Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (Vinyl Re-release CD Review)
They were things to be treasured when they first came around, rare gifts, an altar worthy of daily worship. But the very act of treasuring and worshiping with them scratched and soiled them. Now to have them again three and a half decades later in pristine condition without all the layers of spilt beer, bodily fluids and God only knows what else obscuring that glorious, dangerous sound is the best gift of all.
ABKO records has just re-released a trio of prized Stones albums on vinyl, and they are beauties to look at and to listen to, remastered from the original tapes. Beggars Banquet, originally released on vinyl on the London label back in ’68, has the original bathroom wall graffiti cover restored, with the song titles scribbled on the back wall intermingled with the other bathroom poets’ sayings and tags.The inside has changed too, to see-through vinyl to make spinning it even more mesmerizing. The content is still the same, but clearer, more separated.
There’s a vault of glittering jewels exposed here to the air once again. “Sympathy For The Devil,” the creepiest samba ever written, was born here, and is still as stark and chilling as it seemed on the day of its birth. “Parachute Woman” reveals Jagger at his macho, pants down best, requesting drop in sex. Tongue in cheek country honk “Dear Doctor” foreshadows “Girl With Faraway Eyes” which won’t come along till ’78’s Some Girls. “No Expectations” is bittersweet, the last duet between Brian Jones, who would be found dead in his pool under mysterious circumstances the next year, on slide and Richards on acoustic guitar. And that’s just one side. The other side features the Stones call to arms, Street Fightin’ Man” and more Jagger cocksmanship in “Stray Cat Blues.”
Let It Bleed has the same cover and the same treasures as the original within. The evil strut of “Midnight Rambler,” with Jagger tippy-toeing down the hall with a sharpened knife ready to stick right down your throat, baby; Mick Taylor’s exquisite guitar interplay with Richards ; and the crowning jewel, Jagger and the boys slumming gloriously with the London Bach Choir on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Hot Rocks 1964-1971 is so packed with goodies it’s hard to pick favorites. But you can pull out “Time Is On My Side,” the ’64 release overshadowing Irma Thomas’ version the same year. The lyrics to “Under My Thumb” from ’66’s Aftermath, still sound as appallingly insensitive now as they did then but the melody still moves the feet of both sexes. There’s some repetition here: (“Midnight Rambler,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,”) but hell, you get “Satisfaction,” “Paint it Black,” and Honky Tonk Women” too, so what’s to complain about?
As the Stones generation knew and this generation is re-discovering, vinyl is the only way to listen to music, and the music
of the Rolling Stones is still the best on any medium.
— By Grant Britt