In March 1971, The Rolling Stones embarked on a short tour of the UK in support of their newest album, Sticky Fingers. Besides having an opportunity to play their homeland once again, the tour served as a farewell of sorts. The group had become tax exiles, moving to France where their next album, Exile on Main Street, would be recorded and they needed to be out of England before April 1, when the next tax year began.
On March 26, 1971, the band played to an intimate, star-studded crowd at London's Marquee Club. Among the 150-200 lucky members of the audience were Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Andrew Loog Oldham and the band commemorated the occasion by filming the show. Long available as a bootleg, but never in this quality, The Rolling Stones From the Vault: The Marquee Club - Live In 1971, pairs an upscaled SDBlu-ray of the performance with a remastered CD. This is a rare opportunity to see and hear the Stones at their absolute zenith.
The show opens with a killer "Live With Me" from Let It Bleed. Mick Jagger commands the stage from the outset on this edgy track that also includes killer sax from the late Bobby Keys. "Dead Flowers," one of four new songs played from Sticky Fingers follows and showcases guitarist Mick Taylor's nimble lead playing. Jagger and Keith Richards share a microphone, something fans don't see enough of these days, for the harmonies on this classic country number.
Jagger gives a terrific vocal on the seldom-played "I Got The Blues." The camera focuses on his face for the entire first verse, something you'd never get today in this short attention span era and Keys' sax replaces the original's organ. The song would not be performed live again for decades after this performance, which is truly a shame as it is a great track.
A stunning "Midnight Rambler" showcases the twin-guitar attack of Richards and Taylor and allows Jagger, a vastly underrated harmonica player himself, to shine with some licks of his own. The band is on fire in this version, leaving the audience completely mesmerized. The Stones take a chance on "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," playing the song at a more laid-back pace, giving it almost a Stax feel. The rendition works, but it may catch people unfamiliar with this arrangement by surprise.
The band closes the show with strong versions of "Bitch" and "Brown Sugar." Taylor plays rhythm while Keith offers his best Chuck Berry licks on the former, while Keys gives his signature sax solo on the latter. Great stuff.
The video is upscaled 4:3 Standard Definition and looks as good as it is going to get. While not quite up to today's standards, it is definitely mint by 1971 standards. The audio is available in uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD 96/24. Mixed by Bob Clearmountain, the sound is full and powerful. Bonus features include alternate takes of "I Got The Blues" and "Bitch" as well as "Brown Sugar" from Top of the Pops in 1971.
Not much video of the Stones from this period exists and, as such, it is amazing they had the presence of mind to film this gig for American TV. This is the Stones on top of their game, playing some of their very best material. Not to be missed.