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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

The Rolling Stones

Steel Wheels Live Blu-Ray

Review by Gary Hill

This latest Rolling Stones live release was recorded in 1989. The release includes the Blu-Ray and a double CD set of the audio of the show. That's all encased in a nice digi-pack. It's well worth having, that's for certain.

While, as I said, this is absolutely something should have in your collection, it's not the strongest Stones performance I've seen. For one thing, the set list has some weaker material in it. That's particularly true of the first part of the show. There are some real highlights later.

I'd also say that the energy and vibe improve as the show goes on. The first few songs, almost feel like the band are just phoning them in to me. Don't get me wrong, it's the Stones. Even a less than stellar Stones performance is stronger than many bands live. It's just that I've seen better Stones live sets than what they look like early in this concert.

The stage set and show itself are both spectacular. We get the inflatable ladies for "Honky Tonk Women," back-up singers, a saxophone player and more. The stage is massive and Jagger makes great use of all of it.

I mentioned the fact that there were some weak points in the set list. There were also plenty of highlights. For me, probably the two biggest of those were the inclusion of "Ruby Tuesday" and "2,000 Light Years from Home." I love both of those songs, so the live performances of them included here are definitely great.

There are some historic moments, too. For one thing, this was Bill Wyman's last tour with the Stones. I have to wonder from watching this if he was already wrestling with leaving the band. He plays the set impeccably, but he seems pretty uninspired. That said, as great as Wyman is (and he's amazing and deserves a lot of credit for creating those parts), as a bass player myself, I think Darryl Jones has a lot more chops and is more of an entertainer. So, as Wyman's Stones swansong, this takes on a special significance, but his presence isn't all that special in the show.

Another historic moment is the appearance of Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin of Guns N' Roses with the band. GNR were opening the show and Rose and Stradlin join the Stones for the song "Salt of the Earth.' Eric Clapton also guests on two songs, ""Little Red Rooster" and "Boogie Chillen." John Lee Hooker also joins for the second of those two tunes.

All in all, this is a strong show. It's amazing in retrospect just how young everyone looks. While I was a little less enthused earlier along the run, I really started getting into it later. I highly recommend this.  


This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

 
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