The Rolling Stones – 12×5 – London Records (1964)/Abkco Records (2014) 018771940210 180-gram vinyl, 32:41 ****:
(Mick Jagger – harmonica, percussion, vocals; Keith Richards – guitars, vocals; Brian Jones – guitar, harmonica, tambourine, organ, maracas, vocals; Charlie Watts – drums, percussion; Bill Wyman – bass; Ian Stewart – piano, organ)
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones, Abkco Records has released additional clear vinyl re-mastered albums. 12×5 was the second Stones LP, recorded in Chicago and originally released as a five song EP. After remarketing, additional material (including two hit singles) was added to help U.S. sales. Like the first release, a lot of 12×5 is composed of rhythm and blues material. And in 1964, The Rolling Stones were a very good blues band. Opening the album is a hip-shaking version of Chuck Berry’s “Around And Around”. Keith Richards’ tough guitar riffs blend well with Mick Jagger’s rough vocals. “Confessin’ The Blues” is low-down blues with harmonica accents and a classic Charlie Watts drum roll. A glimpse into future Jagger/Richards dynamic is showcased on tree original tunes. “Congratulations” has a country vibe (almost like The Everly Brothers) with chording that seems like a precursor to “Dead Flowers” or “Sweet Virginia”. The Delta vibe of “Good Times, Bad Times” and straight ahead precision on “Grown Up Wrong” demonstrates the band’s serious approach to blues music. “Susie Q” and “If You Need Me” have raw vitality, consistent with the “non-Beatle” image.
However, the singles grab the listener and don’t let go. “Time Is On My Side” draws on the theatrics of Irma Thomas’ version, but captures the loose guitar-based structure of a guitar band. With rockabilly enthusiasm, “It’s All Over Now” feels like a Stones number, with Richards’ Chuck Berry-like licks and surprisingly tight vocal harmonies. It is clear that this group is establishing a style of their own. Within five years, they would become the greatest rock and roll band in the world. 12×5 is a snapshot of the early seminal development of a major band.
Side One: Around And Around; Confessin’ The Blues; Empty Heart; Time Is On My Side; Good Times, Bad Times; It’s All Over Now
Side Two: 2120 South Michigan Avenue; Under The Boardwalk; Congratulations; Grown Up Wrong; If You Need Me; Susie Q
The Rolling Stones In Concert – ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out –London Records 1971(US)/Decca Records (UK)/Abkco Records (2014) 018771900511 180-gram vinyl, 47:36 ****1/2:
(Mick Jagger – harmonica, vocals; Keirh Richards – guitars, vocals; Mick Taylor – guitar, slide guitar; Bill Wyman – bass; Charlie Watts – drums; Ian Stewart – piano)
At the end of 1969, The Rolling Stones were trying to recover from Brian Jones’ death and the Altamont concert debacle. The band had a new guitarist, and was set to release Let It Bleed. In November they recorded a live show at Madison Square Garden. When “Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out was released the following September (and coupled with the demise of The Beatles), The Stones were asserting themselves as the top band in rock and roll. The album consists of ten songs (seven originals) and is a clear demonstration of a band that has created their own indelible brand. They are no longer a good British blues group, but an influential rock band. They open with the quintessential Stones rocker “Jumping Jack Flash”. The raw power of Richards’ jagged guitar riffs and Jagger’s hoarse vocals are timeless. This is just the core group with Ian Stewart added on piano. They pay homage to Chuck Berry with two covers (“Carol; “Little Queenie”), and Robert Johnson on “Love In Vain”. The latter features some nimble slide guitar from Mick Taylor.
But the original material is what takes center stage, especially a nine minute version of “Midnight Rambler” (their “blues opera”). This track is as good as blues rock gets. Richards delivers some of the most potent rock grooves, and the band chemistry is at its peak. With a slowed down transition and boogie finish, The Stones are a commanding presence. “Honky Tonk Women” offers more authentic RS power. The songwriting team of Jagger/Richards is ascending. “Sympathy For The Devil” has dazzling imagery and great solos by Keith and Mick Taylor. Jagger inhabits the song with menacing prominence. As on all of the performances Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman comprise a hard-driving rhythm section.
The sound quality on these re-mastered vinyl albums is excellent. There is crispness and enhanced clarity to the mix, but the trademark density of Rolling Stone music is intact. The fuzzy distortion of the electric and slide guitars is prevalent, helping the authenticity of the instrumentation. The full-size original artwork (especially on “Get Your Ya Ya’s Out”) is a welcome sight, and the inner protective album sleeves are top notch, but the clear vinyl “platters” are eye-popping! [I didn’t notice any degradation of surface noise due to the vinyl not being the standard lampblack, but with the Stones, who would hear it anyway?…Ed.]
Side One: Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Carol; Stray Cat Blues; Love In Vain; Midnight Rambler
Side Two: Sympathy For The Devil; Live With Me; Little Queenie; Honky Tonk Women; Street Fighting Man
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