The tale behind the first Rolling Stones’ live album, Got Live If You Want It!, released by London Records in the US on 10 December 1966, is neither simple nor straightforward and it’s one that has its origins in an EP of the same name released in the UK nearly 18 months earlier.
The band was inspired to name this somewhat strange-titled release after a song from one of their favourite bluesmen, Slim Harpo, who recorded ‘I’ve Got Love If You Want It’ back in 1957. The four complete tracks, an excerpt from ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ and the crowd chanting “We Want The Stones”, making a sixth one, were recorded in London, Liverpool and Manchester over three nights in March 1965 by engineer Glyn Johns.
According to the press release that accompanied the record, “The EP, captures on wax the unadulterated in-person excitement of a Stones stage show.” And no better than on ‘Route 66’ which rocks and rolls as it’s driven along by Bill & Charlie. By the time it was released in the US as an LP, rather than an EP, ‘Route 66’ had been dropped and other tracks had been substituted making Got Live If You Want It! a 12-track album in total.
On the original Got Live If You Want It! album liner notes it said that it was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on the Stones’ Autumn tour of England with Ike and Tina Turner and the Yardbirds. In truth the recording was mainly done in Newcastle and Bristol, not the Royal Albert Hall in London, with a couple of tracks either having been recorded in Liverpool and Manchester. Just to add to the confusion, some tracks were not even live at all. ‘I’ve Been Loving You To Long’ was recorded in Los Angeles in 1965 and then overdubbed at IBC Studios in London, which was also where ‘Fortune Teller’ was also cut.
Before the first number, ‘Under My Thumb’ the voice of singer Long John Baldry can be heard introducing the band. On the CD version it is a different intro and recording of ‘Under My Thumb’ than appears on the original vinyl pressing. Despite everything, it still made No.6 on the US album chart, and it stayed on the best seller list for close to a year.
As Keith said at the time, “We all knew that the sound that we were getting live and in the studio was not what we were getting on record – the difference was light years apart.” There is some indication of the difference on this record, but the limitations of the recording techniques are also there to be heard. Nevertheless, Got Live If You Want It! is a fascinating glimpse of mid 60s Stones playing live – even so, the band remained unhappy that it was released as an album and always referred to 1969’s Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out as their first live album.