The latest release in the Rolling Stones' 'From The Vault' series comes hot on the heels of the remastered and expanded reissue of their seminal 1971 album 'Sticky Fingers'. While The Marquee gig is a great companion piece to that album, as a stand-alone release it feels slight by comparison. It's by no means a 'cash-in' as this performance has been on the bootleg circuit for years, and deserved a proper release. However, it may have been more suitable to package it alongside 'Sticky Fingers' itself, in isolation it feels like a forgettable curio, although I must stress that everything here is well worth your time, no matter how brief the contents are.

In essence, you get a 38-minute live performance of 8 songs that was taped for an American TV special and then re-cut at varying lengths for transmission around the world. That this classic line-up of the band (Jagger, Richards, Watts, Taylor, and Wyman) was performing in such an intimate and historic venue on London's Wardour Street makes this an artefact of interest. Add to that essentially four songs in the set list that many viewers around the world wouldn't have heard: 'Brown Sugar', 'Bitch', 'Dead Flowers', and 'I Got The Blues'. It's understandable why the fan community have wanted a proper release for this show for the last four decades. My problem then is not really with the show itself, rather that it feels lightweight when you compare it to similar archive series releases from other heritage acts.

Compare, for example, the plethora of material that Bob Dylan's 'Bootleg Series' has released in recent years. Even Neil Young or The Beatles' Anthology have presented sought after performances in bumper packages. 'Live At The Marquee' could have been bolstered by audio performances from The Roundhouse or any other of the UK shows in the month preceding 'Sticky Fingers'. While the University of Leeds show was presented on super deluxe version of that studio album earlier this year, perhaps it would have been more beneficial to include it here. Whatever the logic behind this release and its array of different formats (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and combinations of all), 8 tracks (no matter how good they are), a couple of outtakes of the same songs to ensure camera angles were covered, and a solitary Top Of The Pops mostly mimed performance of 'Brown Sugar', do not add up to a bumper package or value for money. There's an hour and change of performance here, it really does feel like a bonus disc at best.

The sound quality throughout is exceptionally good, as is the video. It actually works better as a CD because the performance itself seems to lack a little atmosphere (the crowd are very low in the mix and are hardly ever visible). The fast cuts on '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' and 'Bitch' attempt to compensate for this to varying degrees of success. It's only when you listen to the audio in isolation that you start to concentrate on Richards' guitar rather than Jagger's crooning and fashion choices (including a wonderful hat), it's certainly the musicianship rather than the visuals that are the main selling point here. Particular highlights for Richards are 'Dead Flowers' and 'Brown Sugar'; more of these moments would certainly have made this release essential rather than a footnote to 'Sticky Fingers' itself.

The material presented here is good then, certainly a lot of care has been taken to ensure the quality is far superior to the bootlegs that have been doing the rounds for years, but I also can't help but feel disappointed. This was a perfect opportunity to document the entire 1971 Farewell Tour of the UK. That it isn't an overview of that tour, when material from many of the shows was recorded by the band itself feels half-hearted. Fans will no doubt rejoice at the opportunity to re-live this rare performance - the various formats are aimed squarely at them, but the more casual listener may feel differently and I think that's more than understandable. My advice is to invest in the excellent 'Sticky Fingers' re-issue first and only opt for this if you need more afterwards.


Jim Pusey

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