Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rolling Stones launch digital archive

The Rolling Stones have unlocked the door to their archive, full of music, film and memorabilia from their almost 50-year career.

The band has launched, a site where fans can listen to unheard music, view unseen photographs and films, and look at rare merchandise. Stones fans also have the opportunity to buy items, such as signed lithographs, deluxe box sets, even personalized merchandise and tour gear in the shop.

The first item the band are releasing is the long-awaited download of a legendary 1973 concert, recorded at the Forest National in Belgium. Long hailed by die-hard Stones fans as one of the band's greatest live performances, “The Brussels Affair” has been a mainstay in the underground music world for years.

The original bootlegs, sold under such titles as “Europe 73,” “Bedspring Symphony” and “Brussels Affair,” were cobbled together from assorted radio broadcasts, including the syndicated radio program King Biscuit Flower Hour, and usually contained songs performed at other venues. The new edition, pulled exclusively from the two Brussels gigs, was taken from the original multi-track masters recorded by Andy Johns on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Longtime Stones collaborator Bob Clearmountain applied the final mix.

Brussels was the penultimate stop on a European tour that the Stones embarked upon in the autumn of 1973 to promote the album “Goats Head Soup.” At the time, the Stones were by far the biggest stars on the planet, and the 21-city tour was met by ecstatic crowds, causing the band to frequently perform two shows a day, as they did at the Forest National arena in Brussels. Despite the frenetic pace, the road trip yielded some of the band's greatest music on stage.

“The Brussels Affair”
captures that greatness. From the opening chords of "Brown Sugar" to the closer, "Street Fighting Man," the Stones were firing on all cylinders: Keith Richards and Charlie Watts churning out a locomotive-like rhythm section (can any song be played faster than this rendition of "Rip This Joint"?), Mick Taylor delivering a barrage of blistering leads, and Mick Jagger growling and grinding in his blue-sequined best.

Although the Stones began readying a live album of the show for commercial release, the idea was ultimately shelved - a tragedy given the ferocity of the set and the definitive live versions of Stones classics that it presents. With the opening of the Stones Archive, that has all changed. If there was one Rolling Stones bootleg that needed to find its way into the mainstream, Brussels '73 was it.

The bootleg is available to American fans at the new Google Music site.

The The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
The Brussels Affair – 1973 (bootleg version - NOT new Stones mix)

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