Hyde Park Live

The Rolling Stones

Welcomed back to Hyde Park for the first time since 1969, the Rolling Stones begin Hyde Park Live, available exclusively through iTunes, with the ubiquitous rolling thunder of a chunky guitar slicing through "Start Me Up." When that happens, you know you're in for a helluva ride. The 19-song compilation of the July 6 and 13 gigs has the Stones attempting to recreate the mood of 1969 - right down to the two 70-foot tall model oak trees on stage!

Other notable tracks include a flangy "It's Only Rock and Roll" with the guitars mixed up high and the unveiling of "Emotional Rescue," with Jagger in fine falsetto. "Street Fighting Man," by request, simply rocks with those Chuck Leavell piano touches eerily precise and inventive, as he is on the slightly stilted "Ruby Tuesday." A new one, "Doom and Gloom," gets a good airing, sounding much better than it does on the band's greatest hits collection, GRRR, released in tandem with the 50 & Counting tour. "Honky Tonk Woman" sounds a little too old and tired, and Keith Richards leads the rag-tag through a little too loosely on "You Got The Silver." Admittedly never one of my faves, "Miss You" moves a little too fast, though the Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards process of the "ancient art of weaving" serves the wall of sound behind Jagger's rapping vocal.

The 1969 Hyde Park show was a memorial to Brian Jones, who had just passed away weeks before. It was also Mick Taylor's baptism-by-fire first performance with the Stones. Over 40 years later, Taylor is back with the band for the unbelievable "Midnight Rambler," complete with trade-off leads, Jagger's harmonica playing and the band chugging along behind the always well-dressed Charlie Watt's snap of the snare. The trickiest of tunes to pull off live, this version can stand proudly against the one we are all used on Get Your Ya Ya's Out.

A blistering, dare I say, funky "Sympathy For The Devil" showcases Watts and Leavell, plus the lead guitar is perfectly cutting, just like the studio version. In an attempt to replicate the studio version of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," the Stones would recruit local choirs from whatever city they were playing, and London was no different with the Voce Chamber Choir and London Youth Choir singing the opening, and Jagger sounding as much the God of Rock, preaching his sermon. Richards threw in his riffs in the rock steady beat of the band and those backing vocals make it fabulous finale - even though "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is actually the last song. I remember back in the day, people claimed Led Zeppelin's incredible success was due in part to a pact the band made with the devil. I rather think the Rolling Stones were dancing with Mr. D. more often because on Hyde Park Live, they sound as youthful as ever. If you want to hear what I'm talking about, go to iTunes.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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