From The Vault: The Marquee Club, Live in 1971 (DVD)

The Rolling Stones

Eagle Vision, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


There's probably a reason this one stayed in the vaults for so long. Sometimes, total honesty just isn't necessary in live rock music.

On the other hand, that may be the biggest selling point for The Marquee Club. Filmed and recorded as part of the Stones' "farewell tour" as they were preparing to leave their home country, this show is a ramshackle, boozy, bluesy affair in which everybody is having a good time, professionalism be damned. There would be time for that later.It's kind of like listening to six different versions of "Country Honk," the best-forgotten deep cut from Let It Bleed.

But there is historical value to this short show...and, perhaps, musical value for a certain swath of Stones fan. This show is notable for the live debut of four songs from Sticky Fingers, which would be released a month later, chief among them "Brown Sugar" and "Bitch." Now, four decades of radio play have rendered some songs cliche, but imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Brown Sugar" for the first time. It's one of the two moments that the band truly comes to life here and it proves the song arrived fully formed.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Many fans see the Mick Taylor period as the highwater mark for the band - and they are correct, no offense to Ron Wood or Brian Jones – and seven of the eight songs here are from his tenure with the band to that point. The lone holdout is, predictably, "Satisfaction," and the band opts to give it a lounge fly treatment. It's almost funny to hear a legendary band in this intimate setting, in various stages of drunkenness, completely ruin the song they are best known if they are either bored with the tune after six years, or they forgot the notes and vamped for a while.

What makes or breaks this show is that level of intimacy. It's still a hard rock and blues show, of course, from the band that wrote the book on it, but it's a far cry from later live shows that were all professionalism. A footnote to this show is that it wasn't an official part of the tour but an invite-only gathering for people like Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton that was filmed for an American-only TV special, so perhaps the Stones felt they didn't have to try so hard and could even test drive some new songs for an appreciative group. And they still managed to bring a horn section (a recent addition around this time) and Ian Stewart on piano to flesh out the sound.

"Midnight Rambler" is not as good as the live take on Hot Rocks but still pretty good nonetheless, Taylor's guitar work as urgent as even. "Bitch" is a lot better, with the band finally shaking off the bloozy stupor and showing signs of life. "Brown Sugar" is equally great and still wildly inappropriate, a fantastic way to end this short show. To expand the run time, two other live versions of "I Got The Blues" are included, which will appeal to collectors since the song was rarely played live after this time period (and not without reason, but that's a personal preference). Two alternate takes of "Bitch" round out the disc, neither one really different from the Marquee version, but interesting to collectors all the same, I suppose.

Perhaps it was the horns, Taylor's influence, or the variety of substances in their bloodstreams at the time, but the version of the Stones on stage here is looser and funkier than any other incarnation. There is nothing earth-shaking here, no versions that you will prefer over the classics or even better-known live versions, but as a historical document and a fun, brief rock show, it will work for fans.

Rating: C+

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