Okay, so it may not be in the same league as “I have a dream” or “Ask not what your country can do for you…” but one of my favorite live-album ad libs appears on the Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! when Mick Jagger declares, “Charlie’s good tonight, innee!” The “Charlie” in question is, of course, drummer Charlie Watts and a terrific job he did in 1969 at Madison Square Garden (where the album was recorded), propelling the Greatest Rock & Roll Band In The World through performances of, among others, “Midnight Rambler,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Love In Vain,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
The good news? Now I—and you!— can hear Mick’s compliment and that track listing with much greater clarity. In November, ABKCO are releasing a 40th-anniversary deluxe boxed-set version of Ya-Ya’s which includes a remastered version of the album, an additional disc of five previously unreleased tracks, and a third disc featuring songs by the Stones’ Garden support acts B.B. King and Ike and Tina Turner. The set will also contain a DVD of material shot by the Maysles brothers of the MSG shows as well as other footage of the band offstage, plus a 56-page Collectors Edition book.
Last week, I got a sneak peek at the new Ya-Ya’s and it really is a terrific piece of work. The remastered Stones music is a revelation and, in particular, allows you to better enjoy the bluesy genius of guitarist Mick Taylor, who, with all due respect to Brian Jones and Ron Wood, really is by far the most talented foil for Keith Richards that the Stones ever had.
A lot of the Maysles footage is utterly gripping, if for very different reasons. One hilarious sequence finds Charlie Watts reluctantly participating in a Ya-Ya’s photo shoot with a donkey on a particularly desolate British day. Another scene, loaded in hindsight with portentousness, features the Stones monkeying around with the Grateful Dead just prior to leaving for the disastrous Altamont festival. (Incidentally, the Maysles’ documentary about Altamont, Gimme Shelter, will be released by Criterion on Blu-ray at the start of December.)
So, are you as excited about the new Ya-Ya’s as me? And is anyone going to seriously argue about this Mick Taylor-equipped, Exile on Main St.-producing version of the Stones being the best? Or, for that matter, that they really are The Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World?
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