Wednesday, 6 July 2016

"Goat's Head Soup" by THE ROLLING STONES (1994 Virgin CD Remaster vs. 2009 Polydor CD Remaster - Track Differences) - A Review by Mark Barry...

Above the VIRGIN 1994 'Collector's Edition' CD Remaster with the 'Uncensored' "Star Star" and an Amazon Link

The 2009 Polydor CD Remaster with the 'Censored' "Pussy" lyrics version and an Amazon Link

"...Can 'We' Hear The Music..."

After a four-album run like 1968's "Beggars Banquet", 1969's "Let It Bleed" and their own label meisterworks 1971's "Sticky Fingers" and 1972's double "Exile On Main St." - the single LP "Goat's Head Soup" was bound to disappoint. And in 1973 it did. Big time.

But try as I might and despite that truly rubbish 'yellow veils' artwork (and the stupid album title for that matter) - Side 2 of this sucker rarely stayed off my Garrard SP25 turntable for years and years. Like many Stones fans I hold a candle for the mess that is "Goat's Head Soup". But with the Censored and Uncensored versions of "Star Star" on different timeframe Remasters without either announcing that fact - it's had a chequered history on CD and I'd like to sort out what's what. One CD has the original (1994) and the newest version (2009) has the 'doctored' or 'censored' cut. Let's get to the goaties...

1. Dancing With Mr. D
2. 100 Years Ago
3. Coming Down Again
4. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
5. Angie
6. Silver Train [Side 2]
7. Hide Your Love
8. Winter
9. Can You Hear The Music
10. Star Star
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Goat's Head Soup" by THE ROLLING STONES - released 31 August 1973 in both the USA and UK on Rolling Stones COC 59101. Produced by JIMMY MILLER - it also hit the No. 1 spot on both LP charts.

MICK JAGGER - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica and Piano
KEITH RICHARD - Lead Guitar, Bass and Vocals
MICK TAYLOR - Lead Guitar, Bass and Vocals

NICKY HOPKINS - Piano on Tracks 1, 3, 5, 8 and 9
BILLY PRESTON - Clavinet on Track 1, 2 and Piano on Track 4
IAN STEWART - Piano on Tracks 6 and 10
BOBBY KEYS - Tenor and Baritone Saxophone
JIM HORN - Flute and Saxophone
JIM PRICE - Horns on Track 4
NICKY HARRISON - String Arrangements on Tracks 5 and 8

Outside of endless Japanese SHM-CD and Platinum SHM-CD reissues - for most punters wanting the 'original' album for a reasonable sum of money requires Barcode knowledge. But first let's get to that "Star Star" track that ends Side 2 of this much maligned album. It's about groupies and contains some hard-hitting lyrics running alongside a knockoff Chuck Berry riff. Although its title is "Star Star" - it's clear that Jagger is singing  "You're a Starfucker Starfucker Star!" during every chorus - something the BBC apparently didn't notice when DJs first got the album and needed to play an upbeat 'fast' Stones track. 

So there they were - British DJs on Aunty Beeb blasting it away on morally upright Blighty airwaves (much to the amusement of the public) - when at a launch party for the album (you could only get in if you had a mock vial of drugs sent out by the Promo people) Jagger approached a BBC Radio 1 Controller and congratulated him for having the balls to air such a tune. Drink in hand and puce-faced - the Controller quickly retired and the next day had the song quickly 'banned' from schedules (I heard that story from a BBC insider I bought records off when I was working at Reckless). 

But while that 's' word was iffy to say the least - the lines "...Yeah I heard about your Polaroids...that's what I call obscene...your tricks with fruit is kind of cute...I bet you keep your pussy clean..." went too far for conservative American Radio. They did a 'doctored' cut that sort of hide the offending 'p' word. Talk is that Jagger wanted Atlantic USA (who distributed The Rolling Stones label there) to put out "Star Star" as a 45 - but they wisely went for "Angie" instead and were rewarded with another Stones No. 1 in September 1973. How does "Star Star" affect the CD Remasters and which CD Reissue has what version?

The June 1994 BOB LUDWIG Virgin CD Remaster of "Goat's Head Soup" by THE ROLLING STONES that carries the original un-doctored song came in two forms - Virgin CDV 2375 (Barcode 724383951925) as a standard jewel case - while Virgin CDVX 2375 (Barcode 724383949823) came as a stickered jewel case 'Collector's Edition' with 'Original Album Packaging' housed inside the see-through casing (total playing time 46:57 minutes). I own the CDVX Collector’s Edition. The repro'd artwork is very cool - the gatefold LP sleeve - the 'Goat's Head Soup' Photo Insert and the two-sided Inner Sleeve that came with August 1973 original Vinyl LPs are all there held within the specially constructed jewel case. Be careful because once out of the shrink-wrap these jewel cases get scuffed so easily and getting a Near Mint one is hard work. Remastered by BOB LUDWIG using the UV22 Apogee Process - that 1994 Virgin version used the English tapes and therefore included the proper 'uncensored' version of "Star Star" as originally released by The Rolling Stones. 

But the May 2009 STEPHEN MARCUSSEN Polydor CD Remaster of "Goat's Head Soup" by THE ROLLING STONES on Polydor 0602527015606 (Barcode 602527015606) apparently used the American Tapes and has 'only' the 'censored' version (without saying so) where someone played with the vocals so that the offending 'p' word is sort of muddled out. That 2009 'censored' version of the album (there is only one version on Polydor in a round corner 'super jewel case') has been used ever since. Farcical really when you hear it too. So which version do you buy and which has best Audio?

For me therein lies another problem. You will probably notice that seemingly knowledgeable Audiophile types state categorically that the 1994 CD is better - I say this is knob. It's very good - it is - and it can't be accused of what they claim is Marcussen's 'loudness' on the 2009 version. But I own both and the 2009 Remaster 'sings' compared to the older variant. This 1973 LP was always kind of 'muddy' and needed to be lifted out of that. The Marcussen version is 'loud' - it is - but man what a wallop it packs. Let's get to the album itself...

On key tracks like the beautiful "Winter" and the trippy "Can You Hear The Music?" - the 2009 Remaster truly excels. Stuff like "Dancing With Mr. D" rocks too (a sequel to “Sympathy To The Devil” that isn’t quite as great) and the largely Acoustic "Angie" can only be described as sublime Audio - not something you say about The Rolling Stones on CD very often. Although they didn't issue it as a 45 in the UK - the USA put out "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" as an A-side 7" single in February 1974 with "Dancing With Mr. D" on the flip - it went to No. 15. 

The sinking into dark-eyes and rotten-teeth druginess of "Coming Down Again" has Keith taking the Lead Vocals before Mick takes over. But as Richards sings in a pleading ache "...she was dying to survive..." and later "...where are all my friends..." - you can literally feel his own spirit crying out for rescue from what was surely a suicidal and inevitable path towards Heroin. Again the 2009 Remaster on this track is fantastic. The 'case of mistaken identity' song "Heartbreaker" about cops with their trigger-happy forty-fours sounds incredible as does Billy Preston’s piano and that trio of expert brass players. And "Silver Train" rocks too - huge build of slide guitars - Mick Taylor adding so much as he always did – while Mick blows a mean Harmonica and claims he 'did not know her name' but she left with all the money anyway (yikes).

I've always loved "Goat's Head Soup" - especially the whole of Side 2. Whether you buy the standard CD version of the 1994 Virgin Remaster (use Barcode 724383951925 to locate that issue) or the 2009 Polydor variant (better to my ears - use Barcode 602527015606 to locate that issue) - in 2016 - both are cheap as chips and just as tasty. "Goat's Head Soup" is overlooked in the Stones cannon of work and shouldn't be. 

"...Can You Hear The Music...Can You Feel The Magic..." - Mick Jagger sang on that trippy Side 2 gem. Yes I can Michael...and better too...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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