Mention the Rolling Stones tour of 1969, and all anyone remembers is the Altamont disaster, the death knell of the sixties, the end of the dream, blah, blah, blah. I saw the Stones in Chicago two weeks before Altamont, I’m here to testify it was one hellacious show. Want proof?
The live album from that tour, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out, has been remastered with bonus material. Previously too muddy to listen to, the new version is much clearer. Five additional songs are added (both on CD and DVD), including Satisfaction, the sine qua non of a Stones set. Opening sets by BB King and Ike and Tina Turner make up another disc. Good stuff, tho Chuck Berry and Terry Reid (who turned down a spot in Led Zeppelin) opened the Chicago show.
The library’s new version of Gimme Shelter, the Maysles brothers famous documentary about Altamont, includes outtakes from the Madison Square Garden shows, which show how powerful the band was at that time. They were midway thru their winning streak with the consecutive releases of Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street. Brian Jones was dead, and the new kid Mick Taylor gave the band the kick it had been missing since Jones began fading away. (Hanging out with Keith is dangerous. Taylor had to leave the band later on, and ended up selling his gold records to buy heroin.)
Finally, a new photo book documents the tour. Let It Bleed gives Ethan Russell’s fine shots the coffee table treatment. Notice Mick’s black jumpsuit with the omega (symbolizing both the end and resistence). That meant a lot to me, as Dad had bought me a letter jacket for Christmas of my freshman year of high school. I never did letter in any sport, so I filled the space with a big omega in school colors. Mick’s costume seemed to validate this.