Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stone Unturned

The impetus for this compilation was a comment I made about the excellent tracks in The Rolling Stones' discography that weren't popular hits, which came out of a discussion over the tracklist of the Stones' Forty Licks, a pretty decent two-disc collection of their greatest hits, spanning pretty much their entire catalog, at least up until the year it was released, 2002 - before A Bigger Bang, incidentally. So I went through my collection of Stones albums (not complete, by any stretch), and picked out my favorite songs that do NOT turn up on the tracklist of Forty Licks, and that I don't think were ever big hits on the charts (although some of them may have had some play on the groovier radio stations).

One thing I realized when putting together this compilation, which I have dubbed 'Stone Unturned' in reference to the Stones songs that don't get as much attention (with relative obscurity balanced reasonably by quality - that is, I wanted a collection of great songs, not a collection of the most obscure songs), is that I'd like to fill in my discography between the Stones' first few albums that I have, and the golden era that covers Beggars Banquet through about Goats Head Soup. After that, I'm less enthusiastic, because quite frankly, the Stones' output has never been quite as good since the mid-'70s (although 2005's A Bigger Bang was a breath of fresh air).

I felt that Little Red Rooster, being one of my favorites, was enough representation of the early era, because I wanted to save lots of space for the Stones' golden age. That the albums most represented on this comp are Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers just goes to show the quality of those albums. Then, of course, there is Exile on Main St., but I've always had a hard time extracting tracks from that record, because it works so well on its own, with the songs in their context. But with so little of it mined for pop hits (the exceptions being only Happy and Tumbling Dice, a measly two from a double album during the Stones' heyday), it was rife for some representation on my compilation.

Fingerprint File is as much representation as I need from the Stones' latter genre-experimentation period (disco and '80s and all that), being an excellent song and no later than 1974. I threw in Cocksucker Blues at the end just for fun. All in all, I think it's a pretty awesome mix of music, although the perfect Stones comp would blend tracks like these with the best of their pop hits, because sometimes - even I have to admit - the masses do appreciate things that are genuinely good (somehow). But for its limits, I think this is a pretty damn good disc to listen to!

Here's the tracklist, for your consideration:

1. Little Red Rooster
2. Stray Cat Blues
3. Love In Vain
4. Midnight Rambler
5. Monkey Man
6. Sway
7. Can't You Hear Me Knocking
8. Sister Morphine
9. Dead Flowers
10. Rocks Off
11. Rip This Joint
12. All Down The Line
13. Dancing With Mr. D
14. Star Star
15. Fingerprint File
16. Cocksucker Blues

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