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Opportunity Missed But plays OK,
This review is from: Rarities 1971 - 2003 (Audio CD)
It is somewhat self-defeating to call something Rarities since with its release the description immediately ceases to be true. Every new release is a rarity before it comes out. Furthermore, in this particular case much of the fare on offer is already currently available on CD, and none of it is previously unreleased, though three tracks make their official CD debut here.
Although the subtitle of 1971-2003 suggests a wide-reaching overview, nearly three-quarters of the album dates from the 1980s and 1990s, with only one track more recent than 1998. The four titles dating from the 1970s are potentially the most valuable as they pre-date the CD era. The El Macambo version of Mannish Boy is available on two CDs (Love You Live and Sucking In The Seventies) so its inclusion here is quite unjustified, but the other three are new to the format.
Let It Rock is the oldest and most important recording here, a Sticky Finger era recording featuring Mick Taylor live at Leeds in March 1971, which appeared on the B-side of Brown Sugar but was missing from Singles Collection - The London Years where it belonged. It is here in its stereo mix. Incidentally the gig was edited into an hour-long BBC In Concert programme at the time, and was re-broadcast on BBC 6 Music as recently as 2003, albeit in mono. Perhaps the whole gig will make it onto a stereo CD one day.
Through The Lonely Nights is the only other track from the Mick Taylor line-up and appeared on the flip of It's Only Rock And Roll. It is a long-time favourite of many and is one of the strongest reasons for this collection. Of course there are many more B-sides from this decade that demand an appearance on CD and their exclusion here is saddening.
The other new-to-CD track is the 12" mix of Miss You, Mick Jagger's first attempt at remixing, and far superior in my opinion to the standard album version and single edit. However, it is disappointingly incomplete, a minute shorter than the vinyl release; a fact that is undocumented in the liner notes, which imply it is the full deal. Actually, the liner notes are so full of falsehoods and errors as to be worse than useless and are best ignored.
Despite all these shortcomings, this is a collection which actually plays well, kicking off with the excellent Fancy Man Blues, the B-side to Mixed Emotions, an uninhibited blues with Charlie on cracking form. The set remains coherent and interesting throughout, favouring their blues roots to which they returned with good effect over the decades, and featuring some B-sides and extended mixes (including Mixed Emotions and Harlem Shuffle). It ends with a live version of Live With Me from March 2003 which was previously only on the Four Flicks DVD. Nevertheless, it can only be viewed overall as a missed opportunity.