I was very confused as to how to approach this. I’ll make it plain: I’m a Stones fan. But I’ve always been in two-minds about re-releases. They’re surely just for money…
I know the sound quality will be a bit better but, mainly money. I’ve listened to the original 1973 album twelve million times, so I knew what the basics would be. It’s an excellent album; its probably one of my favourites of theirs. It’s the album that introduces you to some of the lesser-known music by the incredibly well-known band. Once you’ve heard Brown Sugar, Honky Tonk Women and Sympathy For The Devil and you’ve decided you want more- this is where you should go.
There’s more musical diversity in this album and with the re-mastered re-release you can actually start to hear how influential the album has been. There are hints of disco, slashes of punk and great swathes of blues. But more than just the styles, there are artists in there too. All The Rage has a whiff of New York Dolls about it; Criss Cross is almost entirely Rocks Off by Primal Scream and the piano intro to Coming Down Again has a certain similarity to Tiny Dancer. So if you’re visiting or revisiting the album, have a little go at my musical influence bingo. When you tick them all off you can stop listening to the live version of Happy sung/screeched by the GUITARIST Keith Richards that features in the live section of the album.
That said- the live show is an excellent inclusion. The Rolling Stones themselves are primarily a live band – why else would you be on a world tour at 78? It’s their thing. The energy that pulses through the 1973 Brussels gig that’s chosen is unparalleled. There’s some mid-tour hoarseness from Mick that gives Rip This Joint a certain provocative dirtiness and breathlessness- due to the (I imagine) chemically enhanced tempo of the band. The pinnacle of the Stones live performance is Midnight Rambler. It just is. It was built for a stage- it’s a ten-minute rock opera. Mick Taylor, the lead guitarist at the time, slides around the neck of his guitar with a lubricated precision that makes you want to smash all of your own guitars in a jealous rage. Could just be me projecting that though – I don’t know. The song is also shower-length and the tempo changes, so you can scrub off your filth at different speeds… Should you like.
I know I started this by saying this was a re-release but there are actually some new songs included. Well, they’re not technically – they just weren’t released at the time. These consist of Scarlet which features Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin (quite heavily) and two remixes of the original. There’s also All The Rage which I mentioned earlier, which is a punk-Stones release. The first of the two remixes is by a mid-2000’s rock band called The War on Drugs and it sort of sounds like the love-child of a classic rock band and Take on Me by A-Ha. It’s not my personal favourite if I’m honest. The second, however, is. It’s a remix by The Killers and their producer Jacques Lu Cont. That would be my recommendation. There’s an eerie, distant electronic wall of noise which slowly peels away into the recognisable sound.
The song I keep coming back to though is Hide Your Love. It’s the simplest song on the album – it’s about three chords and the lyrics are rather sparing, but it’s a masterclass in rock and roll. The tempo is plodding, the vocals are emotive and strained at times but the build from the piano and bass drum is sublime. For a bonus point, see if you can guess which song on the album was banned by the BBC in 1973. Hint: It’s the one with the repeated lyrics “Star-Fucker”.
Original Album rating: 9/10
Remastered Album rating: 7/10
By Adam Baker
Feature Image Credit: Promotone B.V