Pop music seldom found itself at a more divisive crossroads than during the summer of 1978. On one side of the street was the bloated hurrah of disco, still raging in the aftermath of Saturday Night Fever the previous winter. Across the road was punk, which dismissed as archaic, boring and useless anything that stood it is spike-haired path.
How curious then that the most prevalent forces on rock radio that summer turned out to be Bruce Springsteen, who took to the road with the magnificent Darkness on the Edge of Town, and The Rolling Stones, who ruled airwaves with a succession of monster singles and what has proven to be the band's last truly dangerous album, Some Girls.
A newly issued two-disc "deluxe edition" of Some Girls sounds great, but so did previous versions. That's because Some Girls was cut with immediate and unprocessed intent. It remains one of the most live-sounding albums in the Stones' catalogue — quite a feat considering its stylistic diversity, running from mad-hatter disco (Miss You) to country corn (Far Away Eyes) to vintage soul (the Temptations hit Just My Imagination). But the rockers fanned the flames. When the Whip Comes Down, Respectable, Lies, the unrepentant title tune and the punkish brawler Shattered made the Stones contenders again.
Such drive bled into a brief and blunt summer tour that played the then-relatively new Rupp Arena in July. Finally, a DVD document of the tour, Some Girls Live in Texas '78, has surfaced in conjunction with the release of Some Girls (Deluxe Edition). It's taken from a Fort Worth, Texas, concert given within two weeks of the Rupp date. The Stones strip their sound and their stage show to lean essentials. They even open with a blazing, barroom-savvy take on Chuck Berry's Let It Rock.
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The filmed footage is intriguing but vintage. The close-ups of Jagger's electric facial eruptions during Miss You and Shattered are priceless. Mostly, though, the visuals are blurry and dimly lit.
The music, however, is an absolute riot. Keith Richards' rhythmic drive consistently eggs Jagger on, while the poker-faced rhythm section of Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts provide an unassuming but potent drive. Let's hope Live in Texas soon sees life as an audio CD. Until then, forget the visuals and just crank up the DVD.
Finally, Some Girls (Deluxe Edition) boasts a full disc of previously unreleased period gems. None have the efficient impact of Some Girls' originals. But the straight-faced charm of Hank Williams' You Win Again, a kissing country cousin of Shattered called Do You Think I Really Care and a barrelhouse rocking love note to Claudine Longet, Claudine (with its hysterical chorus of "Claudine's back in jail again") definitely extend the party mood of the most combustible lost summer in the mighty Stones legacy.