a Who-like dynamic on Shake Some Action and some cool mellotron over a Bo Diddley beat for When I Heard Your Name

The next five tracks come from the Shake Some Action LP, the highlight being tear-jerker Teenage Confidential. Follow up LP Now (1977) contributes six tracks, including the propulsive Between The Lines and a Brian Wilson homage in Take Me Back. Third and final Sire LP Jumpin’ In The Night (1979) was made without Edmunds, but Jordan’s production toughened up the sound on the title track and the closing In The U.S.A to deliver the hard, churning rhythm that Jimmy Miller achieved with prime-period Stones – the rock and the roll. Finally So Much In Love – the last Jordan / Wilson song recorded by the Groovies at their abortive Gold Star session in 1981. A bit flimsy compared to previous triumphs but good to have here.

Compiler David Laing has done a sterling job in focussing attention on the bands originals and eliminated the cover versions that cluttered the bands three Sire LPs Whilst at the time Jordan justified the number of cover versions as an homage to early Beatles and Stones LPs a more likely explanation is that he and Chris Wilson were just too slow at writing. Although an occasional gem is missed – I am particularly fond of the harpsichord-drenched I Saw Her, originally by the Charlatans – losing the covers lends more focus to what’s left. It could be renamed the Groovies Greatest Hits, if only they’d had one.

In addition to Jordan and Wilson much credit must be given to long-term bass-player George Alexander, guitarists James Farrell and Mike Wilhelm and drummer David Wright. The standard of musicianship is high throughout – not in the sense of “oh wow what a cosmic 18 minute guitar solo” but more in the sense of a band playing with economy, using lean arrangements to optimise their songs. A 28 page booklet contains Laing’s comprehensive history of the band and includes some mouth-watering Groovies ephemera. Clearly a labour of love.

As is its companion release I’ll Have… A Bucket Of Brains. This is a straight recreation of a CD put together in 1995 by veteran Groovies fan Jon Storey and contains the ground-breaking tracks the band recorded at Rockfield in 1972 . There is some duplication with Between The Lines but also essential tracks. Exhibit one: Little Queenie with Edmunds contributing some boogie-woogie piano a la Ian Stewart. Exhibit two: Slow Death, for me the finest and fiercest song in the Groovies canon. Although recorded by the Jordan/Wilson band it was actually written by Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney and thus was not eligible for inclusion on Between The Lines. Slow Death features a killer slide guitar from Farrell, and a passionate anti-drugs lyric that earnt it a ban from the BBC (doh). Also of note is an extended and different mix of Married Woman and Edmunds’ Shake Some Action at its correct (slower) speed. Once again the booklet is top notch with a note from Jon Storey, a reprint of Nick Kent’s article on the band from Friends in June 1972 – a total hoot – and Robin Wills fascinating speculation as to what tracks could have gone on a 1972 Groovies LP.

A band calling itself the Flamin’ Groovies continues to tour, although with George Alexander and Chris Wilson no longer in the line-up the current band is virtually a tribute to itself. Sadly Roy Loney and Mike Wilhelm have died in recent years leaving Cyril Jordan to fly the flag for Grooviedom on his own. There has been a movie about the Groovies in preparation for years with much footage shot: whether it will ever be released is uncertain. So for now these two CDs – together with Flamingo and Teenage Head – represent all that is best about a wonderful band that continually managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

Is 2020 going to be the Year of the Groovies?


But there is some serious fun to be had with the music on these two fine CDs.

Rock On with The Only Ones!

Do you remember the magazine Rock On ?

Me neither.

However they did publish this excellent article plus accompanying pic of Peter playing John’s strat. Thanks to Nina Antonia for disinterring this.

New tracks from the Rolling Stones!

My first ever commission!

Article appears in the February 2020 edition of Record Collector magazine  (Pink Floyd on cover)

What I wrote is as follows:

“Fans of the Stones, Dylan and the Beach Boys have become accustomed to a New Year bonus as their record companies attempt to extend the copyright of unreleased material by making it publicly available online. However nobody expected a YouTube channel called 69RSTRAX to make 115 previously unreleased 1969-vintage Rolling Stones live and studio tracks available on December 31st. By the time that wrote about the tracks on January 1st they had been taken down.

Alert Stones fans who managed to hear these tracks were intrigued by song versions that had never even been bootlegged before, let alone officially released.  Frustratingly the songs had been rendered unlistenable by the addition of an electronic spoiler, a high-pitched whine. Enter the world’s best fan-run website, Within hours the Notch Filter facility on Audacity had removed the spoiler and the tracks were being freely shared by fans all over the world

Live tracks come from the Stones ground-breaking 1969 US visit. It was their first tour with Mick Taylor replacing Brian Jones, and it was subsequently documented by the live LP Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out. Entire sets come from Oakland (9th of November, first show), Champaign, Illinois (15th), New York (27th and 28th) and West Palm Beach, Florida (30th). There are also individual tracks from Phoenix, Arizona (7th), Inglewood (8th), Oakland (9th, 2nd show) and Fort Collins (11th) plus a partial set from the infamous Altamont Festival (December 6th). Overall the effect is underwhelming. The Stones played pretty much the same set every night, some nights better than others – Champaign is good, West Palm is not. Sound quality is bootleg or worse, apart from the New York Shows which sound like professionally mixed soundboards, unsurprising since the bulk of Ya-Ya’s was drawn from these dates. The November 27th set sounds phenomenal with the band on peak form.The absence of a Baltimore recording is surprising: a multi-track must exist as the Love In Vain on Ya-Ya’s comes from this gig. The Altamont recording here disappoints – this first ‘official’ release is incomplete, runs slow and sounds worse than most recent bootlegs although the version of Gimme Shelter sounds unexpectedly good.

If the live tracks tell us little new, the studio tracks are the complete opposite – previously unreleased and in some cases unheralded by Stones experts.  There are seventeen tracks all in excellent quality, although one is a very obvious McGuffin being a rehearsal of Gimme Shelter recorded in Woodstock during preparation for the 1978 US tour and featuring Taylor’s successor Ronnie Wood on guitar. There is a Love In Vain that is bluesier than we have heard before. The Glimmer Twins swap vocals with Mick singing You Got The Silver and Keith singing lead on Gimme Shelter. Fascinating instrumental versions of Midnight Rambler, Country Honk and Let It Bleed allow for a more detailed examination of the instrumental balance, the latter having more prominent slide licks from (probably) Ry Cooder. Stray Cat Blues and Sister Morphine are earlier takes, again with more prominent slide.

Wild Horses is radically reworked through the addition of a glass harmonica and a full string section. In contrast to the elegant arrangements provided by Paul Buckmaster on contemporary tracks Sway and Moonlight Mile the strings here seem cloying and detract from the desolate beauty of the song. Honky Tonk Women  features Jagger singing the alternate ‘boulevards of Paris” words whilst Sympathy For The Devil features the earlier lyric of “I shouted out ‘Who killed a Kennedy?’. The longest track is 22.25 of Mick Jagger and the London Bach Choir finalising the choral vocals on You Can’t Always Get What You Want with a lot of laughter and false starts. Eventually they nail both introduction and coda, despite Jagger trying to persuade the Choir that ‘want’ contains two syllables.

There are many questions raised by the studio tracks. Stones authority John Perry is intrigued by the acoustic version of Ruby Tuesday. “Why, nearly three years on, would they re-record it with more conventional instrumentation? Brian Jones’ subtle, layered recorder parts are gone and the track is carried by a piano (probably Nicky Hopkins) and an immaculate performance from Charlie Watts, whose drum-sound makes me think it’s from Olympic. The session does not show up in any extant track logs; if the April ’69 date is correct it could be an out-take from the Let It Bleed sessions or even Jamming With Edward. Perhaps it’s an attempt to demonstrate they don’t need Brian Jones.” Other theories are that the track was recorded for Jean-Luc Godard’s movie One Plus One or that it was a rehearsal for the Stones Rock’n’Roll Circus.

The coming months will doubtless see a variety of illegal releases of this material. The studio tracks here would have enlivened last year’s official re-release of Let It Bleed which contained no new material. Maybe these studio tracks were presented to the Stones as a possible bonus CD and rejected, either on artistic grounds or because the Stones continue to be unhappy about the financial aspects of their deal with US record company ABKCO. Another theory is that these tracks are from the Stones own archives, assembled for possible use on the soundtrack of Brett Morgen’s 2012 documentary ‘Crossfire Hurricane’. Whatever the source, the result is that instead of paying for these fascinating tracks we are forced to grab them for free. LSE-graduate Mick Jagger would not approve.”



The Only Ones Live In Chicago 1979

Alona’s Dream Records ADR CD033

(also available on vinyl)

There have been rumours of a previously uncirculated soundboard tape from the 1979 US tour for some time, just before Christmas the evidence emerged. Twelve tracks, recorded at Mothers Club in Chicago on October 3rd 1979. Sound quality is excellent, the show having been recorded on the Metro mobile for the Sunday Morning Nightmares programme on Radio WZRD. Packaging is workmanlike, sleeve-notes uninformative and difficult to read, and my copy arrived with inset tray cracked. And it’s only available via mail order from the US so it’s expensive.

Which is where the criticism stops. The opening Inbetweens confirms we are in for a good time: a lively performance and an excellent recording, all instruments and vocals clearly audible and just enough audience reaction. The stops in Programme are hit with complete precision by all. John Perry’s guitar insinuates itself into The Big Sleep, taking centre stage by the end of the song. Peter Perrett’s vocals are strong and his rhythm guitar does not falter. The song itself would not appear until the following years LP Baby Got A Gun but it sounds finished here, Mike Kellie absolutely storms Lovers Of Today, driving the song forward, always in conjunction with Alan Mair’s ultra-melodic bass parts and backing vocals. Miles From Nowhere features an urgent Perrett vocal whilst the solo shows Perry’s masterful control of feedback.

Another Girl, Another Planet pops up halfway through the set but receives an enthusiastic rendition, slightly faster than the studio version but otherwise similar with Mair’s bass holding it together whilst Perry echoes the space travel lyric. Peter And The Pets gets an extended outro which really motors (lots of “whoos” from the crowd) then straight into the hugely-underestimated No Solution where thankfully the backing vocals are audible. The Immortal Story is another song that goes off like a rocket but the band easily keep up, Kellie crucial here. Traditionally an opportunity for Perry to get creative this is a relatively restrained and compact version. Creature Of Doom sounds far better here than on the Hope & Anchor LP. Then a delightful surprise – finally we have a high quality live version of The Guest, an early and very Velvety song that never made it onto a studio album. Finally The Beast which builds inexorably over 5:42. Peter speaks for virtually the first time to say “thank you” and after 40 minutes of total excellence they are gone.

The band played two sets that night and rest of the set sits in the Alona’s Dream archives, and on this evidence Volume Two would be welcome, John Perry has always claimed that the band were at their best on stage and here, halfway through a challenging tour they are honed to perfection. This is the most exciting live Only Ones recording I have heard, better than the official Live and BBC releases as well as the myriad of unofficial tapes that orbit digitally. It also forms a worthy testament to the late and much-missed Mike Kellie who is heard here at his performing peak.

If you have ever loved this band, you need to get this.

Photocredit: Mike Scott, taken outside Bruces’ Record Shop in Edinburgh 1977