The Rolling Stones Brussels Affair 1973

Brussels Affair is an official, authorised version of a famous Rolling Stones bootleg from the 1973 Goats Head Soup tour.

It’s brilliant.

Fans of the Stones have wanted this release for years as it catches the mark 2 version of the band with Mick Taylor rather than Brian Jones in their full glory

If you like Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, you’ll love The Brussels Affair.

The Rolling Stones Brussels Affair Overall Rating – 29/30

The Rolling Stones Brussels AffairBrussels Affair Set List Rating – 9/10

1.     Brown Sugar – 3:54 (from the album Sticky Fingers)
2.     Gimme Shelter – 5:31 (Let It Bleed)
3.     Happy – 3:13 (Exile On Main Street)
4.     Tumbling Dice – 5:02 (Exile On Main Street)
5.     Star Star – 4:15 (Goats Head Soup)
6.     Dancing with Mr D – 4:36 (Goats Head Soup)
7.     Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) – 5:01 (Goats Head Soup)
8.     Angie – 5:13 (Goats Head Soup)
9.     You Can’t Always Get What You Want – 10:57 (Let It Bleed)
10.   Midnight Rambler – 12:49 (Let It Bleed)
11.   Honky Tonk Women – 3:10 (single)
12.   All Down the Line – 4:19 (Exile On Main Street)
13.   Rip This Joint – 2:24 (Exile On Main Street)
14.   Jumpin’ Jack Flash – 3:26 (single)
15.   Street Fighting Man – 5:13 (Beggars Banquet)
Total length:     79:33

Four tracks from each of their last two albums Goats Head Soup and Exile on Main Street, three from Let It Bleed and three of the most famous singles that typify the Rolling Stones sound in Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Honky Tonk Women and Brown Sugar.

What’s not to love about this set list? This is the Stones at their glorious peak.

What’s there is terrific but it is a short set consistent with what they played elsewhere on the Goats Head Soup tour. They quite often played two sets in a day on this tour so I guess they needed to be fair to everyone… even if that meant we got less than we wanted.

That’s the only thing that stops me giving this set 10/10.

I deduct one point for only playing one track from my favourite Stones studio album, Sticky Fingers – I’d have loved Bitch, Wild Horses and in particular Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.

Harsh yes but I’m looking for the best live album by the Rolling Stones and the best live album by any artist.

Performance Rating – 10/10

Brussels has been the basis for what many say is the best bootleg for the Rolling Stones.

But it turns out that what we thought was Brussels was pulled from a collection of shows on the European leg of the tour. This official release puts that right and these performances come from the afternoon and evening gigs.

This is the official line from RollingStones.com

The first item the band are releasing is the long-awaited download of a legendary 1973 concert, recorded at the Forest National in Belgium. Long hailed by die-hard Stones fans as one of the band’s greatest live performances, The Brussels Affair has been a mainstay in the underground music world for years. The original bootlegs, sold under such titles as Europe 73, Bedspring Symphony and Brussels Affair, were cobbled together from assorted radio broadcasts, including the syndicated radio programme King Biscuit Flower Hour, and usually contained songs performed at other venues. The new edition, pulled exclusively from the two Brussels gigs, was taken from the original multi-track masters recorded by Andy Johns on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Longtime Stones collaborator Bob Clearmountain applied the final mix.

If you know the bootleg version of Brussels Affair, then the official version is different because it has two extra tracks – Star Star and Doo Doo Doo Doo – and many of the performances are slightly different.

But this is the Rolling Stones at their blistering best… and you can now hear it in glorious sound.

These shows were legendary for a reason.

“Things were starting to rock at a ferocious pace” says Keith Richards when talking about this concert.

The Mick Taylor version of the Stones had really bedded in and the guitar interplay between Taylor and Keith Richards is terrific. It’s well worth listening to this album through headphones so you can tell who plays which guitar parts.

Jagger, Watts and Wyman are also on top form to create a concert recording that crackles with energy and passion.

Trevor Lawrence does a good job of replacing Bobby Keys on sax. Allegedly Keys was sacked after missing some shows and the final incident was filling a bathtub with champagne and drinking it with hookers at the Rotterdam Hilton.

I believe each song beats the studio version and the Goats Head Soup songs stand up remarkably well in such illustrious company.

The stand-out tracks though are the long ones. Midnight Rambler is as good as the version on Ya Ya’s and You Can’t Always Get What You Want is awe-inspiring. So much better than the versions on Let It Bleed.

Angie – the official promotional video for the single

Sweet Virginia live in concert in 1972 but not on The Brussels Affair. Sorry but the video is worth seeing if you love Exile On Main St.

Rip This Joint again from 1972 and it is on Brussels.

All Down the Line – another live recording from 1972 and on Brussels.

Brown Sugar, again from 1972 – I hope this means that we might see a live album from the 1972 Exile tour.

Doo Doo Doo Doo from 1973

Atmosphere & Authenticity – 10/10

The sound quality is tremendous but the bootleg version was always known to be excellent. I don’t believe there has been any touching up on this album… this is how great the Stones were that day.

I like the story about why The Rolling Stones were playing in Brussels. It seems that they were banned from France because of the drugs convictions. That’s so rock’n’roll and reminds me how the Stones were always seen as the bad boys.

I like Jagger speaking French to the audience… I don’t think he’s bad although his accent needs some work.

When I reviewed The Who Live At Leeds, I liked the way it was presented as a bootleg. You don’t want a live album that is highly polished and promoted.

On the same basis I love the fact that The Rolling Stones are releasing official bootlegs with Brussels the first example.

Everything about this great album feels right… and even the price. I was astonished when I saw it and I hope the Stones continue to give great bargains back to their fans.

Total Rating For The Brussels Affair 29/30

Brussels 1973 is the Rolling Stones in peak form, battling to be the greatest rock band in the world.

And they put together a very convincing convincing argument.

It’s on of those concerts where you ache to have been there but you’re so glad you can share in these special memories through the recordings.

Brussels Affair is one of the greatest live albums ever and in my opinion tops Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out which is the critics’ favourite Stones live album.

If I want to hear the Stones, I normally turn to one of five albums… Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Ya Ya’s and…

My first choice is The Brussels Affair. It really is that good.

In the short video below, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger talk about the show.

If you’re a fan of the Stones, you must get this album.

Buying The Brussels Affair

It’s available from the StonesArchive.com in mp3 or flac forms and you can hear short samples if you’re not absolutely convinced that you must own this album.

There isn’t a CD version available.

If you’re in the USA, you’ll need to get it through Google Music but there’s a link from the Stones Archive and you can see what else they are offering.

What Do Others Say About The Brussels Affair?

This official release is too late for the album to appear in the lists of greatest live albums and if they were done again, I suspect that votes would be split between this and Ya Ya’s.

Both are great and your preference will probably come down to your thoughts on the set list.

I loved Brussels the first time I heard it. I had to grow to love Ya Ya’s.

The Brussels Affair was top of the Best Rolling Stones Live Album Poll at the end of December 2012. (see below for details on how you can vote in the poll)

What Do You Think?

I’d love to know what you think about this album so please leave a comment.

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