Stripped, released in 1995, and No Security, released in 1998, and were the eighth and ninth live albums released by The Rolling Stones. Sometimes I wish the Stones would have put as much thought into their modern day studio albums as they did into these two live albums. Conceptually the albums are well thought out and as such are interesting.
Stripped may be the best Rolling Stones album of the past twenty years. It is as the title implies. The album is basically Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, and Jones with Chuck Leavell in support. The songs were recorded live in the studio and in small venues. There are some electric guitars present but it is the acoustic sound that makes the album unique and creative. Best of all is the choice of the songs. Many obscure tracks and a few gems are resurrected for creative reinterpretations.
Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” received the most airplay when this album was released. If you are going to interpret Dylan, and particularly this song, you had better be not only good but inventive, and the Stones are both. They cruise through a rocking, rollicking version with Mick Jagger providing stellar vocals.
The album is mostly a highlight reel. “Street Fighting Man” is given an acoustic-electric treatment which changes the tenor of the song but not the intensity. “Not Fade Away” returns forty plus years after its release and Mick Jagger’s copying of Buddy Holly’s vocal intonations is priceless. “Dead Flowers,” from Sticky Fingers, retains its country roots and features an appropriately insincere vocal by Jagger. The old Robert Johnson tune, “Love In Vain,” is given a fine blues treatment featuring Woody on slide guitar. This version of “Wild Horses” is definitive.
I would love to see the Stones perform this way on tour. It would just be the Stones sitting around and casually playing their songs without hype or fireworks. The problem is the Stones can still sell out stadiums and arenas, so it is a question of economics. Stripped presents the Rolling Stones at their best and as they should be every so often.
No Security does not have the brilliance of Stripped but is interesting in its own right. I call this a fill in the gaps live album. The songs had either never been released on a Stones live album or at least had not appeared for a very long time.
“You Got Me Rocking” features a fine Keith Richards guitar solo with Woody in support. “Out Of Control” and “Flip The Switch” both rock nicely and it is nice to hear live versions of these studio tracks. “Respectable,” from Some Girls, is vastly superior to the largely forgotten studio version. “Sister Morphine” is still chilling and will always bring Marianne Faithful to mind. Taj Mahal joins the Stones on “Corinna” and chugs through an excellent version of this song.
A real miss on the album is the Dave Matthews collaboration on “Memory Hotel.” He takes Keith’s place and duets with Mick Jagger. This is a strange vocal pairing at best and makes me long for good old Keith.
No Security features mostly fine, but not outstanding performances. It is probably an album that can be skipped unless you want to, as I wrote earlier, fill in the gaps.
Finally; can anyone tell me the names of the two people on the cover of the compact disc?