Monday, November 22, 2010

The Rolling Stones - Singles Collection: The London Years (Abkco, 1991)

I have been reading the Keith Richards biography Life so I thought it would be a good idea to go back and listen to some of the Rolling Stones formative early music. This three disc set covers the singles and B-Sides that the group released from their formation in 1962 until 1971. In Richards' book (which I'll cover in depth after I finish it) the Stones really wanted to be a blues band, and like many of the British Invasion bands of the period they were smitten by American blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll. This era in the band's evolution shows them moving out of their purist roots and becoming a full fledged pop band, albeit on that was heavily influenced by American music. The album opens with several early rock 'n' roll and R&B covers like "Not Fade Away" and "Little Red Rooster" before Richards and Keith Jagger developed their songwriting legs and formed a dynamic powerhouse of original music. Then the hits really began to flow as the band hit its stride, with Charlie Watts' jazz influenced drumming locking in with Bill Wyman's bass to give the group a rhythmic punch that few bands could match, while Jagger and Richards continually experimented with form. Brian Jones is painted somewhat darkly in Richards' book and despite flashes of brilliance it's hard to determine his true value to the emerging band. Discs two and three cover some of the band's most well known hits like "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" which are amazing prices of popcraft. The final tracks of disc two and some of disc three show the band subverting formula with tracks from the not-quite successful psychedelic experiment Their Satanic Majesties Request as well as experimenting with longer for narrative songs tinged with country and folk music. This is a really nice collection that encapsulates the bands formative years well, and taken with the Richards' biography provides fresh insight into the development of one of the most popular and innovative rock 'n' roll bands. Singles Collection: The London Years

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