Rolling Stones Revive Oldie for First Time in 41 Years
The Rolling Stones seem determined not to let their set lists get too mossy. This week in Tokyo, the band played the Goats Head Soup song "Silver Train" on stage for the fifth time ever... and the first four of those five times were all back in 1973.
One likely reason the Stones haven't played it in 41 years — besides the fact that it was a B-side (to "Angie"), not a proper single — is that it prominently featured second guitarist Mick Taylor, who quit the group at the end of that '73 tour. When Taylor retired from the Stones, this feisty album track was retired, too.
But as any Stones fan well knows, Taylor has been brought back into the fold for the 2013-14 tour, not as a full-time member, but a guest player on two or three songs per night. That's led the band to revive some of the early '70s tracks he played on — some primary in the Stones' catalog, like "Midnight Rambler" (the one song Taylor solos on every night), and some more obscure, like "Sway."
And if you're going to dig that deep into the catalog, why not go for a nearly forgotten rocker that has Mick Jagger singing about a prostitute? The song is so obscure at this point that some music fans may remember it better for the cover version that the Black Crowes recorded, or even the Johnny Winter version (which was actually released before the Stones' own). In honor of the unexpected revival of the tune, the Stones have just posted a performance clip from 1973 that was filmed for airing on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert as well as England's Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops.
So when Jagger says the words "We haven’t done this song live since... I don’t know, we did it a couple times in the ‘70s, but that’s about it," as he did in introducing "Silver Train" in Tokyo, it's the kind of moment that's truly music to hardcore fans' ears.
This brings up an interesting dichotomy of the Stones' current international trek. Their performances each night are undeniably greatest-hits sets, with the exception of a couple of wild-card slots each night. But the possibilities for those surprise choices are almost endless, given how the band has rehearsed at least 75 songs in preparation for or during the tour.
Last April, when the Stones did nine days of rehearsals at a Burbank facility, fans congregated outside the soundstage every day to overhear the din from the sidewalk — and the diligent among them marked down an astonishing 62 songs that the band ran through during those sessions alone. There was no guarantee that all those numbers would actually be included over the course of the band's treks, but most have at some point.