The Rolling Stones: Ladies & Gentlemen – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
Ladies & Gentlemen – The Rolling Stones
(Eagle Rock)

Hot damn this is one great concert. Actually, it’s a compilation of performances from the Rolling Stones’ 1972 tour to support Exile on Main Street. Still, hot damn – it’s phenomenal.

The audio has been remastered and, in spots, restored, along with what was once believed to have been lost video footage from the tour. The definition is pronounced as the camera work kept you on the stage with the band; which, interestingly enough is set up very close together, giving you the impression that the band is playing a small club or even on a soundstage. This very well may have been the last tour in which the Stones kept their stage set up so tight. In reality, this was an arena tour. After all, this was the Stones first tour in three years and the first with hotshot guitarist Mick Taylor. Everybody wanted a piece of the Stones back then and they got their money’s worth. Nearly 40 years later, we’re still getting our money’s worth.

What’s striking about these performances is multi-fold. Not only do the songs sound great but the remastered audio really brings out the brilliance in Bill Wyman’s bass runs and the tightness of the rhythm section he shared with Charlie Watts. Plus, the guitar work is fantastic. Taylor and Keith Richards play off of one another like few have ever done. They had chemistry unique unto themselves.

The set list is a nice cross section of their rockers, their roots (the bluesy “Love in Vain” and “Sweet Virginia”) and even new takes on some then classics. The groove coming off of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is delicious and warrants repeated viewings.

Past the music, what really grabs you as you watch the performances is the realization that you’re seeing the formation of a legend. This line up of the Stones is what many consider the “classic” line up. This was the line up that took them from being “England’s Newest Hit Makers” to the “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World”. This was the tour that gave them their reputation both on and off stage.  And you can see in this DVD that it is all so genuine.

From a personal perspective, I found it amazing to see Mick Taylor on stage with the band. He was a true godsend for the Stones. He came along at just the right time and, being a better lead player than both his predecessor Brian Jones and his successor Ronnie Wood, he helped define the band’s legacy over just four albums and two tours. Nothing against Woody, but they should have moved mountains to keep him from leaving.