No Security? No Problem!

Latest title from the Rolling Stones’ From The Vault series showcases the unshakable vitality of the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band at the end of the 20th century

    Cover art for latest Rolling Stones From The Vault release

When I was interning at SPIN, I was lucky enough to have worked with an editor who let me write reviews for the magazine’s incredibly young online presence as an exclusive page on America Online.  And it was there I had realized just how out of step I was with what was perceived as cool and hip back in 1997, clearly. So there I was in the SPIN offices on 18th St., just a few doors away from Academy Records, and I’m listening to Bridges to Babylon while opening up all the mail the editors would get and divide them up to divvy them out to each office. I’m really enjoying what I’m hearing, too. I was intrigued by the idea of Mick and the boys employing The Dust Brothers to produce three of the album’s tracks, including its two chief singles “Anybody Seen My Baby?” and “Saint of Me”, because Jagger was a fan of Paul’s Boutique and Odelay. Though I’m a bigger fan of it now, Voodoo Lounge didn’t do it for me in ’94, so being able to enjoy Bridges to Babylon as a decent Stones record on par with, say, Undercover and Steel Wheels, was my truth. And I wasn’t going to let the hipster snobbery I was surrounded by at SPIN, assuage my appreciation for it, and the SPIN at AOL editor, the great Andy Gensler, gave me the greenlight to write it up for the website, where I sang its praises for being a Stones album with a foot in what was cool in ’97. Then I was handed copy of the upcoming reviews section for the new print issue, and I read a dissenting review of Bridges to Babylon by a 16-year-old Jessica Hopper where she eviscerates the record after declaring her first exposure to the Stones was Pussy Galore’s deconstruction of Exile On Main Street.   I mean, how could I compete with that?

Twenty years later, however, I still stand by the viewpoint of my initial review that Bridges to Babylon was the better of the two Stones studio albums that came out in the 1990s. Not to mention the tour in support of the record, which itself yielded the vastly underrated No Security concert LP, which turns 20 this November. And the latest edition of Eagle Rock Entertainment’s ongoing Rolling Stones “From the Vault” live collection, capturing the group’s barnstorming performance in San Jose, CA’s Shark Tank over a two-night stand in April 1999, gives further credence to the strength of this particular period in the adventures of the Stones. By this point, the band was touring in support of the No Security live album, and opted to play the arena circuit as opposed to the stadiums they were selling out the previous year.  As classic bootlegs like Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be and Welcome to New York City can attest, seeing the Stones inside the confines of a basketball arena is a completely different beast altogether. For this No Security tour, they chose a smaller venue so they can concentrate on ripping it up like they did across North America in ’78, which is maybe why the setlist was so heavily peppered with cuts from Some Girls beyond “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden,” including “Shattered”, “Respectable,” “Before They Make Me Run,” “When the Whip Comes Down” and of course that lascivious title cut, which if it had been written in 2018 would have made the Stones a #MeToo public enemy number one.  The extended touring band, led by Darryl Jones on bass and featuring such longtime Stones cohorts as Bobby Keys on saxophone, Chuck Leavell on keys and Bernard Fowler on backing vocals and percussion, meanwhile, made sure old warhorses like “Paint It Black,” “Brown Sugar” and “Sympathy for the Devil” were richer and fuller than ever on a nightly basis.

The 2-CD/1-DVD set No Security: San Jose ’99, culled from the April 19th show at the San Jose Arena (with Sugar Ray opening, yuck!), showcased a band pulling out all the stops for the final leg of the North American tour. Setlist-wise, they dove deep and broke out great renditions of “I Got the Blues” from Sticky Fingers and their bouncy AF 1965 single “Get Off My Cloud”, not to mention a full-tilt version of “Bitch” that seamlessly segued out of show opener “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and a 12-minute rendition of “Midnight Rambler” from the “B-Stage”, a smaller stage that jutted out into the crowd a la U2’s Zoo TV Tour. Elsewhere, newer tunes like Voodoo Lounge’s “You Got Me Rocking” and the Bridges to Babylon highlight “Out of Control” surely benefit from the added jolt of energy of enjoying company beside some of the band’s biggest hits and most fazed cookies.  The only drag is that they didn’t include anything off the show the Stones performed the next night, where they broke out such deep gems as “Moonlight Mile” and the two best cuts off Babylon, both of which featuring Keith on lead vocals, “Thief in the Night” and the ska-kissed “You Don’t Have to Mean It.”

So you see now, I’ll never be as cool as Jessica Hopper. I wasn’t in 1997 and I’m certainly not in 2018. But I’m grateful to proudly admit I’ve been an unapologetic Rolling Stones fan for 40 of my 45 years on earth, and while the cool kids were ordering 7-inches from SST through Maximumrockandroll and discovering the Stones through obscure bootleg covers, I was stanning out over the band’s comeback news conference at Grand Central Station in New York City to announce their then-new album Steel Wheels live on MTV. I’m the one who was  declared “hopelessly out of touch” by the editor of The L Magazine for making A Bigger Bang my number one album in the 2005 Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll. I’m sure I’ll get some side-eye from the hipsters once my upcoming 30th anniversary celebration of Keith Richards’ masterful solo debut Talk Is Cheap posts on the Globe this coming fall. I don’t care. I love the Rolling Stones, and experiencing No Security Live: San Jose ’99 only confirms the correctness of my initial opinion way back in those halcyon intern days. I think I have a print-out of the review I wrote somewhere. If I find it, I’ll scan it and post it.

Tracklist:

1. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
2. Bitch
3. You Got Me Rocking
4. Respectable
5. Honky Tonk Woman
6. I Got the Blues
7. Saint of Me
8. Some Girls
9. Paint It Black
10. You Got the Silver
11. Before They Make Me Run
12. Out of Control
13. Route 66
14. Get Off of My Cloud
15. Midnight Rambler
16. Get Off of My Cloud
17. It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)
18. Start Me Up
19. Brown Sugar
20. Sympathy for the Devil

Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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