As the third of the Rolling Stones digital-only official bootleg series (downloads of the 1981 Hampton Coliseum show and the legendary Brussels Affair set from 1973 have already appeared), L.A. Friday (Live, 1975) features an entire July 11, 1975 performance from the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles (the show actually happened on a Sunday). This is the Stones' first tour with guitarist Ron Wood, "on loan" from the Faces at the time, and keyboardist Billy Preston.
The set begins with a sloppy "Honky Tonk Women." Jagger forgets and then repeats the verses, yet the always-on-board Ian Stewart still makes with some great piano. "All Down The Line" is notable for Wood's slide playing. Charlie Watts and percussionist Ollie E. Brown trade some good poundage in "If You Can't Rock Me," before the band rolls into "Get Off of My Cloud." Things finally settle in on two well-known covers: the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" and the Fred McDowell/Rev. Gary Davis-penned "You Got To Move."
A killer "Gimme Shelter" follows, with an outstanding performance from bassist Bill Wyman. At this point in the show, we start to get a good idea of what Wyman was all about as his bass becomes suddenly more prominent in the mix. He simply cooks on "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which also features a sax solo by Trevor Lawrence. "Tumbling Dice" is exalted here slightly by a Jagger "Some Girls"-like rap at its middle. "Heartbreaker" sees him all over the place, slurring his words and trying to keep up, but Wood sounds perfect and Wyman sparkles.
"Fingerprint File," the last song from It's Only Rock 'n Roll, is a masterpiece - maybe the best song on this set - with Wyman popping away on this early Stones disco attempt. This one sees Jagger in fine form, singing almost through a character more than his own voice. "Angie" is not all that spectacular, other than Preston's organ, but "Wild Horses" features Keith Richards' steady rhythm and backing vocals. The next two are Billy Preston tunes - an incendiary "That's Life" and the full-tilt-ahead boogie of "Outta Space."
It's back to Stones music with "Brown Sugar" as Jagger gets the crowd cheering here as only he can. "Midnight Rambler," a certainly different version than the one on Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, has more guitar trading between Richards and Woods in the middle and no hint of harmonica. This one is always a real down-and-out audience slayer and it is here on L.A. Friday (Live, 1975).
"Rip This Joint," "Street Fighting Man," "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Sympathy For The Devil" end the collection - all competently, if not a little quickly, played, and Jagger on and off his game verse by verse. "Sympathy For The Devil" sees some great guitar playing, even if the band doesn't exactly know where it is by the middle of the tune.
Altogether, this is a spectacular document of the Rolling Stones as they marched through their "Tour of the Americas" smack dab in the middle of the 70s. The middle of the show, especially where the band stretches out with Wyman and Preston, is the strongest part of the collection, but overall this modestly priced, perfectly presented download is worth adding to your Rolling Stones collection. L.A. Friday (Live, 1975) is available at Rolling Stones Archive and Google Music.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.