If it’s Friday, then it’s time for another installment of the HRAC Holiday Gift Guide. (Well, that’s what I’m going with, anyway.) Today’s focus is on a gaggle of great offerings from the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band. Ladies and gentlemen… The Rolling Stones!
BLUE & LONESOME
Out today, the Stones’ first studio album in a decade, Blue & Lonesome (Interscope), showcases Mick and the boys doing what they do best: the down ‘n’ dirty blues. Jagger’s vocals and harmonica work are top-drawer, especially on the title track and “I Gotta Go.” Producer Don Was captures the live-off-the-floor vibe perfectly, as Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood set down the proper in-the-groove guitar-tandem bed, while Charlie Watts is the understated maestro of the backbeat. Somewhere, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker are all smilin’ with approval. Available in all formats, with hi-res download available in 88/24 via HDtracks.
The Stones’ performance in front of well over a million rabid fans in Havana, Cuba on March 25, 2016 may now carry some additional weight given the recent passing of Fidel Castro (or not), but there’s no question that Havana Moon (Eagle Rock) is the Stones at their big outdoor-stage finest, captured in full glory by noted concert director Paul Dugdale (Adele, Coldplay). Jagger welcomed the massive crowd with the following: “Finally the times are changing, Cuba. We are so happy to be here.” He also playfully introduced his bandmates as “the revolutionary Ronnie Wood, drummer Charlie Che Watts, and compadre Keith Richards.” Havana Moon is available in a number of configurations: Blu-ray+2CD, DVD+2CD, DVD+3LP, and a special Deluxe Edition. Naturally, your HRAC compadres feel going the Blu-ray route is your best bet.
THE ROLLING STONES IN MONO
Spanning the years 1963-69, The Rolling Stones in Mono vinyl box set (ABKCO) is the perfect companion to the aforementioned Blue & Lonesome to give you taste of just how The Stones embraced their blues roots from the absolute beginning. “You felt you were in the room… listening to exactly what went down in the studio, no frills, no nothing,” Keith Richards wrote in his autobiography, Life. The late recording engineer Dave Hassinger explained how he mixed his 1964-66 work for The Stones in mono: “They always played together at the same time. They would run the parts down, work out the changes here and there, nail it down, then start recording.”
The Rolling Stones in Mono was mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering, utilizing Direct Stream Digital (DSD) transfers from the original master recordings with a sampling rate of 2,822,400. Lacquer cutting for vinyl was performed at Abbey Road Studios by Alex Wharton and Sean Magee. The box’s 16 LPs are all pressed on 180-gram vinyl and are housed in the original full-color album jackets.
Released back in June, Totally Stripped (Eagle Rock) is the expanded version of the documentary originally made to coincide with the release of The Stones’ Stripped album in November 1995, and it also serves as a great companion to both the Blue and Mono projects noted above. Totally Stripped tells the tale of the two studio sessions and three live shows that followed the conclusion of the band’s mammoth Voodoo Lounge tour. The Stones reimagined key tracks from their back catalog (like “Let It Bleed,” “Black Limousine,” and “Gimme Shelter”) along with a couple of carefully chosen covers (such as “Not Fade Away” and “Love in Vain”), and went to a few smaller scale club gigs to showcase them all.
Including some previously unseen footage, the Deluxe 4SD Blu-ray+CD Totally Stripped set is packaged in a 60-page, 12×12 hardback photobook and contains the newly revised documentary, the single CD of highlights from the live shows, and individual SD Blu-rays of the three full length live concerts.
…and there you have it. Happy Stones shopping, one and all!