It has to be said straight off. If you want to pick up a great deal for the newest installment of the physical product release for the From The Vault series from The Rolling Stones, then make sure to pick up the DVD/CD bundle of-L.A. Forum-Live In 1975. When this particular title came out during the download series, there was only one show released and it had been billed as being from the July 12, 1975 show. With this bundle, it was thrown about online that this was going to also be advertised as being from the 12th. Instead, a great thing has happened (whether purposely or by accident). It turns out that by buying this bundle, you will be getting two separate shows-the DVD being from July 11, 1975 and the two CDs are from the July 13, 1975 show. Somebody from back in ’75 or now mislabeled these shows.
This release is taken from the first tour after Mick Taylor had left the band. Ronnie Wood stepped in to take over most of the lead guitar roles and to eventually work himself into the intricacies of weaving with Keith Richards (where the distinctions between lead guitar and rhythm get blurred to the point where you can’t tell what either are doing). At this point in time, everybody thought Ronnie was just stepping in and that he was not officially a member of the band.
Since many Rolling Stones fans were also fans of The Faces, people figured that he would be a good fit. Given that people as diverse as Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Wayne Perkins, Harvey Mandel and Nils Lofgren, among others, were considered as the eventual replacement for Taylor, Wood was the one who made the cut for his being an Englishman and for the fact that he was willing to immerse himself with what direction Keith Richards wanted to take the guitars from this point on.
Though the more strict division between lead guitar and rhythm that denoted the playing between Taylor and Richards would now disappear with the introduction of Wood into the lineup, it would not disappear completely overnight. As shown among both sets presented in this release, Wood was doing a lot of distinctive leads which are easy to spot. Wood is in the left channel while Richards is in the right. The listener will come across times when the playing between the two starts to blur, but it would not be until the ’78 Tour of the U.S. before the weaving pattern between the two of them became perfected. This is not to say that the ’75 tour was one where Wood wasn’t thrown that quickly into the fire.
Truth be known, the rehearsals that took place on Montauk in New York were very lengthy insofar as Wood had to become a human sponge. There’s a famous photo of Wood during these rehearsals where he looks like he’s going to go crackers because the band was grinding it out so hard getting the presentation worked out even though Wood had worked with Keith in 1974 for his solo project and for the title song of the It’s Only Rock N’ Roll album. When it comes to fires, this was Wood’s baptism which involved diving decidedly head-first.
And what does one make of these two shows? First, one has to consider the long-standing stereotypical thinking of longtime Rolling Stones fans in order to fully understand this release and why it surprises them. For a lot of people, the ’75 Tour was a letdown because of Taylor’s leaving and they also had to deal with the irony that they admired Wood with his time being alongside Rod Stewart and the fact that Wood was shouldering all of the guitar work when he was with Stewart. Many reports over the years from fans indicated that these shows were not that good.
I’ve listened to ’75 audience recordings, including the July 13th show, and I’ve spent years with the thought that the shows were good, but nothing to really get overly excited about. So, imagine my surprise when I put in the time to watch and listen to both of these shows and got jolted into realizing that these actually worked even though it is amazing that they did. Miles more than on the official live album released in 1977, Love You Live (taken from 1975 shows and 1976 Europe shows and being heavily worked on with studio fix-ups), this document really gives you two shining examples of The Rolling Stones in their most decadent mid-’70s phase and also its most gloriously sloppy that somehow miraculously manages to prop itself up amid its self-evident overindulgence. In other words, the times suggested itself. It was of the moment and entirely appropriate.
There’s plenty to criticize with both of these shows. For starters, Mick Jagger misses verses and repeats some of the same ones in order to to compensate during a few songs. His combination of overt campiness and exaggerated drawl-slang irritated many tape listeners for years. Some people had wondered why a percussion player, in this case Ollie Brown, was needed to help out Charlie Watts during this tour. And then there was confusion over why Trevor Lawrence was used on saxophone for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” rather than Bobby Keys and then they both end up making appearances at these shows together. There were also people who did not like the two song section of the show where Billy Preston played two of his own selections with the Stones backing him. Well, you know something? I guess it was their party and they could do what they wanted to. And besides, who was going to deny the talent of Preston? For the record, these two performances by Preston work out just fine. Plus, you really get the benefit of hearing Richards really tighten up-especially during “Outa-Space”. People need to remember that Billy Preston was a huge name back in 1975. He had the cred. Plus, he had already worked with them during the ’73 European Tour in order to take over for Nicky Hopkins.
The thing that really works about these two shows is the interaction between the two most important players throughout the whole careening shebang-Charlie Watts and Keith Richards. I guess it took a professional audio and video presentation of these two shows, warts and all, to make one realize that you can have all of the sloppiness and decadence going on about you as long as the drummer and the rhythm player remain locked into each other. This has been the one constant throughout all three guitar phases of the Rolling Stones’ career (Jones, Taylor & Wood). It absolutely astounded me to watch and listen to Keith Richards interacting with Charlie Watts during these two shows given that Keith was at the very height of his heroin addiction on this tour. Everything manages to work its way through and come out the other side without derailing completely. In fact, it comes out standing. I’ve always referred to the ’75 Tour and the ’76 European Tours as Keith’s survival tours. He was staying alive because of the music. If you want proof that I’m not exaggerating, then it’s all here in its ragged glory.
As a longtime fan, I do want to be clear. I’m not saying that I’ve suddenly decided that this tour stands equally with the earlier Taylor Era tours. But it’s now clear to me that there were some nights on the ’75 tour that were not nearly the disasters that perhaps some people have made them out to be over the years. I would have to think that there will be the possibility ’76 Europe shows being released (the obvious ones being Paris and perhaps Knebworth- the not so obvious one, Glasgow, is another). But if this series should end up becoming really comprehensive as time goes on, there has to be the possibility that the Cow Palace shows in San Francisco and the New York City run has to be considered in the running for eventual release from ’75-even if there’s no video footage available for these shows.
The rumor mill has been swirling around over what the next release will be. So far, the early candidates appear to be more of the downloads being made into physical releases. The specific candidates appear to be Tokyo 1990 and San Jose 1999. And I’ll keep repeating this until I’m blue in the face. Let’s hope an expanded 2-CD release of the A Brussels Affair ’73 (with Taylor) finally sees the light of day.
Release Date: November 17, 2014
Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Website – Official
Availability: DVD, BD (CD, LP)
1) Introduction 2) Honky Tonk Women 3) All Down The Line 4) If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud 5) Star Star 6) Gimme Shelter 7) Ain’t Too Proud To Beg 8) You Gotta Move 9) You Can’t Always Get What You Want 10) Happy 11) Tumbling Dice 12) It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll 13) Band Intros 14) Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) 15) Fingerprint File 16) Angie 17) Wild Horses 18) That’s Life* 19) Outta Space 20) Brown Sugar 21) Midnight Rambler 22) Rip This Joint 23) Street Fighting Man 24) Jumpin’ Jack Flash 25) Sympathy For The Devil