Is This Finally The Best Of The Rolling Stones?
September 13, 2002 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Is This Finally The Best Of The Rolling Stones? Their website was redesigned earlier this month in preparation for Forty Licks, the upcoming anthology which is being touted as the definitive compilation of their best songs. Is it though? There have been, er, more than a few of them in the past - even (most shockingly!) a couple of very good ones. Nor do the four new songs exactly transmit over-confidence. More pertinently: does it (do they) still matter? [Or, are we better off sticking to the current Primal Scream reincarnation?]
posted by MiguelCardoso (51 comments total)
N.B. For the purposes of discussion, everything you've ever forgotten or didn't want to know about the Rolling Stone's discography is at Nico Zentgraf's impressively documented website, including collectors' items; of which the 22-album-strong Decca/London labels box set, only available in the U.S. right now, must be the most desirable of all.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:18 AM on September 13, 2002

Have they really done anything new of note, or is it all just some marketing exec repackaging the Rolling Stones Golden Age and selling it to us?

Just sounds like a reseller's tactic to me, but color me cynical, then.
posted by insomnyuk at 4:26 AM on September 13, 2002

Looks like a pretty decent compilation to me. As I seem to be the only person who rates "Jigsaw Puzzle" as Rolling Stones finest work to date, I won't bemoan the fact that it's not on there.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:53 AM on September 13, 2002

[quonsar yawns, reaches for his Close To The Edge CD...]
posted by quonsar at 4:55 AM on September 13, 2002

posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:59 AM on September 13, 2002

Looks like that greatest hits' collection left off the first Hot Rocks, which I thought was the biggest American greatest hits release.

But to answer the question - no, they don't matter. The songs are great, and they can still sell out concerts (for pretty darn steep prices) but they are all about the nostalgia now. Not that that's a bad thing.
posted by yhbc at 5:01 AM on September 13, 2002

Rolling Stones 1962 - 1972 (open to debate) still matter.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:03 AM on September 13, 2002

Yuck. I counted eight songs that were recorded in the 90s or in the 00s. That's 8 songs too many. You want the Best of the Rolling Stones? Go out and buy Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street.
posted by elvissinatra at 5:15 AM on September 13, 2002

I hate the Rolling Stones. Every era they just tweak their sound to coincide with bands who have hit the mainstream and do it in such a poor way but try to make up for it with grandstanding. For Christ they had a Sgt. Peppers album in the 60's. When will they just die!
posted by Dr_Octavius at 5:18 AM on September 13, 2002

Anything owned by Decca (pre-1972) has been totally remastered using the latest/greatest technology from the original analog masters. The Stones dont own Decca material and get no money from it so its been a sore point for years they have all agreed to get along and put aside diffrences to get that material out before the masters disapear from old age.
posted by stbalbach at 5:22 AM on September 13, 2002

Miguel - Yes! Good find! All 51 google returns for "vivid morality play" point to this cd.
posted by taz at 5:36 AM on September 13, 2002

just more product from the musical sausage machine.

Their latest hit release asks the musical question: "How rich is rich enough?"
posted by BentPenguin at 6:07 AM on September 13, 2002

Am I hard enough/Am I rough enough/Am I rich enough/I'm not too
blind to see.

posted by taz at 6:11 AM on September 13, 2002

Exile on Main Street=the Best of the Rolling Stones.

and quonsar has the key to ascension.

posted by goethean at 6:27 AM on September 13, 2002

Actually, here's the best of the Rolling Stones.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:27 AM on September 13, 2002

I heard their new tune "Don't Stop." That sh*t is the mad note. Stones are the greatest rock and/or roll band ever.
posted by uftheory at 8:05 AM on September 13, 2002

Where's "Rocks Off" "Tell Me" "Midnight Rambler" "Memory Motel" and "Stray Cat Blues."?

[quonsar yawns, reaches for his Close To The Edge CD...]

Quonsar, just say no to Yes, the main reason punk had to happen.
posted by jonmc at 8:23 AM on September 13, 2002

Quonsar, just say no to Yes

No! Yes! Don't do it, McNally! You're playing right into his dirty little vivid-morality-play hands.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:28 AM on September 13, 2002

Miguel, is this thread about the Rolling Stones or your porn collection?
posted by yhbc at 8:42 AM on September 13, 2002

About my porn collection. Why? Was it too subtle? Did you really think it was about those old farts?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:46 AM on September 13, 2002

The Rolling Stones are the best porn ever. There is no better fucking music. (FUCKING music, not fucking MUSIC). I'm going to see them in San Francisco this coming November - my dad bought 10 tickets and now he can't get his 60 yr old friends to go with him - anyone else?
posted by luriete at 8:55 AM on September 13, 2002

Next time I buy a Rolling Stones album, it will be Exile on Mainstreet for sure (old copy got scratched).

However, I do wonder how these remastered versions of the songs sound. And I concur with the 8 songs from the 80s on being way too many.
posted by mogwai at 9:28 AM on September 13, 2002

Oh, and lurite, I'd love to go....... if I had $300 or whatever those tickets cost :-P
posted by mogwai at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2002

Quonsar, just say no to Yes, the main reason punk had to happen.

Yup, I put a safety pin through my nose the day after I heard Tales From Topographic Oceans for the first time. OTOH, Hawkwind was prog-rock that dovetailed beautifully with punk. You can chalk that up to Lemmie's evul influence, I guess.

Getting back to the Stones, I haven't deliberately sat down and listened to anything they've done since "Between the Buttons", so I'm certainly not going to run out and give them any of my hard-earned cash for either the concert or CD.
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:40 AM on September 13, 2002

jonmc: I was always under the impression that Emerson, Lake and Palmer were the main reason punk had to happen. Besides, Yes was back by 1983. (On a side note, when I heard Boston was recording an album that would be half "classic" Boston and half-alternative, I had a formal burial ceremony for the word "alternative" as applied to any musical culture or vague style.)

Haven't heard any of the Stones' last few "we're touring again" albums, by the way. But "Slave" from "Tattoo You," with Sonny Rollins on sax, is pretty delicious. They recorded some good stuff after '72. Bands with a Stones influence, though, have recorded whole supertanker loads of far worse material.
posted by raysmj at 9:46 AM on September 13, 2002

jonmc: I was always under the impression that Emerson, Lake and Palmer were the main reason punk had to happen

Being 47 now and so 22 in 1976, staying at my mother's house in the Kings Road, Chelsea, when the whole Punk thing exploded about twenty yards from my front door, I remember very acutely what jonmc's talking about.

I embraced Punk wholeheartedly but I already had the record collection (and beloved it was, "Tales From Topographical Ocean" being the respective Star of India) that would have barred me from even the most publicized Sex Pistols gig: not only Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer but Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Traffic, Can, Henry Cow, Brian Auger's Oblivion and...a lot of others too embarrassing to mention.

The Rolling Stones' old records were always much easier to justify. And although I've gone off and back on them more than a few times over the years, they still rock. Whereas Jethro Tull...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:10 AM on September 13, 2002

Miguel: Oh, yeah. That EMP mention fell under the category of "knowing reference." Methinks it was specifically Emerson, Lake and Palmer that a PBS show on rock 'n' roll had playing on the stage when there was a jump-cut to punk, though. Heh. Just as disco never really died, however, pathetic art rock is still with us in altered form and has been since the early '80s. (Even in "cool" circles, art-prog rock people weren't banned. King Crimson's guitarist went on to play on "Remain in Light," even. Robert Fripp responded to the whole punk thing better than most, though.) Asia, anyone? (Yikes!) Me, I'm just glad Styx hasn't reunited.
posted by raysmj at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2002

Asia and Styx, raysmj? As far as they're concerned, we have the moral obligation, once they're mentioned, to just shut up and shoot ourselves. Before I go, let me just concede you're a braver man than I am...
I mean, as long as it's perfectly clear I have no idea what (Asia? Styx? Are you making these up?) you're talking about...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:44 AM on September 13, 2002

Miguel: Oh, never mind. They were popular in the early '80s, after punk had already happened. That's the only point. Punk did not save us from "Mr. Roboto." Also, prog rock was either just slightly altered or coopted or subsumed into more acceptably "cool" scenes. (Fripp was on Blondie's "Parallel Lines" too and Genesis' Peter Gabriel still isn't frowned upon, even if VH1's "Behind the Music" says he provided the spark for the revival of Donny Osmond's career. Yes, I mentioned Donny Osmond! I am indeed brave, thanks.)

Worse Stones song ever, speaking of the early '80s: "Emotional Rescue." "On a fine Arab charrrrgeeer." Sheesh. I heard that not long ago, and was thinking, "That's supposed to be sexy?"
posted by raysmj at 10:56 AM on September 13, 2002

That's the truth, raysmj - I was of course only joking. I unfortunately (well, happily as well) identify with every band thing you say.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:59 AM on September 13, 2002

raysmj, miguel, bali-- I can actually excuse Boston more than I can excuse Yes. Boston at least manages to create listenable car stereo rock and managed to as Dave Marsh put make the "best disguised use of the 'Louie Louie' riff in rock and roll history."

And I don't mean to say that all "art-rock" or "prog-rock" is bad either. Can, King Crimson, Amon Duul, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Genesis, Traffic, Jethro Tull and others have all made some fantastic music at times. The key is whenever you apple "arty" pretensions to rock you get into a very delicate balancing act. You can eventually veer too far to the "art" side of the equation and become nothing more than highly amplified chamber music, or in the case of Styx/Asia style AOR, easy listening with guitar solos.

Basically, you eventually reach a point where the connection is lost and revolt is necessary. For prog rock, the humorless shrill, smug, pretentious pseudo-highbrow rhythmically atrophied(and whiter-than-white, I might add) music of Yes(along with ELP) was where that point was reached. For AOR it was Kansas. For R&B/dance music, it was probably when Barbara Streisand made that "No More Tears" disco record.


OK, I feel better.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on September 13, 2002

jonmc: Thanks. You forgot Rush's "Tom Sawyer," though. What the hell is that about? I tought Tom Sawyer was funny. Mark Twain's, that is. This guy's getting high on you, and blah blah, friction of something. (Pause.) Thaa river!
posted by raysmj at 11:13 AM on September 13, 2002

raysmj: I actually still own a copy of Moving Pictures. Junior high geekery coming out. Truth be told, their only real handicap aside from the sometimes overblown lyrics is Geddy Lee's voice which sounds like Donald Duck after a swift kick in the nuts. Other than that they'd fall under the "pretentious but still decent rock and roll" category.

This concludes todays showing of "jonmc: smartassed musical know it all"
posted by jonmc at 11:19 AM on September 13, 2002

*sings* What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high? I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy?

jonmc: May I just say that some of those bands that you just mentioned aren't "prog-rock" or "art-rock", they're kraut-rock... ;)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:25 AM on September 13, 2002

"What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high?"

I have it on good authority that it's the echo in that prodigious honker of his. When he's not singing, he rents it out as a car park.

Yeah, I know. Try the veal.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:54 PM on September 13, 2002

Two nits:

soundofsuburbia: You must have never heard the McKenzie Brothers' classic "Take Off", in which as part of the studio banter it is apparent that Geddy Lee has a normal, if Canadian, speaking voice.

jonmc: Donald Duck clearly doesn't have nuts; if he did, don't you think he'd have been wearing pants all this time?
posted by yhbc at 1:01 PM on September 13, 2002

Um, Styx happened before (and also after) punk rock. Their first hit song "Lady" was in the early 1970s.... Their last hit song was "Show Me The Way" in 1991. I'd say a 20 year run is pretty good.
posted by Ben Grimm at 1:32 PM on September 13, 2002

yhbc: The lyrics I was singing are from the song "Stereo", by Pavement. After those lines they continue: "I know him and he does!/and you're my fact-checkin' cuz". So although I've never heard the man speak, I suppose I knew. In a way. Or something.

I wonder if you can find "Take Off" on Soulseek?
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:10 PM on September 13, 2002

Historically they are one of the best bands of the 20th century. The Beatles. The Who. Pink Floyd. Def Leppard. The Doors. And The Stones. In some cases I don't even like all the ones on that list, but I have to admit objectively that they matter on a historic level.

Do The Stones matter today? Not from an objective point of view, but there are some out there for whom the Stones will always matter. If the Smithsonian can, it will have Mick Jagger's lips bronzed when he dies, and forever leave them on display for generations to come to marvel at.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:18 PM on September 13, 2002

excuse me ? def leppard ?

def leppard? def leppard ? def leppard ? def leppard?

def leppard? def leppard? def leppard? def leppard?

def leppard ?

did you just say - def leppard ?

sorry am a bit sidetracked here,

when keith richards gets sober , the stones will be playing

in empty toilets.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:51 PM on September 13, 2002

and when daniel o donnell takes up high octane drug abuse, he will be bigger than elvis.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:52 PM on September 13, 2002

There are people who give Def Leppard their due. I personally never was much of a fan, but When The Walls Came Tumbling Down and Rock of Ages have their place in the footnotes of contemporary rock history.

Come to think of it, The Sex Pistols, The Eagles, The Crickets, early Black Sabbath, The Grateful Dead & even The Beach Boys all deserve to be mentioned too. They're all simultaneously milemarkers and tombstones to what made rock what it was.

"Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep—
He hath awakened from the dream of life—
‘Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife."

- Percy Shelley
[quoted by Jagger on the death of Brian Jones]

If you MAKE me whittle it down to three, I'd say The Beatles, The Who & The Stones, but the history of rock & roll from cradle to grave really deserves its own collegiate level textbook. There's a lot of ground to cover. Rock & Roll died somewhere along the way but it has a lot of bastard children. Acid. Alternative. Progressive. Punk. Soft. Pop. The list goes on.

"It's all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back." - Mick Jagger

The Big Three typify the apex of rock & roll and also were the birthwives of many of its descendants. Some say rock & roll died with Elvis, but I say it died with John Lennon. This is an argument that will forever be contested. Some say true rock & roll still lives, but it's very rare nowadays when I am tempted to believe that.

"People have this obsession. They want you to be like you were in 1969. They want you to, because otherwise their youth goes with you.... It’s very selfish, but it’s understandable." - Mick Jagger 1993

Today's Rolling Stones are zeitgeists. Zombie spirits that produce before today's live audiences only a fraction shadow of their former selves. It's rather sad actually, but though they've lost the battle with time, at least they haven't given up the ghost. That is commendable, though it's also like watching carcasses rot.

"I don't want to be playing Satisfaction when I'm 40." - Mick Jagger.

Recently, he's changed his tune so to speak. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 5:16 PM on September 13, 2002

Zach, no offense, man but were you just randomly looking at your CD rack to pick your "milemarkers?" I'm not saying that any of the bands mentioned are bad, but the Eagles and Def Leppard in the same breath with the Pistols and the Beach Boys(no "even" about it, among the most innovative ever).

Not to mention, where's the whole first generation of rock-and-roll:Chuck Berry,James Brown,Ray Charles,Sam Cooke,Fats Domino,Everly Brothers,Buddy Holly,Jerry Lee Lewis,Elvis Presley,Little Richard, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Bo Diddley et al....

Ultimate Irony: I don't thing I see a single black artist on your list. Who do you think "what made rock what it was" as you put it? The wellspring of rock and roll comes directly from the collision of black and white popular music, my freind. that's the spark that ignited the whole conflagration.

Also, what's with the tombstone talk? Reports of rocks death are greatly exaggerated. Not only is there now, and always has been, great rock music being created, there's also the entire genre of hip-hop, which make no mistake is rock and roll.

Now the Stones may be aging in a weird way, what with all the spectacle and still trying to act like young rebellious "rock stars", but I submit to you that even half-speed aging stones is better than 90% of whats out there today. What's age got to do with it anyway? The blues singers the Stones idolized like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker were doing dynamic live shows well into their seventies. The Stones perhaps should take a page from their book and scale things back a bit for a more dignified approach, but there's still life in the old bastards yet, you ask me.
posted by jonmc at 6:03 PM on September 13, 2002

As usual, jonmc is not only right; he's right to be right. His comment - basically Tell me who you admire and how hard you try to emulate them; I'll tell you how much I admire you - is fruitful and true.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:14 PM on September 13, 2002

the stones died with brian jones, but i might pick up 40 lix...

prog rock and fusion suffered the same fate. wonderful origins but ended up in music schools...
posted by aiq at 6:42 PM on September 13, 2002

but i might pick up 40 lix...

Aiq, I suspect this is the subtext of the whole thread. I've got seven or eight compilations of them already, but... I know I'll play the record to death, like all the others. If only for the new sequence, right? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:53 PM on September 13, 2002


How can you justify owning those eight songs from later than 1990? I think the Stones were the greatest rock and roll band in the world, but I wouldn't allow those eight songs to stink up my record collection. Yuck.

By the way, if you can dig up a bootleg video of Cocksucker Blues, check it out. You'll be amazed that all those parents who locked up their daughters when the Stones rolled into town were not being overcautious.
posted by elvissinatra at 7:28 PM on September 13, 2002

Hey, is that the same (Swiss) Robert Frank whose The Americans is arguably the best book of photographs ever published?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:35 PM on September 13, 2002

is that the same (Swiss) Robert Frank whose The Americans is arguably the best book of photographs ever published?

Yes it is, he also did the cover of Exile on Main StreetIIRC, although The Americans may be tied with Tulsa by Larry Clark and American Pictures by Jacob Holdt for title of best photgraphy book ever.
posted by jonmc at 7:45 PM on September 13, 2002

I put a safety pin through my nose the day after I heard Tales From Topographic Oceans
shrug. rick wakeman liked it so well he quit the tour and became a born again christian. anyway, tales had its moments, glimpsing out from underneath layers of festering bilge, but it's not an important yes record. now the true test of a yes fan is how many times he can sit through consecutive plays of relayer. play it again, sam!
posted by quonsar at 8:01 PM on September 14, 2002

"where's the whole first generation of rock-and-roll.."

Well holy cow, Jon! I told you the history of rock would need a textbook. I wasn't gonna write the whole darn thing here. People say I ramble too much in here already. I didn't go back that far in summarizing history because it wasn't pertinent to this thread, which I think is supposed to be about The Rolling Stones. Over the years Jagger & the boys have occasionally tipped their hats to the giants upon whose shoulders they stood. They never could have done that enough, and they know it. Today there are artists standing on the shoulders of The Stones. It's funny how that works.

Oh. And you forgot to mention Sam & Dave.

"Reports of rocks death are greatly exaggerated."

Rock still lives. Rock & roll? That's long gone. Rock & roll had puppies and died at childbirth. The various forms of rock that exist today are the grandchildren of rock & roll, and barely resemble their ancestry. If you must call today's rock 'rock & roll,' I still say it's rock without soul, and therefore simply doesn't hold a candle to its roots. The Stones were one of the last bands to do rock & roll, and that's not what they do now, because they stopped being daring and became mainstream. I haven't seen rock & roll in decades.

And yes, most certainly you're right about how rock & roll was stolen by white men from soul music which was forged in the hearts of black men. Not just the ones history remembers, but the ones whose names history never bothered to ask.

I wouldn't insult the greats of soul by comparing them to rock & roll. Well, except maybe Little Richard, who was only occasionally soul and then demeaned himself with rock & roll.

Ray Charles was never rock & roll. He sweats soul from his pores. Even today. When Quincy Jones won the Kennedy honor, Ray Charles sang a song to him that stripped his soul bare to the world. I would never insult Ray Charles, man. No way. B.B. King? That's blues, man. Not rock & roll. The black musicians of which you refer are like gods compared to The Stones, who preceded and transcended rock & roll, and gave birth to it. We're simply not worthy.

I think my point was, and I did have one... where'd I put it? Okay. There it is. The Rolling Stones are one of the greats of rock & roll, but they're a shadow of what they once were, and that's to be expected. I see no logic in retreading the past as much as has been done. Sure it's great, but I prefer focusing now on what's happening now, in the streets and bars of the world. The places where Clear Channel & RIAA choose not to look. That's where the music of the future is being forged. I look forward to the textbook of 21st century music, but it's far too soon to start writing that one.

We can argue the details of music evolution but we'll never get it 100% right, and it would take the same amount of words presently archived in Matt's server to even offer the music of the 20th century humble justice.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:27 PM on September 14, 2002

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