Stones rock out on debut live album
Not the best recorded Stones album, but one of their most thrilling. Along with The Yardbirds’ Five Live Yardbirds (1964), Got Live If You Want It! remains an exciting and vigorous snapshot of a band who were yet to reach their creative peak. Although unlike The Yardbirds’ own live release, the title to this album was somewhat disingenuous, owing to the fact that not every track was captured on stage in front of an audience of panty-wetting teenage girls.
But as far as Stones albums go, Got Live covers a decent amount of ground, and includes many of their more famous hits such as “Under My Thumb,” “Get Off Of My Cloud,” “The Last Time” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” along with several other well known tunes. The way in which opener “Under My Thumb” segues into “Get Off Of My Cloud” is still electrifying after all these years, while the tender “Lady Jane” and the Bo Diddley inspired “Not Fade Away” manage to capture the spirit of the times in a way very few live recordings could now.
As mentioned there is a little studio trickery going on, apparently due to uncontrollable crowd noise (i.e. screaming) and various instruments dropping in and out as a result of people storming the stage in an effort to grab a hold of their favourite Stone – hence the need for overdubs during the post-production period.
Their stirring cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” was recorded at RCA and IBC Studios (in America and England respectively), while “Fortune Teller” was captured at London’s Decca Studios. The sounds of adoring fans were later overdubbed in order to maintain the illusion that this was a totally live affair.
They whip the audience into a state of frenzy with an upbeat “The Last Time,” “I’m Alright” and “19th Nervous Breakdown,” before breaking a few teenage hearts on the anthemic “Time Is On My Side.” It’s been speculated that “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows” was another studio recording however this has never been verified (at least not to the knowledge of this critic). But regardless, it nevertheless captures the raw energy and excitement of an early Stones concert, with or without overdubs.
But they save the best till last, with a rousing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Charlie Watts hits the skins in feverish fashion; Keith Richards pugilistically punches out the main riffs, as Jagger insouciantly spits his lyrics at the crowd.
Got Live If You Want It! may not have been their first live release (an EP of the same name was issued the previous year), but it would fill an important gap until the release of 1970’s Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Now that was a live album.
The 45th Anniversary Edition contains an impressive plethora of bonus tracks (including those from the earlier EP), so perhaps that is the version to get, depending on how much of a Stones obsessive you really are. But if you already own the original, don’t worry, because there’s plenty to enjoy here, and since Stones concerts rarely lasted for more than 25 minutes anyway, this one’s a tad closer to what the listener could expect to hear, in terms of length. A definite must have.