5 Stars *****
The Rolling Stones, the “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in
the World”, has always been the claim. When you look back over the last forty
years, it is a pretty hard one to dispute. Starting off playing Blues covers of
their American heroes to a faithful few in South London’s Youth Clubs, to
worldwide domination of both the album charts and, starting up and then ruling
ground breaking huge money making Stadium Rock.
Of course, along the way there have been various ups and
downs that, if anybody had written down as a work of fiction, people would of
claimed it to have been too preposterous to be anywhere near the truth. After a
few cover songs to break them into the British charts (including the fabulous
‘I wanna be your Man’, written for them by “The Beatles”), Jagger -
Richards started writing hits of their own, which would in turn be covered by
almost every band that followed in their footsteps. Hit albums followed with
more hit singles; successful tours in all parts of the globe ... Then it all
went momentarily wrong. Original leader and guitarist Brian Jones left the band
and then mysteriously drowned in his own swimming pool; drug busts and prison
sentences (later squashed after famously being compared to using a rack to crush
a butterfly in an open letter to “The Times”); a failed single; difficulty
with confectionery; and the keyboard seat becoming about as welcome as the drum
stool in Spinal Tap. The boys proved that, although they looked and acted as the
proverbial dirty rockers, there was a fair amount of grey matter there too, so
more hit singles were written, more international best-selling albums were
released, and more than all their peers, The Stones kept on rolling.
As the years rolled past, each album was released to great
expectations (some living up to those expectations - some not). Each world tour
sold out faster than the last one and to bigger and bigger audiences. Guitarists
arrived, two even left. Mick Jagger made terrible movies (I mean have you seen
‘Freejack’?) and he released even worse solo albums claiming he did not need
the rest of the band, and then scampered back to the safety of the Stones when
he realized he did. He had more affairs with a string of glamorous and ever
younger women than even Casanova was reported to have had. Keith and Ronnie Wood
made some reasonable solo albums in their spare time, but not exactly
groundbreaking, while Charlie Watts was always just Charlie.
“No Security” is a collection of live songs from the
‘Bridges of Babylon Tour’. A nice little memento if you caught the tour or a
reminder of what you missed if you didn’t. “No Security” is the seventh
Stones live album and their second in three years at the time, so by its very
notion it could not be a straight collection of songs recorded as in concert
running order. You cannot just go banging out versions of ‘Jumpin Jack
Flash’, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, and ‘Satisfaction’ like a continuous
conveyer belt of Greatest Hits every time you go on tour, expecting your loyal
fans to keep on forking out their hard earned bucks. On the other hand, when so
much work has gone into a tour, why let the bootleggers get all the money by
releasing the live recording? So the Stones took a great attitude and released a
collection of songs from the tour that were a little bit special.
On “No Security” the Stones flex their collective musical
muscle by opening up with the aptly named “You Got Me Rocking”, which
immediately has Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood grooving along on guitar with
Keith delivering an awe inspiring solo.
Next up is the finest version of “Gimme Shelter” this dog
has ever heard, the whole band positively shimmers and when it gets to the call
and response chorus of “Just A Kiss away”, Mick Jagger and the wonderful
Lisa Fischer taunt each other to the end.
We then get a live version of probably the only good song
from the terrible mid-seventies album “Black ‘n’ Blue” ‘Memory
Motel’. While a great version, I would still rather have Keith Richards
singing his half of the duet rather than special guest Dave Matthews. I mean, he
does a fair version, but then he is no Keith Richards, but then who is?
The next guest is truly phenomenal, though, as long time
Stone inspiration Taj Mahal gets up to growl his way through a version of his
“Corinna”. This alone is worth the price of the album.
The beautiful ballad “Waiting on a Friend” is an inspired
run through with famous jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman taking the solo (Bobby
Keys is the regular saxophonist for the Stones and gets his chance to shine on
the final track, an extended version of “Out Of Control”).
Keith gets his turn in the vocal spotlight with his own
“Thief in the Night”. The audience gets a chance to sing their collective
hearts out with Mick Jagger as the conductor on “Saint of me”. “Sister
Morphine” from the “Sticky Fingers” album is completely rearranged for
this live outing, and the band reach back to 1965 for their third British number
one (when it meant something to have a number one hit single). “The Last
Time” they play with as much gusto as if they had written it last week.
The version of “Respectable” from the “Some Girls”
album leaves the studio version in tatters. “Live With Me”, the only song
here repeated from the proper first Rolling Stones live album “Get Your Ya
Ya’s Out”. It shows the band has lost none of its thunderous ability or
masterhood of getting down and dirty with the best of them. Nobody plays as
sleazy as these boys. The opening bass line leaves most jaws on the ground.
Although probably not the best ever “Rolling Stones” live album, it surely
wipes the floor with almost any other band.
On April 10th, 2003 the Rolling Stones are coming to the
Impact Arena, Bangkok, Thailand. It will be the first time the Stones have
played in Thailand and let me assure you, it is an event not to be missed. The
band, with its full entourage, has just swept through America, Australia, and
Japan. This leg of the “Forty Licks” tour is probably the last time the band
comes out and does such a large world wide tour. (I use the word probably, as
whoever knows with these guys. I mean Keith Richards is the only man on the
planet known to be indestructible, but on the other hand sixty has passed by for
some and is very close to others.)
Nowadays there are more than sixteen musicians on stage, plus
who knows how many others. Backstage, out front, in the back office, in the
wings, drivers, etc. ... it’s a long way from those nightclubs in South
London. All the tour reviews have been excellent and the Stones are proud of the
fact that they have rehearsed over one hundred and forty shows and are tapering
each show to suit their audience. It will be interesting to see what they give
to Thailand, but it will certainly be Satisfaction (And hopefully “Midnight