Wednesday, 18 December 2019

The Rolling Stones - Oddities & Compilations



Featured here are the following:-

Metamorphosis (1975)
Jamming With Edward (1972)
The Rolling Stones In Mono Box Set
Grrr!
Forty Licks
The Singles Collection: The London Years
Made In The Shade
and Sucking In The 70s

Scroll down to read the reviews.

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METAMORPHOSIS (1975)

 

This was a sort of official release by ABKCO records five years after severing their ties with The Rolling Stones. It was, for many years, the only album of Rolling Stones outtakes around. It has no chronological arrangement, however, the tracks are included willy-nilly. So, with that in mind, here is where they are sourced from:-

Out Of Time - recorded in 1966. Shorter than the extended version that appeared on "Aftermath"
Don't Lie To Me - 1964
Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind - 1964
Each And Every Day Of The Year - 1964
Heart Of Stone - 1964 (with Jimmy Page on guitar)
I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys - 1965
(Walkin' Through The) Sleepy City - 1964
We're Wastin' Time -1964
Try A Little Harder - 1964
I Don't Know Why - 1969 - on the night the news broke of Brian Jones' death. For the "Let It Bleed" sessions
If You Let Me - 1966 - for the "Aftermath" sessions
Jiving Sister Fanny - 1969 - for the "Let It Bleed" sessions
Downtown Suzie - 1969 - for the "Let It Bleed" sessions
Family - 1968 - for the "Beggars' Banquet" sessions
Memo From Turner -1968 - a different version to that released by Mick Jagger in 1970.
I'm Going Down - 1969


The quality is varying, although all the tracks are of interest - the blues rock of Don't Lie To Me would not have been out of place on any of the early albums. The early Eastern-influence on Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind is a definite pointer toward later material. I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys had a huge Beatles influence and it was probably better left off albums, leaving The Stones to forge their own identity. The track was impressively covered by Ronnie Spector, replacing "boys" with "girls" on her 2016 album, English Heart.

The blues rock of Jiving Sister Fanny and Memo From Turner are excellent, but Downtown Suzie, with its airs of Dylan's Rainy Day Women and awful backing vocals, was best left on the cutting-room floor. Their cover of Stevie Wonder's I Don't Know Why is muscular, with a rocking guitar solo and powerful brass backing. One of the best cuts on the album. They make it sound like a bluesy Stones rocker. The guitar-driven rock of I'm Going Down uses a riff they would imply a lot more in the seventies and eighties. This is another good one. The album ends strongly.

Overall, this is an interesting album for completists, but certainly not essential.

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JAMMING WITH EDWARD (1972)


1. The Boudoir Stomp
2. It Hurts Me Too
3. Edward's Thrump Up
4. Blow With Ry
5. Interlude A La El Hopo
6. Highland Fling

The material on this album dates from The Rolling StonesLet It Bleed sessions from 1969. It contains six loose jam sessions performed by the band, plus pianist Nicky Hopkins and guitarist Ry Cooder, while waiting for Keith Richards to return to the studio. The story goes that he had walked out, unhappy about Cooder's presence. Whether this is apocryphal will never be known, but Keith also had initial problems when Mick Taylor appeared on the later sessions for the same album.

Mick Jagger said of it - "I hope you spend longer listening to it than we did recording it...". It was laid down on one alcohol-loosened evening in London. It is, therefore a fans' curio - inessential to many but interesting none the less. I certainly am unwilling to write it off as a fair few reviewers have done over the years. Firstly, I quite like jams. I like George Harrison's and Eric Clapton's from the early seventies. Secondly, one thing that hits you is just how great the sound quality is, especially for such an ad hoc creation. It was, of course, never intended for release. I actually find it provides a nice breath of fresh air to listen to every now and again, particularly while doing something else.

  

The Boudoir Stomp recycles the Midnight Rambler riff, with accompanying similar blues harmonica. It sounds very like the middle instrumental bit from Rambler, to be honest. It Hurts Me Too features a muffled, distant Jagger vocal and can be listened to as a bona fide song. It is a cover of an Elmore James blues song, delivered in that typical slow, grinding blues rock style. Edward's Thrump Up is a solid jam featuring Hopkins' rollicking piano (Hopkins was "Edward", by the way). Some good harmonica on this one too.

You cannot deny the quality of Ry Cooder's blues guitar on Blow With RyWatts' drums are loose and relaxed. I really like this. Jagger again contributes a detached-sounding vocal which has echoes of Parachute Woman about it. Interlude A La El Hopo is a jaunty but ultimately pointless couple of minutes. Hopkins rocks the traditional Scottish Highland Fling tune on piano before it morphs into a sort of jazz meets rock workout. I bet Charlie Watts enjoyed this. Bill Wyman's bass on this is delicious. Throwaway it may be, but these guys can play, as obviously we all know. Many bands may well have stuck a couple of these instrumentals on their albums. Santana were doing it all the time in the late seventies/eighties, and Jeff Beck too.

Casual Stones fans will probably not get much out of this release but anyone with an interest in the band's minutiae will enjoy it, I think. Just as many did so with the material from The Beatles' White Album sessions. I reiterate, as well, the sound is bloomin' marvellous!

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THE ROLLING STONES IN MONO

 

Now, I have always been 110% a stereo man but I was still inspired enough by some of the reviews on various media to purchase this excellent box set. The sound is certainly crystal clear and marvellously remastered. In some ways it has redressed the balance quite considerably. After hearing this, it is more 60-40 in favour of stereo and I certainly now derive a lot of pleasure from these mono recordings.

For sure, the first batch of albums - The Rolling Stones12 x 5; and The Rolling Stones Number Two were, I believe, released originally in mono and sound excellent here in punchy, clear remastered mono. The stereo tracks from The Rolling Stones Now, like Down The Road Apiece are better served in stereo, to my taste. However, I prefer the two Out Of Our Heads versions and December's Children in mono, by far. These two sound superb in mono. With the mono it is all about the bass - it comes out of your speakers pounding full and loud, just as I like it, and from a central position. I am just listening to Lady Jane. It is fantastic. Check out the intro to Under My Thumb or the punch of It's Not Easy and the thump of High And Dry from Aftermath. Or That's How Strong My Love Is. Wonderful. The sometimes problematic "Heart Of Stone" sounds better than it has ever done here. Good Times just sounds marvellous.

Many people prefer Aftermath and Between The Buttons in mono. I am sold on Aftermath, with its big, bassy sound, but I am not completely convinced about Buttons, however I can hear where they are coming from. In many respects, though, they come alive in stereo. Particularly Buttons. However, My Obsession and its drums from that album sounds impressive in mono. It is from these two albums onwards, arguably,  that stereo is certainly the preferred medium, for me. It definitely is for Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed. Those two have excellent stereo versions. All that said, I have to say that I recently listened to No ExpectationsJigsaw Puzzle and Prodigal Son, the bluesy numbers from Beggars’ Banquet, in mono and they sounded big, bassy and floor-shakingly powerful. Midnight Rambler from Let It Bleed sounds excellent in mono too, as it happens. So too does Gimme Shelter and Monkey Man so there is far more of a case for the mono versions of these two than I originally thought.


As for Her Majesty's I have to admit there is something of an appeal hearing what is musically often a bit of a mess, remastered here in mono - Light Years in particular, but again, stereo probably just wins out in the end. Only just though, because of the multi-instrumentation of the album. 

My same logic applies to the Stray Cats bonus material. The pre-1966 ones are pretty much all better in mono, after that stereo is king.

So, in conclusion, there are, however, always things to discover in these box sets. I love big, booming bass and these mono recordings certainly give me that.

These are just my opinions and, as I said, I am (maybe was, though) more of a stereo man, so they are pretty predictable. It is still a highly recommended box set, however. A great document of this seminal band at their 1960s best in some gloriously powerful sound.

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GRRR!

  

Similar to 2002’s Forty Licks For those wanting a collection of Stones classics spanning their whole career then they can't go too far wrong with this one. Remastered in 2009 to an excellent level, it covers the early sixties r'n'b (Rhythm and Blues) chart topping days through the leery, drug addled late sixties, seventies and early eighties to the satisfied, somewhat complacent "rock royalty" later eighties and nineties era. Best, and most economical to get hold of is the three disc version. 

Classics abound, of course - SatisfactionGet Off My Cloud, You Can't Always Get What You Want (criminally edited), Jumping Jack FlashBrown SugarTumbling DiceAngieStart Me Up...too many to list the whole lot.


One problem with these compilations, though, is that "edited" versions of songs are sometimes used. In this case Beast Of BurdenMiss You, Fool To CryEmotional Rescue, Undercover Of The Night and It’s Only Rock n Roll have been abridged. Not a problem, digitally, if you own the original. Just replace it. Add Little Red Rooster too!

There are two "previously unreleased" tracks to force completist fans to shell out as well - One More Shot and Doom And Gloom, both of which are worth owning.

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FORTY LICKS

  

For those wanting a collection of Stones classics spanning their whole career then they can't go too far wrong with this one. Remastered to a acceptable level, it covers the early sixties r'n'b (Rhythm and Blues) chart topping days through the leery, drug addled late sixties, seventies and early eighties to the satisfied, somewhat complacent "rock royalty" later eighties and nineties era.


Classics abound - SatisfactionGet Off My CloudYou Can't Always Get What You WantJumpin' Jack FlashBrown SugarTumbling DiceAngieStart Me Up...too many to list the whole lot.

One problem with these compilations, though, is that "edited" versions of songs are sometimes used. In this case Beast Of BurdenMiss YouFool To CryEmotional Rescue and It’s Only Rock n Roll have been abridged. Not a problem, digitally, if you own the original. Just replace it. Add Little Red Rooster too!

There are four "previously unreleased" tracks to force completist fans to shell out as well - 2007 concert set list favourite Don't StopKeys To Your LoveStealing My Heart and Keith Richards' sad Losing My Touch, all of which are worth owning.

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THE SINGLES COLLECTION: THE LONDON YEARS

 

This is a great comprehensive collection for anyone wishing to know what The Rolling Stones were all about in the 1960s. They were, until 1968, at least, like most groups, very much a "singles" group. That was the currency of the day and boy did they spend it. Nearly 60 superb "A' and "B" sides are here in their original sound release i.e. if they first appeared in mono, they are in mono here. The remastering is superb. If am pretty much a stereo man, to be honest, but these mono remasters really kick posterior. Just listen to 19th Nervous Breakdown or Try A Little Harder if you don't believe me! I Don’t Know Whay (sic) sounds great in big, booming stereo though.

All the great stuff is here - SatisfactionGet Off My CloudLittle Red RoosterPaint It, BlackRuby TuesdayJumping Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women. The material shows just how damn GOOD The Stones were in the 1960s.



As others have pointed out over the years, the presence of Brown SugarYou Can't Always Get What You WantWild Horses and Sympathy For The Devil seem a bit incongruous here as Sugar and Horses are very much known as 70s tracks and the other two are known as extended album tracks. That is not really too much of a problem though. Just sit back a drink it all in.

It's great to have comparative rarities Jiving Sister Fanny and Child Of The Moon on here too.

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MADE IN THE SHADE & SUCKING IN THE 70s


MADE IN THE SHADE

1. Brown Sugar
2. Tumbling Dice
3. Happy
4. Dance Little Sister
5. Wild Horses
6. Angie
7. Bitch
8. It's Only Rock'n'Roll (But I Like It)
9. Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
10. Rip This Joint                                                                                                  

A great album of music, of course - Brown SugarTumbling Dice, the beautiful AngieIt’s Only Rock n RollHappyRip This Joint. All great stuff. However, it is a bit of a pointless release. It was upon its original release in 1974 and it is now. It is not a “greatest hits” or even a “best of”. Neither is it a “rarities” collection. Every now and again, though, I play it, just for a quick half an hour or so of seventies Stones. A better brief compilation of seventies (and eighties) Stones would be Rewind or Jump Back.

  

SUCKING IN THE 70s


1. Shattered
2. Everything Is Turning To Gold
3. Hot Stuff
4. Time Waits For No-One
5. Fool To Cry
6. Mannish Boy
7. When The Whip Comes Down
8. If I Was A Dancer (Dance Pt. 2)
9. Crazy Mama
10. Beast Of Burden  
A bit of a strange, somewhat pointless compilation, this one. Covering material from 1974-1980, six of the ten tracks are questionably edited from their album originals -

Hot Stuff and Mannish Boy losing up to two minutes of playing time and the beautiful, underrated Time Waits For No-One losing much of its lovely guitar-driven denouement. I know the original album included these edited versions but maybe there is a case for the contemporary CD and digital releases containing the full unedited versions of the tracks. The edited versions render the album even more unessential.

  

There are three rarities, however. Firstly, the strangely tinny mastering of the 1974 b side Everything Is Turning To Gold which sits uneasily with the other excellent remasters; then we have a live cut from 1978 of the leery Some Girls track When The Whip Comes Down and finally a different version of Dance Part 1 from Emotional Rescue entitled If I Was A Dancer, with slightly different lyrics snd a slightly more funky groove.

All in all, owning this is really only for completists and those who remember playing the original album. The problem with the edited tracks is easily solved by making a digital playlist using the original album versions.

I have always loved Crazy Mama, though. Another often ignored belter.

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