September 1977 the Rolling Stones released their double live album "Love You Live", which was largely drawn from their 1976 Paris shows, and from the El Mocambo gigs earlier in the year. Since Billy Preston had played on all album tracks he wanted a cut of the royalties and, much to Mick Jagger's annoyance, this was agreed. It is striking that Preston never toured nor recorded with the Stones again, with the exception of 1997's 'Saint Of Me'.
Early October the band entered Pathé Marconi Studios in Paris to record a new album. Pathé, the official EMI studio in Paris, had an old-world charm and atmosphere. The actual room used by the Stones was a rehearsal room rather than a normal studio. In fact the sessions, often referred to as the 'More Fast Numbers' sessions, were split into two parts, the first one running from October 10-December 21, 1977, and the second one from January 5-March 2, 1978.
Because of his friendship with Ron Wood, Faces keyboard player Ian 'Mac' McLagan was invited to play during the first sessions. Mac recalls: "Pathé Marconi is an old established studio originally designed for recording large orchestras, and Woody was just inside the huge studio door, a smile on his face, as I walked in. He showed me around the room, took me over to the grand piano and handed me a straw. Laying out two lines on the piano lid, he shouted across the room:
'Hey, Keith, look who I've got here'. 'Oh, it's him!' Keith gave a gap-toothed grimace. 'Oh, I see Woody's taken care of you then?' He laughed as I wiped the residue from my nose, then led me into the control room. Stu appeared, all chin and pockets, and an easy smile. 'Hello, stranger. How's things?' I told him everything was fine, and asked him how they were doing. 'Oh, pretty good, you know. If these buggers would only get on with it, tsk!' No one could ever get a swelled head around Stu. The salt of the earth, he always had his feet on the ground".
Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.
Ian McLagan, All The Rage, Pan Books, 2000.