Got a dad? Not sure what to get him for Christmas yet? Never fear! Here comes an unholy triumvirate of ABKCO Music & Records, Decca and Universal to help you out with a slightly updated (come back! extra tracks, not new ones!) version of the best of The Rolling Stones, originally released in 1975.
At 40 tracks long, compared to the 28 of the original version, it does give some pause for thought. There are few bands that stay relevant into the second decade of their career, particularly when it comes to producing music worthy enough of standing on its own two feet. The Stones are almost one of them but, let’s face it, not quite. Not really.
It would be wonderful if the dirty dozen newcomers were twelve of the best donations to the airwaves and ipods of the last 30 years but, of course, they aren’t. Because while seeing The Stones live is something you have to do before you die, or else you haven’t lived, they haven’t made a good new record since before you were born.
For this reason, it’s a very good job that the extra space is filled up with songs contemporary to those on the original compilation, including Tell Me (1964), Heart of Stone (1965), Play With Fire (1965), I’m Free (1965), Mother’s Little Helper (1966), Dandelion (1967), 2000 Light Years From Home (1967), No Expectations (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1969), Wild Horses (1971) and Brown Sugar (1971).
As such, they slip in seamlessly to a collection which, you creepingly realise, reminds you just how good The Stones were before they became a stadium-hopping parody of themselves. And how versatile.
Rolled Gold Plus takes you from the raw early covers of old standards such as It’s All Over Now and Little Red Rooster, through the glorious psychedelic pop of She’s A Rainbow to the more robust rock of Sympathy For The Devil and Gimme Shelter. They do country too, and pop, and blues. And if you don’t believe Sympathy For The Devil invented trance, you’ve never listed to it under the influence of the right disco biscuits.
Surrounded by sun drenched chords, there are songs here that show a gentler side to them than you’ll ever see in Twickenham (lie back with a jazz fag and We Love You and we promise that world peace will be achieved before dawn) sitting side by side with rawk masterpieces that will blow you away. This is not only a retrospective but a chance to see the song-writing partnership of Jagger and Richards develop and grow, to take flight and to drag half of Brazil out to glory in its power.
There is so much and nothing to say about this album. It’s The Stones. If you were in any doubt how good they were, this will remind you. If you genuinely didn’t know, this will educate you. Now go and see them live before you die. They, meanwhile, will last forever.