The Rolling Stones – Liver Than You’ll Ever Be (1969)

OriginalFrontCover1The Rolling Stones: No introduction necessary.

Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be is a bootleg recording of the Rolling Stones’ concert in Oakland, California, from 9 November 1969. It was one of the first live rock music bootlegs and was made notorious as a document of their 1969 tour of the United States. The popularity of the bootleg forced the Stones’ label Decca Records to release the live album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert in 1970. Live’r is also one of the earliest commercial bootleg recordings in rock history, released in December 1969, just two months after the Beatles’ Kum Back and five months after Bob Dylan’s Great White Wonder. Like the two earlier records, Live’r’s outer sleeve is plain white, with its name stamped on in ink.


The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena was built three years prior to the recordings featured on Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be and has continued to host sports games, concerts, and other events since.

Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be was recorded by “Dub” Taylor from Trademark of Quality using a Sennheiser shotgun microphone and a Uher “Report 4000” reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was the first audience-recorded rock bootleg to be mastered and distributed;[3] some sources consider it the first live bootleg. Though the sound is not nearly as clear as the official release of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, the recording is considered to be very strong for an audience recording, especially one of that era. The Rolling Stones performed two sets that night and it is the second concert that was more heavily bootlegged and has sharper sound. Bootleggers had collaborated to record Stones shows across the United States, recording them on two-track Sony recorders for months prior to the release of the album. At least one source claims that the recordings initially came from rock promoter Bill Graham’s staff, who used the tapes for broadcast on KSAN and released their edit on Lurch Records in early 1970.

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The recording was made available about one month after the concert, and it became popular enough to spur speculation that the Stones released Ya-Ya’s as a response to the bootleg[7] and the quality was high enough that it was rumoured that the band had even released the bootleg themselves.[8] The recording has been released through several bootleg labels, including the original release by Lurch and shortly thereafter Trademark of Quality (catalogue number 71002), the Swingin’ Pig Records, and Sister Morphine, usually documenting only the second set. The Swingin’ Pig release even replaced performances of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Under My Thumb” with different recordings from the band’s 10 November performance in San Diego and their two-night stint in New York City[9] and attempted to enhance the sound quality by using de-clicking technology—both changes have drawn criticism in comparison to the original Lurch Records release.[10]

Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be was favourably reviewed by Greil Marcus in the 7 February 1970 issue of Rolling Stone. He praised its sound and speculated that it may have been recorded from the stage. The album also received praise as a more authentic example of the Stones on stage because Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! was heavily overdubbed in many places. Richie Unterberger has noted that the recording is inferior to the sound quality of Ya-Ya’s, but displays a spontaneity that the official recording lacks and this helps to explain its long-lasting appeal to fans. Reviewing the album in 1970, Wim Wenders called it “the best Rolling Stones record.” (wikipedia)

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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.

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“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”

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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. (rollingstonesnet.com)

Enjoy this rarity !

Recorded live at the The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena, California, 9 November 1969
excellent audience recording

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Personnel:
Mick Jagger (vocals, harmonica)
Keith Richards (guitar, background vocals)
Mick Taylor (guitar)
Charlie Watts (drums)
Bill Wyman (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Carol (Berry) 3.45
02. Gimme Shelter (Jagger/Richards) 4.20
03. Sympathy For The Devil (Jagger/Richards) 6.24
04. I’m Free (Jagger/Richards) 5.08
05. Live With Me (Jagger/Richards) 3.35
06. Love In Vain (Robertson) 5.26
07. Midnight Rambler (Jagger/Richards) 7.42
08. Little Queenie (Berry) 4.15
09. Honky Tonk Women (Jagger/Richards) 4.05
10. Street Fighting Man (Jagger/Richards) 4.11
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11. You Gotta Move (McDowell) 3.14
12. Prodigal Son (Wilkins) 4.00
13. Under My Thumb (Jagger/Richards) 3.24
14. Stray Cat Blues (Jagger/Richards) 4.14
15. Jumping Jack Flash (Jagger/Richards) 4.06
16. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards) 6.06

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