The 'live' album really came into it's own in the late 60's, it was a time when the importance of live performance really started to emerge. Whilst it was unable to capture the visual and extravagance of some emerging live performers it was able to capture that rawness and that unadulterated spirit of rock and roll. One band who captured this was the Rolling Stones with their classic live set Get Yer Ya Ya's Out which was recorded to during the band's triumphant 1969 U.S tour, which was their first tour in over two years. most of the songs came from their two night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden on the 27th and 28th of November, one song Love in Vain was taken from a show in Baltimore.
This album is raw rock and roll at it's best, swaggering and defiant it's what the Stones did best, you can also hear how much fun the Stones are having, what a relief it was for them to be back on the road. Creatively the band were back to their best, the Beggars Banquet album saw the band take a huge leap, they embraced their blues roots but delved deeper into more acoustic styles, and lyrically Jagger and Richards were able to harness the growing uncertainty of the times to write songs of great depth and stinging reality. The 1969 U.S tour was also an opportunity to take that same ethos to the stage so the album has the Stones returning to their funky, dirty bluesy sound. This tour and their final ill-fated show at Altamont also came to signify the end of an era, that period of peace, love and harmony had evaporated to be replaced by a sense of despair and hopelessness that creeped into the music.
You should never expect crisp perfectionism from the Stones, the band lurch into the opening of Jumpin Jack Flash but soon with Richards providing that rhythmic platform the rest of the band quickly find the groove. One thing the Stones always delivered on was a strong sense of rhythm, Charlie Watts is superb on this album rock solid but also with those loose Max Roach inspired fills. They keep that rock and roll momentum going with a languid flowing version of Carol, once again paving away for Richard to nail those Chuck Berry chords he so revered. One of the standout songs is a cover of Robert Johnson's Love In Vain the band effortlessly capture the emotional intensity of the song with Mick Taylor playing these plaintive slide parts before making them howl in vain as Johnson's love leaves aboard a train. This was the period in which the Stones led by Richards delved deep into the heartland of the Mississippi Delta having earlier plumbed the depth of the south side of Chicago blues.
Midnight Rambler is a tour de force with Jagger and at his mischievous best easily portraying the role of an evil midnight creeper. The Stones really ramp this song up, with Watts and Bill Wyman really driving the rhythm and allowing Richards to plant his rhythm guitar and Taylor to fire off some assertive solos as he started to become more comfortable in his role. Sympathy for The Devil sounds a little more restrained missing the percussive funk of the studio version. Live With Me is more rambunctious with that propulsive rhythm and snap shot drumming from Charlie Watts. I remembering hearing their version of Little Queenie when I was kid and I loved that bluesy shuffle Richards plays at the start before the band take a breath and jump into another lively version of a Chuck Berry classic. Honky Tonk Woman which had been the hit of the U.S summer was given the characteristic Stones treatment, very loose and ragged with some ad libbed vocals from Jagger. It seems to lack something it's too loose perhaps they were still becoming accustomed to playing it live. They finish off with a barnstorming version of Street Fighting Man, certainly an apt number for the times, it's harder and funkier than the studio version and because of this it takes on a darker semblance live. When released in 1970 it became the first live album to top the U.K charts, live albums seemed to be less commercially accepted in the U.S at the time though the album peaked at #6 and sold a million copies.
The period that saw the release of Get Yer Ya Ya's Out also saw seminal live albums like The Who's Live At Leeds, The Allman Brothers' Live At The Fillmore, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen and going a little further back you include the MC5's Kick Out The Jams from 1968. You don't seem to find a lot of live album releases these days, live concerts are often recorded on portable devices and uploaded on to You Tube for immediate viewing, that's technology for you.