Sunday, March 23, 2014
The first set opens kinetically with a high speed and emphatically sung 'Bertha', breezy and loose like a screen door swinging unlatched in the breeze. Fan favorite for the time, 'Me and My Uncle' follows next and keeps things escalated with a cooking rendition, punctuated with Lesh detonations. After decompressing versions of both a slow shimmering 'Loser' and a regal 'Black Throated Wind', the first highlight of the concert begins with the rare combo of 'Scarlet Begonias' paired with 'It Must Have Been the Roses'. This early 'Scarlet' stretches out, developing into a vibrant rebounding jam that forsakes the reprise, spacing slightly, then sliping into a floral 'It Must Have Been the Roses'.
This 'Playin' is a full band performance, with all the players taking moments to initiate changes in the jam. The musical journey percolates kinetically, always threatening to spill over into a frothing mess, but staying just below boiling point, increasing the tension. Godchaux and Garcia play with thick effects through the early stages of the jam, but at seven minutes Garcia goes clean and enters into a tumbling accentuated jam that Billy K seems to telepathically connect with. Around nine and a half minutes the entire band jumps into a tree lined ravine, into a tangle of brush and blow down, their form only visible through cutouts in the forest landscape, only then to disappear into a haze of mist.
A short space develops where the band regroups momentary, only to reemerge a gurgling and rumbling mess, rising like subterranean earth bubbles, breaking the surface in a blast of heat and organic materials. Playing as one instrument the group escapes the grasp of the ground, Kreutzman swings the band entirely around back into a 'Playin' tinged groove. Around fourteen minutes Lesh grumbles some chunks that swells into another schizophrenic meltdown. Garcia jumps on quotes from the 'Playin' theme that appear briefly and then lose consciousness in waves of sound.
Unfortunately this spacey dark jazz excursion is marred by a clumsy return to the reprise-- caused by how far out the band had taken themselves and being unable to navigate the way home safely.The 'Playin In the Band' signals the conclusion of a loose and well played full band display for set one.
The band seems almost on the verge of drifting away into the black expanse of space lazily until Lesh starts to pop and Billy starts to push more aggressively. A darkly psychedelic Garcia stars to prod Lesh into madness, creating a fish eyed jam that swim's briefly before again falling into a empyrean space. Keith is the first to awake and at nine minutes and another full group swell coalesces, similarly to the first set "Playing', every one in the band is pressing the jams directional buttons.
At half past ten minutes Lesh groans, the music turns, becoming a celestial tablecloth pulled so quickly that all of the musical glasses still remain stoically on the table. The 'Dark Star' theme forms again, then dissipates amongst a wash of feedback, wah-wah'd piano and Lesh's martian communications. Strangeness prevents the verse from appearing at first, but it finally does, moving slowly through a thick jelly of verse one.
As soon as the verse is sung and finished, Garcia employs a waspy distorted tone, contrasting with Weir's warm chording, Garcia then strangles the strained over driven notes, Lesh joins in and maliciously scrapes strings as trippy bird bells shimmy by on small clouds. The music deepens, gradually darker, a back country dusk shading its creation and at eighteen minuites the band reaches the place they have been searching for since the first set 'Playing'. The boiling point has been breached, the band is a slithering organism, shapeless, shifting through various alien musical landscapes. The improvised music pours from the stage, crisp and clear.
After the astral traveling that has just occurred, the band decides to now rock the socks off of every one in attendance with a absolute fire breathing display of rabble-rousing rock and roll. First the band blasts through 'Promised Land' shake every one down, then enters one of the finest 'Not Fade Away's' of the era. At four minutes in the jam explodes in a strumming extravaganza, Garcia unfurls through a series of melodic statements created, quoted, some new, some familiar, all amazing. This enters a 'Goin Down the Road Feeling Bad' that goes pedal to the medal for the distance. The band must have thought that they already busted their metaphorical nuts, because they end the concert there, without returning to 'Not Fade Away'. No problem, because there is not much more they could have added to the combo after blazing it to the ground.The band returns for a hot 'Saturday Night' encore, with some additional Weir exclamations for added effect. The crowd is obviously pleased and satisfied.
Dark Star->China Doll
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Opening with the hopelessly funky drums and groovy percussion of the sexy track 'Hot Stuff', the record immediately expresses the diverse musical samples that the Stones were experimenting with during this time of upheaval and change. Stitched together with Watt's contemporary take on disco grooves, 'Hot Stuff' is a sweaty dance club mantra in which Jagger swaggers and staggers. The combination of Billy Preston's nimble keyboards, Richards syrupy wah-wah rhythm, and Wyman's cozy bass equate to a flashing red light exclusive back room party. Harvey Mandel contributes the slippery lead riffs that adorn the song.
Keith Richards love for Reggae started in the early 1970's as he was a fan of Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley, by this time he had started to bring the island influence into the Stones own recordings. The band had also recorded 1973's Goats Head Soup in Jamaica, so their interest in Reggae had been developing for a while. The track 'Cherry Oh, Cherry' featured on Black and Blue was a cover of Eric Donaldson's 1971 Reggae track with Watts and Wyman taking a stab at a English version 'one drop' Reggae groove. The British reggae love would be taken to astronomical levels by Eric Clapton in 1974 with huge cover of Bob Marley's 'I Shot the Sheriff'. Like a group of stoned pirates the band walks the plank, falling into the groove amongst yells from Keith of 'Irie!' slightly off mic. Fun overlapping vocals riding on the back of Watts mastery of the reggae thump, illustrating the Stones musical diversity and influence, the key to their longevity. Similar to their early embracing of the blues, the band also welcomed Reggae with open arms.
Side two of the LP opens with 'permanent' new guitarist Ronnie Wood's influence being felt on the track, "Hey Negrita'. The label on the LP lists, "Inspiration by Ron Wood'. Beginning on the same sort of dirty funk that 'Hot Stuff' initiated, 'Hey Negrita' moves exotically like a brown skinned beauty slinking across a humid and dusty dance floor. The soon to become legendary Richards/Wood guitar weaving starts here in big heavy slabs, exposing the strata of their riffing. The future grit of their fruitful collaboration eliciting more funky grime than a windshield after a 1000 mile cross country drive.
The second track of side two, "Melody' swings with the inspirational input of Billy Preston. 'Melody' moves with a slinky and jazzy sensibility. Jagger takes on the role of a statuesque barroom singer, trading off wordless falsetto interjections with Preston who also sings on the track. Multilayer horns dance on top of Watts lightly brushed percussive additions and Richards muted and smooth guitar riffing. The song is an anomaly in the Stones catalog but fits well in the conglomerate of influence felt on this record. A strange foray into barroom jazz for the group.
'Fool to Cry' follows the eclectic mix observed on the second side of the LP, and to this reviewer points toward the more 'middle of the road' approach that Jagger would take in his own solo work. The dictated, almost spoken Jagger lyrics illicit the 1950's crooners that had to have influenced Jagger and his vocal approach .Ironically enough, this would be the only song to chart off of the Black and Blue LP. Richards was a fan of Jagger's soulful falsetto approach to the song, but he was also known to 'nod out' during live concert performances. The watery guitar and slippery keyboards are a sonic highlight of the tune. One of the 'deeper' cuts from the Stones catalog, the big ballad has found renewed interest with its inclusion in the HBO series Girls.
Like I previously stated, its a difficult proposition to navigate and discover under-appreciated and 'deep' Rolling Stones cuts, when the band is the subject of such study and dissemination. Black and Blue is of particular interest due to its placement in the grey area of the groups storied career. By the appearance of 1978's Some Girls, the lineup would be once again solidified, Wood a final decision, ready for the next 35 years of continued rock and roll. Unique in the Stones discography, Black and Blue illustrates the Stones not only discovering a wealth of new influence in the genres of funk and reggae, but finds them revisiting previously prominent blues and soul ideals. The record is a worthwhile snapshot of the band in a unique period of flux, but still delivering the goods no matter the situation or even lead guitarist!
Black and Blue
Sunday, March 9, 2014
I know the risks involved in compiling a list of this stature. I would like to preemptively remark that this collection of live albums is in no particular order, and is only the list of the 'rock room's' preferences. I am keeping this collection limited to official releases, not posthumous collections. Please feel free to comment and discuss additions, subtractions, reasons and recommendations! I am compiling this list of the LP's that continue to grow in stature and are in constant rotation in the 'rock room'. Sit back throw one of the records mentioned below on the turntable and let's talk about rock!
Rock Of Ages
Live In Japan
Whipping Post 1971
Band of Gypsys 12-31-1969
Babylon By Bus
Live at Leeds
Song Remains the Same
Crosby/Nash (Live 1977): In the context of the previous LP's, you may be asking how this record fits in with the rest. Well, if you have not heard this record, you are in for a treat. This recording is a standard in the rock room, as well as the bootleg recordings from other concerts on the tour. The Crosby/Nash road band featured rock legends, Danny Kortchmar, Russell Kunkle, David Lindley, Tim Drummond and Craig Doerge as the 'Jitters', morphing the Crosby/Nash compositions into psychedelic maelstroms and detailed acoustic readings. This oft-forgotten recording is easily one of the finest collections in the Crosby/Nash cannon as well as a 'rock room' favorite. The reading of David Crosby's 'Foolish Man' is alone worth the price of admission. Pick this one up in the bargain LP bin and prepare to get your mind blown!
I limited my 'rock room' live concert recording list to ten. There are a plethora of concert recordings I have not included which in no way diminishes their influence or importance to the 'rock room' or to you, my loyal reader. The issue with 'lists' is that something always has to be left off, hence my impetus for this rant, the LP, Humble Pie-Performance did not make the cut! In addition to Humble Pie, are the following recordings, Jefferson Airplane-Bless it's Pointed Little Head, Johnny Cash-Live From Folsom Prison, Bob Dylan and the Band-Before the Flood, Lynyrd Skynyrd-One More From the Road, Neil Young-Rust Never Sleeps, Rolling Stones-Get Your Ya-Ya'a Out and Lou Reed-Rock and Roll Animal including countless, others that are influential as well as definitive to the 'rock room'. Unfortunately, I could not include everything in the 'rock room' vaults! So, if you have not had the pleasure to enjoy any of the aforementioned recordings, this is your time and opportunity to dig in. Use the list above as a guide but not as an answer, start your journey with a few and use them to take the numerous paths less traveled that will reveal other recordings. It's an endless journey but one filled with new discoveries, and beautiful music.
Humble Pie-I'm Ready
Saturday, March 1, 2014
The recording picks up with the red, yellow and green buoyancy of 'Zimbabwe', a statement of Marley's support of guerrillas fighting for racial independence in the country. This song is most likely the third or fourth song in the show as set list examination from concerts later in the tour reveals that 'Natural Mystic', 'Positive Vibration' and 'Revolution' often preceded 'Zimbabwe'. 'War/No More Trouble' is featured toward the end of this recording here, differing from its earlier position later in the tour.
One of the revelations to appear from the tape follows with a version of 'Talkin Blues'. A warm stone in the sun, made for daydreaming, is the foundation of this rare 1980 performance. The stair climbing ascending and descending central riff lends a smoky positivity to the 'blues' content of the track. A true highlight of the show with syncopated solo section that pops with Rasta energy.
The same rings true for the 'new' song from the yet to be released Uprising album 'We and Dem' that follows. The song rolls out on a fat round bass tone, thumping into a slow burn. The track is not as tight as the preceding numbers, possible cause for its eventual disappearance from the set. The rarity factor is high here, and the sound quality makes it all worth wile in spite of some tentativeness by the players.
'Jammin' and 'Exodus' follow keeping the momentum high and the lyrical content diverse. 'Jammin' dissolves into a bass laden vocal jam that builds into the concluding exit instrumental. Without pausing 'Exodus' pulses heavily as soon as 'Jammin' concludes, shifty and dramatic, the performance continues to amaze. An electric Rasta revival is taking place on the recording, with special notice to the knotted rope keyboards adorning the track.
The main set concludes with 'Exodus' and the band returns to the stage for a rendition of 'Redemption Song'. Endearingly out of tune on his acoustic, Marley still inspires chills with his soulful reading. The lyrics sung acapella are especially affecting, with Marley then wordlessly vocalizing a melody line that the full band picks up on to conclude the song.
A 'rock room' favorite 'War/No More Trouble returns the concert to full on 'burnin' mode. Heavy percussion and crisp execution abound, the musical starts and stops are bulls eye hits. Masterfully mixing the 'heavy' tunes with the 'lighter' stuff, a funky 'Kinky Reggae' comes next following 'War' and preceding and segueing into the show closing 'Get Up, Stand Up'.
Thus ends our journey through the newly circulating Bob Marley and the Wailers performance from 1980. A welcome addition to collectors circles as well an amazingly well played performance that no one has ever had the pleasure to enjoy before. This one pleases the Marley aficionado's because of the unique features of the performance, but can also be enjoyed by those being introduced to the world of Marley because of its exceptional sound quality and varied set list. The show is available to those who search. As always, thanks for reading!
Bob Marley and the Wailers 5-30-1980