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Extended Analysis

The Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya Yas Out!

By Published: September 10, 2004
The Rolling Stones
Get Yer Ya Yas Out!
London 8005

I was born in a crossfire hurricane...

"—Oh Yea—thank yoo kindly—Ah think Ah lost uh Buttin' on mah trowzas—yew don' wan' mah trowzas ta fall down now doo ya."

With this Mick Jagger boast, the Rolling Stones flipped off the '60s and the Summer of Love and swaggered confidently into their decadent decade, the '70s. Get Yer Ya Yas Out! was recorded in late 1969 during an appearance at New York's Madison Square Garden and stands out in two significant respects. First, the recording stands as the apex of the group's most richly productive period, during the release of Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), and Exile on Main Street (1972). Second, it is the finest live recording among all of the Stone's legitimate live pressings.

One necessary aspect of Rock & Roll is that of danger. In the late '60s and early '70s the Rolling Stones were the epitome of danger. Drinking, drugs, sex, misogyny, hedonism—this group indulged it all. They served as the period's id to the Beatles' ego. Besides the social contributions, the Rolling Stone's greatest addition to the cultural mix was an amalgam of Rock, Blues, R & B, and Soul that served as a template for the sounds of bands such as Faces, Humble Pie, and the Black Crowes.

That amalgam is in no better evidence than on this live album. Get Yer Ya Yas Out! has a rollicking, bar band immediacy that is so pungently macho and sexual that even 30 years later the opening of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" will still induce tachycardia. Mick Taylor's slide guitar on "Love in Vain," Mick Jagger's mouth harp on "Midnight Rambler," and Charlie Watts' drumming on "Sympathy for the Devil" established a musical archetype. And then there was Keith Richards, a modestly talented guitarist who, like Neil Young, could be identified by his right hand alone. The sum of all parts of the Rolling Stones in 1970 exists as a metaphor of Robert Johnson meeting Friedrich Nietzsche at a Delta crossroads at midnight. They emanated a pagan power and success, Dr. Faustus sans the bargain.

The frantic "Street fighting Man" ripples with menace; the intoxicated "Honky Tonk Women" seethes with lechery. The stunning "Midnight Rambler" and the group's answer to Marvell's To His Coy Mistress , "Live with Me," perfectly sum up what the Stones were about in 1970. And while this excitement was captured on any number of unauthorized recordings, it was never to be detected on any subsequent official live recordings. A quick rundown might be worth while:

  • Got Live If You Want It (1966)— Their sound not fully developed, still the excitement the Rolling Stones could stir up was palpable. Their time was yet to come.
  • Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1968)— the best "You Can't Always Get what You Want ever.
  • Love You Live (1977)— a ho-hum affair with the exception of those songs on the third side of the 2-LP set recorded in a Canadian club. "Mannish Boy," "Crackin' Up," "Little Red Rooster," and "Around and Around" stand as some of the best live Stones performances ever.
  • Still Life (1982)— "Under My Thumb" and Twenty Flight Rock" were very cool. The rest are a Disco-hangover throwaway.
  • In Concert (Polydor) (1982)— Ditto Still Life
  • Flashpoint (1991)— Supporting the Steel Wheels tour, Flashpoint is interesting for the older songs. "Ruby Tuesday" and "Paint It Black" aged well, but the band sounds in a bit of a hurry, like they just want to get it over with. "Brown Sugar" is too fast, lacking the visceral punch of the slower original.
  • Stripped (1995)— Certainly the best of the later live recordings for the Sticky Fingers/Exile on Main Street material. "Like a Rolling Stone" is a novelty with Jagger's vocals copied from Hendrix's show-stopping performance at Monterey
  • No Security (1998)— Only Interesting for the wicked "Gimme Shelter" and "Sister Morphine."

Still, the novice listener's (if there are any) best bet is this humble single release from 1970. The Greatest rock & Roll Band in the World, indeed.

'And it's alright now, in fact, it's a gas...

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