Rolling Stones – Flashpoint

There was talk about Stones live albums somewhere in the comment sections of the blogs we Follow, recently, and there were several great suggestions. I threw in 1991’s Flashpoint for pure bombast and a great track list. Recorded during the Steel Wheels tour of 1989/90, and the last tour with Bill Wyman playing bass for the Stones, it’s a corker.

This one has a special place in my heart, as I saw the Stones At The Max movie at the IMAX theater in Ontario Place when we played there on a band trip in high school. Fantastic stuff. Check it out:

Continental Drift is a short build that leads us straight into a perfect Start Me Up. The guitars rule this one, the interplay is gorgeous. Sad Sad Sad rocks us next, straight on down the highway and no letting up. It’s a great run-through, with Charlie flying and the guitars soloing all over the place. The place goes nuts when they launch straight into a super-quick, full-sounding Miss You. Now, I don’t have a metronome here, but I’d swear the track starts off faster and starts to slow down a bit by the time the sax solo rolls around. Could just be my ear, but no matter.

Rock And A Hard Place keeps the pace racing, with horn stabs and Mick’s vocals soaring over the top. They finally slow down a bit with a gorgeous Ruby Tuesday. The keys and acoustics playfully buoy us through a wonderful take on this old classic. You Can’t Always Get What You Want had to be here, and this is a great placement for it. At this point, the band already has long had the audience in the palm of their hands, the crowd sing-alongs prove it. This one swings bluesily, full glory.

Factory Girl is next, off Beggars Banquet (although Bill Wyman didn’t seem to know that fact when Mick asked him), and it’s great to hear this one get aired out in a live setting so many years after it was released originally. This one’s all about the guitars, and it has that bit of a celtic feel to it that it oughta have.

Next, Keef steps to the mic, saying “alright, let’s cut out the crap, let’s go!” and sings/moans his way through an excellent Can’t Be Seen. That was a fast one! Little Red Rooster is up next, bluesy as hell, right in the Stones’ wheelhouse. Oh yeah, and that was frickin’ Eric Clapton on guitar, folks. Whoa.

A sweet little intro and then Paint It, Black rocks the damn place with its relentless pounding. Truly the soundtrack for the whirling dervish in your life. A funky intro takes us into Sympathy For The Devil, perfectly done and worth every second as it builds and builds, elements adding and subtracting and catching you up in its swirl. What a tune!

Brown Sugar proves they’re not done with us yet, rocking straight on til morning with a bluesy party track built to last into the wee hours. Tracks like this, man, played like this at that time, are proof that this band is truly untouchable at times. Go go go! And before anyone can get a breather, we’re blasted into a full-on, rampaging Jumpin’ Jack Flash. The Stones weren’t holding anything back on this one, swinging for the fences and playing it for all they’re worth.

And as if the crowd isn’t already in a frenzy, out comes (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, also at a super-quick clip. The guitars stab around while Charlie holds it all together (of course), and in the breakdown section the bass rolls and it’s the horns that catch my ears. I always cheer for the horns! Holy crap, they really were going for broke on this one! Crowd noise and the sound of a jet flying past, clearly meant to indicate it’s the band off to the next gig.

But we ain’t done yet! Two studio tracks are up, with the political screed of Highwire, a pure Stones rocker with a call to arms a la Bruce Springsteen’s lyrical approach. I loved it then, I love it now. It was about the Gulf War, but it’s sad that it’s still so appropriate even now in 2016. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, right? Right.

Then it’s another studio track, the super-funky, pure James Brown soul of Sex Drive. Every time I hear it, I get swept up and wish it would last for hours. Seriously, a fun, highly danceable track.

In Sum:

I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard this record, at this point, but it’s a ton, and I can give testimony that it’s absolutely recommended listening. It really feels like you’re there with them, sweating and singing along and jumping around in happiness. Great live set!

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13 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Flashpoint

  1. mikeladano says:

    I have this! I like it a lot. Man, I loved High Wire. I find with the Stones, they do quite a tracks that for other bands are “throw aways”, but not for the Stones. What I mean is, a couple extra tracks for a live album, or a greatest hits. Well some of those are actually favourites of mine when it come to the Stones. There’s High Wire, and Stealing My Heart from 40 Licks. The new stuff on 40 Licks was stellar!

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  2. deKE says:

    One of the few albums that can put a few new studio tracks and like U said Highwire is a wickedly good song…..
    Flashpoint is a great stones live album……
    Like there would be any doubt….nice to hear the Steel Wheels stuff cut the mustard live…..

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  3. J. says:

    A great album! I used to have this one on CD (dare say I still do, actually) and, despite being a live album, I had it on heavy rotation. Loads of energy and a perfect snapshot of The Stones at that time, I reckon.

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      1. J. says:

        No kidding! There was plenty fuel left in the tank. Heck even recent live stuff suggests that they have more to offer than most bands half their age!!

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Yeah, that was a loooong time ago, Ontario Place, wasn’t it! Yup, we saw the Stones At The Max in that giant golf ball. Fun times! Our concert band also played on the OP stage – the big time! Haha

      If you’re ever in the mood for some full-steam-ahead, live Stones, this Flashpoint disc will serve you very well!

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  4. Sarca says:

    What a great album! I saw the IMAX film too with some friends at the Grand in Sudbury…I’m gonna say 1992-93? I was still in h.s. and they were h.s. friends with impeccable music taste 😉

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