Monday, 3 October 2016

"The Rolling Stones In Mono" by THE ROLLING STONES (2016 ABKCO Records 15CD Box Set Of Remasters with Mini LP Repro Artwork and 48-Page Booklet) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"...Play With Fire..."

Oh lawdy mama yes. I pre-ordered this sucker the day it was announced and I've been giddy like Donald Trump at a Deluxe Toupee Convention ever since. On arrival and being a Rolling Stones reissue 'MONO' is typically a mixed bag of the fabulous vs. the downright sloppy and lazy (presentation glitches) – especially at this price and in 2016. But overall it's been worth the wait. There's a ton of info to get through and crossovers between the UK and American variants as well as the first official release of the first two British LPs in Mono on CD ("Rolling Stones No.1" and "No. 2") - so let's get to the factoids first...

UK and USA released Friday, 30 September 2016 – "The Rolling Stones In Mono" by THE ROLLING STONES on ABKCO Records 018771834526 (Barcode 018771834526) is a Remastered 15CD Box Set with a 48-Page booklet containing all of the UK and USA albums released between 1964 and 1969 on Decca, London and ABKCO Records (MONO only) and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "The Rolling Stones" (32:51 minutes, 12 Tracks, UK Mono LP):
1. Route 66
2. I Just Want To Make Love To You
3. Honest I Do
4. Mona
5. Now I've Got A Witness (Like Uncle Phil And Uncle Gene)
6. Little By Little
7. I'm A King Bee [Side 2]
8. Carol
9. Tell Me (You're Coming Back)
10. Can I Get A Witness
11. You Can Make It If You Try
12. Walking The Dog
Tracks 1 to 12 are their debut album "The Rolling Stones" – released 17 April 1964 in the UK on Decca LK 4605 (Mono only) – first time on CD.

Their US debut album was called "England's Newest Hitmakers" – released 3 May 1964 on London LL 3373 (Mono) and London PS 375 (Stereo). The Bo Diddley cover of "Mona" from the British LP was dropped in favour of "Not Fade Away" - a Buddy Holly cover version (see Track 10, Disc 15). The other tracks remained the same and to sequence that US album from these discs use the following [10/15 = Track 10, Disc 15, 5/1 = Track 5, Disc 1 etc]:

1. Not Fade Away [10/15]
2. Route 66 [1/1]
3. I Just Want To Make Love To You [2/1]
4. Honest I Do [3/1]
5. Now I've Got A Witness... [5/1]
6. Little By Little [6/1]
7. I'm A King Bee [7/1] [Side 2]
8. Carol [8/1]
9. Tell Me (You're Coming Back) [9/1]
10. Can I Get A Witness [10/1]
11. You Can Make It If You Try [11/1]
12. Walking The Dog [12/1]

Disc 2 "12 x 5" (32:27 minutes, 12 Tracks, US Mono LP):
1. Around And Around
2. Confessin' The Blues
3. Empty Heart
4. Time Is On My Side
5. Good Times, Bad Times
6. It's All Over Now
7. 2120 South Michigan Avenue [Side 2]
8. Under The Boardwalk
9. Congratulations
10. Grown Up Wrong
11. If You Need Me
12. Susie Q
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 2nd US album "12 x 5" – released 23 October 1964 on London LL 3402 (Mono) and London PS 402 (Stereo).

Disc 3 "The Rolling Stones No. 2" (37:02 minutes, 12 tracks, UK Mono LP):
1. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
2. Down Home Girl
3. You Can't Catch Me
4. Time Is On My Side (Guitar Intro Version)
5. What A Shame
6. Grown Up Wrong
7. Down The Road Apiece [Side 2]
8. Under The Boardwalk
9. I Can't Be Satisfied
10. Pain In My Heart
11. Off The Hook
12. Susie Q
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 2nd UK LP "The Rolling Stones No. 2" – released 30 January 1965 on Decca LK 4661 (Mono only) – first time on CD.

Disc 4 "The Rolling Stones, Now!" (35:58 minutes, 12 Tracks, US Mono LP):
1. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
2. Down Home Girl
3. You Can't Catch Me
4. Heart Of Stone
5. What A Shame
6. Mona (I Need You Baby)
7. Down The Road Apiece [Side 2]
8. Off The Hook
9. Pain In My Heart
10. Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')
11. Little Red Rooster
12. Surprise Surprise
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 3rd US album "The Rolling Stones Now!" - released 12 February 1965 on London LL 3420 (Mono) and London PS 420 (Stereo)

Disc 5 "Out Of Our Heads" (33:41 minutes, 12 tracks, US Mono LP variant):
1. Mercy Mercy
2. Hitch Hike
3. The Last Time
4. That's How Strong My Love Is
5. Good Times
6. I'm Alright
7. Satisfaction [Side 2]
8. Cry To Me
9. The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man
10. Play With Fire
11. The Spider And The Fly
12. One More Try
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 4th US album "Out Of Our Heads" - released 30 July 1965 on London LL 3429 (Mono) and London PS 429 (Stereo).

The UK LP "Out Of Our Heads" (their 3rd British LP release) was issued 24 September 1965 on Decca LK 4733 (Mono) and Decca SKL 4733 (Stereo) but with different artwork and a radically different track list – presented here as Disc 6.

Disc 6 "Out Of Our Heads" (29:37 minutes, 12 tracks, UK Mono LP variant):
1. She Said Yeah
2. Mercy Mercy
3. Hitch Hike
4. That's How Strong My Love Is
5. Good Times
6. Gotta Get Away
7. Talkin' 'Bout You [Side 2]
8. Cry To Me
9. Oh Baby (We've Got A Good Thing Goin')
10. Heart Of Stone
11. The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man
12. I'm Free

Disc 7 "December's Children (And Everybody)" (29:07 minutes, 12 tracks, US Mono LP):
1. She Said Yeah
2. Talkin' About You
3. You Better Move On
4. Look What You've Done
5. The Singer Not The Song
6. Route 66
7. Get Off Of My Cloud [Side 2]
8. I'm Free
9. As Tears Go By
10. Gotta Get Away
11. Blue Turns To Grey
12. I'm Moving On
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 5th album "December's Children (And Everybody's)" - released 4 December 1965 on London LL 3431 and London PS 451 (Stereo).

Disc 8 "Aftermath" (52:47 minutes, 14-tracks, UK Mono LP variant):
1. Mother's Little Helper
2. Stupid Girl
3. Lady Jane
4. Under My Thumb
5. Doncha Bother Me
6. Goin' Home
7. Flight 505 [Side 2]
8. High And Dry
9. Out Of Time
10. It's Not Easy
11. I Am Waiting
12. Take It Or Leave It
13. Think
14. What To Do
Tracks 1 to 14 are their 4th UK album "Aftermath" - released 15 April 1966 on Decca LK 4786 (Mono) and Decca SKL 4786 (Stereo).

The US variant of "Aftermath" dropped three of the British tally of 14 tracks (down to 11) and replaced them with their recent US hit "Paint It Black" as the opening track on Side 1 and like "Out Of Our Heads" - it also featured different artwork to the US issue. Disc 9 is the American version.

Disc 9 "Aftermath" (43:01 minutes, 11 tracks, US Mono LP variant):
1. Paint It Black
2. Stupid Girl
3. Lady Jane
4. Under My Thumb
5. Doncha Bother Me
6. Think
7. Flight 505 [Side 2]
8. High And Dry
9. It's Not Easy
10. I Am Waiting
11. Going Home
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 6th US album "Aftermath" - released 2 July 1966 on London LL 3476 (Mono) and London PS 476 (Stereo).

Disc 10 "Between The Buttons" (38:47 minutes, 12 tracks, UK Mono LP variant):
1. Yesterday's Papers
2. My Obsession
3. Back Street Girl
4. Connection
5. She Smiled Sweetly
6. Cool, Calm & Collected
7. All Sold Out [Side 2]
8. Please Go Home
9. Who's Been Sleeping Here?
10. Complicated
11. Miss Amanda Jones
12. Something Happened To Me Yesterday
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 5th UK album "Between The Buttons" - released 20 January 1967 on Decca LK 4852 (Mono) and Decca SKL 4852 (Stereo).

The US variant of "Between The Buttons" dropped down from 12 to 11 and also had different tracks lists to its UK equivalent. Using Discs 10 and 11 the US "Between The Buttons" LP can be sequenced as follows [3/11 = Track 3 on Disc 11 - 1/10 = Track 1 on Disc 10 etc]:

Side 1:
1. Let's Spend The Night Together [3/11]
2. Yesterday's Papers [1/10]
3. Ruby Tuesday [1/11]
4. Connection [4/10]
5. She Smiled Sweetly [5/10]
6. Cool Calm And Collected [6/10]
Side 2:
1. All Sold Out [7/10]
2. My Obsession [2/10]
3. Who's Been Sleeping Here? [9/10]
4. Miss Amanda Jones [11/10]
5. Something Happened To Me Yesterday [12/10]
Their 7th US album "Between The Buttons" was released 11 February 1967 on London LL 3499 (Mono) and London PS 499 (Stereo).

Disc 11 "Flowers" (37:04 minutes, 12 tracks, US-only Mono LP):
1. Ruby Tuesday
2. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
3. Let's Spend The Night Together
4. Lady Jane
5. Out Of Time
6. My Girl
7. Backstreet Girl [Side 2]
8. Please Go Home
9. Mother's Little Helper
10. Take It Or Leave It
11. Ride On, Baby
12. Sittin' On A Fence
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 8th studio album "Flowers" - released (US only) 15 July 1967 on London LL 3509 (Mono) and London PS 509 (Stereo).

Disc 12 "Their Satanic Majesties Request" (44:18 minutes, 10 tracks, UK and US Mono LP):
1. Sing This All Together [Side 1: Frontside]
2. Citadel
3. In Another Land
4. 2000 Man
5. Sing This All Together (See What Happens)
6. She's A Rainbow [Side 2: Backside]
7. The Lantern
8. Gomper
9. 2000 Light Years From Home
10. On With The Show
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 6th UK LP (9th US LP) "Their Satanic Majesties Request" - released 8 December 1967 in the USA on London NP 2 (Mono) and London NPS 2 (Stereo) and 9 December 1967 in the UK on Decca TXL 103 (Mono) and Decca TXS 103 (Stereo).

Disc 13 "Beggars Banquet" (40:00 minutes, 11 tracks, UK and US Mono LP - uses the US artwork):
1. Sympathy For The Devil
2. No Expectations
3. Dear Doctor
4. Parachute Woman
5. Jigsaw Puzzle
6. Street Fighting Man [Side 2]
7. Prodigal Son
8. Stray Cat Blues
9. Factory Girl
10. Salt Of The Earth
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 6th UK studio album (10th US LP) "Beggars Banquet" - released 6 December 1968 in the UK on Decca LK 4955 (Mono) and Decca SKL 4955 (Stereo) and 7 December 1968 in the USA on London LL 3539 (Mono) and London PS 539 (Stereo).

Disc 14 "Let It Bleed" (42:25 minutes, 9 Tracks, UK and US Mono LP):
1. Gimme Shelter
2. Love In Vain
3. Country Honk
4. Live With Me
5. Let It Bleed
6. Midnight Rambler [Side 2]
7. You Got The Silver
8. Monkey Man
9. You Can't Always Get What You Want
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 7th UK studio album (11th US LP) "Let It Bleed" - released 28 November 1969 in the USA on London NP 4 (Mono) and London NPS 4 (Stereo) and 5 December 1969 in the UK on Decca LK 5025 (Mono) and Decca SKL 5025 (Stereo).

Disc 15 "Stray Cats" (70:17 minutes, 24 Tracks):
1. Come On
2. I Want To Be Loved
Tracks 1 and 2 are the non-album A&B-sides of their debut UK 7" single released 7 June 1963 on Decca F 11675
3. I Wanna Be Your Man [Lennon-McCartney song]
4. Stoned [Instrumental]
Tracks 3 and 4 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 2nd UK 7" single released 1 November 1963 on Decca F 11764
5. Fortune Teller (A Benny Spellman cover version on the 1964 UK LP compilation "Saturday Club" on Decca LK 4583)
6. Poison Ivy (Version 1) (A Coasters cover version on the 1964 UK LP compilation "Saturday Club" on Decca LK 4583)
7. Bye Bye Johnny
8. Money
9. Poison Ivy (Version 2)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 are on their first UK EP (Extended Play) "The Rolling Stones" released 10 January 1964 on Decca DFE 8560
10. Not Fade Away (A Buddy Holly cover version, 21 February 1964 UK 7" single on Decca F 11845, A-side)
11. I've Been Loving You Too Long (an Otis Redding cover version and 1965 outtake minus the fake applause of the "Got Live If You Want It" LP version)
12. The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man (Single Version) (5 June 1965 US 7" single on London 9766, B-side of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction")
13. 19th Nervous Breakdown (4 Feb 1966 UK 7" single on Decca F 12331, A-side)
14. Sad Day (12 February 1966 US 7" single on London 9823, non-album B-side of "19th Nervous Breakdown")
15. Con Le Mie Lacrime (As Tears Go By) - (Italian Language Version sung by Jagger on the Italian 1956 7" single for Decca F22270)
16. Long, Long While (13 May 1966 UK 7" single on Decca F 12395, non-album B-side of "Paint It Black")
17. Who's Driving Your Plane? (23 September 1966 UK 7" single on Decca F 12497, non-album B-side to "Have You Seen Your Mother...")
18. We Love You (Single Version)
19. Dandelion (Single Version) (Tracks 18 and 19 are the A&B-sides of the 18 August 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12654)
20. Child Of The Moon (23 May 1968 UK 7" single on Decca F 12782, non-album B-side to "Jumping Jack Flash")
21. Jumpin' Jack Flash (23 May 1968 UK 7" single on Decca F 12782, non-album A-side)
22. Street Fighting Man (Single Version) (30 August 1968 US 7" single on London 909, A-side)
23. Honky Tonk Women (Single Version)
24. You Can't Always Get What You Want (Single Version Edit) (Tracks 23 and 24 are the A&B-sides of the 11 July 1969 UK 7" single on Decca F 12952)

This Box Set will also allow fans to sequence two iconic compilation Best Of LPs from the period – "Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)" and "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)" in both their US and UK variants using the follow tracks:

"Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)" – US LP
Side 1:
1. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
2. The Last Time
3. As Tears Go By
4. Time Is On My Side
5. It's All Over Now
6. Tell Me (You're Coming Back)
Side 2:
1. 19th Nervous Breakdown
2. Heart Of Stone
3. Get Off Of My Cloud
4. Not Fade Away
5. Good Times Bad Times
6. Play With Fire
Their first greatest hits compilation "Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)" was released 11 March 1966 in the US on London NP 1 (Mono) and London NPS 1 (Stereo). All tracks on previous albums except "19th Nervous Breakdown" which was exclusive to this compilation.

"Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)" – UK LP
Side 1:
1. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
2. Paint It Black
3. It’s All Over Now
4. The Last Time
5. Heart Of Stone
6. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Side 2:
1. Get Off Of My Cloud
2. As Tears Go By
3. 19th Nervous Breakdown
4. Lady Jane
5. Time Is On My Side
6. Little Red Rooster
Their first greatest hits compilation "Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)" was released 4 November 1966 in the UK on Decca TXL 101 (Mono) and Decca TXS 101 (Stereo). All tracks on previous albums except "19th Nervous Breakdown" which was exclusive to this compilation.

"Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)" - US LP
Side 1:
1. Paint It Black
2. Ruby Tuesday
3. She's A Rainbow
4. Jumpin' Jack Flash
5. Mother's Little Helper
6. Let's Spend The Night Together
Side 2:
1.Honky Tonk Women
2. Dandelion
3. 2000 Light Years From Home
4. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
5. Street Fighting Man
Their 2nd Greatest Hits compilation "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)" was released 12 September 1969 in the US on London NP 3 (Mono) and London NPS 3 (Stereo). All tracks previously released on various US albums.

"Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)" - UK LP
Side 1:
1. Jumpin' Jack Flash
2. Mother's Little Helper
3. 2000 Light Years From Home
4. Let's Spend The Night Together
5. You Better Move On
6. We Love You
Side 2:
1. Street Fighting Man
2. She's A Rainbow
3. Ruby Tuesday
4. Dandelion
5. Sittin On A Fence
6. Honky Tonk Women
Their 2nd Greatest Hits compilation "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)" was released in the UK 12 September 1969 on Decca LK 5019 (Mono) and Decca LKS 5019 (Stereo). All tracks previously released on British albums except the four single sides "We Love You", "Dandelion", "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Honky Tonk Women" which were new to a British LP here.

CREDITS:
DAVID FRICKE does the expert and affectionately written liner notes (Pages 1 to 43) that are accompanied by beautifully rendered black and white and colour period photos of the band from the TERRY O’NEILL Archive. There are all the 14 variants of album covers pictured but disappointingly for such a prestigious project there's zero memorabilia, foreign picture sleeves (where's the beautiful Italian Picture Sleeve to "Con Le Mie Lacrime"? a song featured on the "Stray Cats" double or the iconic American artwork to "19th Nervous Breakdown" with its exclusive "Sad Day" B-side and of course the uber rare "Street Fighting Man"), trade adverts or even an indication from the sedate photos of just how much mayhem this unruly mob of R&B reprobates caused around the world. It’s classy for sure but there's little acknowledgement of 'The Rolling Stones' if you know what I mean - all a bit sedate really for my tastes...

SOUND:
But that's small beer to the really big deal news – the superb new MONO AUDIO. Mastered by BOB LUDWIG at Gateway Mastering - a team of three handled the transfers – STEVE ROSENTHAL and TED YOUNG did Sound Restoration while TERI LANDI did Analogue-to-Digital Transfers and Tape Research. GUS SKINAS is the DSD consultant while SEAN MAGEE and ALEX WHARTON did the Lacquer Cutting for the Vinyl Version at Abbey Road Studios. First generation tapes were used and as David Fricke enthuses on Page 3 of the excellent liner notes - the whole shebang is 'newly remastered with unprecedented fidelity and revelatory detail'. And I'd agree with that. I've waded through the lot over the weekend and I'm convinced by everything up to "Satanic Majesties" (far better in Mono to my ears) - but not so persuaded by "Beggars Banquet" or "Let It Bleed" (which the liner notes acknowledge were never true Mono in the first place) – I'll take the Stereo versions of those from the 2002 ABKCO SACD/DSD reissues any day of the week. And listening to the array on "Stray Cats" is a blast...like a weird 'Best Of' you've never sequenced before...

CONTENTS:
'Made In The Czech Republic' on the base of the oversized glossy clamshell box is probably not what every Stones fan wants to read immediately – but I'd have to say that once inside the EU version of ABKCO Records 018771834526 the detail is impressive and at times beautifully tactile. The credits page is pasted onto the back of the box so its not one of those annoying sheets that falls away the second you undo the shrink-wrap. Each oversized glossy full-colour hard card sleeve is held in a resealable 300 grams plastic and the glossy CDs themselves protected on the inside by an anti-static Japanese plastic so the surface of the disc remains un-scuffed by the card repro. But even though they look the part - practically speaking - re-sealable plastics are a frigging nightmare to actually use. Anyone who knows what those Japanese versions are like will cringe - they look gorgeous but tear so easily and the sealable flap sticks to the sleeve on exit and entry. Fortunately as these are all 'glossy' hard-card sleeves that won't matter too much. Also instead of those brittle Japanese issues - ABKCO have smartly used a durable plastic on their re-sealable wraps. It's a little thing to note for sure - but if you actually want to play these and not rip strips off of your repro artwork every time you open them - it's a smart move.

I like the flip-over lid, the covers in their plastics fit snugly within the box and the booklet looks the part too. The rear sleeves are paste-on for the first few albums and 'No. 1' even comes with the 'Mona' track credit of the first British pressing (later issues have "I Need You Baby"). But rather stupidly they've used the American 'Toilet' sleeve for "Beggars Banquet" and then the British white sleeve by way of compensation to UK fans on the "Stray Cats" gatefold cover - when I feel it should have been the other way around. All the red labels on the CDs ape the Decca Mono LP look but "Beggars Banquet" has a US sleeve and a Decca CD Label when it should have been London of course to reflect the correct US issue (sloppy). And while its smart to have the track list in the same script font as the UK "Beggars Banquet" LP on the "Stray Cats" 2CD compilation - other than that there's no song details either in the booklet or on the artwork as to what track is what on "Stray Cats" or on any of the other LPs for that matter. Why in God's name aren't the LPs listed inside the booklet – songwriting credits, release dates, catalogue numbers, the differences between US and UK LPs - like say the two superlative Bowie boxes have done? At least David Fricke gives some explanation of the odds and sods tracks on the "Stray Cats" double on the final pages of the booklet but there's no catalogue numbers or release dates on anything (you'll get more info from my review). "Let It Bleed" is missing the poster, the red inner sleeve with track details and the 'Poster Included' sticker that came with British originals on the front cover is also AWOL (see PS re Japanese version below). The booklet does admits that "Beggars Banquet" and "Let It Bleed" are not True Mono but are really only included for completeness. And where are those Decca/London Inner Bags that came with original UK and US issues? It’s all a tad haphazard really after all these years waiting.

On the up side - fans will know that the first two British albums "Rolling Stones No. 1" and "No. 2" were originally released in Mono in the UK for a limited time (later in other territories) and have been officially AWOL on CD forever - a fact that seems amazing in 2016. So it's very cool to see their release here at last. The typo error of "Congradulations" to "Congratulations" on "12 x 5" has been made on the rear sleeve and US fans will appreciate the inclusion of 'both' sides of the Mono coin - the US and UK variants with their different track line-ups - even if there is a wee bit of duplication. A little about that too...

UK and US LPs and THE TWO "Big Hits" COMPILATIONS:
The UK and US LPs didn't merge track-wise until "Their Satanic Majesties Request" in late 1967 - so all the Mono variants of those first eight American studio LPs can be sequenced using this box - as well as iconic compilation LPs like "Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)" from November 1966 (with "19th Nervous Breakdown" as an exclusive track) and its follow up "Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)" from September 1969. Being a studio only Box Set - the US live album "Got Live If You Want It" from 9 December 1966 on London LL 3493 (Mono) and London PS 493 (Stereo) is excluded - excepting the studio version of "I've Been Loving You Too Long" which has been stripped of its fake "Got Live" applause and added here as an 'outtake' on the "Stray Cats" double - Track 11.

MONO MUSIC:
It's genuinely bizarre after all these years to hear "Rolling Stones" (No. 1) and "No. 2" in MONO on CD officially - the sly harmonica R&B of Slim Harpo's "I'm A King Bee" and cool stuff like "What A Shame" and Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me". And you can only imagine what The Stones must have been like during a live version of "Down The Road Apiece" - that Berry Boogie ripping through the room - it sounds fabulous here - less cluttered somehow and packing real punch.  Even better is the Bluesy "Confessin' The Blues" - that echoed Jagger vocal and their own Bo Diddley knock off "Empty Heart" - tambourine shakes and drum whacks hitting your speakers like a boxer. Dig that Bluesy Instrumental vibe in "2020 South Michigan Avenue" as they pay homage to their R&B heroes at Chess Records on the "12 x 5" LP (Jagger giving some wicked Harp) .

I prefer the US version of "Out Of Our Heads" to the UK line-up. "Hitch Hike" is very clear but the Mono wallop off "The Last Time" is a revelation – yummy. The Bass is warm and clear on their cover of "That's How Strong My Love Is" and there’s sweetness to Sam Cooke's "Good Times". Even the live cut of "I'm Alright" can be heard above the screaming girls. But most impressive of all is the stark power to both "The Spider And The Fly" and "Cry To Me" – I haven't heard either sound this clear in decades ("Heart Of Stone" on the UK LP is the same). That fuzzy-wuzzy guitar on the British LP version of "Have Mercy" is also a tad clearer but "Talkin' About You" has Bass that will actually threaten the structural safety of your speaker cones. And of course the monster "Satisfaction" has amazing oomph all of a sudden - those fuzzed-up guitars giving it some neck jerk with conviction (no losing streak here).

I've had the Mono vinyl to "Between The Buttons" for decades but this CD is so damn clean - I'm double-taking on each song. Love that fuzz guitar in "Yesterday's Papers" and those layered vocals. Great wallop during that Piano and Drums beginning of "My Obsession" and the same to the forgotten "Connection" (were they ever this Pop again). Jagger's vocal during "She Smiled Sweetly" is very clear even if that organ still sounds weedy and the Bass overdone. The Acoustic/Harmonica combo that intro's "Who's Been Sleeping Here?" must surely have been their nod towards Dylan (sounds sweet too). I'm loving "Miss Amanda Jones" - huge grungy guitar and a rhythm section that's punching way above its weight all of a sudden. And dig Keith's unmistakable vocal on the Tuba-happy "Something Happened To Me Yesterday" - amazing clarity throughout.

The whole of the "Flowers" album also surprises me - I love this record in Stereo - but I'd gladly admit to be blown away by "Ruby Tuesday" in Mono - amazing clarity and so centred. I'm not so sure about "Have You Seen Your Mother..." but acoustic cuts like "Lady Jane" and "Back Street Girl" are amazing - and I'm still taken aback at how 'pretty' some of the Stones songs are. That clavinet on "Ride On, Baby" is right up there as are the drums and vocals. Hell even the slightly embarrassing "Majesties" has renewed clarity (if I can bring myself to suffer the whole album). And on it goes to the true Stones genius of "Beggars Banquet" and "Let It Bleed" where I'd agree with other reviewers - give me the Stereo versions any day of the week...

As ever with Rolling Stones 'Deluxe Editions' there's a compromise for long-suffering fans - but it would churlish and penny-pinching to call this reissue anything other than a triumph. I'm going to be opening this re-sealable plastics for years - and I like that a lot...




PS: Objects Of True Lust x 2 – the Japanese 15CD Box set Edition of "The Rolling Stones In MONO" on Universal/Polydor UICY-77710 (Barcode 4988031139295) – also released Friday, 30 September 2016 - has exclusive SHM-CDs for each title but are in '7" Single Sized Repro Artwork' with Obi Strips and all relevant inserts. They replicate the original UK and US artwork – laminate sleeves for No. 1 and No.2 with flip-back cover art, paste-back card covers for the US albums, the US issue of "Majesties" with a wavy Red Inner Sleeve, the Red Inner Sleeve instead of a Blue one for the Mono "Let It Bleed" including Poster etc. It's available for approximately £250 from many online retailers including Amazon.


The 2nd is Universal's own version of "The Rolling Stones In MONO" available only from their global websites as a very limited edition bundle - TRSMONOBUND01 comes with the 15CD Box Set AND Repro's of 9 x 7" rare singles from around the world (seven in picture sleeves):

German 7" Single in Picture Sleeve
A - 2,000 Light Years From Home
B - She's A Rainbow

UK 7" Single in Decca Label Bag (Export Issue)
A - Poison Ivy
B - Fortune Teller

Australian 7" Single in Picture Sleeve
A - Fortune Teller
B - Sad Day

U.S.A 7" Single in Withdrawn Picture Sleeve
A - Street Fighting Man
B - No Expectations

French 7" Single in Picture Sleeve
A - We Love You
B - Dandelion

Japanese 7" Single in Picture Sleeve
A - Tell Me (You're Coming Back)
B - Carol

Norwegian 7" Single in Picture Sleeve
A - Time Is On My Side
B - Congratulations

Dutch 7" Single in Picture Sleeve
A - Empty Heart
B - Around And Around

Canadian 7" Single in Decca Label Bag
A - Not Fade Away

B - I Wanna Be Your Man

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