Rolling Stones ‘Beggars Banquet,' ‘Let It Bleed' and ‘Hot Rocks'
In Year 2 of The Rolling Stones' ongoing 50th anniversary celebration of their existence as a rock 'n' roll band, the keepers of their early catalog (ABKCO) present us with new vinyl reproductions of what are — arguably — the Stones' two best studio albums of the '60s, and their best greatest hits album covering that decade and the dawn of the next.
These LPs have just been released on 180-gram clear vinyl, and the sound is as clear as the plastic it's pressed on, exceeding the audio quality of both conventional CDs and digital downloads.
“Hot Rocks 1964-1971,” a two-platter collection of 21 songs, carries the listener from the Stones' 1964 cover of Jerry Ragovoy's R&B lover's plea, “Time Is On My Side,” through the dreamy country-rockballadry of their 1971 original, “Wild Horses,” with such classic tracks as “Play with Fire,” “Under My Thumb” and “Honky Tonk Women” nestled in between. This compilation still stands as the band's biggest-selling album and the best sampling of their first decade's work.
1968's “Beggars Banquet” — the last album to feature multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones pretty much all the way through — includes full-audio-presence recordings of the epic, samba-beat rocker “Sympathy For the Devil,” which has Mick Jagger singing from Lucifer's point of view of his evil exploits throughout history; the tough-talking anti-establishment mayhem anthem “Street Fightin' Man”; the stripped-down and spooky acoustic blues of “No Expectations,” the rootsy sleaze of “Stray Cat Blues” and their country-gospel cover of Reverend Robert Wilkins' “Prodigal Son.”
The bathroom wall graffiti art that was banned on the original America release is also restored in all its grimy glory as the cover art.
“Let It Bleed” (1969) is the first Stones album to include contributions from ex-John Mayall guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced Jones shortly after his firing and before his death, and the epochal “You Can't Always Get What You Want” — filled with the voices of the London Bach Choir and guests including Ian Stewart, Nicky Hopkins, Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder, Al Kooper, Bobby Keys, Rocky Dijon, Merry Clayton, Madeline Bell, Doris Troy, Nanette News and Oklahoma's own double threat of Byron Berline and Leon Russell — remains its crown jewel.
Other tracks that make its clear plastic sparkle are “You Got The Silver,” featuring Keith Richards' first lead vocal, the blue-steam “Midnight Rambler,” the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter,” and the band's tastily atmospheric rendition of Robert Johnson's country blues weeper “Love In Vain.”
Here's a golden Father's Day gift for daddies who've stubbornly hung on to their turntables and younger audiophiles who are just discovering the sterling sound-reproduction capabilities of pristine vinyl and a good 'table hooked up to an audio system capable of reproducing the goods in the grooves that are so rewarding to eardrums, heart and soul.
— Gene Triplett