Rip This Joint

Originally Performed ByThe Rolling Stones
Original AlbumExile on Main St (1972)
VocalsPage (lead), Trey (backing)
Phish Debut2009-10-31
Last Played2009-10-31
Current Gap503
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)


A joint is the place at which two things, or separate parts of one thing, are joined or united, either rigidly or in such a way as to permit motion. In the context of The Rolling Stones "Rip This Joint" the joint in question has at least three definitions. A joint is a hotel room, bar, or concert hall to be torn apart, a song to be shredded, or a cannabis cigarette to be blazed. The second track from Exile on Main St is the place at which these separate parts of the one thing (being a rock and roll band) are united in such a way as to permit motion. That motion is a declaration of intent levied upon the populace and leadership of the United States. The Stones are giving notice, with all due respect to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Grand Funk Railroad, that they are coming to your town and they will help you party down. Whether you like it or not, they are going to give it to you good. Dick and Pat Nixon are holding the stash, Barbara (the Butter Queen) Cope is going to lube you up in preparation, and photo-journalist Dixie Dean is going to catch the whole thing on film.

"Rip This Joint" is one of the collection of Exile tracks that was initially laid down (in December 1971) in the basement of Keith Richards' villa in Nellcôte using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and subsequently polished (in March 1972) in the Sunset Sound Recorders studios in Los Angeles. Featuring Mick Jagger on lead vocals, Richards on backing vocals and guitar, Mick Taylor on guitar, Bill Plummer on upright bass, Charlie Watts on drums, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Bobby Keys on saxaphone, the song is a blisteringly fast rockabilly musical jaunt through an implied tour of America. "Rip This Joint" was in regular rotation (almost every night) during the Stones 1972 tour and was often sandwiched between "Bye Bye Johnny" and "Jumping Jack Flash" toward the end of their single set performances. After delivering on their promise, the song was shelved until, appropriately enough, considering the Dutch cannabis culture, their second night on the back of the worm at the Paradiso (5/27/95) in Amsterdam on their Voodoo Lounge tour.

The Phish debut of "Rip This Joint" during their Festival 8 halloween costume set is pretty faithful to the original in style and pace of delivery. Page assumes both Mick's lead vocals and Nicky Hopkins piano roles, Trey provides backing vocals and Keith's guitar licks, Mike plays electric rather than upright bass, Fishman fills Charlie Watts' frenetic beats, and Tony Jarvis blows Bobby Keys' saxaphone. Following fast on the heels of "Rocks Off" the song served notice to the Festival 8 crowd that if they had not yet done so it was time to drop the bomb, in other words "Rip This Joint," and get ready to do some hip shaking.

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