Music Review: The Rolling Stones - From the Vault: The Marquee - Live in 1971 (DVD/CD Edition)

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Right from the intro of “Live With Me,” it’s clear this show is going to be an indispensable rock and roll artifact. The Rolling Stones' From the Vault series of classic concerts videos has been an undeniable treasure chest for fans of the band and classic rock in general. The Marquee - Live in 1971 offers a small club performance taped for TV broadcast in the U.S., but unused until now. The March '71 performance preceded the release of the Stones’ Sticky Fingers album by a few weeks. Four tracks from that classic ("Brown Sugar," "Dead Flowers," "I Got the Blues," "Bitch") were given their live debut at this show at London's Marquee Club. Make no mistake, if you love the Stones then this isn't hyperbole: The Marquee - Live in 1971 is unmissable.

One of the things that makes this such an awesome performance is the small-club vibe. Everything feels scaled back, with the band concentrating on musicianship more than showmanship. This is especially true of guitarist Mick Taylor, who seems more focused than ever on delivering inventive, fluid lines. Mick Jagger swills booze onstage, but manages to somehow remain in control of the proceedings. As seen in the bonus alternate takes (two each of "I Got the Blues" and "Bitch"), he's concerned about getting things just right. With only eight songs in the set, this isn't a lengthy show. But with the exception of a slightly perfunctory "Satisfaction," the energy and inspiration is high. Sax great Bobby Keys is particularly on fire, with an especially muscular solo on "I Got the Blues."

The bonus cuts wind up adding about 25 minutes to the running time. It's great to hear the extra Marquee performances, with Jagger pushing his voice to the breaking point on the extra takes of "I Got the Blues." There's also a Top of the Pops performance of "Brown Sugar." The best extra of all is that Eagle Rock Entertainment has included the entire performance as a live album. It takes a certain time commitment to re-watch a concert video, so having the music on CD is a convenient way to revisit the performance while on the go. The CD even has the four extra takes.

The question is not whether to pick up From the Vault: The Marquee - Live in 1971, it's which configuration to choose. Eagle Rock has issued the set in these combos: Blu-ray/CD, DVD/CD, and DVD/LP. Keep in mind the benefit of Blu-ray is limited to audio, which is presented in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1. The concert was filmed on standard definition video of a much more technically primitive era. For review purposes, I screened the standard DVD edition and the surround sound mix is punchy. It's worth noting there doesn't seem to be much difference between the BD and DVD, price-wise.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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