The Class of 1970: ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert’
By 1968, The Rolling Stones had issued nine studio albums (ten in the U.K.) and one disastrous live album (got LIVE if you want it!). They weathered the retirement of founding member Brian Jones due to drug use in the summer of 1969 and his subsequent drowning death under mysterious circumstances, delivering a masterpiece of an album titled Let It Bleed, which showcased the considerable talents of former John Mayall protégé Mick Taylor.
There was a nagging feeling that the band needed to get a live album on the market, primarily because a vinyl bootleg circulating had brisk sales: Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be. With that in mind, two of the concerts from the group’s fall tour were pegged for recording: Madison Square Gardens November 27 and 28 (with one exception).
There were vocal overdubs and a couple of guitar overdubs done in January, and Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert was issued September 4, 1970, on London Records, manufactured by abkco Records. Glyn Johns was the producer. The album title borrows from a Blind Boy Fuller tune from the ’40s, “Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out.”
The album featured ten tracks and 47 minutes of music, fairly standard for the time. As a result, selecting those tracks from the four hours or so of music recorded those two nights meant that lots would be left out. Selected were three songs from Let It Bleed, three from the previous album, Beggar’s Banquet, two Chuck Berry tunes, and two Stones singles that were never formally on any studio album, although both have appeared dozens of times since on compilations and greatest hits packages.
At the time, The Rolling Stones were: Mick Jagger, vocals, harmonica; Keith Richards, guitar, backing vocals; Mick Taylor, guitar; Bill Wyman, bass; and Charlie Watts, drums. Ian Stewart, who appeared on a number of the Stones albums, plays piano on several tracks.
All of this music is familiar. We’ll examine some highlights.
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert
It only takes a minute for you to realize that this a great recording of “the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world.” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is the perfect way to kick-ass-start this show. Richards’ chunky guitar just crushes, and his backing vocals are great.
Jagger then says, “OH, YEAH. Thank you kindly. I think I lost a button off me trousers; I hope they don’t fall down, You don’t want my trousers to fall down now, DO YOU?” The crowd roars.
The Stones’ love for Chuck Berry was evident by the songs they covered on their albums. “Carol” is the only old song on the original album, taken from their debut: England’s Newest Hitmakers. Stewart takes this to another level with his superb barroom piano.
“Stray Cat Blues” is the first dip into Beggar’s Banquet, a risqué tune about a 13-year-old. Taylor steps out for the first time, and Watts keeps the pace mid-tempo.
Now comes a ballad, the very country-sounding “Love in Vain,” the Robert Johnson gem which appeared on Let It Bleed. Taylor’s slide guitar is on point. This was the only track not recorded at MSG; it came from a show at the Baltimore Civic Center November 26.
“Midnight Rambler,” the magnum opus of Let It Bleed, romps through its start-and-stop section as Jagger engages the crowd. They have such a good time with this. Wyman lays down a great bass line, and Taylor…
Flip that vinyl over for “Sympathy for the Devil,” the Beggar’s Banquet staple. Taylor, Wyman, and Watts knock this out of the arena. This was before the era of the “woo woo woos” at the end of the tune.
Wyman sends “Live with Me” into the stratosphere with that bass, followed by Richards’ guitar. He adds great backing vocals as well. And great guitar from both men.
Stewart is back on piano to enhance “Little Queenie,” another Chuck Berry tune. Again, they take this at medium pace à la Berry.
Jagger says, “Charlie’s good tonight, innit?” before launching into “Honky Tonk Woman.” This song was a single, although “Country Honk” does appear on Let It Bleed. Richards is there again with guitar and backing vocals. Stewart is appropriately in the mix again for this New Orleans-tinged favorite.
The album closes with “Street Fighting Man,” and this version matches the power of the lyrics and those harmony vocals. Taylor crushed this entire album; what a great find!
Later bonus tracks included “Prodigal Son,” “You Gotta Move,” “Under My Thumb,” “I’m Free,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”