|Review by JW September 30, 2004
|Why get the US version over the UK version? Well, if you buy the set I bought and compared the tracks you'll find some reason to buy the US version of this one. A lot of valuable info on the differences between the US and UK versions can be found on highfidelityreview.com - especially Brian Moura's Guide To The Rolling Stones: http://www.highfidelityreview.com/news/news.asp?newsnumber=524914
When they first came out I bought 10 of the ABKCO discs but I never got around to write something about them. I'll try and rate them sonically and in comparison to each other. This is early Stones and therefore it bears the hallmark of the times in the way they sound in the studio (or live) and by the nature of the songs. Bluesy, Beatle-like but infused with real rock and attitude initially, to more and more of their signature sound as they progress over the years and hone their craft. Overall these ABCKO series are a tremendous achievement, but they cannot touch many of the modern DSD recorded SACD's or even the sound quality of Living Stereo SACD's or some of the Japanese Miles Davis titles. 'Let it Bleed' and 'Beggars Banguet' come closest. So do you rate them in comparison to other SACD's regardless of age, or do you rate them on their own merits. I guess I have done a little bit of both. There are many more angles with which to review these titles, I fully realise that. I chose this one for these pages.
So here is my list ranked by audio quality: (P=Performance. S=Sonics)
1) Let It Bleed (P5,S4)
2) Beggars Banguet (P5,S4)
3) 12x5 (P3,S3)
4) Out of Our Heads (P3,S3)
4) Aftermath (P4,S3)
5) Between the Buttons (P5,S2)
5) December's Children (P5,S2)
5) Their Satanic Majesties Request (P4,S2)
6) Get Yer Ya-Ya's out (P5,S1)
I also bought Hot Rocks, but that is a compilation which reflects the variety of recordings it was based on, so did not feature it here.
Some listening notes to back this up:
1) One of the most modern sounding recordings of the lot. This one does not have the 'we are playing in an empty oil drum' sound from say a 'Buttons..'. In addition to its desert island disc musical quality, the sound is pretty amazing. Of the you-are-there variety.
2) Close second. Somewhat lower recording level than some of the others. Remarkably wide soundstage on the opening numbers. Sounds come from outside the speakers. None of the others display this.
3) Nice center image with clear left/right seperation. This is one bluesy album.
4) Both display pinched and somewhat hard treble.
5) All of these have this 'barrel' sound. It's not so bad, but it sounds really dated. On DC the live track "Route 66' sounds pretty bad, worse even than the fantastic live album that is Ya-Ya's. Satanic Majesty is a psychedelic album. This is really interesting music and with 21st century ears not as revolutionary and therefore perhaps people can be more appreciative.
6) Great music, great atmosphere, bluesy rock, nice weight to the bass, but there is a huge blanket smothering the sound.
Hopefully we can look forward to more Stones. I would like to complete this collection with their later works.
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