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Start Me Up: Rolling Stones’ Digital Archive Unveils Vintage Concerts and More

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Once famously reluctant to unlock their vault, The Rolling Stones are swinging those doors wide open.  Following the deluxe, expanded editions of Exile on Main St. (1972) and Some Girls (1978), the world’s greatest rock and roll band has turned its attention to the aptly-titled Stones Archive, a digital repository of all things that Glimmer.  The band’s official site promises fans “can listen to unheard music, view unseen photographs and films, and look at rare merchandise. Fans have the opportunity to buy items such as signed lithographs, deluxe box sets, even personalised merchandise and tour gear in the shop.”

Far more exciting to most collectors than the signed swag, however, is the prospect of the digital archive rescuing some of the band’s long-buried material for official presentation.  The opening salvo is a powerful one, the first commercial release of an October 1973 concert recorded at the Forest National in Belgium.

On tour in support of 1973’s Goat’s Head Soup (the band’s final LP produced by Jimmy Miller and the album which introduced the perennial “Angie”), The Rolling Stones were at the peak of their golden age when The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) was captured on tape.  Of the 21 cities visited by Mick Jagger, Keith Records, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Taylor, Brussels was the second-to-last stop.  Two shows were to be performed in one day but the band’s energy hardly was flagging.  The concerts’ place in band lore was solidified when the Brussels gigs began to be circulated among diehard fans in bootleg form.

The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) might be familiar to Stones collectors under such titles as Europe ’73 and Bedspring Symphony.  According to the Stones Archive, those bootlegs were derived primarily from radio broadcasts, including the storied King Biscuit Flower Hour, and often contained songs from concerts at other venues. The new edition has been created strictly from the original multi-track masters recorded by Andy Johns on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio of the two Brussels performances only. Bob Clearmountain is responsible for the final mix.

Highlights of the 15 songs on the new digital release include an epic 11-minute version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a lusty “Brown Sugar,” a powerful 13-minute “Midnight Rambler” and a potent closing take on “Street Fighting Man.”  Along the way you’ll also hear “Angie,” of course, plus “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Gimme Shelter.”  The shows were intended for commercial release at the time, but plans were ultimately shelved, until now.

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing!

You can find The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) as the debut offering at The Stones Archive.  Those outside of the United States can purchase it here in both MP3 and FLAC form.  Customers residing here are directed to the newly-launched Google Music’s Android Market to access The Brussels Affair (Live 1973).  It’s as yet unclear how long Google’s period of exclusivity will last for the Stones’ “official bootleg” releases.  There are no current plans for a physical release of the album.  The track listing follows!

The Rolling Stones, The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) (Rolling Stones, digital only, 2011)

  1. Brown Sugar
  2. Gimme Shelter
  3. Happy
  4. Tumbling Dice
  5. Star Star
  6. Dancing with Mr. D
  7. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
  8. Angie
  9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  10. Midnight Rambler
  11. Honky Tonk Women
  12. All Down the Line
  13. Rip This Joint
  14. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  15. Street Fighting Man

Written by Joe Marchese

November 28, 2011 at 10:05

4 Responses

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  1. Not to nitpick, but here I go nitpicking: The download is actually 15 songs; “Gimme Shelter” is Track #2, pushing the last 13 songs down a notch.


    November 28, 2011 at 10:20

  2. Unfortunately, The Stones Archives online shop(which has both MP3 & FLAC versions of the concert) has a rigid “No Sales to The United States” policy. The group’s American licensee, Google Music(which is some sort of “Cloud” service) offers only MP3. For me, it’s FLAC(which has full CD fidelity) or nothing. This situation is blatantly unfair to American consumers.

    Phil Cohen

    November 28, 2011 at 10:24

    • Amen!!! Not everyone in the U.S. who listens to the Stones thinks MP3 is music.

      Tim Hunt

      December 10, 2011 at 17:37

  3. No physical format. I guess that’s a sign of things to come. I have a theory that all this massive re-issue/re-packaging by all labels for all types of albums is going to mark the final time that these records will be made available on either vinyl or CD. In another ten years there will be no more – just horrible downloads. I feel ill.

    Simon Franklin

    November 28, 2011 at 15:43

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