The Rolling Stones

The Stars in the Sky, They Never Lie

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The Stars in the Sky, They Never Lie is an odd title for this bootleg, which was originally released on LP by Caution Records (a German bootlegger) in the mid-'70s and was reissued on CD by Midnight Beat in 1997. That title has a psychedelic connotation, perhaps implying that the CD focuses on the Rolling Stones' more psychedelic recordings of the 1960s (such as the raga-influenced "Paint It, Black"). But you won't find any "Paint It, Black" outtakes here; in fact, none of the material on this bootleg is even remotely psychedelic. Instead, Stars is a collection of live performances from the Stones' European tour of 1973. The original Stars LP (which used the German film Ladies and Gentleman, the Rolling Stones as its source) contained eight songs, but Midnight Beat has added seven bonus tracks and made it a 15-song CD. This reissue doesn't focus on any one show exclusively; instead, the performances were recorded in five different European cities during that 1973 tour. Anyone who was seriously into collecting Stones bootlegs in the 1970s can tell you that many of them were plagued by lousy sound quality, but thankfully, the sound is generally excellent on Stars. For the most part, the performances are nothing to complain about either; Mick Jagger and friends are focused, gritty, and inspired on performances that range from "Gimme Shelter" and "Star Star" in Hamburg to "Brown Sugar" in Munich and "Street Fighting Man" in Frankfurt. Meanwhile, the sound quality is decent but not quite as sharp on five tracks from an October 17, 1973, show in Brussels, Belgium: "Gimme Shelter," "Happy," "Star Star," "All Down the Line," and "Rip This Joint." And as pleasing as this bootleg is, the mildly inconsistent sound quality makes it fall short of essential -- that, and the fact that songs from 1973's Goats Head Soup are a high priority. While Goats Head Soup was enjoyable and decent, it wasn't in a class with treasures like Exile on Main St. and Sticky Fingers. Nonetheless, Stars is rewarding more often than not and is well worth searching for if you're a hardcore Stones addict.

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