The Rolling Stones are best known as one of the most energetic rock bands of all time, possessing an unrelenting collective power that still manages to blow audiences away today, even though every member is well into old age.
Despite the fact that they are well known as one of the most frenetic bands in history, The Stones have also shown us many times that they can dial down the raw power of their performances and swap the electric guitar for the acoustic, and this skill handed them one of their best live albums to date.
The Rolling Stones announced their lengthy Voodoo Lounge tour in New York City in May 1994, and in July, the album of the same name was released. Not long after the record dropped, the band played a warm-up gig in Toronto before heading out on the mammoth tour just under two weeks later, and it took them to every corner of the globe.
From August to mid-December, the band played across the Americas before heading across to South Africa to perform at the historic rugby stadium, Ellis Park. They then went to Japan, and after playing seven days of shows at the Tokyo Dome, they commandeered Toshiba/EMI Studios in the city to start recording what became the celebrated live album, Stripped.
Fast forward six weeks and the band were now on the fourth leg of the tour on May 26th, 1995, performing for two nights at the legendary Amsterdam venue, The Paradiso. Situated in an old church, it had been a squat for hippies during the countercultural era, and in 1968 it opened as the entertainment venue the city cherishes today. With a capacity of only 2,000, it has a warm atmosphere, making it a perfect location to record some acoustic cuts for Stripped.
Undoubtedly, one of the best cuts on Stripped is the band’s reconfiguration of the fan favourite ‘Beast of Burden’. Famously, the song is more sedentary than many of The Stones’ other songs, mixing soul and soft rock influences as the band matured on the 1978 album Some Girls. In the original, we hear frontman Mick Jagger finally give women the respect they deserve, as he tells the anonymous woman in question that he doesn’t want her to be domesticated for him.
Arguably, the Stripped version of the song is better than the original. The beauty of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s dovetailing acoustic guitars really is special, as they take the soft edge of the track to a new level entirely. This arrangement shows that The Stones are not just a one-trick pony and that they can strip back all the swagger with ease when they want to and get really romantic.
Listen to the Stripped version of ‘Beast of Burden’ below.