Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Rolling Stones' The Brussels Affair review

 The Rolling Stones - The Brussels Affair (Live 1973)

The Rolling Stones
The Brussels Affair (Live 1973)
Rating: **** 1/2

2012 will mark the 50 years since the formation of the Rolling Stones. Many would think that the band would be getting things together for a 50th anniversary tour. However, Mick Jagger has been denying it as he’s now focused with his super group, SuperHeavy. The band is scheduled to jam/rehearse before the year ends. While the current status of the Stones is unknown, the band is treating the fans to some goodies. Last year, the band gave Exile On Main St. a deluxe edition. The second disc gave fans a whole disc worth of unreleased material. Also, the long lost Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones movie finally got its DVD release (it even was in theaters for one night only). Some Girls will be getting the same treatment towards the end of November and a concert in Texas from 1978 will be released on DVD as well. Much to the surprise of fans, the band has launched their own archival site to release memorabilia and authentic bootleg recordings (for fans in the US, you’ll have to buy the shows from the new Google-Android music store). The band has selected a bootleg called The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) as the first release. It’s considered one of the best bootlegs out there on the Stones. The shows were recorded during their 1973 tour in support of their album, Goats Head Soup, on October 17 in Brussels, Belgium (the album seems to be a combination of the afternoon and night shows). It’s a brilliant release and the band is in fine form.

            The audience waits for the band to come onstage until they hear: “And now ladies and gentlemen…it’s the Rolling Stones!” The band jumps into “Brown Sugar”, which sounds just wonderful. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor are playing great on this one and perhaps the entire show. Songs like “Gimme Shelter” and “Tumbling Dice” are interesting to hear without any backing vocals. It’s just Mick singing all by himself, which is impressive. Another thing that people might be impressed by is Mick speaking in French to the audience. He’s sounds fantastic! It does sound funny too, hearing a British rocker trying to communicate to his fans. Keith takes over lead vocals for “Happy” from the Exile on Main St. album, which sounds nearly identical to the studio track. 

The Stones also play four songs from their then latest album, Goats Head Soup. For many fans, Goats Head Soup is one of the band’s most underrated albums. Hearing the songs performed live is quite interesting, considering some of them don’t get played often nowadays. For example, Mick doesn’t omit the John Wayne lyrics in “Star Star” (aka “Starfucker”), which the band decided to omit in later performances when Wayne became ill and died. Also, fans will get to hear one of the very few live performances of “Dancing With Mr. D” which is a real treat. Although a bit messy, the soul-infused “Heartbreaker” is absolutely killer. Just check out the short guitar solo. “Angie”, the album’s most popular song, is played as well. The band even goes into an 11 minute jam of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and get down-right bluesy in a 12 minute version of “Midnight Rambler”. Some other songs from Exile are played (“Rip This Joint” and “All Down The Line”) as well as a few singles (“Honky Tonk Women” and “Jumping Jack Flash”). The show ends with an amazing version of “Street Fighting Man”. It’s amazing for its raw energy and for the sound of the jangling guitars.

            If you are a fan of the Rolling Stones, it’s a no-brainer: you must get this. It’s a splendid show and if this is the way the band is going to celebrate their 50th anniversary by releasing bootlegs, I’m all for it. Plus, it’s only $4.99. You’ve got nothing to lose. Go and get it. 

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