Originally released in 1969 as a way to divert attention from the bootleg sensation Live'r Than You'll Ever Be, Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out received a lavish reissue treatment 40 years later, expanded to a three-CD/one-DVD set complete with a thick accompanying booklet. Instead of adding that original boot as a bonus, this anniversary edition fills out the November 1969 Madison Square Garden concert that provided the basis for the original LP, adding an EP's worth of unreleased Stones tracks from the show plus the opening sets by B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner, along with a DVD of live and behind-the-scenes footage. All the unearthed Stones material is strong -- particularly the pair of acoustic numbers, "Prodigal Son" and "You Gotta Move" -- but in comparison to what made it onto the LP, they do sound like outtakes (to be fair, the LP did have some minor overdubs whereas these five cuts seem to be unadorned with additions), and they're also overshadowed by the absolutely terrific opening sets. Ike & Tina were in a crowd-pleasing rock & roll covers mode, tearing through "Gimme Some Loving," "Son of a Preacher Man," "Come Together," and "Land of 1000 Dances" in addition to their trademark "Proud Mary," but B.B. serves up a condensed version of his standard set that positively smokes and is reason enough to pick up this deluxe edition.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Since 1977, when the double-live Love You Live offered a live souvenir of the 1976 Black and Blue tour, the Rolling Stones made a habit of documenting their recent tour with a live album released a year later. It's as reliable as clockwork, but in the early days of the 2000s there was a spanner in the works -- the Stones hadn't released an album of new material since 1997. Undaunted, the group launched a full-scale international tour in 2002. At its core, it was a greatest-hits tour, but it was a greatest-hits tour with a difference -- the group switched up venues, playing clubs, arenas, and stadiums, and they played with their set lists too, throwing in never-performed album tracks, cult favorites, and covers into the mix with the old warhorses. This tour was lavishly chronicled in the excellent 2003 four-DVD set Four Flicks, but there still wasn't an audio document of this blockbuster tour until the double-CD Live Licks appeared in late 2004. This doesn't mix things up as much as either the tour or the DVD, where the forgotten gems sat alongside the familiar. Instead, the first disc is devoted to the songs you know by heart, the second to fan favorites, covers, and tunes never before on another Stones live album ("Beast of Burden," believe it or not, is among those songs). While the song selection on the latter initially seems haphazard -- why two album tracks from Tattoo You ("Neighbours," "Worried About You")? why is Keith singing Hoagy Carmichael? why isn't the version of "Rock Me Baby" the storied version with Malcolm and Angus Young of AC/DC jamming with the Stones? -- it actually holds together very well as it spins, demonstrating the depth of the band's catalog and their musicality. Most surprisingly, this album is convincing proof that the Rolling Stones sounded better on this tour than they had in years. They still boast an enormous number of auxiliary musicians, but these are players that have been with the Stones for years, if not decades, so all 13 musicians sound comfortable with each other as a band, which makes the music supple and strong. While the Stones haven't abandoned their arena-ready, cinematic shtick, it no longer sounds cartoonish, it sounds natural; the band has the ability to make this large-scale arena rock sound as if it were being played in a packed bar. In other words, this is how a veteran band sounds when it's not coasting. Not that this makes for an essential Stones album -- these are the kind of differences that matter only to longtime fans -- but it is a thoroughly enjoyable one, and one that nearly justifies yet another version of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." [There are two versions of Live Licks -- an American and British version. There is one difference between the two releases: on the U.S. version, the computer-animated Japanese woman is wearing a bikini top, on the U.K. version she is not.]
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi