Rolling Stones storm the stage

 By  Harvey Kubernik
(Ethan A. Russell/Courtesy of ABKCO)
(Ethan A. Russell/Courtesy of ABKCO)
November 26 and 27 mark the 40th anniversary of the recording of the Rolling Stones concerts at Madison Square Garden that yielded the monumental “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” the band’s definitive live album.

ABKCO Records will release the Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert 40th anniversary deluxe box set and a super deluxe box set Nov. 3 and Nov. 17, respectively.

The deluxe box set comprises three audio CDs, including a remastered disc of the original Ya-Ya’s repertoire as well as a disc of five previously unreleased Stones tracks recorded at the Madison Square Garden shows.

The original Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out vinyl album released in 1970 was produced by the Rolling Stones and Glyn Johns.

The third CD encompasses unreleased performances by the shows’ stellar opening acts: five songs from B.B. King and seven selections by Ike & Tina Turner.

The set also includes a 56-page collector’s edition book featuring photos and an essay by photographer Ethan Russell, who accompanied the Stones on the ’69 tour, as well as the original Rolling Stone magazine review by former San Diego State student Lester Bangs, a series of recollections from a cross-section of fans who attended the concerts and a replica of the original Stones ’69 tour poster by artist David Byrd.

Included as well is a bonus DVD by legendary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, also entitled “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” The film includes revealing shot full-length performances of the five previously unreleased Stones songs: “Prodigal Son, “You Gotta Move,” “Under My Thumb,” “I’m Free” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

There will be a code in a limited number of box sets enabling fans to download “I’m Free” for Guitar Hero 5.

The songs are presented in 5.1 surround sound — the film incorporates a sequence with Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Jack the donkey during the cover shoot for the Ya-Ya’s album and backstage tête-à-têtes between Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Taylor.

During “Satisfaction” Janis Joplin is seen doing an impromptu boogaloo dance at the side of the stage. There is also a sequence shot at Olympic Studios in London during a mixing session plus a heliport summit meeting with the Grateful Dead.

The super deluxe edition of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert includes all of the content of the deluxe edition, plus three vinyl LPs, one of which has etched images featuring the cover art and the Rolling Stones’ signatures. The accompanying book and poster in the super deluxe edition have also been expanded to 12″x12″.

“The Stones were a better live band then any other band at that time,” Bill Wyman, former Rolling Stones’ bassist explained to me in a 2004 Santa Monica hotel room interview. “The band was great live always. I’m not saying they were the greatest songwriters or the greatest recording artists, but they were the best live band wherever you went. You could go up on stage and blow everybody away no matter who they were.”

What did Wyman think contributed to the live concert greatness of the Rolling Stones, besides the obvious chemistry the group had (evident again in these full length newly available Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! New York 1969 recordings not included in the original vinyl album release from September 1970).

“Practice. Doin’ them little clubs in the beginning,” he states. “Going through all of that learning process, that apprenticeship. Starting off not thinking about being rich and famous and having a career and making a record or going on TV or touring America. Or going out in a limousine like kids think now when they go into a band. None of that.

 “It was let’s play this music and if people like it, that’s a bonus. And if we got a bit of change in our pockets, that was a bigger bonus. And it was that simple. That’s why when we played in the clubs at the beginning we sat on stools, we drank beer, we had no uniforms, smoked in between songs. It was ridiculous. We had our backs to the audience some times. Nobody did that. In a little circle on stage. You can see those early pictures we were all close together.
“I always thought … As long as me and Charlie could get it together, then the rest of the band could do what they’d like and it worked. And that’s what happened in the studio, and that’s what happened live. Me and Charlie were really always on the ball, always straight, always together and had it down.

 “If we had our shit together we got it right. What he was doing and what I was doing, standing next to him and watching his bass drum, and all that, which a lot of bass players don’t do, stupidly, once we got our thing going, and the group was there, then anything could happen. That’s all there was. There was simplicity. It wasn’t how many notes you played, it’s where you left nice holes and I learned that from Duck Dunn and people like that,” remarked Wyman in our 2004 conversation.

“Once you’re on the stage it’s just some floor boards in spite of it,” Keith Richards mentioned in a 1999 Rolling Stones San Diego pre-show interview with me when discussing his band in concert. “And you’re not really aware of everything you are seeing. In a way, maybe when you write songs without even knowing it you’re kinda saying, ‘Can I do this live?’ And so in a way you add that in. You don’t know if it’s gonna work, but I guess you keep in the back of your mind is ‘We’re making a record here.’ What happens if they all like it and we gotta play it live? So in a way, that maybe in the back of the mind it sets up the song to be playable on stage.”

In my October 11, 1975 interview in the now-defunct Melody Maker periodical with Tina Turner, she reflected on the Rolling Stones and the Ike & Tina Turner 1969 U.S. joint trek with them.

“We toured for years with all the English groups and I always liked what they were singing about. The biggest change started happening when we were working around L.A. in 1966 and ran into Phil Spector,” she remembered. “He wanted to record me and when we cut ‘River Deep, Mountain High.’ Mick Jagger, who was visiting Phil at the time, was in (Gold Star) studio.

“After hearing the song he wanted us to tour England in 1966 with the Rolling Stones. The English weren’t used to seeing girls with high-heeled shows and I think they were shocked a bit.

“Mick then came to the States in 1969 and asked us to tour America with him later in the year. That’s when it happened.

“We played the Forum, Madison Square Garden, and all the big arenas. Like Vogue said it best: They came to see Mick Jagger but they saw Ike and Tina and they’ve been comin’ ever since.

From there on we crossed over to the pop market and it’s been that way ever since,” Tina concluded, around the time we had dinner one evening at Chasen’s restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Photographer Ethan Russell took readers on the road with Stones in 2007 when he published “Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. Tour” (Rhino Books). This 420-page limited edition has a 2,600-copy print run. The first 750 copies were presented in a deluxe edition packaged in a clamshell box with a handmade gelatin print signed by Ethan Russell.

Russel’s book is an illuminating visual and oral history of a moment in time. I witnessed the two Los Angeles dates on the Stones’ 1969 tour and his collection brings to life this extraordinary story — and documents a pivotal era in history — through hundreds of never-before-published vintage images by award-winning photographer and director Russell, accompanied by his interviews with members of his tight-knit and now-iconic group of 16 survivors from the jaunt.

“The 1960s was a unique era,” says Russell, “the likes of which have not been repeated, nor may ever be. Some say Altamont — the added free concert at the end of the tour — ended the ’60s. Not everyone shares that perception nor has the same sense of how we did as a generation, and the story, though arguably coming to an end, is still being lived.”

The Rolling Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour was, in current parlance, a “game-changer,” stresses Ken Kubernik, writer/producer and a contributor to Variety.

“The Stones had been off the road since April 1967, a European jaunt that trafficked in scream-splattered 30-minute sets, triggered by Brian Jones’ Carnaby Street flash and Jagger’s poncey posturings. (Interestingly, a tape from the Paris concert reveals the Stones jamming ferociously on ‘Goin’ Home,’ with Jones wailing on harp like a man possessed — which, of course, he was. It’s a tantalyzing coda to a version of the Stones growing bolder with Brian on board, which, alas, would never come to fruition.)
“The autumn of ’69 promised much more than a great new Stones album (the Navarrone heights of Let It Bleed) and a return to the concert stage; in the intervening years Cream and Hendrix had dramatically raised the bar in terms of sonic substance (amps, PAs, listening audiences) and, more crucially, the level of pure musicianship. The pastiche of pop songcraft and rock ‘n’ roll rhythms were quickly becoming passe.

 “A new genre was emerging — rock. To that end, the addition of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers’ guitarist, Mick Taylor, whose fluid, legato lines suggested the sensibility of a tenor saxophonist, added a vibrant filigree to the Stones impertinent attitude and rhythmic punch. If for no other reason, the reissue of Get Yer Ya Yas Out! should remind discerning listeners that Taylor’s contributions — the nuanced phrasing, tonal control and magisterial command of the bar slide — elevated the Stones’ performances into a more visceral, captivating experience.

“Taylor stood stoically apart from the onstage rabble, a cipher to Jagger’s prowling and parodying Leo the lion. Yet it was Taylor’s exquisite soloing, like a surgical swipe from a paring knife, which seemed to both subvert and legitimize the sinister undercurrent of the music’s mise en scene. Listening anew, one is compelled to ask, ‘How could anyone look so Angelic and sound so treacherously sensual?’
“The Mick Taylor era begins here.”

Dr. Jimm Cushing, English and Literature Prof at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a noted DJ on radio station KCPR-FM, presents another historical look at this Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! anniversary hallmark event about to land in retail outlets and online vendors.

Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! is one of the Stones’ very best albums. In just about every case the performances are as strong as or in some cases better than the original recordings.

“What happens is that the songs have to become more extraverted and more dramatic. Recording studios encourage introversion. There are no windows to the outside world. The activity is kind of hypnotic. Concerts are dramatic encounters with the outside world. You hear Mick Jagger enacting in front of people what he was only describing on the records. He enacts on Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! what he describes on Let It Bleed as far as ‘Midnight Rambler’ goes or the other tracks from that album.”

About the new expanded box set and deluxe editions of the original live album, Cushing pontificates, “the configuration has to deal with more material from the same time period made available now.

“It’s an opportunity, at least on the audio level, experience or re-live vicariously something that you might have missed. I think this new package, like The Who Live At Leeds initial release, which was 36 minutes long and is now a two-plus-hour CD, but to hear the entire thing is to be given a much greater range and much greater scope on what the original experience was like.

“It’s like history now is taking the place of the artist’s original shaping,” Cushing warns. “The advantages are there’s another 50 minutes or 70 minutes out in the world. Like the recent Sony Legacy Music label’s Woodstock packages of Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Johnny Winter and Janis Joplin that was not there before musically, culturally and socially to listen too.

“The disadvantage is that the integrity of the original artistic artifact is somewhat compromised. It exists in the new configuration but exists in a way that calls attention to its limitations as a document.

“The new Ya-Ya’s reminds us that the original album issued in September 1970 produced by the Rolling Stones and Glyn Johns, was a very incomplete document of the original experience. There were built limitations then, vinyl with six songs on each side. But that limitation did not strike me as a problem to be solved. Because that was the way things were. The digital revolution made it possible to get one 75-minute experience on a CD that changed that rule.

“The guitar chemistry of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor was never heard before or since. The Faces came a little bit close,” he suggests. “Charlie Watts is enormously good and the interaction with bassist Bill Wyman.

 “Wyman, Watts. They all are mind-blowers. Ian Stewart steps in for piano on a couple of tracks, too. It’s that kind of that kind of rhythm blues music raised to a certain level of high performance art. We learn that rock ‘n’ roll is closer to theater than we realized,” suggests Dr. Cushing.

After the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour’s planned conclusion, the band organized one more performance on Saturday, Dec. 6, for a free show that featured the Flying Burrito Brothers, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and Grateful Dead (who chose not to perform) in a free thank-you concert acknowledging their successful 1969 U.S. tour that has always been reported as the disastrous Altamont Free concert.

And contrary to popular belief, many people who went to Altamont that afternoon and evening had a good time and left with a sense of wonder and delight.
Take into consideration actor/poet and East Hollywood wordsmith Harry E. Northup, who was at this infamous gig.

Northup has made a living as an actor for over 30 yeas, acting in 37 films, including “Mean Streets,” “Over the Edge” (starring role), “Taxi Driver” & “The Silence of the Lambs.” Northup is that rare American actor who is also an accomplished poet with 9 books of poetry published, the latest one is “Red Snow Fence,” published by Cahuenga Press.

“I was working as a waiter at the Old World Restaurant on the Sunset Strip.
 My first wife, Rita, and I had arrived in Los Angeles from New York City March
 5, 1968. That day we got an apartment in Santa Monica and that night, I got a job
 as a waiter at the Old World. I came to L.A. to work in the movies. I worked at night and auditioned for movie and TV roles in the day. We hung out at the beach and went to every rock ‘n’ roll concert that we could at the Santa Monica Civic, Palladium and Venice Beach.

“Rita and I and our 10-month-old son, Dylan, drove to San Francisco, Calif., Dec. 5, 1969, in our blue-and-white Volkswagon van. It had a bed in the back. We slept in it in the Haight. The morning of the 6th, we ate at Brother Juniper’s — I remember seeing a black man, sitting next to us, with a cross cut into the top of his head — & then we drove to Altamont. It was slow going when we got near the Speedway. We parked on the side of the road and walked a long way. We took turns carrying Dylan.
“At the concert, we met five long-haired surfer guys and three girls we knew from Santa Monica. It was a gray day. It seemed like half a million people were there. We had driven up Pacific Coast Highway many times from Santa Monica to see the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, among others, in Golden Gate Park and other venues, but had never been at a gathering this large.

“Most of the time, we stayed on the perimeter and danced. My wife loved the Stones. She pranced and pointed and sang like Mick. She had seen the Beatles at Shea Stadium years before. (Harvey Keitel, who was my fellow student in Frank Corsaro’s Method acting class in Manhattan, had introduced her to me at the one party that I had given in New York City in the five years that I lived there, from 1963-1968. He also introduced me to Martin Scorsese, who hired me to play the rapist in his first feature, “Who’s That Knocking At My Door” in 1968. Marty hired me to act in his first six features & first TV show. Bette Midler, by the way, sang Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ at that same party.)

“We shared joints, people gave us food: fruit, juices, sandwiches. Our surfer friends danced, held Dylan. Once, I snaked my way down to the left side of the stage just as the Stones sang ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’ It was electric. I saw a young woman who kept trying to climb up onto the stage, and at each attempt a Hells Angel who wore a wolf’s head kicked her in the face. She must have been a masochist, because she kept going back for more. I headed back to our group. We danced and had a wonderful time. The Stones and Santana were tremendous. We felt renewed.
“It was a long slow journey back to our VW. It wasn’t until we were driving south on the 5 Freeway that we heard, on the radio, about the killing at Altamont.
“In 1970, I saw “Gimme Shelter,” by the Mayles Brothers, which showed the violence in all its vividness. In 1968, I had seen the Mayles Brothers’ film, “Salesman.”

“To most audiences the film reflected an American consciousness and lifestyle more of the 1950s than of the Summer of Love, hippies, LSD, radical politics, and headlines and buttons proclaiming ‘God is Dead,'” wrote the film scholar, Vincent Lo Brutto. “Salesman” was about “selling Bibles door to door” — quite the opposite of ‘Gimme Shelter.’
“In 1973, I played the Vietnam vet who destroys his own homecoming in Scorsese’s first masterpiece, ‘Mean Streets.’ Scorsese utilized ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ on the soundtrack for Johnny Boy’s (De Niro) entrance into the bar.”

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