Don't be put off by the lacklustre cover image, strange title, or the fact that this album was only released in 1996. It is instantly clear that this is a fantastic live album; including some great performances all round, and which overall should have originally been released at the end of the 60's, but was dropped for reasons which are still shrouded in mystery. I would hazard a guess that had it been released as originally planned, it would by now have equalled the greatness achieved by "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!" Whilst it may feature quite a bit of post-production here and there (for example, the over-dubbing on Jethro Tull's "A Song for Jeffrey", which makes it sound very similar to the studio version), you still very much get the raw sense of passionate atmosphere and excitement that resounds from everything.
There is a great range of musical talents exemplified here apart from just the Stones, everything from Marianne Faithfull (whose song is quite kitsch, but also beautiful) to Taj Mahal (an excellently rocking performance) and The Who, who apparently were so good during "A Quick One, While He's Away" that the Stones felt they had been overshadowed. However, they instantly show they are more than capable, giving one of the best renditions of "Sympathy for the Devil" to be found anywhere, as well as an early performance of "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Of special note is the short-lived "supergroup" of The Dirty Mac, comprised of John Lennon, Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience), Eric Clapton (Cream) and Keith Richards. Together they performed "Yer Blues" from The Beatles White Album, which frankly is probably slightly better than the original. The weakest point of the show is easily the follow-up track "Whole Lotta Yoko", though featuring some good instrumental semi-improvisation from The Dirty Mac is ruined by the sound of Yoko Ono wailing for about two minutes.
For the most part, this is simply a trip back in time. It has the same quality of The Who's seminal "Live at Leeds", which makes you feel like you are almost there in the crowd. If you want a live album that shows off not just The Rolling Stones at the top of their form, but also a nice selection of other artists from the period, you can look no further than the Rock and Roll Circus. You might have heard of Piccadilly Circus, but this is something in a different league.