The ROLLING STONES – ” Live At The El Mocambo “

Posted: May 7, 2022 in MUSIC

Legendary rock band The Rolling Stones has released two previously unheard recordings of two of their hit songs, “Tumbling Dice” and “Hot Stuff.” The recordings come from the band’s famous secret concerts in March 1977, at the 300-capacity venue in Toronto, El Mocambo. On the nights, naturally, April Wine were themselves the opening act, and so it was that the Stones rolled back the years to the exhilarating club incarnation of their early years. Against all the odds, the band produced two nights of exhilarating music that they still talk about in Toronto, and in Rolling Stones legend, to this day. At the time the group were in between studio albums following the release of 1976’s “Black and Blue“, and prior to 1978’s “Some Girls“.

For 45 years, the Rolling Stones’ “Love You Live” has been one of rock’s greatest teases. About 75 percent of the double LP was recorded in arenas and stadiums during the band’s 1976 tour, and presented competent but rarely exhilarating or necessary renditions of concert warhorses and deep cuts. But tucked away (on side three) were four songs cut at Toronto’s tiny El Mocambo club in March 1977, when the Stones played a surprise set billed as “The Cockroaches.”

Playing in front of a few hundred people, and unable to hide behind props like the giant inflatable penis of the 1975 shows, the Stones had to focus on music, not spectacle. And judging from the small portion of the two El Mocambo shows heard on “Love You Live“, they stepped up to the job. With Mick Jagger unleashing a new style of growl, their crackling covers of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon songs paid strutting homage to their heroes, and the recordings were so visceral that you felt as if you were in the first few rows of the 300-seat club. The distant crowd roar heard throughout most of “Love You Live” was a metaphor for how removed the Stones had become from the average rock fan, not to mention most mundane household chores. The El Mocambo tracks, pushed on by a clearly audible and enthralled small audience, presented them as a band that wanted to re-connect with those fans and stay relevant, just as punk rock was rearing its spiky head.

The two tracks are set to be released on the band’s upcoming live album, “Live At The El Mocambo“, the group’s two famous secret concerts at the 300-capacity club which is slated to be released on Friday (May 13th). The album will be available on double CD, 4 LP vinyl, and digitally. It will feature the band’s full set from the March 5th, 1977 show newly mixed by Bob Clearmountain. 

There will also be three bonus tracks from the gig the day before. The Rolling Stones shared the news on Twitter, writing, “Two previously unreleased recordings from the Stones’ legendary 1977 shows at El Mocambo are out today! “Tumbling Dice” and “Hot Stuff” are out now, Adding: “The two tracks are taken from the upcoming album “Live At The El Mocambo” – released in full for the very first time on May 13th.

The setlist for the live album will include covers of Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” and Bo Diddley’s “Crackin’ Up,” as well as Stones classics like “Let’s Spend The Night Together” and “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll.” The band also played covers of Big Maceo’s “Worried Life Blues” and Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster.” Mick Jagger introduced Charlie Watts to the audience. “Charlie’s a jazz drummer,” he said. “He’s only doing this for the money.”

What’s most fascinating about “Live at the El Mocambo” is the way it presents the Stones not as a nascent oldies act but as a working, actively creative band. A few hits from the Sixties are here, but the focus is on their last few albums up to that point. Say what one will about their proto-gangsta, killer-on-the-run saga “Hand of Fate” or the uncomfortably hostile “Crazy Mama.” But the band plays them with deliciously desperate energy, and they overhaul “It’s Only Rock’n Roll‘s” ersatz-reggae “Luxury” into a more typical swaggering stomp. (Wryly, Jagger introduces it “a little-known number we hope to make popular,” which was wishful thinking.) Most of these songs, especially the “Black and Blue” ones, wouldn’t be played again onstage for over 20 years, which adds another level of historical interest to these tapes.

The Toronto club was a fixture in the city’s music scene since the 1940s and the Stones made it their own on some special days.


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