The true greatest rock band in the world returned this week with another new archived live recording. The band in question is The Rolling Stones and the recording in question is one of its three December 1989 concerts in Atlantic City, NJ in support of its then new album Steel Wheels. The performance was part of the band’s “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” tour, which was the band’s first American tour since 1981. The recording is another presentation that will appeal to The Rolling Stones’ fans just as much as rock fans in general just as much as the multitude of previous live recordings. That count is almost at 20 counting (not counting this recording) if not right at said figure. The main reason that audiences will appreciate the recording so much is its extensive set list. The list, which runs approximately two-and-a-half hours in length, will be discussed shortly. The band’s performance thereof adds to the enjoyment in its own way. This will be addressed a little later. The recording’s production values round put the finishing touch to its presentation. When it is considered along with the set list and the band’s performance, the elements collectively make the recording another welcome way to beat the live music blues this and any year.
The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording is another fully immersive, enjoyable presentation for the band’s most devoted fans and rock fans in general. In an age when live music has been relegated to watching concerts online, this offering from the greatest rock band in the world is its own welcome offering and alternative to being glued to a computer or phone screen. That is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list. The 28-song set list spans a run time of approximately two-and-a-half hours. It takes audiences all the way back to 1965 and the band’s fourth album Out Of Our Heads and all the way up to its then most recent album, 1989’s Steel Wheels. Given, not every album in-between is represented in the set list, but in comparison to the set lists featured in the band’s past live recordings, audiences do get some songs not featured in those presentations. The band’s five nods to Steel Wheels are themselves works that have rarely if ever been featured in the noted previous live presentations. The band’s cover of Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’ and its performance of its own single ‘Undercover of the Night’ (from 1983) are in themselves live rarities. So audiences have all of that to enjoy. Along with the noted songs, audiences also get more familiar songs, such as ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ and ‘Tumblin’ Dice’ among others. As if all of that is not enough, the band also pulls ‘2,000 Light Years From Home,’ ‘Happy,’ and ‘Salt of the Earth’ as some semi-rare works from its catalog. Also making this set list so enjoyable are guest appearances from blues legend John Lee Hooker, who joins the band for a performance of his own hit song ‘Boogie Chillen’ and a guest appearance by fellow blues legend Eric Clapton on that song and ‘Little Red Rooster.’
The set list in itself does a lot to make Steel Wheels Live appealing to audiences. The set list proves itself even more critical to the recording’s presentation in that it is the exact same in the recording’s DVD, CD, digital and vinyl platforms. In other words, audiences get the same presentation from one platform to the next. This is important to note because even today, there are some acts out there whose live recordings vary across platforms. So to have the same thing from one platform to the next makes the set list that much more important to the recording.
Additionally, the set list’s sequencing plays its own part to the recording’s presentation. From the show’s opening up until the band takes on ‘Terrifying,’ the show’s energy remains relatively high. It is not until the noted point that the band pulls things back. The noted relaxation lasts only momentarily. After that song and ‘Salt of the Earth,’ which features a guest appearance by Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, the show’s energy picks back up. Their performance alongside Mick Jagger and company will be addressed a little later. ‘Honky Tonk Women’ slows things down again, but still manages to keep the concert’s energy flowing solidly thanks to its swagger. The same can be said of ‘Midnight Rambler,’ too. That song comes immediately after ‘Honky Tonk Women.’ From that point on, the show’s energy rises and falls in all of the right points and ways, showing without question the amount of time and thought that went into assembling the set list. That effort paid off, too. When this aspect is considered along with the set list’s presentation across the recording’s platforms and its breadth and depth, those elements collectively make the set list the most important aspect of this recording. It builds a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation on which the band’s performance rests easily.
The Rolling Stones’ performance of Steel Wheels Live’s set list is important to note because it does its own part to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Those audiences who are familiar with the band’s live show style already has an expected standard from the band. Those audiences will be glad to know that the band lives up to that expectation here just as much as in the band’s past performances. Front man Mick Jagger is just as confident as ever as he struts his way across the stage and sings. That swagger is on full display just as much. Guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood keep the energy moving along with drummer Charlie Watts, the trio’s work just as engaging as ever in its own right. Wood and Richards’ prowess on their instruments makes one forget the woes of the world, especially as they make their way through the blues classic ‘Little Red Rooster’ alongside Eric Clapton. The group’s performance is just as solid as it supports Rose and Stradlin in the collective’s performance of ‘Salt of the Earth.’ On a similar note, viewers will be pleased to see that Rose shares the stage with Jagger and company in that performance rather than trying to steal the spotlight. It shows that he knows he and Stradlin are the guests here, not the stars. Even when he gets the spotlight in ‘Cant’ Be Seen,’ Richards shows once again, his talent as a performer and not just a guitarist. He and the band’s longtime backing vocalists make for so much enjoyment and engagement in their own way. Between that aspect and the rest of the presentation in the concert, the band’s performance in whole makes for a wonderful experience. It builds on the foundation formed by the show’s set list to make the recording even more enjoyable. When the two elements are considered together, they give audiences even more reason to take in this concert. They are still only a portion of what makes the recording so impressive. Its production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
Just as with all of The Rolling Stones’ past live recordings released through Eagle Rock Entertainment, the production here gives home viewers the best seat in the house. When the cameras go out beyond the sea of people, audiences get a full picture of just how many people attended the concert, and the sheer immensity of the band’s stage setup. The on-stage footage immerses audiences into the performance even more as it takes viewers along for the ride up close with the band. The transitions from shot to shot throughout and the sound enrich the experience even more. From a more relaxed moment, such as in ‘Sympathy for the Devil to the more fiery cover of ‘Harlem Shuffle’ and everywhere else, the guitars and vocals are so well-balanced with Watts’ time keeping and the work of the band’s fellow musicians. Each performer gets an equal share of time in the limelight. Considering that and the smooth camera transitions, no doubt is left about the impact of the concert’s production. When this is considered along with the band’s performance and the concert’s set list, the whole of these elements makes Steel Wheels Live a presentation that is another welcome addition to The Rolling Stones and Eagle Rock Entertainment’s ongoing series of live recordings from the band.
Eagle Rock Entertainment and The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording Steel Wheels Live is yet another welcome addition to the two sides’ ongoing series of live recordings. That is proven in part through the recording’s expansive set list. The set list runs 26 songs deep and spans a run time of two-and-a-half hours. Given, it is not a career-spanning set even for its time, but does still present a relatively clear cross section of the band’s catalog up to that point. The band’s performance of the featured set list is everything that audiences have come to expect from The Rolling Stones. The swagger and the energy is there from beginning to end. The concert’s production values play their own part to the recording’s presentation. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation. All things considered, they make the recording as solid as steel. Steel Wheels Live is available now.
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