The Rolling Stones
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2010, Volume 17, #1
Written by John Metzger
Tue January 26, 2010, 06:30 AM CST
The Rolling Stones’ trek across America in late 1969 ended in tragedy, with the chaos and violence that ensued at Altamont, but it began as a celebration. The preceding three years had not been easy for the band. Although it continued to record and release albums with striking regularity, The Rolling Stones was in the midst of intense turmoil, spurred primarily by the hedonistic lifestyle choices made by guitarist Brian Jones. Arrested twice and likely headed for a conviction, Jones was ousted from the group. Shortly thereafter, his body was found floating in a swimming pool.
Their Satanic Majesties Request, the album that The Rolling Stones issued in 1967, has long been underrated. Nevertheless, there also is no denying the fact that the back-to-basics approach that The Rolling Stones took to its subsequent endeavor Beggar’s Banquet served as the rallying cry that launched the next phase of the band’s career. Even Jones’ problems couldn’t slow down the ensemble’s astounding forward progress. Considering that both Jones and his replacement Mick Taylor contributed to the group’s 1969 foray, Let It Bleed should have been a transitional affair. Instead, it became part of a phenomenal string of efforts that also included Exile on Main St. and Sticky Fingers.
Within this cauldron of turbulence and creativity, The Rolling Stones returned to the U.S. in 1969, the first time in three years. Given the misfortunes it had endured, no one really knew what to expect from the outfit. Although Taylor had performed with John Mayall, he was a relatively unknown commodity on this side of the Atlantic. As if the stakes weren’t high enough already, The Rolling Stones not only was dubbed the World’s Greatest Rock ’n‘ Roll Band, but it also was paired with Ike and Tina Turner as well as B.B. King for a pair of concerts at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The material for these shows formed the basis for the Rolling Stones’ first concert album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert. Recently given the deluxe-reissue treatment, the set was augmented with a handful of previously unreleased outtakes from the shows, a short film that serves as a prelude to Gimme Shelter, and a compilation of selections from the supporting cast.
If anything, the newly minted rendition of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert illustrates precisely how monumental The Rolling Stones’ two-night engagement at Madison Square Garden truly was. King set the tone for the concerts: During a frenetic romp through Everyday I Have the Blues, he turned his song of mourning into a badge of honor. He laced How Blue Can You Get with an expressive guitar solo that was sad yet comforting, the perfect foil for vocals that conveyed the pain of his tormented heart. With each tune he tackled, King connected his body of work to the other artists of the era, including those with whom he was sharing the stage. Why I Sing the Blues incorporated aspects of Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, and of course, The Rolling Stones, while the tender pleading of Please Accept My Love was akin to the soulful crooning of Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke.
Consequently, when it was their turn to perform, Ike and Tina Turner snatched the baton from King and ran with it. Their soul-infused set was explosive and impassioned. Accented by horns, the music swerved from Son of a Preacher Man’s radiant pop to the urgent drive of Proud Mary to a fast and furious romp through Land of a Thousand Dances. The centerpiece of Ike and Tina Turner’s segment of the show was a slow, simmering rendition of Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long. Rather than altering Redding’s perfect arrangement, Ike and Tina Turner merely repositioned the song’s perspective, offering it as if in response to Redding’s pleas. Considering their tumultuous history, the give-and-take between the Turners assumes, in hindsight, a rather harrowing ambience.
It is a shame that instead of transforming Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert into a full-length set from The Rolling Stones, the album is reproduced in its original state, with the bonus tracks collected on a separate disc. This is, perhaps, a minor quibble as sometimes the inclusion of more material actually results in a lesser package. Based upon the songs that are presented on the outing, it’s clear that The Rolling Stones was firing on all cylinders. Among the outtakes, there is an aggressive, punk-ish fury to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, while the relaxed tempo of Under My Thumb allowed the group to strip the tune down to its Motown roots and effortlessly link it to I’m Free.
All of the previously unreleased material featured on the expanded edition of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert serves one purpose: It elevates the potency of the original vinyl LP by providing a glimpse of the surrounding scenery. Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert has always sounded rough, tough, rowdy, and raw. It is the very definition of rock ’n‘ roll at its brashest, boldest, brawniest, and best. Taylor wanted to fit in with his new band, while Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had only grown closer after their outfit was nearly ripped apart. There is a certain amount of quaint intimacy as they return to their country-blues roots by performing Prodigal Son and You Gotta Move as acoustic, country-blues duets.
The real treats on Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert, however, are those tracks that collectively formed the basis for the original endeavor: the jagged violence of Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the mournful, drunken pleas of Love in Vain; the funky, explosive charge of Sympathy for the Devil and the gritty Chuck Berry-isms of Carol and Little Queenie; the intensely dangerous Live with Me and the long, winding, locomotive fury of Midnight Rambler. Everywhere, the twin guitars of Richards and Taylor stutter, stab, and slice through the fray, while Jagger manically delivers each lyric as if his life depended upon getting it right. Initially, it might have been a marketing ploy to label the group as the World’s Greatest Rock ’n‘ Roll Band, but at Madison Square Garden, The Rolling Stones earned its title.
Of Further Interest...
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert is
available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2010 The Music Box