The "LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be" Story
( Thanks To Chris M.)
I'm Free - Audience Recording: Oakland Colliseum, November 9, 1969 2nd Show
The recording and distribution of "LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be" is a landmark historical achievement for many reasons. The recording itself is a high quality audience source. The equipment and method used to produce this piece of Rock 'n Roll history is well documented in the book "Bootleg" by Clinton Heylin, 1994:
"What I used was a Senheiser 805 'shotgun' microphone and a Uher 4000 reel-to-reel tape recorder, which was real small, 7 1/2 inch per second 5" reels"
The LP was released in December 1969 just over a month after its November 9th, 1969 (2nd show) recording. Although original issues were put out on the Lurch label the recording was actually produced and manufactured by a label that would become known as Trade Mark of Quality (TMoQ). TMoQ was the pioneer record label in the rock 'n roll bootleg business. They put out many LP's from artists ranging from Joni Mitchell to Jethro Tull. They were also responsible for the first unauthorized rock bootleg "Great White Wonder" which consisted of the Dylan "basement tapes" among other things.
"LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be" is not only significant because of its place in the bootleg history, but also because of the mood and feel that it captured as the Rolling Stones returned to live performances for the first time in over three years with new guitarist Mick Taylor. Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Cream had all happened since the last tour through the States. Guitar heroes and songs with great solos were the talk of the day. There was a stark difference between the screaming crowds that marked the close of their last US tour in Hawaii July 28, 1966, and the audiences they were now facing who were sitting down during the shows and listening to the music. The Oakland performances were early in the tour and the band was still getting acquainted with itself in a live setting with sound systems that could be heard in the far reaches of the stadiums they were playing in. The recording is primal in it's musical depth compared to the well known "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!" commercial release from the 1969 tour. There are no vocal or instrumental overdubs on LIVEr which enables the listener to compare the band early in the tour to the slicker overdubbed recording that would represent a band that had musically evolved very quickly during the course of the tour. It has been written that "Get Your Ya-Ya's Out!" was released to counter sales of this record. There is a tremendous amount of folklore around LIVEr, most of which was promoted by the press that reviewed and wrote about the recording at the time of its release. The following excerpt from a "Rolling Stone" magazine review by Greil Marcus dated February 7, 1970:
"How it was recorded is more interesting, because the sound quality is superb, full of presence, picking up drums, bass, both guitars and the vocals beautifully. The LP is in stereo; while it doesn't seem to be mixed, the balance is excellent. One of the bootleggers says the recording was done on an eight-track machine... So these may in fact be tapes that were made on the stage by someone involved in setting up the Stones' own sound system"
Reviews like this were amusing for the guys at TMoQ, but not for record companies or the recording industry. ABKCO followed-up with a press release stating that Baltimore and New York shows were taped by the band for future release, but that no West Coast shows were taped. This isn't completely true as footage from LIVEr show in Oakland was used in the "Gimme Shelter" movie. It's the part where Jagger says: "You really dressed-up tonight...". Trade Mark of Quality takes full credit for the searches for tape recorders before shows as a result of their work in recording West Coast shows of the Rolling Stones in 1969. This would only be the tip of an iceberg with ensuing iterations of copyright law and royalty claims that artists and record companies would mount against the emerging underground recording industry.
The set list for the original "LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be" LP:
Mick: Sh*t, Hang on a minute. Can you hear that? Keith play a bit...
These lines are from Oakland, November 9th, 1st show. They were spoken immediately after Jumpin' Jack Flash when the band blew their amplifiers in the first show and inserted the acoustic set. This was spliced in the second show performance in order to provide a better opening point for the LP (Carol), because TMoQ was not happy with the sound quality of the second show Jumpin' Jack Flash on the tape. They didn't want to start the LP with a bunch of Thank You's!
Jagger's actual words before Carol for the 2nd show were:
Thanks very much
Aw yeah, we're really pleased to be back here
Really, no bull sh*t
We're really gonna give you
We know it's a bit late
We know it's a bit late
But a, we hope you don't mind if we stay
Carol - This version has a very "smoky" guitar sound and rumbles like a freight train coming down the tracks. The LP starts with the second song of the set as later releases would reveal a level drop-out problems on the original source tape with Jumpin' Jack Flash and Under My Thumb.
Oh. All Right! (splice) You got an echo on now? He's got echo. Let's do it with echo then...
Gimme Shelter - This song wasn't a regular set list item in 1969 and although not as musically intense as the Altamont excerpt heard in the "Gimme Shelter" movie it certainly fits the bill as a haunting rendition of the song.
Oh yeah. Gimme some shelter. Gimme some shelter (splice).
Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones were improvising live performances of their studio releases in 1969. Keith and Mick Taylor each play solos with Richards in the middle section of the song and Taylor at the end. The samba beat is diminished by a simple three chord rhythm and the lack of backing who...who's.
Aaw well all right (splice)
Waiting on you
All right here we go, slowly rocking on...
I'm Free - Taylor lays an incredible tapestry of guitar solos in melodic free form across the rhythm of the song. Not played often on the 1969 tour. It didn't seem to be a big crowd pleaser in the eyes of the Stones. One of those songs where people sat down and listened.
Rock 'n Roll, now here we go....
Live With Me - The release of LIVEr allowed fans to hear the studio version and live version as simultaneous releases. Let It Bleed had not even been released at the time of the Oakland show, with the song being completely new to those who heard it that evening.
Whooo, oh, thank you, thank you that was called Live With Me, your welcome....
As you may have imagined
This is blues time...
And we gonna do one more blues yet, yet awhile
This is a new one we do man, and it's called aahh, Love In Vain
Love In Vain - The brilliant Rolling Stones arrangement of the Robert Johnson classic originally recorded in 1936. Former Mayall Bluesbreaker Mick Taylor burns up a silky slide. Like Johnson, Taylor's slide is played with extreme cleanness and clarity. Jagger's vocal after the first solo break is lifted by the virtuosity of the passage.
Oh, I got right carried away with it
We're gonna do...
We're gonna do one a new one
What ever you do...
Do I get a microphone for this anymore (harmonica)
Or it doesn't happen?
OK. I'll try it with this one
Midnight Rambler - A Chuck Berry riff perversely distorted into a graveyard chug about none other than the Boston Strangler. The live version played in November 1969 flows much more smoothly than the studio version that would be released a month later. Jagger asks the crowd to shake their asses. Perhaps insecure about the somewhat unanimated reception of the Oakland/San Francisco audience.
Oh, All Right!
We're gonna see you
I think you really...
You've really dressed up tonight
And I think
We haven't really dressed up that much
But we'd like to we how you look
Can we see how they look?
Let's have a look, how they look, c'mon
Oh we just wanted to see how they look
Ahhhooo ,we couldn't see you
We couldn't see you
We're gonna do one
From a long long while ago
When we was
A all a falling out of our cradles
Little Queenie - The crowd claps along with Charlie's dead on drum beat. Another Chuck Berry classic featured for the first time in the 1969 tour set. Keith bends the double stops for a rockin' solo.
C'mon San Francisco
Let's see how you can shake your asses
Come on, let's get it on
We're gonna have a good time
Come on let's have a good time
Come on, shake it on
We want you to help us sing on this one
We really need ya
Because a we're a little hoarse
And there's a very high note
That the chicks can all get into, right?
We'd really dig it if you could
Ahh it pretty high, all right
Honky Tonk Women - Confidence is definitely building as the band plays on, and by the time they reach this one they're in full flight. This seals the success of the show for sure with people clearly enjoying themselves and the revitalized Rolling Stones.
All Right, All Right, All Right, All Right, All Right, All Right
Street Fighting Man - Raw and gritty the show builds to a crescendo with what would ultimately become a powerful closer for Rolling Stones shows for some years to come. This one jams with a strong rhythm guitar outro by Keith with Charlie hammering away in a frenzy. This is Rock 'Roll baby.
To say that the recording was prolifically copied would be an understatement. The original and earliest recordings of Oakland 1969 were done with plain white record jackets with rubber stamped titles. They came with nice printed LP labels though. The Lurch label is black and red with song titles, the Cannabis label is beautiful maroon with gold lettering. There were two types of TMoQ logos: The first was that of a sideways pig with the words Trade Mark of Quality circling around. The second was a later incarnation of the label which represented itself with a smoking pig label. The matrix numbers also varied: LP's with RS (Rolling Stones) codes in the inner runner of the vinyl are first run TMoQ pressings. Ones with the only 4 digit numbers are indicative of second generation TMoQ (except for the Lurch LIVEr plates).
Variation 1: "STONES" Rubber Stamped Cover
Label Variation 1: Authentic "Blue" LURCH Record label. Commonly found in Red.
(Matrix Number: X14327/X-14328)
The original! Black vinyl, printed record labels, no song separation, and blue or red rubber stamped cover.
"LIVER THAN YOU'LL EVER BE"
Trade Mark of Quality
Printed Blue Pig Cover
"LIVEr THAN YOU'LL EVER BE"
Multi-Stamped Red/Blue Cover
"LIVEr THAN YOU'LL EVER BE"
Printed deluxe B&W cover
"Stones LIVEr Than Ever Be"
Trade Mark of Quality
Black Vinyl. Number Labels. Light Purple Rubber Stamp.
"Stone Live & LIVEr THAN YOU'LL EVER BE"
Variation 1: Rubber Stamped Version of "Stone Live"
Paper insert of an enlarged back cover of "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!".
Lurch Records Ltd./S-2110/2111
This is actually a Contra Band Music (CBM) release. Paper insert cover. Rubber stamped record jacket.
"PEACE: Greatest Group On Earth"
Compilation LP's using portions of the Oakland '69 show:
The first of two LP's is LIVEr. Printed color cover of a lady in a bikini in the desert with a TV covering the upper portion of her body?!
Extended Play Vinyl:
"Slowly Rockin' On"
The Swingin' Pig
300 copies on Lime green vinyl. B&W cover shot of Jagger/Richards on their stools. Keith with a National Steel guitar.
The work of Trade mark of Quality is still held in tribute today by newer generations of underground recording companies. The Swingin' Pig most notably used a pig logo that was a variation on the TMoQ logos. They also used the similar pig scene drawn by TMoQ artist William Stout (now a commercial artist for a Hollywood movie studio) where the pig is sitting on a stool saying "We Hope Ya Like Dis One" (also a recent VGP CD title!). Other labels that pay tribute to TMoQ include Vinyl Gang Product who until recently used the "smoking pig" logo on it's CD's. Outsider Bird Records issues colored vinyl LP's with angled rubber stamped titles across the cover as was done by the original TMoQ releases.
The focus of this article is the vinyl but for those of you who weren't collecting during the vinyl age or if you sold your turn table there are a couple of CD's that were made from the original LP that you can use as a reference point (including the crackles):
"Vintage But Vigorous" World Production of Compact Music label
"Have A Beer" Teddy Bear Record label
More complete tape sources are also still available today on Vinyl Gang and Turd On The Run/Sister Morphine record labels. Note that the TOTR uses a difference but excellent tape source for the Oakland show.
"LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be" continues today to be a relevant landmark recording documenting the triumphant return of the Rolling Stones to live performances that unfortunately were no longer possible with founding instrumentalist Brian Jones. It is a significant time capsule that captures with excellent sound quality the return of Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band in world with a line up of musicians that would eventually produce the most significant live and studio performances of the Millennium!
This research is Copyright 2002, by Chris M. It is not to be reposted or published without prior written consent by the author. All rights reserved.