It can be argued that The Rolling Stones are in fact the greatest rock and roll band in the world, one that is still touring and recording music nearly 50 years after their debut. In that period of time the band certainly has amassed one hell of an impressive archive of unreleased studio and live recordings, and to every fan’s delight, The Stones recently launched their ‘Stones Archive’ website, which gives fans the incredible opportunity to take a peek inside that treasure trove of material, bit by bit.
To kick things off, The Stones recently released a compilation of one of their most circulated bootlegs of all time, “The Brussels Affair ’73”, live recordings from their 1973 European Tour. Available only as a download in the US through Google’s Android Market and the rest of the world through the Stones Archive site, it’s The Stones at their most super-charged and raw. According to a recent interview by Keith Richards the band wasn’t aware those particular show were being recorded, which allowed the band to let loose and not have to worry about being in ‘top studio perfection.’
The ’73 European Tour allowed the band to road test new songs from their then forthcoming album, “Goat’s Head Soup,” and songs like “Starfucker”, “Dancing With Mr. D” and “Heartbreaker” appear on this collection with an impressive raunchiness not on the studio album masters. What’s also equally impressive is Mick Jagger’s French to the crowd of what sounds like a sea of millions of fans.
Enthusiasts of “Exile on Main Street” are treated to a few choice recordings such as “Happy,” featuring a vocal-strapped Keith Richards sounding like he’s hanging on for dear life but still kicking ass, as well as swinging romp version of “Tumbling Dice” and knuckle-to-the-grindstone “Rip This Joint.”
“The Brussels Affair” oozes drunkenness and sweaty sexuality from the hard-driving rhythm section of Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, including barn burning guitar from Keith. Mick does an effortless job keeping up with the intensity of the band, though often times sounding like a drunken Elvis, minus the twangy lip curl.
Though the intensity of each song drives the album harder and harder, even through a nearly 13 minute version of “Midnight Rambler,” the album falls a little bit short in that Mick Taylor’s incredible playing is not nearly as audible as Keith’s trademark guitar licks. Listeners will really have to tune their ears in a little bit more to hear the honey pour off Taylor’s fretboard. As Taylor and Keith run neck and neck with the rest of The Stones, “The Brussels Affair ’73” really showcases the band at one of their many top peeks, especially this era of Taylor and the gems that are “Sticky Fingers”, “Exile” and “Goat’s Head Soup”. It really is a live album not to be missed. Of course, with the launching of the Stones Archives I’m eager to see and hear what other nuggets the band has yet to unleash on the unsuspecting public.