Featured Album – Live at the El Mocambo (1977) – Rolling Stones

“You can do what you like, y’know. You can stand on your head and throw things at each other.”– Mick Jagger

First. a little story about the reliability of memory, blogger synchronicity, or said better, accidental collaboration that sometimes happens. Fellow blogger Christian wrote about a fine new (well, archival) album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Live at the Fillmore (1997.) (Note – we seem to be on a roll lately for great live archival material with (at least) Petty, Creedence, and Stones).

One of the tunes he featured was Chuck Berry’s great “Around and Around” which, astonishingly, was the B-side of “Johnny B. Goode,” a song you are doubtless familiar with. I told him I liked it but that my all-time favorite version was of the Stones at El Mocambo in ’77. Our dauntless blogger Christian had never heard it, loved it, looked up El Mocambo, and was advised it was released in May 2022.

What?, sez I. That’s impossible. I’ve been listening to that tune from that album for years. So I did a little research and – wrong! It turns out that in 1977 the Stones released a “live” compilation called Love You Live which was composed of songs from a variety of venues. Four of them were from El Mocambo! But the rest of the songs from that date were never released.

So, prior to the other day had I gone to court and sworn on a stack of bibles I would have said El Mocambo had been released years ago. But for whatever twisted, unfathomable reason it had never been. And so it slipped out quietly this year.

“A legendary event in the incredible 60-year history of the Rolling Stones is now available for the first time in full. Live At The El Mocambo marks the first official appearance of the group’s two famous secret concerts at the 300-seat capacity Toronto club in March 1977. It features the full set from their March 5 show, plus three bonus tracks from the March 4 gig, newly mixed by Bob Clearmountain. 2 CD set with a 20-page booklet.”

Or as Rolling Stone put it, “No Inflatable Penis, But Plenty of Blues: Rolling Stones Unleash Rare Live 1977 Club Tapes.” Apparently this was a well-kept secret. “With fans lined up to see local heroes April Wine, via tickets won through a radio contest, supporting act the Cockroaches looked quite familiar once they took the stage.”

300 seats! Imagine. That’s why this fucking thing sounds like a party. It was. I’ve always wanted to see the Stones in a more intimate theater. Those venues are for the True Believers where the lads from (not) Liverpool go deep into the blues catalog. The Stones show I saw a couple of years ago at the 65,000-seat Gilette Stadium tends to have a safe set list for the “got off a cruise ship, bought a tongue t-shirt, saw the Stones, checked the box” crowd. Next up for them – Celine Dion.

Let’s kick this thing off with that very tune, “Around and Around.” All due respect to the Heartbreakers, nobody does Chuck like the Stones:

This is the Ronnie Wood version of the band. By this time (March of 1977) Woody had been a member just shy of two years. Their most recent album had been Black and Blue and the following year would yield Some Girls. This album is a mixture of all sorts of things going back to “Route 66” along with a generous helping of blues. The playing is great on this album and the guitars are terrific. The ubiquitous Billy Preston is on keys.

And! It’s also got “Starfucker,” (aka “Star Star”) a subject of which i am told the Stones have some knowledge. This song would never make it past the tea and crumpet set.

Toronto. What is it about the Stones I remember from Toronto? Oh yeah. Keef got busted there in (checks calendar) February 1977, literally a week before this concert. Fortunately for us, the authorities are as reluctant to stick Keef in jail for a long time as we are with Trump.

On reading up on his trial (and suspended sentence), I find it amusing that “During the trial, a blind woman and die-hard Stones fan privately appealed to the judge and explained how Richards had always looked out for her when the band was on the road in Canada, making sure she was safe and cared for, and often helping find her a ride home after the shows.” And in his spare time doubtless sold Girl Scout cookies.*

You want blues? “Mannish Boy.” How-how-how-how-how-how! “It’s a bottom-pincher from last night, Keith. She’ll have your bottom.”  M. Jagger.

You get the idea. AllMusic says this is a “record that belongs alongside Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! and Brussels Affair (official bootleg whatever that means) as among the best official live Stones albums.”

Let’s end this session with the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band with a lightning take on “Rip This Joint,” from the Greatest Album of All Time, Exile on Main Street. Are you listening indie bands? THIS is rock and roll. And hey, stay off the heroin everybody. It will fuck you up.

*Margaret Trudeau famously had a “romantic encounter” with Mick Jagger at that time. (“Starfucker, starfucker.”) Don’t get any ideas in your head about Justin Trudeau being Mick Jagger’s love child. He was born in 1971. And well hmmm. Break out into rooms and discuss.

Other albums (that I know of) recorded at El Mocambo (translated – The Mocambo) include:

  • Big Walter Horton — Live at the El Mocambo (1973)
  • The Amboy Dukes — (1973)
  • Starz — Live at the El Mocambo (1973)
  • April Wine — Live at the El Mocambo (1977)
  • Elvis Costello — Live at the El Mocambo (1978)
  • The Cars — 14th September 1978 El Mocambo Toronto
  • MacLean & MacLean — MacLean & MacLean Suck Their Way to the Top (1980)
  • The Whiskey Howl Big Band — Live at the El Mocambo (1981)
  • Downchild Blues Band — But I’m On The Guest List (1982)
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble — Live at the El Mocambo (1983)
  • Sheriff — Live at El Mocambo (1983)
  • Rollins Band — Live Split Album with Dutch band Gore (1987)
  • Moxy — Raw (2001)
  • Zoobombs — Bomb You Live (2001)
  • Mainline — Last Show @ The Elmo (2001)
  • The Sinisters — Live (2003)
  • Toronto Police Pipe Band — Live at the El Mocambo (2010)
  • Silverstein — Decade (Live at the El Mocambo) (2010)

6 thoughts on “Featured Album – Live at the El Mocambo (1977) – Rolling Stones

  1. Thanks for the shoutout, Jim, and featuring this great live album by the Stones. It’s a lot of fun to listen to!

    And, yep, apparently, tis the season of the historic live album. The Stones just announced another one, GRRR live!, slated for Feb 10, 2023. It’s from a December 2012 show in Newark, NJ, which they did as part of their 50th anniversary tour. It features guest appearances by The Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr & John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Mick Taylor and Bruce Springsteen.


      1. In 77 I’m 16. I’m jumping from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols, Telephone, Starshooter, Jam, Police, Ramones, and Clash. I stumbled on Some Girls a little later and got the Live album. Remember, the records had two functions; dance-fun and most importantly get laid (enter Marvin Gay and the Lounge Lizards). “Let’s spend the night together” didn’t need high-level English to get to the point. Worked for me.


        1. Yes. Words to live by. And you may or may not know that when the Stones were on Ed Sullivan he made them sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”


Comments are closed.