Rolling Stones From the Vault: L.A. Forum Live in 1975 & Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981

Doug Collette By

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Given that their history spans more than five decades and multiple generations, it only stands to reason the Rolling Stones would have a veritable wealth of material in their archives on par with the vintage likes of Charlie Is My Darling (Abkco, 2012) and what's perhaps the next high-water mark of their career after that mid-Sixties apogee, the Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones, 1972) era Ladies and Gentlemen the Rolling Stones (Eagle Vision, 2010). There may be more scintillating content than what's contained in the first two editions of 'From the Vault,' but the fact of the matter is that 1975's LA Forum and 1981's Hampton Coliseum titles, packaged with comparable uniformity and creativity, are enough to revive even a casual fan's interest in a group that once, with no false modesty and perhaps laudable self-awareness. referred to itself as the 'greatest rock and roll band in the world.'

Rolling Stones
From the Vault: L.A. Forum Live in 1975
Eagle Rock

Singing in a semi-shout that turns his vocal delivery into almost as much caricature as Bob Dylan's around this same period (his Glimmer Twin's rasp on "Happy" sounds rapturous in comparison) , Mick Jagger is as eye-catching in his own way, as the iconography of the 'Tour of the Americas' that festoons this multi-fold set of two CD's and a DVD.

Yet in part because guitarists Keith Richard and Ronnie Wood, in his first tour as successor to the brilliant Mick Taylor adorn themselves in stage garb as colorful as the lead singer's and because their musicianly camaraderie is so naturally eye and ear-catching, the admittedly indefatigable Stones front man is still something of a distraction from the band's intrinsic visual appeal as it's ratcheted up for Tinsel Town.

And that's not to criticize his perpetual motion but only point out that the sound of the band, from the dual guitars that drip sensuality just this side of sleaze to the absolute boom of Charlie Watts' drums as they lock with Bill Wyman's bass, has the most magnetic appeal, due in no small part to the excellent stereo sound separation. Add to that the showmanship of percussionist Ollie Brown, the vibrant color Billy Preston (via organ and synthesizer) sprinkles into complement Ian Preston's boogie piano plus the occasional burst of horns (not nearly so prominent as in 1972) and this ornate stage production offers multiple attractions, though not as much perhaps aural as visual-an inflatable finger looks as gauche as intended on "Star Star."

It's tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Rolling Stones as a band that in the midst of such an array of assets, the core quintet makes its presence felt and with great force, whether its in a segue of material of the times such as "If You Can't Rock Me" into one of their defining early classics "Get Off Of My Cloud.."

Rolling Stones
From the Vault: Hampton Coliseum 1981
Eagle Rock

Featuring as broad a selection of material as its equally colorfully-designed companion piece of 2 CD's and DVD, the Rolling Stones' two hour set from this Virginia venue illustrates how versatile is their repertoire (not to mention their cohesiveness as a band as here the core quintet's aided and abetted by the aforementioned constant Stewart on piano, Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan plus saxophonists Bobby Keys and Ernie Watts).

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is as reliable a trigger to a frenzied close as "Honky Tonk Women" is equally effective early or late in the show. Cynicism about careerism aside as they inaugurated corporate sponsorship of the tours via Jovan, the tour from which this show is taken began shortly after the release of Tattoo You (Rolling Stones, 1981). for the Rolling Stones to include Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move" juxtaposed with the comparatively subdued "You Can't Always Get what You want" constitutes a gesture of pride commensurate with their pragmatism as does the presence of more recently recorded material such as "She's So Cold' and "Hang Fire." The band's clearly enjoying itself here, more so than on the earlier show, which makes it worth hearing on CD.

Broadcast real-time on FM radio along with the pay-per-view event (another business distinction of this outing), spoken credits for the former preface candid backstage footage before impresario/tour producer Bill Graham yells out an introduction of the band as they casually amble onto the customer-made stage, the expansive colorfully-designed likes of which still fails to overshadow the mechanics of the band on numbers like "Under My Thumb." In fact, the natural theater of Richards facing off with drummer Charlie Watts, then letting rip with the scabrous intro to "When the Whip Comes Down," is more consistently fascinating to follow than the lead singer's peripatetic machinations; on this Some Girls (Rolling Stones, 1978) cull on which Jagger plays guitar himself, his vocals attain a greater power and act as a reminder of his tremendous strengths as a singer (demonstrated to equal or greater or effect on the semi-balladry of "Waiting on a Friend").

In much the same way, this vault title and its corollary piece exhibit how the lavish production and exaggerated showmanship are but an extension of the Rolling Stones own collective persona: this hyperbolic essay of Richard Havers is as redundant here as the one inside the L.A. Forum triple-fold set.

Tracks and Personnel

L.A. Forum Live in 1975 DVD: Introduction; Honky Tonk Women; All Down The Line; If You Can't Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud; Star Star; Gimme Shelter; Ain't Too Proud To Beg; You Gotta Move; You Can't Always Get What You Want; Happy; Tumbling Dice; It's Only Rock 'n' Roll; Band Intros; Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker); Fingerprint File; Angie; Wild Horses; That's Life; Outta Space; Brown Sugar; Midnight Rambler; Rip This Joint; Street Fighting Man; Jumpin' Jack Flash; Sympathy For The Devil

Personnel: Mick Jagger: vocals, guitar; Keith Richards: guitar, vocals; ronnie Wood: guitar; Ian Stewart: piano; Billy Preston: piano, organ, sytnhesiser; Bobby Keys: saxophone; Trevor Lawrence: saxophone; Steve Madelo: trumpet; Ollie Brown: percussion; Bill Wyman: bass; Charlie Watts: drums.

Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981

DVD: Under My Thumb; When The Whip Comes Down; Let's Spend The Night Together; Shattered; Neighbours; Black Limousine; Just My Imagination; Twenty Flight Rock; Going To A Go Go; Let Me Go; Time Is On My Side; Beast Of Burden; Waiting On A Friend; Let It Bleed; You Can't Always Get What You Want; Band Introductions; Happy Birthday Keith; Little T & A; Tumbling Dice; She's So Cold; Hang Fire; Miss You; Honky Tonk Women; Brown Sugar; Start Me Up; Jumping Jack Flash; (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.

Personnel: Mick Jagger: vocals, guitar; Keith Richards: guitar, vocals; ronnie Wood: guitar; Ian Stewart: piano; iasn McLagan: keyboards,backing vocals; Bobby Keys: saxophone; Ernie Watts: saxophone; Bill Wyman: bass; Charlie Watts: drums.
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