19 Novembre 2015
Rolling Stones Live Albums, Ranked Worst to Best : From their first, vibrant (but barely discernible) live recording to latter-day cash-ins, we take a look at the band's various concert LPs over the years.
What’s a band to do when they find themselves with a hit album on their hands? Why not drop another one right behind it? That’s basically what the Rolling Stones did after the success of Voodoo Lounge, releasing the live album Stripped in November 1995.
When Voodoo Lounge arrived a year earlier, the Rolling Stones didn’t make a comeback so much as enjoy a strong shot in the arm. Producer Don Was encouraged the band to push itself, as songwriters and as musicians, to write and record the sort of classic R&B that made them famous. As a result, Voodoo Lounge became a big success, pulling the Stones – still cohesive as ever – into the ’90s.
The subsequent tour also proved to be wildly successful for the band. By the time the Rolling Stones loaded up and hit the road, their tour schedule was massive, lasting two years and becoming one of the highest-grossing tours of all time. This tour also found the band in fine form.
During the tour, the Rolling Stones took some time to record parts of their live sets, capturing their newfound energy in some of their classic songs. They captured recordings in locations such as Tokyo, Amsterdam and Lisbon, as well as at some smaller London shows. They also spent some time recording live in-studio.
The result was Stripped, a retelling of sorts, introducing a new generation to the music that made legends out of the Rolling Stones. Its live production and loose feel could be seen as a retort to the highly produced Voodoo Lounge. But just like Voodoo Lounge, the music-loving masses ate it up.
One of the songs to do well from the album was the Stones’ cover of the Bob Dylan classic that contained their name, “Like a Rolling Stone.” The single even had a music video featuring Patricia Arquette.
“Well, melodically I quite like it,” Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger said of the track, in a talk with journalist and friend Jann S. Wenner. “It’s very well put together; it’s got a proper three sections to it, real good choruses and a good middle bit, and great lyrics. It’s a really well-constructed pop song, in my opinion. … It’s very much to the point, it doesn’t waffle too much. I sang it a lot of times on the European tour – maybe 50 times. So, I really got inside it, and I enjoyed it. I love playing the harmonica on it.”
The Rolling Stones also pulled out a choice Exile on Main St. deep cut in “Shine a Light,” though Jagger was surprised by how well known it, in fact, was. “We had never done that before, being something that was just hidden,” he told Wenner. “And I was really surprised when we first did it – that people knew it.”
Stripped kept the decade’s momentum going, after both Jagger and the seemingly immortal bandmate Keith Richards released solo albums prior to Voodoo Lounge. They’d close things out with Bridges to Babylon, the Stones’ third straight platinum album of the ’90s, and one more massive world tour.
12. 'Live Licks' (2004) : The double-album 'Forty Licks' compilation is an excellent overview of the Rolling Stones. Leave it to the group to exploit it by going out on the road once again to play its classic songs and then release a snoozy live album chronicling the shows. There are no surprises here -- just the hits, performed just as you remember them, with many miles now behind them. Pointless.
11. 'Sticky Fingers Live' (2015) : Before they kicked off their 2015 tour, the Stones played a not-so-secret show for 1,200 fans at a Los Angeles club. The intimate concert included a run-through of the band's classic 1971 album 'Sticky Fingers.' Like most latter-day Stones shows, the performances are professional, spot-on ... and thoroughly lifeless. Stick with the original album, where menace, inspiration and danger loom around every corner.
10. 'Hyde Park Live' (2013) : During their 50th anniversary celebration, the Stones returned to London's Hyde Park to pay tribute to one of their most famous and historic gigs: A free 1969 outing performed just two days after Brian Jones' death that was also Mick Taylor's first show with the band. Also released on DVD, 'Hyde Park Live' pretty much amounts to a greatest-hits concert album by the '10s-era Stones: long on timeless songs, short on inspiration.
9. 'No Security' (1998) : The Stones, aware that fans were getting tired of hearing the same songs again and again on their live albums, loaded 'No Security' with obscurities. Only problem, they're taken from the Bridges to Babylon Tour (not exactly a highlight of the band's career) and include guest spots from the likes of Dave Matthews and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. The uninspired track listing feels like barrel-scraping by this point.
8. 'Love You Live' (1977) : Here's where it all started falling apart for the group. Culled from the Stones' soul-draining 1975-76 tour, along with a pair of club shows in Toronto from 1977 (right after Keith Richards' famous bust), 'Love You Live' is a mess. Nobody could agree on the track listing, the performances are languid at best and not one Stone seems to be having a good time. It's no surprise that many of the songs were later overdubbed to make it palatable to fans' ears.
7. 'Still Life' (1982) : The Stones' 1981 tour in support of 'Tattoo You' was one of rock's biggest and most successful at the time. It also marked a comeback of sorts for the band, which had pretty much been coasting in concert for the past decade. 'Still Life' attempts to document and summarize the shows, but with only 10 songs, a predictable track list (current hit "Start Me Up," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" for the gazillionth time) and no visuals to show what all the excitement was about, it comes off like a shameless cash-grab between studio albums.
6. 'Some Girls: Live in Texas '78' (2011) : Included with the DVD and Blu-ray sets of a concert recorded during the Stones' 1978 tour, this set is heavy on 'Some Girls' tracks, plus the usual smattering of vintage cuts ("Jumpin' Jack Flash") and covers ("Sweet Little Sixteen"). The band sounds more lively than it did during its dismal 1975 tour, but that's not saying much. At least they were working off a stronger album this time, and the best songs here come from that record.
5. 'Flashpoint' (1991) : Recorded during the Stones' 'Steel Wheels' tour in 1989 and 1990, 'Flashpoint' marked a comeback period for the band, which sounded more animated than it had in years, even during the requisite stadium-sized performances of live-album staples "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Still, at 76 minutes, 'Flashpoint' sags, especially on the two new studio songs tacked on at the end.
4. 'Shine a Light' (2008) : Maybe it was the small club atmosphere. Or maybe it was because Martin Scorsese was filming the whole thing for a concert film. Either way, the Stones make a great showing on this two-LP set, which was recorded over two nights in New York City in 2006. The concerts themselves stayed away from the band's current album, 'A Bigger Bang,' and instead focused on classics and stage obscurities. Not even the superfluous guest spots (from Christina Aguilera, Jack White and others) weigh it down.
3. 'Stripped' (1995) : The Stones' best live album in a quarter-century isn't a total concert experience: The band recorded some songs live in the studio. Pulled together from various 'Voodoo Lounge' tour dates, 'Stripped' is mostly an unplugged record filled with classic songs (nothing from the forgettable 'Voodoo Lounge' shows up). The reworked versions breathe new life into cuts the Stones rarely played onstage -- from 'Let It Bleed' and 'Exile on Main St.' gems to a cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."
2. 'Got Live If You Want It!' (1966) : You can barely hear the band over the audience's screams, and the sound is the lowest of fidelity. But if there was ever any doubt that the Stones rivaled the Beatles in popularity in the '60s, this early live album, the group's first, proves it. 'Got Live' includes a frenzied mix of originals ("Under My Thumb") and covers ("I've Been Loving You Too Long"). A perfect concert document, before the rot set in.
1. 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!' (1970) : The Stones were the best rock 'n' roll band on the planet when they recorded 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!' in 1969. And they were never better onstage. After this, they'd get complacent, lazy, greedy and boring. But here, they're completely on fire, tearing through a lean set that's raw, thrilling, dangerous ... and everything you need to know about the Stones at the end of the '60s. There are better live albums out there, but none captures its era more ideally than 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!'