The Rolling Stones, “Rip This Joint” from L.A. Forum: Live in 1975 (2014): One Track Mind

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The rockabilly punk of “Rip This Joint” provides one of the best early glimpses into how Ron Wood would fit in with his new band, the Rolling Stones. Performed here a third of the way through the former Faces guitarist’s initial Stones tour, this track is — as always — a fleet travelogue through the American songscape, banged out to a rhythmic shout from Mick Jagger.

But watch Wood, not long after this 28th birthday, as he instantly meshes into the rough-edged tapestry that is the Rolling Stones, even as they relay a fish-out-of-water tale perfectly in keeping with the moment. He can unleash a flourish that smartly recalls the recently departed Mick Taylor, or fall back into the kind of shambling rhythm for which Keith Richards has always been known.

In keeping, elsewhere during this mid-1970s Los Angeles concert — released this week with a sparkling Bob Clearmountain remastering job by Eagle Rock as L.A. Forum: Live in 1975 — Wood makes far more important contributions. He plays with delicate sensitivity on a lengthy examination of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and with a simmering danger on the slide-driven blues classic “You Gotta Move.”

But “Rip This Joint” makes clear, late in the setlist, that they’d found in Ron Wood someone who could be both foil and team player. It’s easy to see why he’s lasted so long with the Rolling Stones.

At one point, Jagger yelps a slurrily harried variation on: “Mister President, Mister Immigration Man, let me in, sweetie, to your fair land.” Behind him, Wood plays, cigarette dangling insouciantly, completely in his element as a sideman. He can replicate Taylor’s parts, but he never overshadows Richards — and certainly keeps well out of the searing circle of light that is Jagger’s outsized stage persona.

Ron Wood may have been a stranger in a strange land, still, but he had already begun to find his place.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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