Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Madison Square Garden, 1969. On the heels of Brian Jones' death, The Rolling Stones launched a major tour, the first with guitar player Mick Taylor, still arguably the best guitar player they ever had, no offense Keith. They crossed America in a violent year of assassinations and riots, and ended with the doomed free festival at the Altamont Speedway--the very name now synonymous with a bad trip--the anti-Woodstock where the Hell's Angels provided security (maybe not such a good idea) and a concert goer was beaten with pool sticks and another murdered in clear view of the stage.

Altamont, 1969

The tour--including the Altamont show--was documented by the Maysles brothers for the film Gimme Shelter (that's where these film clips came from) and was a backstage pass to all the wheeling and dealing that went into the major tour--and its murderous aftermath.

Between shows, a beggar's banquet, 1969

Before Altamont, the Stones played two nights at the Garden, and from these recordings came "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!" perhaps the greatest live rock album ever, especially prized by Stones' fans (probably headed by my sister Bekki). This was the Stones at the ragged end of their 1960s incarnation, with Mick still aping and clowning in an Uncle Sam hat, still flirting with the devil before it finally trounced them at the speedway. Here they played menacing blues and Chuck Berry rock and roll and a few old hits, and, in the parlance of the time, it was a "heavy" album.

Now, finally, the show is getting the treatment it deserves: a three disc, remastered box set, complete with outtakes, an acoustic set, and a disc of "warm-up acts" B.B. King, and Ike and Tina Turner. The deluxe box set will be released November 3rd (with a "super deluxe edition" released November 17th) just in time for your Christmas list. Check out the track listing here.

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