Album Review: Hyde Park Live by The Rolling Stones
Fairly Good, Based on 4 Critics
New Musical Express (NME) - 70 Based on rating 3.5/5
This is the 18th (official) Rolling Stones live album. Even for a band now entering their sixth decade of existence, that number seems excessive, particularly when you consider the wildly varying quality of the 17 that came before it. For the Stones, however, these releases have long been a way to document their endurance as a band – plus, of course, they’re always a lucrative merchandising opportunity.‘Hyde Park Live’ – an iTunes exclusive only available until August 19 – does the job, without being a classic.
What a difference four decades can make. The last time—also the first time—the Rolling Stones played in London’s Hyde Park was in 1969. The show, which was free, was a memorial to recently deceased founding member Brian Jones and the debut of Jones’ replacement, another blond, much fresher of face, the 20-year-old Mick Taylor. The band hadn’t played live for some time, and their performance was tentative and shaky.
Hyde Park was the setting of one of the Rolling Stones' iconic concerts, a 1969 gig showcasing the live debut of Mick Taylor given just two days after the death of Brian Jones. Given this storied history, the group's 2013 return to the park was something of a big deal, so it's not entirely surprising that the Stones digitally released a live album commemorating the event -- the only surprise was that it arrived less than two weeks after the two gigs. Hyde Park Live cobbles together highlights from the July 6 and July 13 concerts, essentially replicating an entire set but making the necessary decisions whenever there were variations between the two nights (Keith's showcase features "Before They Make Me Run" from the 6th, not "Happy" from the 13th; "Street Fighting Man" from the 13th was chosen as the audience selection, not "All Down the Line").
There’s that Almost Famous scene in which the pushy antagonist Dennis Hope (played by a 25-year-old Jimmy Fallon) is trying to persuade Stillwater, at the heretofore height of their career, to let him be their manager. He says this period, summer ’73-ish, is a crucial one for the band, and that they should be taking advantage of every opportunity they get, which is of course where he comes in. To illustrate his point, he says that “if you think you’re going to see Mick Jagger trying to be a rock star at age 50” – he does this weird shimmy, a move decidedly unlike Jagger – “you are sadly, sadly mistaken.” Almost Famous was released in 2000, when in real time The Rolling Stones‘ frontman was 57.