Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
Great Reissue of one of the great rock albums.
on 16 June 2015
For many Stones fans this album is the bands greatest recorded moment, for me that award goes to Exile On Main Street, but this album runs it very close and is one of the great rock albums. Recorded in America and the UK in 1970/71 it comes right in the middle of the Stones purple patch, they'd just come off a successful American tour, albeit with the disaster that was Altamont still ringing in their ears, and were at the top of their game. Crammed full of Stones classics such as Bitch, Can't You Here Me Knocking, Moonlight Mile and, of course, concert favourite Brown Sugar. The Deluxe 2 CD edition has one disc of the original album and one disc of alternate takes and 5 live tracks recorded at London's Roundhouse on the tour to promote the album. The album has been remastered, by the same guys who remastered it back in 2010. There is an improvement in the sound, a bit more kick here, better definition on the instruments there, but to be fair not hugely different to the previous edition.
The real reason for investing in this edition comes on disc two. Those of us who have purchased the Deluxe Editions of the Zeppelin remasters will know that not all alternate takes offer up something interesting. Hearing some of those songs with missing lyrics has hardly set the heart pumping, and other tracks seemed to show no difference with the released version leaving a feeling that we'd been sold the emperor's new clothes. But here we have alternate takes of Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, Can't You Hear Me Knocking, Bitch and Dead Flowers that are instantly recognisable as being different to the released versions. The one that has garnered the most interest has been the version of Brown Sugar with Eric Clapton on guitar. Available on various bootlegs and on Youtube for years, here the sound is nicely cleaned up and although not better than the version on the album still an exciting version of a classic track. Wild Horses is an even more acoustic version of a song that was already soaked with acoustic guitars. Can't You Hear Me Knocking is a very raw early version without the extended sax and guitar break at the end and no keyboards. Bitch is a much longer version than that on the album with the whole band cutting loose for final two minutes and the alternate version of Dead Flowers is clearly another raw work in progress.
Next up we have the 5 live tracks. I've used the word raw a few times already in this review but it is the best word to describe these five tracks. Remember these were recorded back in 1971, no auto tune here, when a guitar went out of tune it stayed out of tune to the end of the song. But what may have been lost in tunefulness is more than made up for in the performance level. It's widely acknowledged that the bands two best live albums are the official Get Yer Ya Ya's Out from 1969 and the not quite as official The Brussels Affair from 1973. This performance sits right in the middle of those two recordings when The Stones were right at the height of their live powers, perhaps only The Who could touch them at this time, and that live prowess just shines through on these recordings. One other reviewer has said these are the same recordings as Ya Ya's, they are not, they may have been previously available on bootlegs but this is their official release debut. A full gig from Leeds University is available of the Super Deluxe edition but I wasn't prepared to fork out an extra £60 for some vinyl I can't listen to and this gig. If you feel the same but want to hear the Leeds gig it's on Spotify
Overall this is a very good reissue, the slightly improved sound, the excellent alternate takes and of course some live tracks to show what the band was really capable of. My only gripe would be the lack of any liner notes. It would have been interesting to have some scribe tell us how the album was recorded and especially how, and where EC, came to be involved in a recording of Brown Sugar.