Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rolling Stones 8: Got Live If You Want It!

While anxiously waiting for the next real Stones album, the band’s American label took a hint as well as a title from a British EP. While three of those tracks had already been scattered on a couple of U.S.-only albums, the band were convinced to record a few shows on their current British tour for a full-length live album. And just like that, Got Live If You Want It! happened.
Well, not exactly. While the sources for the recordings used have been documented, many of the tracks sound just too clean to be really, really live. The technology to capture each of the instruments, microphones and drums on a stage, usually through a crappy PA system, as clear as they sound here simply didn’t exist yet. And when you add in all those screaming girls, the math just doesn’t work out.
That said, the band does display energy, especially Charlie, who drives “Under My Thumb”, complete with that post-chorus tag they’d still use in 1969, right into “Get Off Of My Cloud”. The momentum crashes for a sadly out-of-tune “Lady Jane”, so maybe this really was captured live on stage in front of an adoring audience. And when was the last time you heard an electric dulcimer? Proof of studio trickery does exist, however, as both “I’m Loving You Too Long” and “Fortune Teller” were studio tracks doctored with screams to sound live just for this album. (The originals of both can be found today on More Hot Rocks.)
Speaking of trickery, somebody had the bright idea to start side two with a tease of “Satisfaction” before cutting to the actual performance of “The Last Time”. In other words, no, the band did not really goad the audience that way. “19th Nervous Breakdown” is fairly powerful, “Time On My Side” off-pitch, and “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby” really fuzzy and distorted, so maybe it’s just the backing vocals that were touched up. “I’m Alright” is different from the one on the EP (and Out Of Our Heads here), and still an odd way to kill two minutes mid-show. “Satisfaction” fades before the audience does, who keep screaming through the “God Save The Queen” recording piped through the theater at the end.
Because it was part of the original American canon, Got Live If You Want It! is available for purchase today, with only slightly less atrocious sound than before. If anything, it proves that the Stones tradition of pushing a questionable live album on the unsuspecting public wasn’t their idea in the first place. You really can skip it. (Of slightly more interest, historically anyway, is the exclusive CD added to the box set of the Charlie Is My Darling DVD, which pulls a standard setlist from the March 1965 shows that had been mined for the British EP, as well as two songs on the US LP. While this was three months before “Satisfaction” was released, there’s still a lot of screaming, but they were still a solid R&B combo, relying on covers.)

The Rolling Stones Got Live If You Want It! (1966)—2

1 comment:

  1. The title alone suggests that the band and its management weren't trying too hard: If you want it? Are you kidding? You should need this album!