Record Rack: The Rolling Stones

Three from the Stones in White Vinyl

 Reissues of:

“Let It Bleed” “Beggars Banquet” and “Hot Rocks 1964-1971” (ABKCO Music and Records))

By  Brian Arsenault

I almost don’t have to listen to any of these records.  Oh, not because I haven’t heard any of this — just a few tune titles stumped me for a moment — but  because they are all branded into my brain for years, nay, decades.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or I won’t. I’m listening to “Factory Girls” right now.

First of all , the albums are reissued in glorious vinyl and sound like records, not sterile digital unfeeling CDs.  And it’s a clear vinyl to boot,  kinda weird when handling but just as good sound quality as the black vinyl version.  It’s just that the black vinyl always had that air of mystery, a dangerous black box about to be opened to the mind.

But enough of that, these are the Stones, man, long before they became geezers, back when their fans argued endlessly about which was the best of their many albums.

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The press piece announcing the release of the albums on May 28 says that “many,”  whoever they are, consider Let It Bleed the best of all.  Well, it does include the soaring “Gimme Shelter,” the deeply felt tribute song “Love In Vain” and the ever dangerous “Midnight Rambler,” which seems scarier today in these scarier times.

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Yet would you overlook Beggers Banquet with the slyly demonic “Sympathy for the Devil” — another song that seems somehow more fitting for the current era — along with the scorching “Street Fighting Man?”  It was also the last full album with the late Brian Jones.

Jones has long since fallen out of favor in the Stones’ legend, but he was the guy who ran the ad that led to the band’s formation and he could play just about any instrument given 15 minutes or so to learn it.  No, he couldn’t step back for Jagger’s prominence, but even longtime pal Keith Richards, especially Keith, knows what a pain Mick can be.

And I don’t want to argue too much about which album is best.  But for me it’s Exile on Main Street that is the most coherent object d’art. And Get Yer Ya Yas out is one fine “live” album.

Anyway, the third album of the trio about to be re-released, Hot Rocks 1964-1971, is a fine sampler of Stones stuff from early recordings up through Let It Bleed selections and a bit beyond.  The uninitiated and the young may benefit most from this compilation. Or, you could buy them all if coin of the realm isn’t in short supply these days. It’s all good.

Listening to much younger Stones on these albums almost makes me wish they’d stop touring.  That scary picture on the new Rolling Stone Magazine kinda tells you why.  Except every time I’ve seen them in concert in recent years, in person or on film, I’m struck by how good Keith and Charlie especially still are.

Mick jumping about is just a bit geriatric but he’s earned it, hasn’t he?  And he doesn’t have to use a walker yet.

Hey, as my son Kurt says, Richards was always an old guy, wasn’t he?  He seems better that way, even though we’re all rather surprised he made it this far.  Bet he is too.

Anyway, they didn’t end up like Elton playing night after night in Vegas.  Didn’t you always  figure that‘s where “Tiny Dancer“ was bound?

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To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.

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