It needs to be stated right off the bat. An official Rolling Stones vault release series needs to be supported. Now that the Stones organization has begun releasing physical product versions of shows they originally started releasing as download-only a few years back, it is up to long-time supporters of the band to step to the plate and help to keep this series going. They also need to play this stuff to the younger fans to show them the proof of why they are so great. There are rumors floating around that Mick & Keith plan to allow more shows to be released as physical product beyond the original download-only shows from a few years ago. This is a band who is worthy of a series from any era of the band. Be it the Jones, Taylor or Wood Era, there are moments to treasure from almost any show of theirs. The Hampton ’81 show is no exception even though you would discover that there are a lot of people who prefer different eras and tours over others.
In order to more fully understand what it is that you would be watching on the DVD release of this show, it is important to bear in mind that this show comes from a period in time when the band was transitioning from what some would consider their last “dangerous” phase (the 1978 Some Girls Tour of the United States) to becoming a corporate entity with the 1981 North American Tour and its Jovan sponsorship. Their 1981 and 1982 European Tour was also the last with Bill Graham and his organization. Their sound was also beginning to change. Things were beginning to sound cleaner while the volume grew louder. In their excellent book, Rolling Stones Gear, Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost explain that Keith began to hike the volume of his amps with new gear that he acquired. All of this becomes a philosophical point among Stones fans who argue over this particular dividing line-among others.
This show takes place on the last stop of the tour. They are firing on all cylinders relative to the ’81 tour. The beauty of this particular show is that the band rises above the debates among the fans as well as the time period that this show took place during the final half of the show and most especially the final quarter. From Keith’s performance of “Little T & A” onwards to the end, the viewer will be transported to that other level that all of the greatest bands take their fans on a consistent basis.
The only thing which possibly hurts this show is that the Stones are playing so cleanly that the element of a train going off the tracks is not so present as it was on previous tours. It is a thoroughly professional show even though the legend of the past remains hanging over the proceedings. Make no mistake about it, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood were not complete saints by any stretch of the imagination at this point in time. What was ironic was that Keith was actually keeping an eye on Ronnie throughout this period and further into the ’80s while Keith was going along through the process of having stopped some of his excesses (but not all).
This is also a show to savor in one other regard. This was just before all the hell was going to begin breaking loose between Keith and Mick Jagger the following year in Europe when they toured over there. Keith was now seeing the business end of things just as clearly as Mick.
Sadly, this DVD is also a document of the last time American audiences would get to see of their original piano player in the form of Ian Stewart, whom along with Faces stalwart Ian McLagan, really give you a last-time feel of some of the friends who helped to make the band function so well. One of the strange things about this tour was that sax player Bobby Keys fell out of favor with Mick Jagger for this tour and they used Ernie Watts for most of the songs that required sax. But Keys gets to play on a few things thankfully so that things can harken back to an older era of the band.
One great thing about The Rolling Stones is that they never stopped dropping in some great cover songs during their shows. Eddie Cochran’s “20 Flight Rock” is one one of them. The other is a particularly great version of “Going To A Go-Go” from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Keith locks into the groove and practically wills the song along on his own. Some of the performances from this show made it onto the Still Life live album that came out not long after the tour.
Depending on your point of view, Jagger’s use of a crane to go and commune with the crowd can be a distraction at times, but focus always manages to reassert itself. But there were potentially dangerous moments to be had. At the beginning of the final song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, a fan runs up on the stage to seemingly celebrate Keith’s birthday on this night. Whether the fan was drunk, stoned or just genuinely excited, Keith took his guitar off and swung it at the guy as he got very close to him. People need to remember that this took place only a year after John Lennon was gunned down in front of the Dakota building in New York City. Major touring music acts had a very heightened sensitivity to fans rushing to them while they were onstage. Richards, at this time period, took to carrying a loaded handgun with him at all times when he wasn’t onstage. This moment, which is captured for posterity on this neat document, added to the legend that is Keith Richards.
It is up to you to decide whether this was the tour where the Stones were beginning to ride on their history as a band or not. There’s a legitimate argument to be made that they were touring off of the Tattoo You album and that there were still new chapters to add to the band’s legacy. The bottom line is that this show is worthy of being in one’s collection regardless of any caveats I may wish to want to point out. It is hoped for that Jagger and Richards will work out some deals with the Allen Klein organization to get more Brian Jones and Mick Taylor Era shows out there with the launching of this series. Plus, it is absolutely essential that an affordable version of the A Brussels Affair release from the 1973 European Tour (the final tour with Mick Taylor before Taylor left the band) gets released as part of the physical product releases. I welcome supporting this series. Will you?
Release Date: November 04, 2014
Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Website – Official
Availability: DVD, BD (CD, LP)
1) Under My Thumb 2) When The Whip Comes Down 3) Let’s Spend The Night Together 4) Shattered 5) Neighbours 6) Black Limousine 7) Just My Imagination 8) Twenty Flight Rock 9) Going To A Go Go 10) Let Me Go 11) Time Is On My Side 12) Beast Of Burden 13) Waiting On A Friend 14) Let It Bleed 15) You Can’t Always Get What You Want 16) Band Introductions 17) Happy Birthday Keith 18) Little T & A 19) Tumbling Dice 20) She’s So Cold 21) Hang Fire 22) Miss You 23) Honky Tonk Women 24) Brown Sugar 25) Start Me Up 26) Jumping Jack Flash 27) (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction