Viewing entries in
The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones – Five By Five (EP Review)

Comment

The Rolling Stones – Five By Five (EP Review)

Many collectors, myself included, have a list of the records that we consider Holy Grails. Often, Discogs is the best database for such a collection, especially if looking for a rarity to pop up on the secondhand market. However, there are times when good old crate-digging uncovers that hidden gem. Yes, dear reader, I was fortunate enough to pick up The Rolling Stones EP and Got Live If You Want It (EP) from Matau Records in 2018. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Five By Five and I was to find out that while secondhand copies were plentiful, new copies were far more expensive than they should be, most likely because of not only supply and demand but also the artificial scarcity of them being Record Store Day releases. As longtime readers would note, I want to purchase new pressings, in order to make them my own, create my own memories, and ultimately pass them down to my son. As such it was either pay two to three times the value or hope that one day it would be reissued. Well, the good news is I didn’t have t wait for a reissue. 

A couple of weeks ago, my significant other had surprise ordered a different Holy Grail record for me; Elton John’s 17-11-70+. It is rather difficult to get, especially in Australia, and the only copy I had known to be still available was at Sydney Hi-Fi in Mona Vale. I had no intention of picking up any other records, but as all collectors would note, when you get into crate digging mode, your budget goes completely out the window. As I was perusing their shelves, my significant other pointed out the 7-inch reissues they had. I hadn’t thought much of it for I was in album buying mode, but then as I looked I saw Five By Five. Not just one copy, but two copies, at a very reasonable price. I was like a kid in a toy store. As much as I lusted after the Elton John record, this surprising find made my day and I’m still in awe that I now have a copy. 

Five By Five was released in 1964 and was The Rolling Stones second official EP. Unlike the raw, yet compelling Self-Titled EP, Five By Five has a much higher production quality, likely as a result of being recorded and release post their debut album, The Rolling Stones, resulting in it being an absolute pleasure to listen to. 

As with the Self-Titled EP, the reproduction of the artwork was exquisite with obvious differences that would likely drive purists to the brink of sanity. I’m just happy to have a facsimile that I can call my own. Plus, this time around, unlike the re-issue of the Self-Titled EP and Got Live If You Want It I have to get out my 45-rpm adapter. It’s a small thing, but it enhances the nostalgia element. 

Side One 

If You Need Me is a great song, originally recorded by Soul Music pioneer and legend Solomon Burke. His original is beyond reproach, but The Rolling Stones really adapted it well to their style. A live Rolling Stones recording exists on On Air, but it isn’t nearly as compelling as this studio recording. The Hep Stars also covered If You Need Me nicely and Tom Jones, with his baritone vocal, is not only perfectly suited for this song but I’d argue his is the very best rendition in existence. Nevertheless, If You Need Me is a great opener for this EP and an incredible recording in The Rolling Stones’ back catalogue. 

Empty Heart is a collaborative Stones original and you can certainly hear the brilliance that was to come with a tonality that would have arguably fit perfectly on Exile On Main St. had it been recorded during the Main St. sessions.

2120 South Michigan Avenue is another original composition and as an instrumental, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything to write home about. At least Jagger wasn’t standing around, providing a solid Harmonica to the mix.

Side Two

Confessin’ The Blues is a killer Blues tune and the live recording, as heard on On Air, while raw, is  musically pure and a valued addition to any Rolling Stones collection. 

Around And Around is a Chuck Berry masterpiece, but the Stones covered it perfectly and made it there own. It is the perfect way to close out this EP, ensuring that I’ll play it again and stay within The Rolling Stones’ extensive catalogue. The live recording from Top Gear in 1964, as heard on On Air is great but is quite noisy and distorted. If you’re interested in a stellar live recording, have a listen to the performance on Love You Live from 1977. Of course, whichever way you choose to enjoy Around And Around is up to you, but it is arguably one of the greatest blues-based rock and roll songs ever written and recorded. 

Overall, Five By Five is, in my opinion, the greatest EP that The Rolling Stones released. The songs are highly polished for the era and suit the band perfectly. If you don’t have a copy of Five By Five, I strongly suggest you track down one or at the very least add it to your digital library for it is short and sweet but never dull. 

Click here to read other Rolling Stones reviews by Subjective Sounds.

Comment

The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled (EP Review)

Comment

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. 

Click here to read other Rolling Stones reviews by Subjective Sounds.

Comment

The Rolling Stones – August 1, 2019 – MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, NJ (Concert Review)

Comment

The Rolling Stones – August 1, 2019 – MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, NJ (Concert Review)

One day in early May 2015 my second son (aka my Favorite Second Son) called me on Skype just before dinner. My husband and I were getting ready for a trip to Italy, with his siblings, so I wouldn’t be home for Mother’s Day. My son told me he wanted to show me my present and held up a piece of paper. I leaned in to my iPad screen and did a double-take, turned to my husband, who was smiling, then back to the screen. My son bought he and I tickets to see the Rolling Stones in Raleigh, NC later that summer. THE ROLLING STONES!! Whose music I’ve listened to since, well, forever! I’ve never had a bucket list of any kind, but if I did, seeing the Stones in concert would have definitely been at the top.

On July 1, 2015, I flew to Raleigh. That evening my son and I experienced a concert we will never forget. We were thrilled to be able to say, “I went to a Rolling Stones concert.” We never thought we’d be able to say it again.

But we both did. My son saw the Stones at their Washington, DC stop. For me, it was MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. This time I went with my husband and some friends.

As any Rolling Stone fan knows, their catalog is deep, varied, and rich. Limiting each show to 19 or 20 songs is a difficult task at best. But their song choices kept the crowd rocking and singing along for two hours of pure energy. 

Mick Jagger didn’t waste any time pumping up the volume with the lead-off song, “Street Fighting Man.” You’d never know Mick turned 76 years old in July or had heart valve replacement surgery in April as he danced and sang his way through the show. Keith Richards took over lead vocals for “Slipping Away,” which quite honestly, wasn’t his best performance. He made up for it with “Before They Make Me Run,” a cut from the 1978 album Some Girls and one of my favorites off that record.

The Stones don't limit themselves to one specific musical genre; their songs encompass country, rock, disco, blues. All were represented, sounding almost as good as the originals. See below for the complete playlist.

Click on the photo above to get the Apple Music playlist

Click on the photo above to get the Apple Music playlist

My favorite Rolling Stones track, and one of my favorite songs ever, is “Gimme Shelter,” which began the two song encore. “Shelter” always has a sense of excitement and danger; MetLife Stadium was no exception. Coincidentally as I write these words, “Gimme Shelter” from the Hot Rocks album is playing on my turntable. Time to crank it up!

Mick Jagger continually thanked the audience for being there that night and throughout their career. And what a career it’s been. Some people I know laughed when I said I was seeing the Stones. Why would I want to spend money and time on a concert with some washed-up old men? True, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood are a combined age of 301 years. But they still have it! They put on a show that left fans wanting more. While it wasn’t quite as good as my first Stones concert, it was still worth every penny. Would I see the Rolling Stones again if they tour in the future? In a heartbeat.

Click here to read other Rolling Stones reviews by Subjective Sounds.

Comment

The Rolling Stones – Aftermath (UK Version/Remastered) [TIDAL Hi-Fi Review]

Comment

The Rolling Stones – Aftermath (UK Version/Remastered) [TIDAL Hi-Fi Review]

It would be accurate to say that I once disliked The Rolling Stones. I had at one stage thought that Mick Jagger couldn’t carry a tune and that his hip-gyrating during (I Can’t Go No) Satisfaction was crass. Oh, those were dark days and only goes to prove that one should never judge a book by its cover, or in this case a music video or live performance. It would have been sometime in the 90s when I saw the offending performance and sadly that subjective opinion lingered until the release of Grrr…, on the Blu-ray High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) format, in 2012.

Speaking of the Blu-ray Pure Audio format, it is fair to say that many non-audiophiles have a tendency to criticise the types of music audiophiles choose to listen to. They often believe that we only listen the purest of recordings, whether we like the music or not. Well, I can’t deny that when the Blu-ray Pure Audio format emerged, I became smitten and ended up expanding my library of music extensively. I remember picking up the Genesis album Selling England By The Pound because it was on the format. I didn’t have much experience with the Genesis catalogue and I disliked it immediately as it was different to the much of the music I normally listened to. However, after listening to it a few times I came to not only respect it as a piece of art but as valued addition to my collection.

Yes, I do acknowledge my own fickle behaviour. However, if I were not this way inclined, my music interests would be extremely limited and this blog would be rather monotonous. You see, throughout my teenage years, I listened to roughly the same artists and albums. While radio was there, for making a mixtape, I never really used it for exploration.

During this naive time, Guns N’ Roses were always better than Nirvana, and the Metallica self-titled 'Black' album was always superior to their earlier thrash metal recordings. However, Guns N’ Roses were only subjectively better because I had all their albums; I did not own any Nirvana albums at the time. Similarly, I owned Metallica’s self-titled 'Black' album, but not Master Of Puppets. What occurs to me is that our music appreciation is often limited to immediate family and social influences, along with the music we own. 

I’m sure that at least one of you reading this review is wondering why this was a limitation, given the flexibility of music streaming services. You must remember that in the 90s, music streaming was nowhere to be seen so the only exposure you had to music was those individuals around you, what you heard on the radio or saw on television, and the music you owned. It was rather limiting and while I was initially opposed to music streaming services, I must say that the integration of TIDAL Hi-Fi, into the audiophile world, has cemented my appreciation for the all you can eat buffet. Without a doubt, I now listen to more music than ever before. While I do still have preferred artists, albums, and songs for various occasions, I find it liberating to be fickle about music I once judged so harshly and perhaps inaccurately.

If it were not for the Blu-ray Pure Audio format, the vinyl revival, and TIDAL High Fidelity Music Streaming, my music interests would have remained closely linked to those when I was a child and adolescent.

As a child, Abba and The Beatles were introduced to me before I understood what music was, as was Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl. Similarly, my first cassettes were Icehouse’s Man Of Colours and Michael Jackson’s Bad. These albums were not chosen by me; they were gifted to me for my seventh birthday. I’ve always wondered how my life and love of music would have been different if I was given a David Bowie album instead. I mention Bowie as I recall a friend, at school, was obsessed with Bowie; most likely because his parents were fans. These influences aren’t negative though, as they subjectively make us who we are as individuals. That said, I’m extremely pleased that my children listen to more than just Abba and The Beatles. While all the artists listed are exceptional, and should be included in any music collection, I don’t want my children’s experience and knowledge of music to be limited to the subjective sounds that gave me my identity. I want them to explore and to understand that there is more music in the world than any individual can ever experience. Music is truly a great wonder of humanity and I’d like to thank each and every musician ever, regardless of proficiency or popularity, for giving us a form of art that speaks all languages. You guys rock! 

Anyway, getting back to the audiophile humour, it is true that on occasions we will listen to a recording because it is on an audiophile format, or because it is a ‘must listen to’ album. For the most part, music streaming has eliminated this argument. Perhaps not entirely though as one would argue that TIDAL et al don’t often accommodate for different masters of the same album. Regardless of how you come to appreciate music, exploration is without a doubt a key to happiness for music lovers; for I am elated to have the majority of the world’s music, in CD-quality, at the touch of a button.

I also don’t like being limited by a set of genres. I’ve known people that are only into metal, classical, or jazz. Frankly, I love all genres and I feel sad for those individuals who doesn’t explore music beyond their comfort zone. There truly is a world of amazing music to experience. You won’t like everything, but you may surprise yourself.

Well, will you look at that, I’m digressing again. By now, long-time readers would understand that it simply wouldn’t be a Subjective Sounds review if I didn’t go off on some tangent to try and explain why it is that I now adore The Rolling Stones.

Yes, dear reader, The Rolling Stones are now essential to my music collection. So much so that I even have a set of Rolling Stones imitation-vinyl drink coasters.

I also have many of their albums on vinyl and of course the infamous Grrr… album with over three hours of music, on a single Blu-ray (HFPA) disc. At the time of purchase, I reasoned that if I didn’t like it I could simply sell it and allow someone else to have the pleasure of listening to the compilation. Well, that didn’t happen. The song selection is superb and as I continued to listen, I got a sense of the band maturing and becoming something special. I’d love to say that you could simply stream the Grrr… album, but it is no longer appearing on any of the popular digital platforms. While that will obviously deter some people, I encourage everyone to listen to the Grrr… album, even if the only option, at the time of writing, is to purchase the physical product. It showcases the evolution of the band through five decades and it also allowed me to come to peace with (I Can’t Go No) Satisfaction. While the preconceived images remained in my mind for the first couple of listens, it began to dissolve like a bad dream.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you think that you dislike an artist, album, or style of music, perhaps it is worth re-visiting it on different terms.

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s get back to discussing what we are here for, the review of The Rolling Stones Aftermath (UK Version/Remastered) album.

It is important to note Aftermath is also available in a US edition and it is included in the mammoth 10-hour (186 song) In Mono collection. I will likely undertake a review of the US Edition in the future, as it has a varied tracking to the UK edition, but I’m not sure when I will find the time to listen to In Mono. That said, a comparison review between the stereo and mono versions could be interesting, especially as I am impartial when it comes to the discussion of stereo vs mono.

Released in 1966, Aftermath was the fourth album by The Rolling Stones and features one of my favourite songs by the band, Under My Thumb. However, it is Mother’s Little Helper that I feel steals the show as the theme behind the song was not only relevant in the 60s, but remains so in modern society. I love the sitar-ish styled elements that Keith Richards has stated was created by using a 12-string electric guitar with a slide. The experimentation Richards has done over the years is nothing short of extraordinary and I was blown away when I saw some of the recording techniques he was attempting the Netflix Documentary Keith Richards: Under The Influence.

Stupid Girl is an excellent song that, in my opinion, perfectly highlights the 60s era from a musical perspective. It is simple, yet evolved in its composition. I also find the tune to be highly addictive.

Lady Jane (Mono Version) is a simply gorgeous song. Jagger can certainly perform a ballad and while it isn’t necessarily a song that immediately identifies The Rolling Stones, I would love to see Jagger do a solo album of nothing but ballads.

Under My Thumb is a song that defines psychedelic pop. The musical solo is uniquely placed and is thoroughly enjoyable as it keeps the beat going.

Doncha Bother Me is very rough around the edges and sounds more like a demo than a completed recording. Yes, I know the album was recorded in the 60s, but it is reminiscent of their earlier works and lower production standards. That said, the sound reminds me of the intent that Keith Richards was going after with his 2015 album Crosseyed Heart. It is almost the anti-quality approach where music is expressed as a form of art, instead of aiming for perfection.  

Goin’ Home (Going Home on the In Mono collection) is an epically long song for an era when songs were not expected to exceed the approximate 3-minute length for radio playback. While the song is arguably repetitive, it continues to evolve as the song progresses and while it could have been an excellent 3-minute track, the 11-minute epic is reminiscent of a live jam session. There are some cases where excessively long tracks are superfluous, and only relate to the ego of the artist, but this isn’t one of them as every note played in this song is worthy of being included on the album.

Flight 505 is a song that I simply don’t like. Even the smoothness of Oppo’s HA-2 (ESS Sabre32 Reference ES9018K2M) DAC can’t help the harshness that is in this song. It is very fatiguing and the edition that is present on TIDAL Hi-Fi is from the 2002 remaster. The strange thing is, this is the only song on the album that exhibits such fatigue. It would be interesting to see if the SACD, undertaken during the same mastering sessions, exhibits this same effect. That said, the edition featured on the In Mono collection is significantly smoother and is much preferred.

High And Dry is boxed in from a sonic perspective. While there is left and right stereo separation, the soundstage is very narrow. That said, I do enjoy the song and if I wasn’t looking at it from the perspective of undertaking a review, I would likely dismiss the shallow sound stage and simply enjoy the music.

Out Of Time has one of the coolest song entries that I have ever heard. It is important to note that this version is only on the UK release as the song did not appear on the US release of Aftermath. While this is the original mix of the song, an alternative mix was also released on the Flowers album in 1967. Subjectively, I enjoy both renditions of the song and I find that I can listen to them interchangeably. Of course, there is also the excellent strings version of the song that appears on the compilation album Metamorphosis. However, as much as I enjoy the strings version, I don’t feel it is as solid as the earlier mixes, but I do appreciate the experimentation in style. The bottom line is that I can listen to this song for hours, regardless of the mix, it is that good (addictive).

It’s Not Easy is an enjoyable blues rock and roll song with a little distortion in the bass track, but it works for the song and isn’t disruptive.

I Am Waiting is a strange song from my perspective as I’m not sure which beat I’m supposed to be connecting with. Is it the guitar strum, the maracas in the background, or the vocal track? It gets even more complicated when the drum track kicks in. I feel all these elements are fighting to be heard. That said, there is something enjoyable about the song. Perhaps this is simply one of those songs that will forever be an enigma in my mind.

Take It Or Leave It has a slow melody that I enjoy, I just wish the song was recorded and mastered with a little more precision. I find many elements, such as the organ/keyboard track in the soundstage, are simply too distant and you must listen intently to hear them. While I like the stereo mix of Take It Or Leave It, I much prefer the monophonic mix as all elements, while still somewhat distant, are evenly placed in the soundstage. It is fair to say that this is more of a concern when listening on headphones, as loudspeakers are often more forgiving when it comes to the psychoacoustic effect found in mono to stereo conversions.

Think is a fantastic song. The rhythm is incredibly engaging.

What To Do (Mono Version) isn’t a bad song, it encourages me to listen to the album again, but it is definitely a B-side.

At the beginning of this review, I publically acknowledged my once flawed beliefs regarding The Rolling Stones. Yes, I acknowledge my fickleness, but as I continue to explore music, I find that I am increasingly captivated by that which I have previously rejected. It is an interesting juxtaposition, but one I gladly accept. While I haven’t tallied the number of times I have listened to Aftermath, during the review process, it has quickly become not only my favourite Rolling Stones album but one of my favourite albums that captures the zeitgeist of the British rock and roll music scene of the 1960s.

Aftermath (UK Version/Remastered) is currently available for purchase on Vinyl, CD, iTunes, and in FLAC from the TIDAL Store.

The album is also available for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.

Click here to read other Rolling Stones reviews by Subjective Sounds.

Comment