April 2, 1991: Release of FLASHPOINT, the Stones’ fifth live album (recorded during the 1989 Steel Wheels and 1990 Urban Jungle tours)
SIDE A: 1. (Intro) Continental Drift/ 2. Start Me Up/ 3. Sad Sad Sad/ 4. Miss You/ 5. Ruby Tuesday/ 6. You Can’t Always Get What You Want/ 7. Factory Girl/ 8. Little Red Rooster
SIDE B: 1. Paint It, Black/ 2. Sympathy for the Devil/ 3. Brown Sugar/ 4. Jumpin’ Jack Flash/ 5. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction/ 6. Highwire/ 7. Sex Drive
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Additionally, a 2-CD limited edition deluxe of the album titled Flashpoint + Collectibles including a second disc with rare never before released material was later issued in Europe.
Collectibles: 1. Rock And A Hard Place II/ 2. Miss You IV/ 3. Cook Cook Blues/ 4. Everything Is Turning To Gold II/ 5. Winning Ugly VI/ 6. Beast Of Burden (live)/ 7. Fancy Man Blues/ 8. Harlem Shuffle VI/ 9. Wish I’d Never Met You/ 10. Mixed Emotions IV
The live album catalog of the Rolling Stones is bigger than most bands ever amass with studio releases. It’s a collection that spreads from 1966’s Got Live If You Want It! to the present day. In their “official bootleg” series, 2018 brought Voodoo Lounge Uncut, 2019 Bridges To Bremen and Bridges To Buenos Aires, and 2020 Steel Wheels Live. On April 20, 1991, the band made the UK chart with what was already their fifth live set, Flashpoint. It commemorated one of their most memorable and epic tours.
Flashpoint was recorded on the shows that, many feel, introduced the modern era of the Stones as a live force. It was, indeed, a tour so huge that it had two names. The North American and Japanese legs of 1989 and early 1990 were named for the Steel Wheels album. The European Urban Jungle shows of later that year had a completely new set design.
Those tours raised the bar in spectacular stage design and production values, not just for the Stones but for all bands with aspirations to their stadium rock crown. They played no fewer than 115 shows, with dates spread over just six days short of a year. By the end of Urban Jungle, the extravaganza had a reported gross of an eye-popping $115 million.
Flashpoint not only gave fans a permanent record of those concerts, it offered up two brand new studio recordings. The live portion started, as the shows had, with the invigoratingly mystical “Continental Drift,” the percussive passage from the Steel Wheels album. That segued into the classic curtain-raiser “Start Me Up.” It was the first of many staples on an album that also included live versions of the Steel Wheels tracks “Sad Sad Sad,” “Rock And A Hard Place,” and “Can’t Be Seen.” Eric Clapton made a guest appearance on “Little Red Rooster.” The new songs were “Highwire,” released as a single and featuring an outspoken Mick Jagger lyric that he was moved to write by the events of the Gulf War, and “Sex Drive,” a distinct nod to his longtime admiration for James Brown.
The album entered the UK chart at its peak position of No.6, spending seven weeks in the Top 75. It went gold there and in the US, Germany and Canada. Rolling Stone’s review summed it up by observing that the Stones had “become what they’ve always aspired to be – rockers with the staying power of roots musicians, veterans who continue to practice their art with skill and verve and undiminished soul.”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Flashpoint came out of the Rolling Stones world tour of 1989 and 1990,
called the “Steel Wheels Tour” in the United States and Japan and the
“Urban Jungle Tour” in Europe. The fifteen live tracks (including the intro,
an extract from “Continental Drift”) were recordings made at concerts in
Clemson, South Carolina (“Start Me Up,” “Can’t Be Seen,” “[I Can’t Get
No] Satisfaction”); Atlantic City, New Jersey (“Sad Sad Sad,” “Little Red
Rooster” [with Eric Clapton]); Jacksonville, Florida (“Miss You,” “Rock
and a Hard Place,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”); Tokyo
(“Ruby Tuesday,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”);
London (“Factory Girl”); Barcelona (“Paint It Black”); and Turin (“Brown
Two additional songs, produced in the studio, were added to this “best
of” compilation: “Highwire” and “Sex Drive.” These two numbers have a
symbolic value since they were the last pieces recorded by Bill Wyman
after more than thirty years with the band. Released on April 2, 1991,
Flashpoint was the Stones’ fifth live album and it went to number 6 on the
UK charts and number 16 on the Billboard album charts. In France, it was
certified as a double gold disc with more than 200,000 copies sold. As for
the technical side, the album was put together and mixed by Chris Kimsey
at the Olympic Sound Studios in London, apart from “Highwire” and “Sex
Drive,” which were produced at the Old Hit Factory in London. These two
recordings were done by Mark “Spike” Stent, who also worked with Björk,
U2, and Oasis.
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