5/15/12

The Rolling Stones' Brussels Affair

OK, so I don't update the blog. Maybe I have just been looking for the right  thing to write about.


I've been listening to The Rolling Stones' Brussels Affair, a live album recorded during their 1973 European tour. The album captures the middle of my favorite era of the Stones: the one that has Mick Taylor in it. Taylor is awesome. He's a great guitarist and his playing really pushes up the rest of the band's playing with him. This nothing against Ronnie Wood, who is talented in his own way, it's just that Mick is Mick and far superior to most guitarists.

The only thing I can say about Brussels Affair is that it's sweaty. It's the tour for the Stones' most decadent album, Goats Head Soup, and the album feels that way too. It's hot on stage. Keith is a little pale because he's been inside shooting up and Mick's been practicing his dance moves. Who cares what they are doing: the excess is just right and it comes through on stage. When Keith sings "Happy," it's tarnished with their decadence and he hardly sounds happy but it's so good you kind of don't care what it's doing to his body or if he's going to get arrested or die or anything else. Heck, not caring is taken to a new level during this period and the Stones are the embodiment of that in your headphones.

The song choice is great but of course there are songs they could have picked (I feel like "Bitch" or "Can You Hear Me Knockin'" from Sticky Fingers would have fit). The songs they did pick are the ones where you can see in your mind Mick strutting across stage and bending down to belt the lyrics right into the face of some kid who's there to hear "Satisfaction." Well, there is no satisfaction here because there is never enough, which is what decadence is all about: never getting enough of feeling this good. In Mick's case, it seems like it was his looks. He can't get enough of himself.  Keith couldn't get enough of the needle, but that's ok because he managed to not become a casualty. Keith danced with Mr. D and lived to tell the tale. Rare, certainly.

Are there better live albums? Yeah, Dylan's Live '66 is pretty amazing, but it is amazing for the same reason this is: that was Dylan at his height, at the point where his performing and recording were at their very best. Brussels Affair is the Stones at their absolutely pinnacle, the years in which they became the best band in the world. There's a moment that had to be captured in the life of this band and the album gets it perfectly. I'd do nearly anything to go back in time and see this show live in my tight pants with my hair long and matted from sweat.

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