Top positive review
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Great album - now in great sound!
on 29 October 2002
Well they're here at last! The much anticipated ABCKO re-issues of those classic Stones albums. They've been subject to much conjecture over the last two years when the project to re-present the Stones 60.s back catalogue in new and better sound and packaging was first mooted.
...And now the waiting is over and having listened to eight of these CDs and comparing them with the previous "gold standard" in Stones CDs - the Mobile Fidelity Sound European releases of the late 80's early 90's, I can definitely assure Stones fans and casual buyers alike that these new re-masters are indeed the business.
And even if you are lucky enough to own all the Mobile Fidelity mastered releases, you are still going to need these new guys on the block.
Reasons? Well let's start with the packaging; OK so the "Certificate of Authenticity" is a tad tragic and just a bit irritating, but you can always extract it from the case and place it with due solemnity in the drawer where it can happily reside with the rest of your Stones artifacts, BUT and it is a big but, everything else has been presented in a way to make you feel as if you're nearer to having the original LP (you know those strange old vinyl thingies) cover in your hands then ever was the case with previous CD releases. The digipacks I know are not to everyone's liking, but the quality of the inserts and the printed quality of the covers are infinitely superior to ANY previous CD incarnations.
The sound is also a revelation and this from someone who has only been able to listen to the CD layer, but whether in mono or stereo this is an optimum listening experience and none more so than "12 X 5".
This album has always been something of a mixed blessing, being a compilation of various sessions and featuring the wonderfully gritty photograph of virtually back lit Stones by David Bailey, which graced the cover of their second UK album "The Stones No. 2", and like it's UK predecessor was unecumbered by any type or cover blurb whatsoever, while "12 X 5" has ... well erm "The Rolling Stones 12 X 5" plastered over it, which kinda loses a little artistic je ne c'est quois in the process. It does however include all 5 tracks from the similarly titled EP that was releasd to UK fans and was the product of their first recording session in what to the Stones in 1964 (when these tracks were laid down) must have been Mecca, when they first entered the legendary Chess studios, home to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and a host of the other grizzled ole' bluesmen that they had been so mesmerised with.
All previous CD releases of 12 X 5 including the six Chess tracks, "12 X 5" adds "It's All Over Now" to the Chess rosta were in glorious mono. This release kicks off with "Around and Around" Keef's much beloved Chuck Berry cover, in stunning stereo. As if this isn't enough we have "If You Need Me', "Empty Heart", "Confessin' the Blues" and "It's All Over Now" in crystalline stereo and to top it all the LOOOONGGGG version of "2120 South Michigan Avenue" (Chess Studios Address) which take I've never encounted before in stereo and gives us, if popular Stones lore is correct old Muddy Waters hisself a twanging his guitar on the last few bars of this fantastic intrumental homage.
So, brothers an sisters you've got to go out and buy this and after that ... well there's; "Beggars Banquet" ( I know you've got it but this remaster you need - believe me!!!) "Aftermath" the UK version, "Hot Rocks", "More Hot Rocks" with some suprise bonus tracks, oh the list is endless - perhaps all 22 might be the way to go.
But in the meantime "12 x 5" is as good a place to start as any.