Back in 1981, when we saw "Sucking In The Seventies" for the first time in record stores, it almost became the first Stones album I didn't buy. The cover was nothing, it had "contractual fulfillment" written all over it, and though it was the band's first 'hits' set since "Made In The Shade" came out in 1975, it actually eschewed some of the group's biggest hits of the 1976 - 80 period ("Miss You," "She's So Cold," and "Emotional Rescue) for a rather odd mix of singles ("Shattered," "Beast of Burden") - many edited, and the three from "Black and Blue" seemingly remixed (only "Fool To Cry" presents an interesting contrast to the original) and rarities. And yet, and yet...somehow it manages to hang together pretty well 25 years later.
The key is the sequencing and the rarities. "Shattered" closed "Some Girls" but opens this set, followed by its non-lp b-side, the Jagger/Richards/Wood "Everything Is Turning To Gold," four-plus minutes of rather a unusual mix of loose funk and grunge, chugging KR rhythm and rolling rhythms (has Charlie ever relied more on cymbals?) that seem sloppy at first until you realize the seemingly wandering pulse is deliberate and the track builds momentum, climaxing with a pair of unusual, almost Moroccon bits (Sugar Blue's harmonica and Mel Collins' sax add to the gumbo) that evoke nothing as much as Ornette Coleman's "Dancing In My Head." Raw, steamy, sweaty - yet dynamic and exciting, definitely a keeper. The original side two opened with the live "Mannish Boy" that is here in a superior mix to the "Love You Live" version - a hot, inspired take on Muddy Waters' classic from the infamous El Mocambo club show of 1977, with the whole band doing what comes naturally, but better. Another live track, the previously unreleased "When The Whip Comes Down" is next, and this relentless, breathtaking version shows the Keith/Ron guitar team at a peak circa '78, and the new remaster preserves the grunge and the recaptures the sting in this dirty piece of Stones rock - it's four-and-a-half minutes packs more energy and is more focused than the entire "Love You Live" and "Still Life" concert sets. I'm happy to have rediscovered it. Finally, the six-minute unreleased (or "Part 2") version of the funk gem "If I Was A Dancer," with developed lyrics (unlike the "Emotional Rescue" version) and splendid guitar interaction from Keith and co-author Ron Wood, who also plays the funk bass. Is it better than the ER opener? I don't know, but it's different, enjoyable, and I'm glad to have it.
As for the rest, well it flows ok, but I have it all elsewhere, but if you like this band the rare stuff on this cd has some of what makes them a great one, at their post-"Some Girls" peak - prime examples of deep blues, languorous funk, and punky high energy rock 'n' roll. Consider it an great ep plus bonus tracks, and you'll find the fine 2005 remaster satisfyingly discounted, too.