Saturday, April 14, 2007

Classic Bootleg Series Vol. 7: The Rolling Stones - Happy Birthday Nicky (Australia '73)

About time we checked in with The Rolling Stones, don't you think?

In any debate about the greatest rock and roll tours of all time, the Stones' 1973 trek always seems to be in the mix. Setlists in this period were heavy with songs from Exile On Main Street, arguably the Stones' finest album (even though Goat's Head Soup had been released in the meantime), and with Mick Taylor on second guitar and lighting a fire under Keith Richards every night, they boasted probably their best-ever lineup.

It's also a tour that was heavily bootlegged, which made it tough for me to decide what to post first. The Brussels show in October (which we'll certainly have to return to at some point) is probably the most famous, because it was recorded for an official release that never happened, and sounds pretty amazing. But this boot, of two dates in Australia the previous February, gives Brussels a serious run for its money.

The Perth show on Disc 1 is a soundboard tape and sounds mighty fine, even though Mick Jagger's vocals are up a little too far in the mix. (The boot gets it's name from this show as well -- it was pianist Nicky Hopkins' birthday.) But it's the Sydney show on Disc 2 that's the real treasure. The first track starts with a patch from an inferior audience source, but just be patient -- at about 1:05, the sweet, nicely-balanced soundboard tape kicks in and will thrill you for the duration of the set. (It's a tad trebly, but hey, this was almost 35 years ago.) And just look at the sick setlists for these shows, especially on Disc 2. Only rock and roll, my ass.


Front cover
Back cover

Disc 1 (February 24, 1973 - Western Australia Cricket Ground, Perth, Australia):
01 Brown Sugar
02 Bitch
03 Rocks Off
04 Gimme Shelter
05 Happy
06 Tumbling Dice
07 Honk Tonk Women
08 All Down The Line
09 Midnight Rambler
10 Happy Birthday Nicky / band intros
11 Little Queenie

Disc 2 (February 26, 1973 -- Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, Australia):
01 Brown Sugar
02 Bitch
03 Rocks Off
04 Gimme Shelter
05 Happy
06 Tumbling Dice
07 Love In Vain
08 Sweet Virginia
09 You Can't Always Get What You Want
10 Honky Tonk Women
11 All Down The Line
12 Midnight Rambler
13 band intros
14 Little Queenie
15 Rip This Joint
16 Jumping Jack Flash
17 Street Fighting Man