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The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled (EP Review)


The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled (EP Review)

Originally released in 1964, The Rolling Stones is the debut EP that further introduced The Rolling Stones to audiences following their successful Lennon-McCartney/Beatles cover, I Wanna Be Your Man. The Stone’s version is arguably more rock and roll, a little rawer, and subsequently, I think, as much as it will disturb Beatles’ fans, the Stones version is superior. Nevertheless, The Rolling Stones EP would follow and see the band cover a selection of well-known tunes. While the recordings may not be of the highest quality, this EP is more than enjoyable when played. 

I’ve listened to the Apple Music edition countless times, I am also fortunate enough to own the 2014 Record Store Day Re-Issue. While the core mastering is identical, the distortion is much more reserved on the 7” 45RPM EP as compared to the Apple Music stream. Digital, with its clean sound, tends to amplify distortion whereas vinyl is arguably distorted to a certain extent already, hence that warm analogue sound, and therefore it doesn’t stand out as much unless listening via headphones. Overall, the 45 is about as good as you’re ever going to hear this early EP. 

The artwork is beautifully restored, albeit slightly different to the original pressings. Similarly, the UK pressing that I have doesn’t require the 45rpm adapter as it has the standard spindle hole. It isn’t a major deal, but it is a nice touch to have to get the adapter out to use with my turntable as it harks back to the era of the original release. Nevertheless, the EP is a solid pressing, with a thoroughly enjoyable sound, thereby making it essential to my Rolling Stones collection.

Side 1

Bye Bye Johnny is a great rock and roll tune and the original Chuck Berry recording is incredible, but The Rolling Stones not only covered this song masterfully, shame about the distortion in the chorus though, but they made it their own. The performance from Ladies & Gentlemen isn’t bad either and would have been better without Jagger’s introduction, but it’s a fun little tune nonetheless. 

Money is a great Motown original and incidentally was the first hit to come out of Hitsville U.S.A. The original Barrett Strong recording is incredible, as is the Beatles’ rendition. I don’t think it would be offending anyone to say the Beatle’s recording is likely the best. Plus, let’s not even discuss the atrocious Flying Lizards’ recording. Thankfully, The Rolling Stones didn’t stray too far from the original, thereby recording a fantastic rendition. If again, it didn’t suffer from distortion, I’d argue that it would have given the Beatles’ version a run for its money (pun unintended). 

Side 2

You Better Move On is a lovely rhythm and blues song, originally written and recorded by the incredible Arthur Alexander. The original is a masterpiece and The Rolling Stones didn’t disappoint when they recorded this rendition for it pays homage to the original and is perfectly suited to the band’s style. However, if you want to hear The Rolling Stones really perform this song well, check out the Blues In Rhythm / 1964 recording from On Air; sensational!

Poison Ivy is a great cover and the only one that I’ve heard which is on-par, if not surpassing The Rolling Stones edition, is the Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs recording from 1964. Nevertheless, Poison Ivy is the perfect closer for this EP and encourages me to play the entire EP again as it is simply that good!

Overall, if you’re a Rolling Stones fan and you’re interested in collecting their entire catalogue, then The Rolling Stones EP is an absolute must for your collection. For the casual listener, streaming the EP may be enough. Regardless, you simply must listen to The Rolling Stones EP at least once. Who knows, if you’re like me, you may enjoy it so much that you’ll play it over and over again. 

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AC/DC – '74 Jailbreak (EP Review)


AC/DC – '74 Jailbreak (EP Review)

Few EP releases are as strong as AC/DC's '74 Jailbreak. In many respects, one could call this release a mini-greatest hits had it not been for the fact that the included songs were largely unavailable to music lovers outside of Australia. Released in 1984, US audiences were able, for the first time, to easily hear five exceptional tracks that were never released in their region during the 70s. While it is difficult to comprehend the fan's joy upon first hearing this release, one only has to spin the record and turn up the volume to hear just how polished AC/DC was in those early years.

Without a B-side to be found, '74 Jailbreak is one of the greatest AC/DC releases and should be in every fan's collection. Yes, the EP is short but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have a copy on CD or are listening to the EP via a streaming service. For me, I have the 2003, remastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound, vinyl record. Talk about perfect, vinyl rarely sounds better than this, although I don't feel that way about all the AC/DC reissues from 2003, especially Back In Black with its inner-grove distortion. While '74 Jailbreak could have been mastered to 45-rpm, the 33.3-rpm pressing has an incredible soundstage with a perfect mix that ensures the bass and drum beats remain prominent, but never overpowering. Similarly, Scott's vocals have never sounded better and each high-hat tap is crystal clear. The vinyl edition is so well mastered and pressed that I feel no need to even compare it to the TIDAL Hi-Fi CD-quality edition. Yes, dear reader, this is where needle dropping to local digital files comes into play.

The artwork, in the full 12-inch format, is glorious and the inner sleeves, from these 2003 reissues, show just how much time and care was taken with the reissues. Many musicians and record labels could learn a thing or two about re-issuing albums on vinyl if they checked out the quality of the AC/DC pressings; excluding of course Back In Black. They are prized possessions!

Side One  

Jailbreak was released initially on the 1976 album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and was also released as a single, with a reissue of the single arriving in 1980. While Jailbreak may not be the first song fans gravitate towards, it has been featured in AC/DC’s live performances for decades. The 1985 Dallas live recording, featured on Backtracks, is solid but doesn't have the power of the original. Normally, I prefer Johnson over Scott, but not in this case. The drawn-out 13-minute plus performance does hold the listener’s attention, but at times it can feel a little too self-indulgent. Similarly, the 1992 live performance, as heard on Live (Collector's Edition) suffers the same fate. Nevertheless, I feel this latter performance is more polished with Johnson's vocal delivery being stronger. Still, there is no escaping the fact that the original studio recording cannot be topped. Of course, that all depends on how much you love music videos. Featured on AC/DC's Family Jewels DVD collection, the clip is less cringe-worthy than other music videos of the same era, but Scott barely moves and appears to be singing this rock and roll tune in a polite college boy manner. It’s interesting, to say the least. Nevertheless, I'm glad it exists for posterity value if nothing else. Bottom line: Jailbreak is an exceptional song and a great start to '74 Jailbreak.

You Ain't Got A Hold On Me has an incredible rhythm. Although, I’ve always thought that Scott's vocal sounds particularly thin and forward on this song. Interestingly, you may notice when listening to Johnson-era recordings, by comparison, his vocals were always mixed in a more central position in relation to the music, whereas Scott’s always stood out in the mix. It is a minor difference, but noticeable.

Show Business is blues rock 101. I love it! The 1975 live recording, as featured on Family Jewels, is a solid performance but I have to wonder if Scott borrowed his outfit from Elton John.

Side Two 

Soul Stripper is a layered and complex wonderland. The soundstage is massive. The entrance, while lengthy, never gets dull and Scott's vocal entry and presence in the song is nothing short of perfection.

Baby, Please Don't Go is a cover, and a bloody good one at that. To say the song has been covered extensively is an understatement, but I’ve yet to hear, or see, anyone perform this song as well as AC/DC. Seriously, get your Family Jewels DVD out again and check out the larrikin-based performance on Australia's popular music show, Countdown, in April 1975. It’s hilarious and Scott would have easily made a name for himself on the streets of Sydney's Kings Cross with that outfit. It’s certainly an interesting contrast to Angus' schoolboy outfit and it’s funny to see Scott light a cigarette during the performance. That would never be allowed today and who knows maybe the Pippi Longstockings outfit would now also be condemned for fear of offending someone. Regardless, the performance shows just how much AC/DC was enjoying themselves. Their energy and smiles are addictive.

From start to finish, '74 Jailbreak is an exceptional collection of blues-based rock and roll songs that will never age and will remain part of the social consciousness for generators to come.

'74 Jailbreak is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC) and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes). The iTunes edition is also presented in the iTunes LP format for Mac or PC users.

If you prefer streaming, '74 Jailbreak is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music.

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