In Part 1 of my listening report on the new Rolling Stones Tattoo You 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition vinyl boxed set I explored the newly remastered original album and the fine bonus disc titled: Lost & Found: Rarities. If you missed that first review, please click here to catch up on it.
When the Still Life album came out in 1982, about a year after Tattoo You, I felt it was too slick and tame for my tastes. Especially given the kind of raw power the Stones had pulled off in the wake of Some Girls and on much of Tattoo You, that live album felt crafted for radio and the emerging MTV era. And I suspect those calculations worked as it was a huge smash hit album for the band. However, it never rang true for me.
When I heard that the new Tattoo You 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition set featured a three-disc album (on vinyl) of a complete representative concert from later on that Still Life tour, I grew hopeful. In preparing for this review as I didn’t have the original Still Life on vinyl or CD, I went back checked it out on the Tidal and Qobuz streaming services. It sounded fine but indeed had that curious sensibility of everything being in super perfect alignment, much removed from the more raucous swagger for which the Stones were legendary. Technically it sounded nice, but too clean, just as I’d remembered it.
The new three LP set — also curiously titled Still Life — captures the band at the tail end of the same tour and (at least for me) is a night and day listening experience. Sure, the production is less refined than the 1982 album, but the sound is appropriately raw and the band is ripping. It is perhaps not the ultimate mix, mind you, purely from a technical audio/fidelity standpoint. But from my perspective as a fan of the non-sanitized version of The Rolling Stones, I think it is a far better representation of what they were about and meant to most fans. This concert recording sounds great when you turn it up loud (which, after all, is how The Stones should be played!).
The set list is classic and pretty epic in many ways. You get all the big hits you might want here: “Honky Tonk Women,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction,” “Brown Sugar” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” are all present. The then-newer albums are well represented including “Start Me Up,” “Black Limousine,” “Miss You,” “She’s So Cold,” “Hang Fire” and “Beast Of Burden.”
From the start of the set the band’s aim seems true and ready to rock, ping ponging between “Under My Thumb” and “When The Whip Comes Down” followed by “Lets Spend The Night Together,” “Shattered” and “Neighbors.” There are of course choice covers like “Just My Imagination,” “Chantilly Lace” and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “Going To A Go Go” (which at that time was the pull-out hit from the live Still Life album) The version of “Let It Bleed” smokes.
And so it goes with Still Life (Wembley Stadium 1982). I wish this was the album they released back in the day but that wasn’t to be. But, at least now we have this sweet gem now!
Really, I have only one closing reminder for enjoying this album and the whole of the Tattoo You 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition: play it loud!
Keep rockin’ everyone…