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Rolling truck Stones

Ever wondered what happened to the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio? Well, as this 2016 CBC report attests, it ended up in a museum in Calgary, Canada. And yes, Machine Head is featured prominently.

13 Comments to “Rolling truck Stones”:

  1. 1
    MacGregor says:

    In regards to this clip, it is a case of ‘don’t shut up & definitely don’t play the guitar’. Cheers.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Uhum, I think they glossed over the reasons why it even came into existence! Not for recording live work, not to conveniently work outside of conventional studio hours … something much more profane: tax avoidance/escaping the grip of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs!!! It was a necessity for tax exiles who had to record outside of the UK, because it enabled state-of-the-art recording technique no matter where you set up your tent trying to avoid Her Majesty’s rightful due. Top quality recording studios were few and far between in the first half of the 70ies on the Continent.

    All three Purple albums recorded with the Stones Mobile – Machine Head, WDWTWA & Burn – sounded great. The Munich Musicland recordings that followed – Stormbringer and CTTB – were great as well and no doubt the most refined recordings of 70ies Purple, but the truck stuff has a pleasant raw edge.

    I’ve always preferred the direct sonic impact and punch of Purple albums over the cavernous and billowing acoustics permeating Zep releases. Machine Head sounds like you’re in the recording studio with the band watching them. That gives the music real immediacy. In contrast, Led Zep IV sounds like you’re watching the band from afar, Valhalla gods playing in the distance.

  3. 3
    James Gemmell says:

    @Uwe And Revenue & Customs still came after Purple, not believing that the music wasn’t – at least – written beforehand in England. But all Purple had to do was show the album lyrics in ‘Smok on the Water’ that describe what happened with the big fire in Montreaux as proof it was written and recorded AFTER DP left for Switzerland, not before.

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    I have just finished watching a few documentaries & reading some articles on the Rolling Stones Mobile unit & it was originally created & used for convenience. Then around the 1971 era the Stones moved to France to avoid Her Majesty’s ‘give us your money you bastards’ cash grab. Sorry I was thinking of The Young Ones applying for their financial loan. Same thing though he he he! Another good laugh while we are at it, an alleged Jimmy Page quote regarding the use of the Mobile recording unit.” We needed the sort of facilities so we could wander around the garden drinking cups of tea & then go in & do what we had to do”. Something like that. I am confused though, for some strange reason I was thinking the Zeps were renowned for their hedonistic lifestyles to a degree. Using the Stones mobile sounds so quaint & innocent & all rather nice actually. Cheers.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    This link is an interesting take on The Stones unit & contains a couple of good photos of the Casino blaze. Is that Frank Zappa helping with the fire hose? Cheers.


  6. 6
    Uwe Hornung says:

    James @3: I guess the fiscal authorities chased the wrong band then, as if Purple ever entered a studio with fully prepared songs! They’ve always worked best under pressure to come up with things.

  7. 7
    James Gemmell says:

    Uwe @ 6: Yes, ha ha!

    MacGregor @ 4: Interesting. And your line about [“Give us your money, you bastards” cash grab … ] is superb. Sounds like how Uncle Sam is always reaching into our billfolds over on this side of the swamp.

  8. 8
    Dr. Bob says:

    Just when I thought that I knew everything there was about the fire and recording Machine Head I had never heard the story about saving the mobile from the fire.

    UWE @3: To my ear DP MkII had the best sound of any rock band with Lord’s Hammond organ having a central role to that. But I am not sure that the mobile albums sound any better than In Rock. I’ll have to think about that more next time I listen to them listen.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    In Rock was recorded in three different and not so expensive studios I think and you can hear that. You also can’t hear Roger as well on In Rock where he played a Fender Precision as on MH and WDWTWA with the Rickenbacker 4001 in full flight. That Rick is a snarling sonic component of MH, MIJ and WDWTWA.

    In Rock sounds undergroundish, even garage-like (dare I say punkish in places?) to me (which has its own charm), but MH is a glossy hi-end production that has retained all its balls.

    Of course Jon’s roaring Hammond constituted a key component of DP’s sound and sonic might. To my ears, without a Hammond filling in, Ritchie doesn’t even sound right – it’s no coincidence that he has spent his musical life since 1968 with keyboarders, not power trios or a rhythm guitarist to back him, even Blackmore’s Night has retained a strong keyboard component. (In my humble opinion, that power trio attempt with Phil Lynott would have never worked, Ritchie is not really a power trio guitarist and I believe he knows this.)

    In Rock sounds different as regards Jon because at that point he was not using Leslie Combos,


    but went through a guitar rig type set-up. That made for a very direct sonic impact (part of why In Rock sounds so raucous), but I prefer the Hammond sound of MH by which time he was back to using the Leslie Combos – it gave the music more of a Hammond halo, the Hammond sounded ‘wetter’.

    Both mobile albums also sound a lot more “cinemascopic” than either In Rock or Fireball which to me have the aura of being recorded in smaller, constricted and muffled spaces.

  10. 10
    Dr. Bob says:

    Thanks Uwe, I think that explains why I much prefer Roger’s remastered/remixed version of In Rock. 25 years later he was probably able to correct some of the short comings of the original mix.

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    The thing with In Rock as a recording is that the closer you get to it, the more its imperfections stand out. The source master is distorted, that is why it sound so abrasive (a sound a lot of people love and which gave it its ferocious impact in 1970). On CD, that can quickly grate. That album just doesn’t sound pleasant to the ears if it is is mercilessly remastered for the AirPods generation.

    The whole album would need a complete stereo remaster with warmth, ambience and not too much a focus on its (plentiful) sonic extremes. Steven Wilson to the rescue!

  12. 12
    MacGregor says:

    I played In Rock loudly about 3 weeks ago & it still brings that wonderful feeling of not only nostalgia but freshness in some way. Fresh in that it was the first DP album I heard & I still like the sound of it. I listened to the mid 90’s remixed & remastered version. Maybe as I do not own a turntable & the record anymore I have grown use to this version. It is a dirty heavy album, in a good way. Talking of remixed remasters the Pink Floyd gem Animals is receiving a few comments. Some like the new mix some don’t & prefer the original flat stereo album sound. I think James Guthrie did that one from memory. I did have a listen online to the Dogs song, however not through my hifi surround setup. Will I purchase it, it is a classic album after all. Plenty of Gilmour on that one & the Orwellian lyrical side of it has always raised a smile or two. Cheers.

  13. 13
    Neil Pearce says:

    James @3. It’s interesting the tax people accepted the Smoke lyric as evidence when a little research would have shown they were playing both Highway Star and Lazy on the ‘71 tour.

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