The debut release from the Rolling Stones new From the
Vaults series has finally been given to their hungry and eager fans. From the Vaults: Hampton Coliseum 1981 captures
the Stones at the conclusion of their massive 1981 tour in support of Tattoo You. This featured official
release hails from the first evening (December 18) of a two night run to close
the tour which also happens to be Keith Richards birthday! The Stones proceed
to play one of the finest concerts of their illustrious career, playing an expansive
set that surpasses two and a half hours and spotlights multiple eras.
re-mastered by Bob Clearmountain resulting in a definitive and awe inspiring
document of the ‘greatest rock and roll band in the world’. Besides one barely
noticeable edit taking place (see if you know where), the focus is on clarity and detail. Every nuance of Bill
Wyman’s nimble bass playing, the string resonance of ‘Keef’s’ ringing
Telecaster’s and the thump of Watt’s woody kick drum are all displayed in
crystalline quality. This was a nationwide ‘Pay per View’ broadcast so the pro
shot video contains every nuance available, while the re-mastered sound is multifaceted
in its sonic spread. The instruments speak with sparkling tone and confidence, while
Jagger sings well and does so while leaving behind his 1970’s practice of shouting for the majority of the concert.
America tour the band had ever undertaken. The coliseum sized stage set up, a
standard of all Stones tours was minimized for the ‘intimate’ confines of the
Hampton Coliseum. As evidenced by the existing
video, the Stones were fashionable and influential creating their own undeniable style and approach.. The vibrant color
pallet and ragged chic of the era is in no way representative of the dark
unbreakable rock solid grooves and bluesy guitar weaving mechanization’s that
take place on this evening.
and every reading is energized and fire breathing. The greatest aspect of this concert is that each and every song is carefully crafted and expanded with no clock watching by the group. The concert begins and slithers in on
the groovy strains of a loose ‘Under My Thumb’ that culminates in an edgy
crocheting of guitars. The feeling that it’s going to be a great concert is
evident as the band is revealed from the loudly bedazzled rotating stage. ‘When the Whip Comes
Down’, strikes without repent followed by a thick and guitar heavy ‘Let’s Spend
the Night Together’. The band is hot to the touch and do not let up through the
first half of the performance at all! A dangerous ‘Shattered’ and aggressive
reading of ‘Neighbors’ follow in breathless fashion keeping with the evenings
theme of all out hoodlum rock and blues. Woody and ‘Keef’s’ guitars nip at each other and the
dual piano attack of Ian McLagan and Ian
Steward keeps the rock rolling with no chance of slowing it down
My Imagination’ which ends up turning into a jam with Saxophone player Ernie
Watts blowing the blues away from the dampened outside evening streets. One of my
personal favorite segments of the concert occurs next with the bang banging of
Eddie Cochrane’s ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ and a tribal nightclub reading of the
Miracle’s ‘Going to a Go-Go’. The boys really hit it here, street corner tugging
on a smoke after a hot night in the bar; Watts and Wyman lock it up. Quintessential
Stones. A major highlight of the collection.
Rescue’s ‘Let Me Go’ follows and finds Jagger making his way along ramps and catwalks to
frolic amongst the crowd. The Stones tear away from their pursuant and adoring followers as they disseminate another definitive
version of a jagged and rarely performed classic.
On My Side’, ‘Beast of Burden’, and ‘Waiting On A Friend’. Keith Richard’s pours on whiskey soaked backing
vocals and strangles out an inspired solo on an ace version of ‘Time Is On My
Side’. Mick dons his beach hat and
acoustic for a sunset version of ‘Waiting On A Friend’ that is reason enough for this
release. The guitars shimmer in the narrator’s hopeful anticipation, the
saxophone elicits knots in the listener’s stomach from its blinding beauty.
This may be me waxing poetic, but every damn time I play this track it elicits
the same emotions from me. Richards
stands stout, cigarette hanging from his lips, every lick a stitch into the
blending instrumental tapestry.
the crowd two of the bands beloved classic tracks, with Jagger staying on
acoustic for the former. ‘Let It Bleed’ is played by the ‘Country Honks’ with
shit kicking boots, spotlighting Woody on his
blue slippery slide and culminating in a fantastic conclusion. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ gets an
extended performance and a new funky life is injected into this Stones
introduces the band and drinks are brought out in celebration. A welcome
performance of Richards, ‘Little T and A’ is another concert highlight with
Woody and Richards going Barbarian and grabbing both cheeks authoritatively on
this fiery rendition.
Dice’ follows with Jagger returning dressed in an American football Eagles
jersey inexplicably adorned with tassels. The band knows they got us now and
proceed to prove their proclamation of being the world’s greatest rock and roll
band. Stratocaster and Telecaster chime in a sexy coalition, leaving the card table behind and leaving with the clandestine lady by the door.
So Cold’ and ‘Hang Fire’ add an additional 1-2 punky punch before the
concluding ‘hits’ run. Both songs run with the RPM’s jacked, Woody swings
around the stage euphorically unable to contain himself as Richards’ is down to
a shredded T-shirt, eyes closed, metallic riffs sparking from his hands. This
segment is also ‘must see’ Stones and lends a great anticipation to what lies
in the recesses of the Rolling Stones vault.
the supports of the substantial catalog
of the Rolling Stones. The band tslams through ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Brown
Sugar’, ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ and ‘Satisfaction’ with authority,
determination and attitude. Textbook live versions of recognizable standards of
rock played with investment and verve. The crowd is ignited; the band sets it
in cruise control and release the rocks down the hill. ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Honky
Tonk’ see the addition of Stones veteran Bobby Keys’ to the stage and his simpatico
with Richards is obvious as the jams lift off of the earth. Mick threatens to
get naked through his dress and sprints around the arena in jaw dropping
endurance. The concert threatens to tear the venue from its mounts and to rip
apart at the seams. ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ sounds like the turntable may need a belt adjustment it is so kinetic, finally stretching out to allow for Jagger to play around on a skyline cherry picker.
midway through the song a fan who can no longer contain their brewing excitement runs
on the stage toward Jagger. What follows the epitome of rock and roll cool as
Richards’ removes his black Telecaster and takes a home run swing connecting
with the crazed fan and allowing security to escort him from the stage. ‘Keef’
places the strap back on his shoulder and keeps playing, in tune and in time. Richards was later quoted as saying that this was
a great advertisement for Fender as the guitar stayed perfectly in tune after striking
the rogue fan. This moment is a fitting conclusion to a concert brimming with ‘cool’.
Whatever your definition, in the world of rock it does not get any better than
this. Description is pointless, go get this video and enjoy it in your own rock room!
Rolling Stones From the Vault series
containing audio and video from the Stones 1975 L.A. Forum run. This first
edition has set the standard high with one of the finest examples of the
Rolling Stones live on stage a fan can find. No matter the environment or the
era what can be guaranteed is that the Stones will play rock at 100 miles an
hour. In an era of slick production and sometimes questionable values the
Stones remained relevant by creating their own style and always staying true to
their roots. The Hampton 1981 release finds the band at the peak of their
second era of popularity, features a diverse set formed from all walks of their
early career and performed with a vehemence and attitude. Start here if you are
probing the live catalog of the Stones and start here if you’ve been with them
all along, because this is one of the best nights with the Stones that you can find.