The Rolling Stones
Brussels Affair (Live 1973)
October 18, 2011 The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones have opened up StonesArchive.com, a website where fans of the band can look at photos, video, purchase previously unreleased recordings and find out more information on upcoming archive releases. The latest release through the Stones Archive is The Brussels Affair Live 1973 recording. A popular bootleg record among collectors, this release differs by having been remixed from the multi-track master tapes by Bob Clearmountain. This concert was originally supposed to be released as a live album in 1974, but the project was scrapped and the tapes remained on the shelf for many years. This title has been regarded by fans as a "lost album," and the release of this show is of great importance to the Rolling Stones community.
The 1973 tour featured, among others, Billy Preston on organ and Bobby Keys on saxophone, who later had to be dismissed from the tour, due to "excessive drinking" - which kind of makes you wonder how much you have to drink for the Rolling Stones to declare your level of drinking "excessive." Mick Jagger once said that his recollection of shows from this era in the band's career was that they sometimes played a bit sloppy. Judging from this release alone, I fail to see that. This recording shows the band operating as a well oiled machine, working full tilt. Mick Jagger seems to be having an off night. But the rest of the band plays rather well. The interplay between Keith Richards and Mick Taylor's guitar work is exceptional. The rhythm section is on fire as well. I have never been a big Rolling Stones fan, but even I notice that the band seems to be playing exceptionally well.
Even though the first song, "Brown Sugar" is a strong opener, I was not impressed with the way Mick Jagger handled his vocals. He has a slight barking tone and phrasing throughout the song and a lot of other songs on this album that I find irritating. That tone carries through the first few tracks until "Tumbling Dice," where Mick seems to find his place. Another issue I found to be a frequent annoyance was the overuse of Billy Preston's organ. I love the guy, but for some reason, I don't think he fits well with the Rolling Stones. I find some of his organ work on this album far too dominating.
Another notable fact about this release is that it features a live version of the B-side "Dancing With Mr. D," which was only performed live during this short European tour of 1973. On the track "You Can't Always Get What You Want," again, Mick Jagger's vocal phrasing seems a bit off. His vocals on a lot of these tracks seems a bit off to me. It seems like he is singing slightly too fast, and barking the lyrics. I was also not impressed with the horn section in this song. It made the whole song come off far too theatrical and very plastic. However, as the band plays "Midnight Rambler," all is forgiven when Mick Taylor plays his brilliant slide guitar licks. Jagger seems to be able to pull this one off gracefully, and the rest of the band is right there with him. This was by far my favorite track on this album. The performance of this song is damn good.
In retrospect, for a hardcore Rolling Stones fan, I am sure this is a coveted release. But for me, a casual fan, I found it to be a little lackluster. The performance from the band was slick, but something just didn't quite grab me about this release. Perhaps it was Mick's vocals, or Billy Preston's invasive organ work. For my definitive live document of the Rolling Stones, I still prefer 1971's Get Your Ya Ya's Out. For me, that will always be the defining article of the Rolling Stones at their peak.