cream of the crate cd review #3: bob dylan – biograph
cream of the create cd review #12: the rolling stones – singles collection_the london years
CD Cover – [CLICK to enlarge] 

  This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

"Quite honestly, you're probably in a den of madmen. For some weird reason, we've been given extra leash." - [Keith Richards] _ "...formed in 1962, they drew on Chicago blues stylings to create a unique vision of the dark side of post-1960s counterculture" - [Charles Shaar Murray: Encyclopaedia Brittanica]

Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews.  
The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50
and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.

This is number twelve in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD’s in my personal collection.

The series is called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

This week is not exactly a boxed set but rather a triple CD with booklet. The Rolling Stones have been with us since 1962, and when this review was first published – in 2013, it was the fiftieth anniversary of that first released single.

The set is titled The Rolling Stones Singles Collection-The London Years. It was released in 1986 on the ABKCO label (844 481-2).

cream of the create cd review #12: the rolling stones – singles collection_the london years
CD Label – [C:ICK to enlarge]

 

ABKCO music & records is a major indie label with an incredibly impressive catalog that deals with the likes of Sam Cooke, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks to name but a few.

It is the successor to a company founded by Alan Klein way back in 1961, who was involved in the management of both the Stones and the Beatles at various times.

ABKCO rarely releases new music, as it primarily owns or administers the rights to the music to the likes of artists such as those cited above. If you’re interested, more info can be found through this link – ABKCO

The triple set of CD’s represent all the singles released in what is called the “London Years“, being 1963 to 1971.

All up, it consists of 57 tracks. Incidentally when originally released it was also released as a four-LP set!

It is really isn’t a “Best Of” album, as many of the perennial stones favourites and some of their best work were never released as singles, Gimmie Shelter, being such an example.

The only omissions in regards to singles tracks are four B-sides from 1970 and 1971. “Bitch” and “Let It Rock” (released in the UK on the “Brown Sugar” single) as well as “Sway” (B-side to “Wild Horses“).

Allen Klein did not have release rights to this material when this compilation was released.

Also missing is “Natural Magic“, a Ry Cooder instrumental, released as the B-side to the 1970 Mick Jagger single “Memo from Turner“.

In fact although some tracks were released in the mid 1970’s, in terms of the recoding dates all the material on these CD’s was recorded between 1963 and 1969.

However what it does represent is a collection of some of the most loved and widely played tracks by virtue of them being released as singles and thus being heavily promoted on radio.

cream of the create cd review #12: the rolling stones – singles collection_the london years
The case as opened out

 

There is nothing remarkable about the packaging. In fact it is disappointing that such an important set was simply packaged in a triple CD plastic box with a second rate booklet.

The booklet is second rate because even though it provides a ‘technical’ breakdown of tracks contained within the set, the producers failed to consider how complete it would have been with some historical notes, maybe anecdotes, and certainly some pictures.

cream of the create cd review #12: the rolling stones – singles collection_the london years
An example of a page from the booklet – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The cover is simply a reproduction of the CD case cover, and really is the only colourful thing about the written work.

cream of the create cd review #12: the rolling stones – singles collection_the london years
Booklet Cover

 

The set provides the following credits. “Collection produced by andrew oldham/digitally prepared under his supervision by p.d rain & jody klein/art direction andrew oldham, mick rock & iris keitel/annotations bruce elder/concept lenne alik

There is little that I can say about the group that anyone with a modicum of music interest wouldn’t know, so I’ll avoid any significant historical discussions except where it supplements or complements the track being discussed.

What I will do is to list the personnel as set out in the booklet from the three distinct period within these London years.

1963 to 1964 (The formative years)*
Mick Jagger – lead vocals, harmonica (harp), percussion (generally tambourine and maracas)
Keith Richards – guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals
Brian Jones – guitars, harp, vocals
Bill Wyman – bass
Charlie Watts – drums

1965 to 1968 (The development years)*
Mick Jagger – lead vocals, harp, percussion
Keith Richards – lead guitar, acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Brian Jones – lead guitar, rhythm & slide guitar, harp, organ, marimbas, sitar, dulcimer,
recorder, bells, saxophone, harpsichord, Mellotron
Bill Wyman – bass
Charlie Watts – drums
Ian Stewart – piano and keyboards

1969 to 1971 (The post Jones years)*
Mick Jagger – lead vocals, harp, percussion
Keith Richards – lead guitar, acoustic guitars, vocals
Mick Taylor – lead & slide guitars
Bill Wyman – bass
Charlie Watts – drums
Ian Stewart – piano and keyboards

* These ‘descriptors’ are mine

Fifty seven single tracks in what is ostensibly an eight year period is in its self a remarkable achievement, but when you go back over them and realise what they include, it us damn amazing!

 

cream of the create cd review #12: the rolling stones – singles collection_the london years
Booklet track listing – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

I decided that with such a wealth of material to share, I’d take one track from each year, and also take a spread across the three CD’s.

CD #1 – Track 1. Come On (1963).

Written by Chuck Berry it is somewhat representative of the enormous respect the Stones had for Berry and his music.

This was from the very first recoding session and in attendance was Andrew Oldham and Roger Savage (an Australian Sound Engineer), who engineered this first session.

History reports Oldham asked the Stones to play the five most commercial’ songs from their R&B repertoire. In the end the B-side was I Wanna Be Your Man (written by McCartney & Lennon) with the A-side being Berry’s, Come On.

I love the track Come On, so it was hard not to include it but the B-side of this single was actually their first top ten UK single and was just as worthy, but Come On won out.

Come On

 

CD #1 – Track 13.

Little Red Rooster (1964) was written Willie Dixon and was the very last blues cover track recorded by the Stones.

It was actually recorded in the Chess Studios in Chicago (it doesn’t get more authentic than that), and Brian Jones absolutely shines on slide guitar.

Little Red Rooster

CD #1 – Track 17.

The Last Time (1965) was in fact the first ‘uptempo’ track written by Jagger & Richards and produced by Oldham. Little did anyone realise at the time of its release, that it would become the subject of a major copyright case.

In 1997, The Verve released “Bitter Sweet Symphony“. Originally, The Verve had negotiated a licence to use a sample from the Oldham recording, but it was successfully argued that The Verve had used ‘too much’ of the sample.

Despite having original lyrics, the music of “Bitter Sweet Symphony” is partially based on the Oldham track (the song uses the sample as its foundation and builds layers upon it, though the prominent violin melody is Ashcroft’s creation).

This led to a lawsuit with ABKCO Records, that as indicated earlier, owns the rights to the Rolling Stones material of the 1960s. The matter was eventually settled with copyright of the song reverting to ABKCO and songwriting credits to Jagger and Richards.

The Last Time

CD #2 – Track 4.

Paint It Black (1966) was another Andrew Oldham production and a brilliant Jagger/Richards composition.

It reached number one in both the U.S. and the UK charts in 1966 and was released as a single and included on the U.S. version of the album Aftermath.

In 2004 it was ranked #174 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Yet it had a shaky birth. They had a song, but no real direction.

In a parody of the group’s former co-manager Eric Easton, who had been an organist, Bill Wyman started playing the organ and gave birth to the rhythm approach that so characterises the track.

Charlie Watts accompanied the organ by playing a vaguely Middle Eastern drum part; resulting in Watts’ drum pattern & Wyman’s organ becoming the basis for the final song.

However, Jones’ use of the sitar is what, in my mind, puts the cream on this particular “cake”.  Jones was such a creative musician and was constantly experimenting, sometimes to the frustration of the others – but on this track he got is right . . . 110%

Paint It Black

 

CD #2 Track 13.

We Love You (1967). This song was composed and recorded as a direct result of the jailing of Mick Jagger on minor drug charges and the continual harassment of Jagger, Richards and Jones by the authorities, desperate to make an ‘example’ of them.

Produced in London by Oldham it is without doubt the Stones most ‘serious’ piece of work up to that date. It features an amazingly elaborate production along with effects of jail doors slamming shut, and it also features John Lennon and Paul McCartney on backing vocals.

So determined to fight back against the forces aligned against them, a serious amount of money was poured into a promotional film aimed directly at the heart of the British legal system.

This resulted in not only having the authorities alienating themselves from the youth of the day, but also some notable members of the ‘establishment’, such as the editor of the conservative newspaper The Times, William Rees-Mogg speak out strongly in favour of the the three Stones.

We Love You

CD #3 – Track 5.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1968). Produced by Jimmy Miller it was named as the 100th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in its 2004 list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time“.

Although Brian Jones was still a member of the Rolling Stones, his contribution to recording sessions was less and less frequent.

This track was included on “Let It Bleed“, and in fact Jones only contributed to two tracks on that album – playing the autoharp on “You Got the Silver“, and percussion on “Midnight Rambler“.

His replacement, Mick Taylor, plays guitar on two tracks, “Country Honk” and “Live With Me“. So suffice to say it might be safe to claim that this track was recorded by only four of the original members, but even that is wrong and in some ways it was a caste of thousands plus extras.

The London Bach Choir performed on the track along with Al Cooper who played organ, french horn and piano.

Jimmy Miller played drums, Rocky Dijon played percussion and Madeleine Bell, Doris Troy and Nanette Newman sang backing vocals, and when Mick Jagger asked for 40 more backing singers, 60 turned up!

You Can’t Always get What You Want

 

Now to the last track to be discussed!

CD #3 – Track 4.

Honkey Tonk Woman (1969) represents the debut performance by Mick Taylor as a true member of the group on a Stones single.

Produced by Jimmy Miller the single topped the charts in both the UK and USA.

The Stones initially recorded the track called “Country Honk“, in London in early March 1969.

Brian Jones was present during these sessions and may have played on the first handful of takes and demos. It was certainly his last recording session with the band even though none of his contribution made it to the final version.

The song was transformed into the familiar electric, riff-based hit single “Honky Tonk Women” sometime in the spring of 1969, prior to Mick Taylor joining the group.

However Taylor did provide overdubs and claims to this day that they made a significant contribution to this perennial favourite,

Honkey Tonk Woman

 

Personally I love this 3x CD set because to me it represents the best period of the Rolling Stones.

I love it because it was predominantly their electric blues period, and even when not playing in that genre, they were brash, arrogant, cheeky, and playing the music that helped them develop into the worlds greatest rock and roll band.

It’s not to say that they did not continue on to make great albums, but somehow with the acceptance of professional polish, something is lost and these London years remind us of how great they were without that polish.

While I have looked at a total of seven tracks there are so many of my all time favourite Stones tracks in this set, so for me, it is a gem!

Tracks such as Not Fade Away, Little By Little, Time Is On My Side, Off the Hook, Play With Fire and Lady Jane – were all tracks that thrilled me as a young man and provided plenty of material for the bands that I was in during that early 60’s period.

So while you may have your favourites and have your own reason for them being favourite tracks, it is a set that is to be cherished for the quantity and quality of the material.

There are no lack of copies because it was re-released recently, and many people believe the re-release is actually the better release.

It can be purchased new for as little as Au$45.00 and less for secondhand on Ebay.

I am unconvinced of this, because the original version has far more mono versions, given few singles were released in stereo, but on the other hand most listeners prefer to hear in stereo so the re-issue will prove popular.

Your voice, your choice – “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need!”


VIDEOS:

Youtube is beset with clips of the Stones. So I have chosen s few tracks of live performances, to round off this review.

 

Not Fade Away

 

Walking The Dog

 

2000 light Years From Home

 

Sympathy For The Devil [1969]