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“Ladies And Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones”

March 12, 2012

First Published September 2010

Lightning strikes twice. Following the success of the Exile re-releases Mick Jagger has again reluctantly looked over his shoulder, resulting in the first ever proper release for “Ladies & Gentlemen”. Shot on the STP tour of the USA in June 1972, the band were filmed playing small halls in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas. On this tour the Stones were augmented by Nicky Hopkins and Ian Stewart on piano, Bobby Keyes on Sax and Jim Price on trumpet. Add the contrasting guitars of Mick Taylor and Keith Richards, the Bill Wyman / Charlie Watts rhythm juggernaut and Mick Jagger on harp and vocals and there’s a lot going on. However careful remixing and remastering has balanced each element beautifully – for the first time I can hear the horns throughout. The picture quality is also improved, but director Rollin Binzer chose to use only concert lighting so it seems dark by modern standards, particularly as red light is used throughout and the follow-spot frequently doesn’t. Only when we get to the countdown-to-ecstasy final four numbers do the lights go up and we see both band and audience fully illuminated. But it doesn’t matter as the shadowy visuals are a perfect accompaniment to the music.

The very first glimpse of the band indicates the delights to come. Richards swaggers before he’s even plugged in. Jagger manages to make a purple satin jumpsuit and jewelled eye make-up look non-ridiculous. Watts wears a shirt with so many ruffles he looks like an armadillo. Highlights are Richards and Jagger sharing a microphone for Dead Flowers, Taylor’s exquisite slide solo on All Down The Line and the whole band nailing the tempo of a definitive Tumbling Dice. Only Jagger’s belt-whipping of the stage during Midnight Rambler seems dated – I guess you had to be there.

Even the extras are worth a look. Rehearsal versions of Shake Your Hips, Tumbling Dice and a dull Bluesberry Jam recorded at the Rialto in Montreux for German TV are here in best-ever quality, but sadly  the promo of Loving Cup filmed at the same session is omitted. Richard Williams fails to get anything interesting out of Jagger in March 1972, but Paul Sexton does better with an interview done earlier this year which introduced cinema showings of “Ladies & Gentlemen”.

I am disappointed that Eagle have not included the highly entertaining footage from the Dick Cavett TV special, instead restricting it to the inevitable 3DVD Special Limited Edition Box Set. Additional tracks such as Rocks Off, Sweet Black Angel and Don’t Lie To Me were filmed in Texas but remain unseen. Another great extra would have been the tour encore filmed for complementary STP documentary  “Cocksucker Blues” where the Stones were joined by tour support Stevie Wonder for a medley of Uptight and Satisfaction.

Even if you are a hardcore Stones fan with a recent bootleg such as the 4Reel remaster you still need this  – the improvement in picture and sound quality is significant. The best live depiction of The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band In The World, this release is an essential purchase.

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