Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Rolled Gold and Styx Equinox & Crystal Ball

What comes around goes around, eh?
That was my first thought when I heard of the release of yet another Rolling Stones CD recently.
The original CD's were issued in Europe around 1984/7 and because of licensing issues were replaced by the US mastered (and somewhat inferior sounding) issues in 1995.
Then in 2002 it was announced that the were to re-mastered using new DSD techniques for the Super Audio CD (SACD).
In total 22 discs which included the US versions of the Big Hits and Thru' The Past, Darlkly compilations, Hot Rocks and Hot Rocks 2 Double compilations and the London Years ( All the singles and B sides on three discs).
And that's how everybody thought their Decca era output on CD was going to stay, so why issue this?
This album on LP and Tape was issued in 1975 and proved to be exceptionally popular because in one package it had the main singles and important album tracks, providing a good way into the bands 60's recordings.
In the CD age however this compilation is a surprisingly good choice.
First off, one problem with the US inspired Hot Rocks and Hot Rocks 2 sets is the material is scatted in no particular order across four CD's and in the case of Hot Rocks 2 not even in chronological order. Some of the tracks on Hot Rocks 2 are only really there because the original US LP's such as After-Math missed off tracks from the UK issues that never found their way onto other US 'albums'. That's why 'What To Do' ends up on disc two.
Equally if one was to consider the individual Big Hits and Thru' The Past Darkly discs these use US versions that miss off UK hit singles.
The re-introduction of Rolled Gold solves this problem at a stroke as it features all the UK singles issued from 1963 thru 1969 plus the US singles. It has notable tracks like 'Carol', 'Lady Jane', 'Yesterday's Papers' and 'Gimme Shelter'.
The tracks run in near chronological order so you can sense the musical development of the group from those early R&B sessions to what is the template for much of todays Indie rock.
It is little appreciated outside of Stones fanatics circles but there was a major problem in the last otherwise good re-mastered series.
On 'Ruby Tuesday' somehow they pulled the 'wrong' tapes and got a copy which misses off the multi-tracked vocals and some instrumentation and that is on all the compilations re-issued plus the Flowers album.
This issue puts it right not without some controversy as seemingly they 'cloned' the right version from the older CD! Never mind the sound is quite acceptable although had they used an actual tape it could have made to sound better.
'Time Is On My Side' is the UK version in stereo whilst 'Mothers Little Helper' uses the mono version issued on single in the US.
In a strange move they've added two recordings from 1971, 'Brown Sugar' and 'Wild Horses' to the compilation.
So at long last we have a decent Decca era CD compilation and a low price too. There also is a inexpensive 4 Lp version available from HMV and in the UK.
Strongly recommended

This came out a year back and I recently picked up a copy used.

It's the 1975 and 1976 Styx albums - the first two for A&M Records - after changing from Wooden Nickel. Featuring Lorelie, Suite Madam Blue and Crystal Ball this twofer remastered by Andrew Thompson at Sound Performance sounds great and can be recommended.
Catalogue number: BGOCD 724

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