Monday, December 28, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE ROLLING STONES - LIVE IN LEEDS 1982
This live album comes from a time when the Stones had to earn the title of Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World every night, rather than having it bestowed via a grandfather clause. They had vanquished all the old foes; Zeppelin died with Bonzo, The Who were giving up on a final tour that year, no spark after moon had died, and McCartney put an end to Wings after the Japanese bust and Lennon's murder. Now they were taking on upstarts such as The Clash and The Police, edgy new music they had countered with their own Some Girls and the instant classic singles Start Me Up.
Try as they might though, the band did have a hard time keeping up the street cred. It was becoming more and more about money, as the American leg of the tour, was said to be the most profitable in history, mega-millions flying about for all concerned. Plus, it was famously sponsored by Jovan Musk, the Stones being the first big name to allow corporate sponsorship into the game, for even more profit. While the critics sniped, the band laughed all the way to the bank, but as for their status as the greatest, well, uneasy lies the head who wears a crown. After the European leg of the tour in 1982, they wouldn't hit the road again until 1989, after pretty much ending things in '85.
This is the last show from that '82 tour, the last for seven years, as performed outdoors at Roundhay Park in Leeds, U.K. It's the latest in the continuing From The Vault series, which has presented some spectacular live sets over the last couple of years, from the Marquee Club in 1971 in front of a handful, to the Tokyo Dome in 1990, and tens of thousands. The shows high-quality video to newly-remixed audio from the master, Bob Clearmountain, available in CD/DVD or Blu-ray combos. The Roundhay show is full of close-ups of the band, shot for the mammoth screens (a relative new idea then) used to help the 80,000 people see something of the show. The downside is watching Bill Wyman just stand there, expressionless, over and over. The good part is lots of shots of Mick and Keith doing their thing in your living room.
Another set in the From The Vault series is from the Hampton, Virginia show of 1981, the last show on the U.S. leg. The difference is night and day, this the winner hands-down. That one was shot for pay-per-view, the first music one ever, and there's none of the immediacy you get from the Leeds close-ups. The band seems much more relaxed, and on top of their game as well. There are several highlights along the way, including the best Angie I've heard live, and the band really enjoyed the Motown covers Just My Imagination and Going To A Go-Go. Keith's really enjoying his little licks and fills, and everybody gets into playing Tumbling Dice; Keith's pulling guitar-hero poses, saxman Bobby Keys is winking, Ian Stewart's grooving, and wow, Charlie just smiled. Meanwhile, Bill Wyman...well, nothing happening there.
Seriously, an hour-and-a-half into the show, they are cooking so well, they make lame new numbers She's So Cold and Hang Fire fun. Charlie grins through the whole thing. But why is the camera back on Wyman, who now looks like he's attending the village council tax assessment meeting?
In 1982, The Rolling Stones were not touring a great album (Tattoo You), were no longer the baddest bunch on the block, were a long way from the being the most innovative, and weren't really close to the blues anymore. But on that night, once again, they earned the title of World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band.