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Bootleg Nation: The Rolling Stones 02/24/73

Sound quality is always an issue with bootlegs. We’re not dealing with official studio recordings here. The music isn’t mixed separately, on to individual tracks. A record producer isn’t standing over a mix board going through the music note by note painstakingly manipulating the sound to produce the optimal sound.

This is in the moment, live music. A singer’s voice is unfiltered and raw. Guitarists hit wrong notes, strings break, and a myriad of other problems can affect the final product. Soundboard engineers must make decisions on the fly to get the best possible product to an audience.

Bootleg sound comes in all shapes and sizes. The best come straight from the soundboard, mixed for the band. Many bands record their concerts so they can be played back later, and the performance can be reviewed by the musicians – much like a sports team will watch game tapes.

Other times concerts will be recorded with the intention of a later, official release. These tapes are sometimes leaked into the fan base, or stolen and slipped into trading circles. The sound quality is pristine and the tapes are treasured by fans and collectors.

FM radio is a treasure trove of concert recordings. Live music has been a staple of radio since the first transmitter released its madness. It is also an easy method for fans to get their first bootlegs. Landing a pre FM version of the same show makes it even more stellar for the sound must be compressed a great deal before it makes the airwaves.

Taper-friendly bands will often allow their fans to patch straight into the soundboard, allowing phenomenal recordings of the show, recorded on DAT machines and then traded to the masses.

The worst sound comes from audience recordings. These come from microphones set up by fans smack dab in the middle of the audience. Depending on the equipment used, and the ability of the recorder these tapes can either give an excellent feel of what it was like to actually be there, or give an intimate portrait of the stoned-out, screaming fan sitting next to the taper.

There are also mixes between audience and soundboard recordings called a matrix recording. This usually consists of a soundboard patch with an audience mike filtered in. When done right this can produce the remarkable sound of a soundboard tape with the live feel of being there on the ground with the rest of the audience.


The Rolling Stones
02/24/73
Western Australia

I only recently would consider myself a fan of the Rolling Stones. All I ever really knew of them were the radio hits. Tunes like “Honky Tonk Women,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” are classics songs and I would never have knocked them (though for my buck, Otis Redding blows the Stones out of their own water on “Satisfaction”). But, they are so overplayed by classic rock and oldies stations as to make them tired and old.

For reasons I can’t remember I started making my way through their catalog and was blown away by the sheer magnitude of their collection. I’ve still not found an album that I love all the way through, but there is enough incredible music on albums like Exile on Main Street to make me put them on a Beatles like level. I’m amazed that the radio only plays a handful of hits, when songs like “Rocks Off” and “Dead Flowers” are rolling out there all by their lonesome.

Watching the Stones at the Superbowl at what must be their twelfth final tour makes me roll my eyes in disgust. Mick Jagger working the crowd like a teenager in his 60 year old body just isn’t a pleasant sight. Keith Richards can still pack a power punch, but I still want to scream “Retire!” over and over.

This shows from 1973 shows the boys at what they could once do. This is a band at the top of their game, knocking the rocks off our collective socks. It is balls out thick and dirty sex rock. You can hear the lust oozing out of every pore of Richards proud lips.

They produce a rumble straight out of Thor’s gut.

The sound is from a soundboard, but you can tell it’s passed through a few generations. It’s a bit muddled in the mix and some external tape hiss is present, but what it lacks in sonic quality is made up for in the ferocity of the playing.

My copy is actually a liberated bootleg. Which is basically an illegal bootleg that has been released from its illegal bonds and passed through trading circles. Some punks got a hold of this music, threw a cheap cover on it and sold it for way too many dollars. Smart traders, and self-appointed police of the legal bootleg world, took the recording out of the thieves’ hands and passed it along freely through trading circles.

Because of this it is only a partial show, official set lists include four songs not included in my bootleg. What is included are scorching renditions of some hits, and those that should have been.

About Mat Brewster

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    the interesting thing about this is that the Stones right now probably play in a way more energetic fashion than they did back in their drug-induced haze.

    i saw them recently and it was pretty amazing.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    That the Stones have yet to release a truly definitive live album is one of the great shames in music. The 4 Flicks DVDs are good and you have Ya-Ya’s which wins by default but in each case they only hint at what a Stones show could be.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    yep, very much like their studio albums, the live records tend to be all over the place too. i’m very partial to Love You Live

  • Vern Halen

    I think that’s why I always loved Exile On Main Street – it looks and sounds like a boot.

  • Rodney Welch

    I’m with Mark on Love You Live, and I’ve never really understood why it has received bad reviews. The El Mocambo selections in particular are pure prime Stones.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    i think it’s because you can’t get your GenuineJadedRockWriter(tm) badge if you don’t dump all over live records.

    stupid, in my opinion.

  • Rodney Welch

    Well, I bought Love You Live in college and played it regularly, right alongside another live classic, Bob Marley’s Babylon by Bus — which is also always tagged as being somehow lame or timid or uninspired or some such phrase. I don’t fathom how any fan could dislike either.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    we’ve had posts about live records before. some people just can’t stand it when the tune doesn’t sound exactly like the studio version.

    i’m with you…Babylon By Bus is a great record.

  • http:www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    A great look at The Stones on and off stage is the film Gimmie Shelter, which is framed around the Altamont concert.

    My favorite thing about live albums and other bootlegs is when I was actually at the show. The first time this happened was when Jane’s Addiction released some live B-sides and a video where at the end of “Ain’t No Right” Perry gets hit with a Birkenstock and comments on the guy’s poor fashion sense. Since then, and with the explosion of bootleg/trading, I have found many shows that I was able to bring home.

    Even their detractors should give The Grateful Dead major credit for the state of live music trading today.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    very true bicho. i wasn’t a part of it, but do remember people being able to get the special tickets in the taper section…which they used to refer to as “the forest” (because of the ‘trees’ of microphones)

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I love live albums but think the Stones have yet to release a really great one. I think their live albums all have some genuinely good moments but nothing that really hits hard from beginning to end (and don’t get me started on these “live hits” packages that aren’t really live albums at all…).

  • Rodney Welch

    I won’t quarrel with you on that regard, DJ; I’m just saying the live albums are terribly underrated, generally, and I think the same goes for their studio records of late. Even when they’re just so-so, the threshold of musicianship is still pretty damn high.

  • http://midnitcafe.blogspot.com Mat Brewster

    I tend to love live music be it bootleg or official release. I also get annoyed when the live version sounds too much like the studio song. I mean what’s the point, I already have the studio version.

    The Dead truly were pioneers in live recordings. Not only did they create a tapers section, but they’ve released countless live shows officially.

    Thanks for the comments fellas

  • http://lostsupermarket.blogspot.com/ Sean

    I have a couple of shows from that 1973 Australian tour and they are all amazing. That period was probably the best for the stones as a live act

  • Christian Le Duff

    Mat
    Try to get “Brussels affair definitive edition” bootleg. Recorded in Brussels October 17 1973, but has also tracks from other various European 73 tour shows. Was supposed to become an official live album, never made it for some obscure legal reasons.
    There are incredible versions of famous Stones tunes. The energy over Street Fighting Man is really awesome and the CD contains an amazing version of Angie (far from being my favorite Stones song, but listen to this one).
    Mick Taylor is key in the quality of this album, listen also to Keith rhythm.
    Even if they still have a lot of energy as a band, they’re far from their peak period 1969-1974.

  • http://midnitcafe.blogspot.com Mat Brewster

    Thanks. Any tips on where a fella should start looking for such an affair?

  • Christian Le Duff

    Try eBay, it shows up there from time to time. The “definitive edition” has it all from the Europe 73 portion of Goat’s head soup Tour. However, most of the songs appear on other bootleg CDs with titles such as :
    “Bedspring Symphony”
    “Europe 73″
    “Nasty music”
    “Nasty remixes”
    “Brussels affair” (this one is similar to disk 1 of Definitive edition and is probably easier to find)
    I don’t know which version of the 2/24/73 show you own(Rocks off or another one), but “Brussels” has a better sound quality.
    Look at the following URL for more info. There will be a link “the CD’s”.
    Good luck.
    http://www.rollingstonesnet.com/Brussels.htm

  • MattM

    I collect and trade Rolling Stones bootlegs. It’s true that the Brussels 10/17/73 recording is probably the most famous Stones bootleg out there. It’s really good. Everything everybody says about it’s quality is true. I have the Perth 2/24/73 show too and it’s also really good. There are a couple of other shows from the ’73 Winter Tour available in similar soundboard quality (Sydney 2/26 and 2/27/73). If you’re looking to get into Stones bootlegs of the Mick Taylor era, I would go for Leeds, England 3/13/71, Ft. Worth, Texas 6/24/72 (2nd show), the aforementioned Perth, Austrailia 2/24/73 show, and Brussels 10/17/73 (1st show). There are other good ones but these are the best as far as sound quality and performance is concerned. If you liked the Perth show, you’ll love some of these others.

  • http://midnightcafe.wordpress.com Mat Brewster

    Thanks Matt. I’ve got one other Stones show, but it is from 02 and and not nearly as stellar as this one. I’m always up for a trade, if you’re interested. My etree list is here

  • Mike

    Almost any show from 72 and 73 shows a band that really was the greatest rock n roll band in the world. And a number of those shows are from soundboard and were originally intended to be released. But only a few people here have mentioned the reasons they aren’t. The contractural problems are long behind them, but with Mick Taylor this band was so good it’s impossible to believe almost even as you’re hearing. Given that Taylor walked right before rehearsels of a new album and tour after being tired of getting screwed over on songwriting credits, Jagger will never release these. These LPs blow away any live album they’ve done since because that band blows the current band away like confetti. Woods is an ok guitar player but as a replacement for Taylor it took the Stones from the top to the rest of the pack. IMHO

  • http://www.themidnightcafe.org Mat Brewster

    Very interesting Mike. I hadn’t heard that before. I’ll have to find some more bootlegs from the era.

  • Bryan Hatten

    I like the band with Wood. Sure Mick Taylor was a good guitar player. He’s no Hendrix though. I’ve got the Brussels Affair somewhere and it sounds like he’s trying to mimic Hendrix. This would be impossible being that Hedrix was THE MAN. I like the Handsome Girls cds from 1978. Another good one is Hampton Virginia on 12/18/81. This may be the best I’ve ever heard from the Stones and that would be with Ron.

  • Edith Grove

    re:”I’ve got the Brussels Affair somewhere and it sounds like he’s trying to mimic Hendrix.”

    – Huh?? It does NOT. Taylor plays nothing like Hendrix, nor was he ‘mimicking’ him or anybody else. Taylor is way bluesier and less psychedelic than Hendrix; fact is – Taylor plays like Taylor, he played like Taylor in 72/73 with the Stones, and he still plays like that, now.

  • Pete Mentarro

    I agree with Edith. Taylor never used stomp boxes and other effects units like Jimi. Taylor’s live slide work is amazing.

  • http://just-add-cones.blogspot.com Mick Knight

    Wow Brian Hatten, those are some pretty absurd observations … but you are free to make them, of course. You have to know that you in a very small minority, if you think the Ron Wood era compares to the Jones or Taylor ones, in either creativity or live performance (sans Jones last year or so).

    Taylor has blues-pedigree written all over him, not guitar hero histrionics. He came after Peter Green and Eric Clapton to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, a seminal white blues revival outfit. Taylor is as tasteful as those guys, if you want to compare him to other guitarists – he is really nothing like Hendrix at all. When he joined the Stones, he slowly helped raise their musicianship level to what it became ca 71-73. It put their live shows on par with the best of the last 40 years: Zep, The Who, Pink Floyd and a few others.

    I love Ron Wood, too, and what he did with Jeff Beck, The Faces and the Stones. But his best work/contribution was really with the 2 former bands I just mentioned. He may be “more of a Stone than Taylor” or whatever they said, but Taylor is certainly more of the reason people listen to post-Jones Stones music, live or studio.

  • Peter Richard

    The most amazing thing to me is there never has been a Rolling Stones live album from 1972-73 tour. Brussels Affair is the closest in sound quality to a true live release.
    Every other tour has had an official live release (okay, the Sucking In The Seventies live version of “When The Whip Comes Down” is only one song but at least the ’78 tour is represented).
    The 1972 tour, albeit a coke-fuelled hard rock orgy of sped up rock ‘n’ roll but still a gem featuring Taylor’s virtuoso solos and the overall tightness of the band that no other Stones tour had.
    The 1975-76 tour featured on Love You Live had a cool campy raunch that highlighted Jagger’s singing style of the day – southern slurring and some of the Paris shows feature some of Richards’ fiercest playing (he insisted the “show go on” after his infant son Tara died of SIDS in the middle of the France shows).
    What I’d really like is better representation of the 1981-82 tour (why not expand the Still Life album into a double CD edition?) That was the last true Stones tour where the core band wasn’t augmented by the several backup singers, horn sections and multi-keyboardists. It was also the last tour to feature Stu.

  • Mike Cormany

    I’m with the Taylor people on this. I’ve got everything I know that’s out there that he’s on -live, studio outtakes — some of his best work was done on songs they never released. I enjoy the Brian era a lot too although that band was a basic raw blues band that were very good at making 2 and a half minute singles but the live stuff I’ve got isn’t too good — didn’t help that that was the screaming teens era. The Wood years, I honestly haven’t even listened to them much since the late 70s. But anything from 72 or 73 is worth hearing just to hear Taylor. And I agree with the other Mike earlier, they should but they never will release any of those shows because it would just blow the current band away. I hate old farts who sit around and bemoan today’s rock as compared to when we were youths, but with the Stones I can’t help it — they were killer. If any of you haven’t heard Taylor doing Sway with Carla Olson, I highly recommend that. It’s an official release from the early 90s, recently re-released, a live show at the Roxy and Taylor is on another planet. I’ve listened to it 500 times and the hair on the back of my neck still stands up listening to it. Totally sucks he’s so little known — the man is still incredible even though he’s had a pretty rough life.

  • ken

    I bought a bootleg of the stones called stoned alive by headway productions in a head shop in Tampa FL circa 1970
    has anyone else come across this gem or know anything about headway productions

  • Mike

    I have a stones album called smooth , the album is white and taped on is a biege background black lettering with pic of mic and kieth?

    play list is : “I am waiting” , ” Under my thumb”, Paint it black” , ” Love in vain”, ” Honky Tonk Woman” , ” Hip Shake” , ” Blueberry Jam”, ” Sympathy for the devil”,

    Trade mark of Quality pig smoking a cigar logo

    TMQ 73025

    Plain White Jacket Cover

    Black Vinyl Album, with yellow insert

    Never Played

    My question’s are how many of these are there and where did it come from, how much is it worth and where can i find out more info on this album

    Is it original ?

    Thanks