Posts Tagged ‘The Rolling Stones’

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There’s some rather good albums out tomorrow. We have new records from Cowboy JunkiesMattielLulucRayland BaxterDirty ProjectorsLoticBody/HeadThe HunnaThe OpheliasImmersion and a new ‘Black Mirror‘ soundtrack, this time from Alex Somers and Sigur Ros on limited white vinyl.

Some nice reissues as well, with coloured vinyl from Tom Waits for the ‘Foreign Affairs‘ album which hasn’t been on vinyl for some years. We also have old albums made new from The LibertinesGrateful Dead, a repress of the King Gizzard ‘Polygondwanaland’ coloured vinyl on Fuzz Club (in standard sleeve packaging) and a Trojan Records 50th anniversary picture disc. Special mention must go to the Holger Czukay/David Sylvian ‘Plight & Premonition and Flux and Mutability’ albums released as a double LP.

Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose

‘Lamp Lit Prose’ arrives just over a year after 2017’s self-titled ‘Dirty Projectors.’ Here David Longstreth’s band returns with a new album that is the yang to the yin of the 2017 effort. The songs signal a page turned for Longstreth: hope instead of heartbreak, a restorative balance. Guitars have returned to the Dirty Projectors’ world, intricate and gorgeous vocal harmony too. The album begins with “Right Now,” David singing, “there was silence in my heart, but now I’m striking up the band.” In addition to the core musicians and guests, LA string group the Calder Quartet, and The Brass Players of Los Angeles both appear on several songs. ‘Lamp Lit Prose’ is a recommitment to the sounds and ideals of Dirty Projectors, embracing the band’s trademarks while pushing forward the sonic envelope.

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Cowboy Junkies   –  All That Reckoning

With Cowboy Junkies’ new album, All That Reckoning, the band once again gently shakes the listener to wake up. Whether commenting on the fragile state of the world or on personal relationships, this new collection of songs encourages the listener to take notice. It also may be the most powerful album Cowboy Junkies have yet recorded.

Jason Isbell  –  Sirens Of The Ditch

The debut album from accomplished guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive By Truckers, is reissued with four unreleased tracks from the original recording sessions. The addition of those extra songs finds ‘Sirens Of The Ditch’ clocking in at 15 total tracks.

Sirens Of The Ditch’’s mystical quality can be partially attributed to the FAME recording studio (Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, Otis Redding) in Isbell’s hometown of Muscle Shoals, AL, where the album was recorded.

Co-produced by Isbell and Patterson Hood (Drive By Truckers), ‘Sirens Of The Ditch’ features Isbell singing lead vocals and playing guitar throughout, joined by Shonna Tucker (formerly of Drive By Truckers) on bass and Brad Morgan (Drive By Truckers) on drums. Several musicians pop in for cameos including Spooner Oldham and David Hood (Patterson’s father) on ‘Down In A Hole’, John Neff (formerly of Drive By Truckers) on ‘Dress Blues’ and Patterson himself guests on ‘Shotgun Wedding’.

“A strong debut, full of the kind of confident, charismatic songwriting that just can’t be taught.”

Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Deafheaven’s new album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, finds them working with old friends again. The Jack Shirley-produced and Nick Steinhardt-art directed (of Touché Amoré) collection gets its title from Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, referencing a moment when someone is looking for love, in all of its imperfection and simple beauty. This sentiment is carried throughout the hazy, yearning romanticism of the record with song titles and words as sumptuous as the sounds around them.

Clarke describes the composition of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love beginning with “small seeds of healing, repair, and rebirth,” and like each subsequent Deafheaven album, this record is, in fact, a revelation. Defeat has inspired some of our best art. If you survive something terrible, you surface on the other side, walk toward the light, and come back to life. If you’re an artist, this kind of new self-knowledge can lead to creating something universal and remembered, something that can live longer than you do.

While Deafheaven have managed to cross over this road in the past, they’ve nailed the feeling wholly with Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, a feeling that comes with experience and wisdom. Yes, everybody deals with hurt, everybody’s been the cause of their own implosions, and everybody has the capacity to overcome and love again. Deafheaven have found a way to externalize all of this, and in making their most complete record to date, they turn it into a balm and a cathartic exorcism.

Body/Head – The Switch

Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten, etc.) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4, Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange, etc), will release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’, on the 13th of July on Matador Records. Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’, from 2013, was more of a rock record

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Ben Folds  –  Brick

Brick – The Songs of Ben Folds, 1996-2012 features 13CDs housed in a unique brick box set.
This collection of 194 tracks spans the career to date of one of the most adventurous and exciting songwriters and performers of his generation, who has not only worked with a diverse range of artists including William Shatner, Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor, but authors Nick Hornby and Neil Gaiman.
In addition to featuring all the Ben Folds Five and Ben Folds’ solo studio albums, the box set also includes the 2002 Ben FoldsLive album, the live album Songs For Goldfish which accompanied the 2005 album Songs For Silverman, the alternative Seeds versions from Stems And Seeds, and all the bonus tracks, b-sides and rarities from the whole period. Ben Folds Five formed in in 1993, accompanied by Robert Sledge (bass, synthesizers, backing vocals) and Darren Jessee (drums,backing vocals), with Folds on lead vocals and piano, this outstanding musical trio forged a path as an incendiary live band. Releasing their self-titled debut album in 1995, the album featured such BFF’s classics as Underground and Philosophy. This was followed in 1997 by Whatever and Ever Amen. The album featured the singles, Battle Of Who Could Care Less and Kate, as well as UK Top 30 and mainstream radio hit in the USA and Australia, Brick. The third and final BFF’s album (until their 2012 reformation) was The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.

In 2001 Folds released his first solo album, Rockin’ The Suburbs, which was recorded in Adelaide, Australia, where he was living at the time. The title track was remade for the 2006 film Over The Hedge, featuring William Shatner on vocal duties (both versions appear on this box set, as well as the five other songs recorded for the film). This was followed in 2005 by Songs For Silverman, which reached no.13 on the Billboard chart. The next year Folds released Supersunnyspeedgraphic, a compilation of songs,which were originally released on the EPs Sunny 16, Speed Graphic and Super D. The final Folds solo album to appear in this box set is 2008’s Way To Normal, which is his highest-charting solo album to date in the US, having entered at no.11 on the Billboard chart. The album featured a guest appearance by Regina Spektor, as well as are mastered follow up version, Stems and Seeds. For this Folds created a different track order and stem files, which allowed the listener to use computer applications to produce their own remixes. In 2011, Ben Folds Five reunited to record new tracks for a Ben Folds retrospective. Excited by the experience, the band reconvened in Folds’ studio and recorded what would become the first BFF’s album for 13 years. With the title track’s lyric supplied by Folds collaborator Nick Hornby, The Sound of the Life of The Mind was to be their highest charting album, reaching no.10 on the Billboardchart. The box includes a 60 page booklet featuring a brand new interview with Paul Myers.

Grateful Dead  – Anthem of the Sun: 50th Anniversary Edition

Anthem of the Sun: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition includes two versions of Grateful Dead’s original album, both of which have been newly remastered: first, the original 1968 mix, and second, the 1971 remix. Both mixes of the albums were remastered by Grammy-winning engineer David Glasser from the original analog master tapes. The second disc boasts a previously unreleased complete live show recorded on October 22nd, 1967 at San Francisco’s Winterland.  It’s been newly  remastered by Jeffrey Norman and marks the first known recording of the Dead with Mickey Hart, who joined the band in September 1967.  A picture disc vinyl edition features the remastered 1971 mix only.

The Rolling Stones  – From the Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999 

The Rolling Stones revisit a 1989 performance from their No Security tour which extended from the band’s Bridges to Babylon outing.  This title will be released on DVD, 2CD/SD (Standard Definition) Blu-ray, 2CD/DVD, 3 LP, and digital audio and video platforms.  Whew!  (The 1998 concert album entitled No Security featured tracks culled from the Bridges to Babylon tour.)

Ben Folds Five  –  The Complete Sessions at West 54th 

This week brings a release from another longtime favorite!  Real Gone Music has the audio debut of Ben Folds Five’s June 9th, 1997 performance for PBS’ Sessions at West 54th of 15 songs including “Brick,” “Kate,” and “Battle of Who Could Care Less.”

This Week’s Releases

Rick Astley – ‘Beautiful Life’ LP
Rayland Baxter – ‘Wide Awake’ LP
Body/Head – ‘The Switch’ LP
Cowboy Junkies – ‘All That Reckoning’ LP
Holger Czukay & David Sylvian – ‘Plight & Premonition/Flux & Mutability’ 2LP reissue
Mikaela Davis – Delivery’ LP
Dirty Projectors – ‘Lamp Lit Prose’ LP
Grateful Dead – ‘Anthem Of The Sun’ picture disc LP reissue
The Hunna – ‘Dare’ limited sparkle vinyl LP
Immersion – ‘Sleepless’ LP
Jason Isbell – ‘Sirens Of The Ditch’ 2LP reissue
The Jayhawks – ‘Back Roads & Abandoned Motels’ LP
The Libertines – ‘Time For Heroes: The Best Of’ red vinyl LP reissue
Lotic – ‘Power’ limited LP
LULUC – ‘Sculptor’ limited maroon vinyl LP
Mattiel – ‘Mattiel’ limited coloured vinyl LP
Nightmares On Wax – ‘Deep Shadows Remixes’ 12″
The Ophelias – ‘Almost’ green vinyl LP
OST: Alex Somers & Sigur Ros – ‘Black Mirror: Hang The DJ’ limited white vinyl LP
Pariah – ‘Her From Where We Are’ LP
The Rolling Stones – ‘From The Vault: No Security – San Jose 1999’ 3LP
Tom Waits – ‘Foreign Affairs’ LP reissue
Wolf Eyes – ‘Dread’ LP reissue
Yes – ‘90125’ limited coloured vinyl LP reissue
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaeed Muhammad – ‘The Midnight Hour’ 2LP
Various Artists – ‘Trojan Records 50th Anniversary’ picture disc LP

There were an astonishing amount of forthcoming albums announced this week that we now have for preorder.  Paul Weller has a new record ‘True Meanings’, out 14th September and a week later there is a new one from Christine & The Queens; you can choose between an English version, a French version or a deluxe box set that contains both versions. October 12th sees a brand new album from John Grant, ‘Love Is Magic’ is released on standard black vinyl 2LP and a limited deluxe clear vinyl 2LP that only us indie stores will have. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds release a live EP on the 28th September called ‘Distant Sky’.

Lots more new albums coming soon too on the way from Seasick Steve, The Proclaimers, Mikey Collins, Slaves,The Lemon Twigs, Black Honey, Nothing, Paul Haig, The Joy Formidable, Mudhoney,Marissa Nadler, Black Peaks, Birdpen and a limited remix 12″ from Parquet Courts.

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On September. 30th, 2016, ABKCO Records released a massive box set including all of the studio albums released in mono by The Rolling Stones in the 1960s. The Rolling Stones in Mono, available in both 15-CD and 16-LP vinyl configurations, as well as Standard Digital, Mastered for iTunes and True HD (96k/24 bit, 192k/24 bit and DSD), contains a total of 186 tracks, 56 of which had never before been heard in mono since the advent of the digital age, according to the original announcement from ABKCO, which retains the rights to the Stones’ early recordings.

The Rolling Stones in Mono covers the formative years of 1963-69 featuring hits like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Get Off Of My Cloud,” “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Paint it Black,” to name a few. The idea behind releasing the collection, the 2016 press release explained, is that, “Most rock and pop recordings were originally recorded in mono, with stereo often an afterthought, dealt with only following the completion of the original (mono) version of a given track.”

Recording engineer Dave Hassinger, who worked with the Stones from 1964-66, explained how he mixed the Stones in mono: “They always played together at the same time,” he is quoted as saying. “They would run the parts down, work out the changes here and there, nail it down, then start recording.”

Fast forward to May 22nd, 2018, and ABKCO has released an official lyric video for the group’s 1967 smash hit, “Ruby Tuesday,” to coincide with The Rolling Stones’ 2018 #NoFilter tour of the U.K. and Europe.

From the announcement: “For this hauntingly beautiful ballad the goal was to create a romantic and evocative visual inspired by 60s design and an independent, free-spirited woman. To enhance the wistful, baroque feel of the verses, densely decorative floral and paisley patterns which form throughout each scene create a rich tapestry of detail. The choruses cut to kaleidoscopic patterns set against a bright ruby red backdrop, ensuring a big hit of colour in contrast to the verses.”

More on “Ruby Tuesday” from the announcement: “The song was written, for the most part, by Stones guitarist Keith Richards in 1966, inspired by Linda Keith, his girlfriend at the time, who had recently left him for a poet named Bill Chenail; soon thereafter she began dating rising star Jimi Hendrix.” “That’s the first time I felt the deep cut,” Richards recollected in his 2010 autobiography Life. “The thing about being a songwriter is, even if you’ve been fucked over, you can find consolation in writing about it, and pour it out . . . It becomes an experience, a feeling, or a conglomeration of experiences. Basically Linda is ‘Ruby Tuesday.’”

The recording features Brian Jones on recorder, Bill Wyman fretting a double bass (with Keith Richards bowing it) and outside help from arranger/composer Jack Nitzsche who played piano on the track. Initially released in January 1967 as a B-side to “Let’s Spend the Night Together,”

“Ruby Tuesday” was featured on the American release of the 1967 album, Between The Buttons. This version features Mick Jagger on vocals, Keith Richards on guitar, Charlie Watts on drums, Ronnie Wood on guitar, Bill Wyman on bass, Matt Clifford on keyboards and French horn, Bobby Keys on saxophone, Chuck Leavell on keyboards, Bernard Fowler on backing vocals, Lisa Fischer on backing vocals, Cindy Mizelle on backing vocals, and the Uptown Horns.

The Rolling Stones / From The Vault: No Security San Jose '99

After a frenetic schedule back in 2015, Eagle Rock’s Rolling Stones ‘From The Vault’ series has slowed down in recent years, with only one release – 2017’s  Sticky Fingers at the Fonda Theatre in the last two and a half years. But the series continues in July, with No Security. San Jose ’99 which is available in the usual variety of formats.

The No Security tour of 1999 was in support of the No Security live album (issued in 1998) which itself used performances from the Bridges To Babylon tourThe ‘Stones were certainly keeping busy during this period, because the Bridges To Babylon tour ended in Sep 1998, only four months or so before they started the No Security tour!

Two shows in San Jose in April ’99 ended the US leg of the No Security tour before the band moved to Europe for nine concerts in June. The band made a point of playing arenas (not stadiums) on the No Security tour, playing to much smaller crowds than they had in ’98. While still not exactly intimate, the idea was to lose some of the special effects and let the music do the talking.

The set list features some sixties classics (but no Satisfaction) and includes songs like Midnight Rambler, Out of Control, Some Girls and Saint of Me.

No Security. San Jose ’99 will be issued as a 3LP vinyl set, a 2CD+DVD package and on blu-ray and DVD on 13th July 2018.

Ryan Adams  was in New Orleans on Saturday to worship The Rolling Stones with the one-off “Exile on Bourbon St.” concert, a full-album tribute to the Stones’ 1972 landmark album “Exile on Main Street”.

Ryan Adams was joined at the Saenger Theatre by a group of New Orleans musicians including Cyril Neville on percussion, John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood on keys and Terence Higgins of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on drums. Erstwhile Stones producer Don Was served as musical director and played bass. All 18 Exile On Main Street songs were on the set list, as was “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (which, of course, was actually on 1971’s Sticky Fingers). La Sera’s Todd Wisenbaker, who worked with Adams on his 1989 covers album, contributed guitar and backing vocals.

The performance featured some long jams on the songs Keith Richards probably would hate, and other moments of artistic license, like the honky-tonky swing of “Sweet Virginia” subbed out for a more ponderous alt-rock feel.

Adams did treat fans to a couple of extra tunes in the encore, including ‘Wild Horses’ and ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ from 1971’s Sticky Fingers, and ‘The Worst’, from 1994’s Voodoo Lounge.

Exile On Main St. was released back in May of 1972 after being recording the previous year while The Rolling Stones were living in France as tax exiles. Touching on a wide variety of topics and themes while utilising a number of musical styles, the album has often been considered by many music critics as one of the group’s finest works, and one of the greatest albums of all time.

Earlier in the week, Adams tweeted a photo of his telecaster and some crib notes for the 18 songs that would make up the show, writing. “The hardest Rolling Stones songs to learn are weirdly the ones with the least chord changes.”

Some of the songs were performed faithfully, though others were given a new tempo or some extra jangle. “Sweet Virginia,” for one, was slowed way down and played more as a ballad than a country stomper. Watch the band perform that one, plus “Tumbling Dice” and a nine-minute version of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

The iconic singer-songwriter Ryan Adams headlined his Exile on Bourbon St. an incredible group of musicians performed one of the greatest albums in music history, Exile on Main St., in its entirety. “I’ve listened to all the multi-track tapes from the EXILE period and it’s not hyperbolic to say that this is probably the greatest rock ‘n roll ever recorded! I can’t wait to dig deep into these songs with The Mighty Ryan Adams and this incredible group of musicians,” says Don Was,

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During rehearsals, I draw up set lists on big canvases, putting down the songs and the keys they’re in. We hang these set lists on the rehearsal room walls so we know where we’ve been and where we’re going.’ – Ronnie Wood

Over the last two decades, each song the Rolling Stones have played in rehearsals has been recorded by Ronnie Wood in a series of hand-painted set lists. The result is a unique collection of canvases that document sell-out tours across the globe, such as the band’s landmark 50 & Counting tour, historic concerts such as 2016’s performance in Havana, as well as closed-door sessions for their latest album, Blue & Lonesome.
Now for Genesis subscribers and for all fans of the Rolling Stones, we are delighted to present Ronnie Wood’s painted set lists for the first time. Choose from three new limited editions, each signed by Ronnie Wood.
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I illustrate the band’s set lists, sometimes Keith and Mick add little doodles, and they become works of art in their own right.’ – Ronnie Wood

Ronnie Wood has chosen nearly 100 painted set lists to be published for the first time. Presented in chronological order, the collection follows the group’s travels to foreign rehearsal locations that were kept secret at the time. They reveal the songs rehearsed for historic performances, such as the Rolling Stones‘ 2014 inaugural concert in Israel, as well as documenting the shows as eventually played. The colourful hand-lettering recalls Wood’s early art school days when he worked as a sign writer. The set lists are visually eye catching and filled with fascinating details. Wood’s calligraphy is interspersed with his own illustrations, doodles by fellow band members, and jotted notes that all add up to paint a picture of life on the road with the Rolling Stones.

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‘It could be somebody coming in at the wrong moment, or forgetting the arrangement and suddenly going to the middle eight, when you can see Keith mouthing, “What the hell is he doing?” It’s all part of what keeps the band vibrant.’ – Ronnie Wood

In a new manuscript spanning 212 pages, Wood offers a glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most famous rock bands in the world. Through Wood’s artwork and his personal reflections, the reader is given an insight into the band’s touring over the years.

Throughout the book, Ronnie Wood brings the story of the set lists to life, as he discusses the band’s creative process, learning up to 80 songs per tour; personal highlights, such as Valentine’s Day 2014, when a small group of fans were invited into rehearsals; collaborations with fellow musicians such as The Black Keys, Eric Clapton, Florence Welch and Jeff Beck; and the band’s various reunions with former Rolling Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor.

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The Set Pieces book is limited to only 1,000 numbered copies, each signed by Ronnie Wood.

Presented in a cloth-bound slipcase, the 212-page volume is quarter bound in burgundy leather with purple and gold screen-printed covers – emblazoned with the lizards that feature on one of Ronnie’s custom-made guitar straps. Ronnie Wood’s large format Set Piecesbook (page size: 297mm x 420mm / 11 ¾” x 16 ½”) is hand-finished with gilt page edging and tooling.

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In 1965, The Rolling Stones were on the cusp of true rock ‘n’ roll greatness, and the album “Out Of Our Heads”, released on the Decca label, would further entrench their reputation. One of my absolute favourite Stones albums is their third British release ‘Out Of Our Heads’. Issued in 1965 on Decca, this album sounds so much punkier and heavier than the two blues/R&B albums preceding it. As soon as ‘She Said Yeah’ smashes through your speakers like a sledgehammer it’s a full on experience until ‘I’m Free’ closes the album.
I realise that other countries had a different track selection for this album but I’ve always found the British issue to be the best because Decca didn’t pad it out with singles.
Available as the killer Mono issue (pushing around £200 for mint copies) and the Stones first album to be issued in (very poor) Stereo in Britain (much rarer but still around £200). An essential album.

Having returned from an American tour, the band were cocked and primed with a collection of soul material, much of which remained unknown to the bulk of English teenagers at the time, meaning that The Stones could record their own versions safe in the knowledge that whatever they presented was as fresh and exciting as anything from the other side of the Atlantic.

The US edition of the album opens with Don Covay’s 1964 soul hit “Mercy, Mercy,” and while not quite as superb as the original, The Stones do a pretty good job all the same in at least capturing the song’s essence. Next is Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike,” where the English quintet assert their ever-growing sophistication in emulating American black music, albeit with an English bent.

Apparently “The Last Time” owes its origins from an old gospel tune, given a complete Phil Spector makeover (i.e. his famous ‘wall of sound’), and transformed into something else entirely. Backed with the spiteful ballad “Play With Fire,” both tracks would prove to be one of their most popular and strongest singles yet of self-penned material. Another original (a rarity for this album) is “The Spider And The Fly,” a R&B/Jimmy Reed inspired number and one that would become a staple of their early shows throughout this period.

The band’s cover of Bert Russell’s soul classic “Cry To Me” and Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” are both strong cuts, despite Jagger’s vocal limitations . Otis Redding’s (although written by Roosevelt Jamison) “That’s How Strong My Love Is” is given a fine reworking, so too “I’m All Right,” a recording which first appeared on the EP Got Live If You Want It.

A special mention should be made of founding member Brian Jones, whose spirited playing shines throughout this record, and whose contribution to The Stones sound and look when starting out should never be forgotten, nor underestimated. Just listen to the way he wails his harmonica on “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man,” and his acoustic guitar during “Good Times.” Jones may not have been much of a songwriter, yet his presence and talent as a musician was just as important as Jagger and Richards themselves.

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is arguably the standout track, with Jagger’s insouciant delivery and Richards’ tough as steel main riff. Along with “The Last Time,” “Satisfaction” was the song which helped propel the group to #1 in both the UK and US, a position from which they rarely deviated off from this point onwards.

From an historical perspective, Out Of Our Heads is just as important as anything the band would go on to record over the next few years. This was largely raw, gritty English R&B the way it should be. And even after all this time, it hasn’t dated one iota.

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The Rolling Stones have announced dates for the No Filter tour that will bring them to the U.K. and Europe from May to July. It’s the band’s first run of U.K. dates in five years. Pre-sale tickets for most of the 11 stadium shows starts on February. 27th, with sales for the Dublin, France and Czech Republic shows to follow. General sales begin on March 2nd. You can see the full list of dates below.

The Stones won a Grammy last month for their return-to-roots LP Blue & Lonesome in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. It was their third-ever Grammy, not including a Lifetime Achievement Award. A few weeks earlier, Billboard listed Blue & Lonesome as the ninth-biggest album of 2017. The covers set came about by accident as the band prepared to record an album of new original songs; they’d become distracted during the sessions by playing some of their favorite older tunes instead.

The original record remains on hold. Singer Mick Jagger had noted they had only “half an album” of material recorded. ”It’s like putting it on top of the strainer and seeing what soaks through by the time you come back to them again,” guitarist Ron Wood said. “The lumps that are left on top after time has gone by, that’s what you make your dough out of. It wouldn’t surprise me if we recut them all again. It’s one of those things.”

The Stones have now been in business for 56 years, but guitarist Keith Richards wrote on the band’s Twitter account that they “haven’t finished yet. It’s still too early to talk about the Stones’ legacy. There’s one thing that we haven’t yet achieved and that’s to really find out how long you can do this. It’s still such a joy to play with this band that you can’t really let go of it.”

If 1967 was a year of introduction and innovation in rock ‘n’ roll—from Monterey Pop to to the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and the launch of Rolling Stone Magazine  1968 was a proving ground, when a handful of the stars who had sprouted in the “Summer of Love” came to full flower in the psychedelia age. Artists from both sides of the pond, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Aretha Franklin, Cream, Traffic and Jefferson Airplane felt free to chip further away at old molds and pursue a daring new musical muse. It was an epochal year for established artists as well. The Beatles splintered in the studio, but their individual contributions to a self-titled double LP, the so-called “White Album”, amounted to some of the band’s greatest work and, in retrospect, unlocked a few imminent solo careers. It was a double album released by the Beatles  containing strong flavours of blues and rock’n’roll, Does this now mean the Beatles are taking a step backwards? As Ringo Starr philosophically remarks: ‘It’s not forwards or backwards. It’s just a step.’

John Wesley Harding

The year started out with what may well have been the finest album of the year, Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding. Midway through the year some tapes of Dylan’s were uncovered which were equally brilliant. Several of the songs on them came out on an album by The Band, Music From Big Pink. The best things on their album were not the Dylan songs, most of which sounded forced and strained, and by no means as good as Dylan’s own version of them on the tape. Rather, the highlights were the songs written by lead guitarist Robbie Robertson. “The Weight” was typical of the group’s low-down, country-soul, rock and roll performing and was one of the finest recordings of the year.

Bob Dylan also sets an anomalous tempo, established early in the year with the bucolic minimalism of ‘John Wesley Harding’. Dylan’s continued absence from the promotional scene allows him to move with a freedom not permitted his British contemporaries, and his absence creates a vacuum that myth, and under-the-counter recordings, step in to fill. British groups like The Who, meanwhile, grasp the opportunities of America. So effectively in fact, that their live shows were stupendous as they were chaotic.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers

The Byrds continued to go through personnel changes at least four times a year but in between times came up with two of the year’s great albums: The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The latter was a fine, straight country album with gorgeous, free harmonizing and excellent material. The former was perhaps their best album to date, and surely one of the five or so best of the year. David Crosby made some brilliant song-writing contributions, but the album was mainly Roger McGuinn’s and neither he nor anyone else in rock has often equalled such cuts as “Get To You” and “Artificial Energy.”

The Grateful Dead bored a lot of people with their much awaited second release, Anthem of the Sun and Moby Grape disappointed those who know that they are (or at least were) one of the finest live bands in the country with a very mediocre second album, Wow. On the other hand, the Rascals, long thought of as a teeny bopper group, continue to mature and develop and had at least one fine single this year: “People Got To Be Free.” 

Among individual artists, Laura Nyro began to receive the recognition she deserves, and many idolize her Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Johnny Winter, a recently discovered white Texas blues singer has already created a large following on the basis of a few guest appearances in New York. San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham rents a vacant New York theater and opens the Fillmore East concert venue.

Canadian rock band Steppenwolf release their debut album including the single “Born to Be Wild” and San Diego Rock band Iron Butterfly releases the album In A Gadda Da Vida considered to one of the first incarnations of the genre heavy metal albums.

The Rolling Stones grew out their roots with “Beggar’s Banquet”, while The Kinks and The Zombies took giant leaps forward with new and imaginative masterpieces that forever altered their trajectories. Plus we were introduced to a bunch of new faces to the pantheon:  The Doors, Sly Stone, Fleetwood Mac, Tim Buckley and, oh yes, Led Zeppelin. British rock and roll this year was dominated by blues bands. Ten Years After managed to kick up a lot of dust, Procol Harum continued to grow into its style and came up with a fine album, Shine on Brightly.

Pink Floyd lead singer and song writer Syd Barrett is checked into a psychiatric hospital and the band replaces him with David Gilmour.

Rock ‘n’ roll was at its most free in the pre-Woodstock glow of 1968. The Beatles went to India, Johnny Cash went to Prison at Folsom with one of the great live albums ever released, the Rolling Stones put a mobile studio in a truck, The Monkees went off the air. But it couldn’t ignore what was happening in the world riots, assassinations, war, a doomed election, space travel, poverty, drugs, Civil Rights, women’s liberation. All of it seeped into the art of the free-love counterculture with that strange combination of militant idealism and comical self-regard, as though it were clear that humanity would one day look at 1968 for a generation’s heroes and villains. Fifty years later in 2018 we are in the midst of a modern drug epidemic, a tarnished presidency, a growing underclass and a renewed vigor for social progress.

Here are some of the best albums of that momentous year in no particular order.

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

The Byrds,  – Sweetheart of the Rodeo’

Even though David Crosby was booted from the Byrds in late 1967, the band had a pretty great 1968. In addition to the excellent ‘Notorious Byrd Brothers’ album, the restructured group released ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo,’ the granddaddy of all country-rock records. Credit goes to newcomer Gram Parsons, who helped steer the Byrds in this new direction. By the time the album came out in August, Parsons was gone and most of his vocals had been replaced (you can hear his recordings on the various reissues). But it didn’t matter in the long run — his, and the album’s, influence still resonates today.

Dock Of The Bay

Otis Redding, The Dock of the Bay   Released: February. 23rd

In some ways, 1968 began with a great sadness. On December. 10th, 1967, the blossoming soul star Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash in Wisconsin that also claimed the lives of four of his band members. The tragedy had taken not just one of the era’s most distinctive singers, but an artist standing at a new horizon for R&B music. Days before his death, Redding had recorded a new composition ”(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay,” a lilting ray of sunshine that found a winsome Otis Redding unwinding his tight groove sound and opening up new worlds for his soul.

Released posthumously in February 1968, The Dock of the Bay showcased Redding for the mainstream audience he had courted at Monterey Pop the previous summer. “Let Me Come on Home” was the hard-driving, horn-happy rocker; “The Glory of Love” the arpeggiated slow burn; “Tramp” the naughty call-and-response with Carla Thomas. It wasn’t the album Redding was supposed to make in 1968, but it nevertheless served as the crossover breakthrough he always had in him.

Cheap Thrills

Big Brother & Holding Company, Cheap Thrills  – Released: August. 12th

Cheap Thrills, the second album featuring Janis Joplin, marked the emphatic emergence of the Texas-born singer in the San Francisco band that had already found some local success without her. Propelled by a star-making appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 that netted the band a deal with Columbia Records, Janis Joplin’s wavering, powderkeg voice quickly dominated the band’s psych-blues repertoire and raised the bar for practically every fiery vocalist to follow. Album entries “Summertime” and “Piece of My Heart” became signature songs, the vehicles with which she stunned the pop world with her grit and femininity, fusing her inner torment and strife with her public persona. Cheap Thrills topped the charts, one of the few products of San Francisco’s emerging underground to earn a mainstream embrace. The album’s cover, by illustrator R. Crumb, remains one of the most iconic of the era.

Truth

Jeff Beck,  –  Truth  

Jeff Beck’s first solo album following his departure from the Yardbirds in 1966 picks up where he left off with the influential British blues rockers: covering blues classics, standards from the Great American Songbook and even one of his old band’s songs. The guitar hero’s group on ‘Truth’ — including singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood  would get co-billing on the follow-up album, 1969’s ‘Beck-Ola.’ They deserve it here too.

Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake

Small Faces, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake  –  Released: May 24th

Marking a definitive break from Small Faces’ early mod and R&B underpinnings, the two-act Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake was a bold move into the realms of stylish psychedelia and the eccentric affectation of late ‘60s English invention. Although more than a hint of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane’s Cockney humor was inescapable—the whimsical “Rene” and “Lazy Sunday” being obvious examples—two bold anthems, “Song of a Baker” and “Long Agos and Worlds Away,” predated Led Zeppelin’s arch bombast by several months.

At the time, the round album cover, made to resemble a tobacco tin, and the sidelong gibberish of “Happiness Stan,” a pseudo fairytale narrated by English actor Stanley Unwin, also garnered plenty of attention. One of the first concept albums ever envisioned (and basically unplayable live), Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake remains a little appreciated musical masterpiece. Small Faces would disband the following year.

Wheels Of Fire (Remastered)

Cream, Wheels of Fire  –  Released: August

Wheels of Fire had a hard precedent to follow, coming as it did on the heels of Cream’s 1967 sophomore breakthrough, Disraeli Gears and the blues-embossed psychedelia that preceded it. Nevertheless, laden with such classics as “White Room,” “Politician” and a sterling remake of the Robert Johnson classic “Crossroads” that became a microcosm of Eric Clapton’s entire career as a blues-nicking guitar deity, it managed to express the full potency of this startling supergroup (with Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums) and ensure their immortality. By taking the idea of a double disc to a new level of productivity—half live, half studio—Wheels of Fire also made full use of the trio’s songwriting chops and their ability to improvise onstage. Rarely has there been such a sprawling effort capable of bringing out that ability with such flourish and finesse. This was Cream’s last real album-length musical document, with only 1969’s abridged Goodbye to follow.

We're Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention  –  We’re Only It for the Money

More so than any other record on our list of the Top Albums of 1968, the Mothers‘ third record is the one with the most direct link to ‘Sgt. Pepper’s.’ And not just because its original parody cover photo — which ended up inside the LP after the Beatles’ management objected — is a fierce slap to the earlier record. Frank Zappa and crew’s concept album satirizes tons of Summer of Love standbys, including hippie idealism, left-wing thought processes and over-the-top concept albums.

Traffic (Remasters)

Traffic, Traffic  Released: October

A follow-up to their excellent and eclectic debut, Traffic’s eponymous sophomore set found a fully congealed ensemble. The on-again, off-again participation of Dave Mason was now fully present, if only temporarily for this effort. Indeed, this was the album that represented Traffic’s transition from woodshed romanticism to forerunners of new iconic invention, a sound simultaneously purveyed by The Band in their early Americana guise. Several of the standout songs—”40,000 Headmen,” “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring,” “Pearly Queen”—offered druggy swirls of hippie-rock and tight soul embodied by Steve Winwood’s preternatural tenor and organ playing. Mason’s highlight, “Feelin‘ Alright,” would become a rock-radio smash for Gospel-tinged covermeister Joe Cocker the following year, and remains a mainstay in Mason’s live repertoire to this day. The definitive Traffic album, Traffic is another underrated monument of 1968.

Odyssey & Oracle by ZOMBIES (2011-01-21)

The Zombies, Odyssey and Oracle  –  Released: April 19th

One of the ‘60s great unsung masterpieces of that hallowed decade, the Zombies’ Odyssey and Oracle followed on the heels of the group’s early hits “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There,” while marking a giant leap forward. It was a set of songs flush with bold experimentation and baroque innovation, a concept not unlike that of Sgt. Pepper and other ornate musical ventures of the day. Ironically, The Zombies had broken up by the time Odyssey came out, and with its eventual smash hit, “Time of the Season,” it became a sad swan song that failed to reap the appreciation it deserved. Al Kooper championed its release in the U.S., but tepid label support doomed it to the cut-out bins practically from the get go. The original band recently reconvened (sans the late guitarist Jim Atkinson) to play the album live in its entirety, helping regain the critical kudos that evaded it originally.

At Folsom Prison (Legacy Edition)

Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison  –  Release: May

When Johnny Cash arrived at Folsom Prison in California on January. 13th, 1968, he was fortunate that he was there to perform for inmates and not join them behind bars. Cash had spent much of the previous few years in a drug spiral, watching his career and his life circle the drain. He was looking to revitalize his waning career, and a prison concert seemed the ideal vehicle—if Cash had always empathized with jail-bound convicts and the lonely despair that comes with the life, now he felt he could speak directly to them on terms everyone could understand. He had recorded the “Folsom Prison Blues” single back in 1955, and here was an opportunity to put faces to names. Proving that the concert was directed at a very specific audience, Cash performed a set of songs (two sets actually, which were combined into one 15-song album) that resisted self-help bromides and spiritual guff. “Dark as a Dungeon,” “The Long Black Veil” and “25 Minutes to Go” evoked the cynicism and gloom of living in captivity. Little did Cash expect, it also resonated loud and clear with a global audience who for one reason or another felt the sting of living in bondage even as they walked free.

Astral Weeks

Van Morrison, Astral Weeks   –  Released: November

After attaining his initial success back in Belfast with the band Them and a couple of hits (“Gloria,” “Here Comes the Night”), Van Morrison launched his solo career with a bang in the form of the ubiquitous soul-blaring 1967 hit “Brown Eyed Girl,” off his debut LP Blowin’ Your Mind! But it was the followup that proved to be his magnum opus. Charting new experimental terrain, he initiated a sound that was open-ended and had more to do with jazz, folk, elegiac imagery and pure stream of consciousness. “Cyprus Avenue,” “Sweet Thing,” “Ballerina” and “Astral Weeks” are unbound folk songs lit up with bells, strings, flutes and Morrison’s assured vocal wail. All but ignored in Northern Ireland, the album struck a chord with critics who admired Morrison’s meditative musings and the songs’ cerebral settings. Today, it’s widely recognized as one of the most influential albums of the era and an adventurous chapter in what would be a long and varied career.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

The Kinks, Are the Village Green Preservation Society  –  Released: November. 22nd

The Kinks were never rabble-rousers in the truest sense of the word. For every proto-punk attempt at slash and burn with songs like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” Ray Davies and Co. were able to offer softer laments like “Waterloo Sunset” and “Set Me Free.” With an astute eye for detail, Davies could probe the absurdities of life and turn them into woeful tales of middle-class misery. He found full flourish with the lovely and graceful Village Green Preservation Society, a wonderfully wistful song cycle about idyllic England in more innocent times, flush with nostalgia, nuance and a gentle chiding of civility and sentiment in a storybook world. If Ray Davies chose to look at life through rose-colored lenses, no one could blame him for attempting to engineer this imaginative escape. It was The Kinks‘ sixth album, and final record by the original quartet, bombed when it came out in November 1968 . But it’s now considered the band’s best LP, a straight-faced concept album about Victorian-era mores. It’s lush, pastoral and brimming with gently strummed songs about small-town England that rank among the best songs that Ray Davies has ever written.

Bookends

Simon & Garfunkel, –  Bookends  –  Release: April 3rd

The most fully realized album of Simon and Garfunkel’s middle-period career, Bookends showed that the duo were capable of more than merely poignant, introspective balladry. Only their fourth studio effort, Bookends was fashioned as a concept album that imagined life’s progression from youth to old age. “Old Friends,” a song that more or less became synonymous with the duo’s often stormy relationship, encapsulated that trajectory, but several others stood apart as future standards, including “America,” “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” “At the Zoo,” and an encore performance of “Mrs. Robinson,” culled from the soundtrack to The Graduate, released the year before. At the same time, Bookends would prove an ideal lead-in to Bridge Over Troubled Water, which would follow two years later and elevate the duo to their grand crescendo.

Music From Big Pink

The Band, Music From Big Pink  –  Release: July 1st

The Band’s debut record took an entirely different path from 1967’s candy-colored psych-rock explosion. Bob Dylan’s former backing group stripped down and excavated a form of American roots music that was somewhere between country and folk. Dylan had a hand in some of the songs, but the quintet proved to be one of the most significant groups of their time.

By the time The Band released their debut full-length, they were already a well-known, road-tested outfit who’d played behind Dylan during his infamous electric breakout. But their emergence as architects of archival Americana arrived with Music From Big Pink, an album borne from jams, rehearsals and songwriting sessions at the album’s namesake house in upstate New York. Though elevated in stature at the time thanks to the presence of a few Dylan compositions, the finished album found Robertson, Helm, Hudson, Danko and Manuel tossing off their musical shackles, mixing up instrumental and vocal duties, and creating a vintage variety of folk and country that seemed as effortless as it did brilliant. It was that emphasis on rural roots—the band boasted four Canadians and and Arkansan—that inspired the souped-up backwoods persona they purveyed in both sight and sound. The songs stand the test of time, and indeed, “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “Tears of Rage” and “I Shall Be Released” stand among the most indelible expressions of heartland music ever recorded.

Lady Soul [w/bonus selections]

Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul   –  Released: January. 22nd

It says something about how rare and electrifying Aretha Franklin was in 1968, as a 26-year-old singer making her third album for Atlantic Records, that she could claim the title Lady Soul and not only pull it off, but then wear the crown undisputed for the next 50 years. Aretha Franklin had scored a defining hit—for both herself and women everywhere—the previous year with her cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” then mourned Redding’s death in December. Her mix of exuberance and despair, crying and shouting with every twist of a wounded relationship that haunts the album, courses through Lady Soul.

There’s gospel bliss on ”(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and down-hearted blues on “Good to Me As I Am to You.” She also fearlessly reimagines songs by her most famed male contemporaries, including a simmering cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” which had been a hit for The Impressions. Franklin’s once-in-a-century siren of a voice always powerful, always under complete control—is backed all the way by a crack New York headlined led by organist Spooner Oldham, saxophonist King Curtis and guitarist Joe South.Beggars Banquet

The Rolling Stones, Beggar’s Banquet  –  Released: December. 6th

Following 1967’s critically panned Their Satanic Majesties Request, attempt to cash in on psychedelia, the Rolling Stones revealed their essence on Beggar’s Banquet—a dirty, raw, set of originals that injected some country twang into the band’s R&B obsessions and set the mold for the iconic Stones sound that would stretch on for another 50 years.

Like a few other artists on our list of Albums of 1968, unplugged and settled into a more gutsy rock ‘n’ roll groove for their seventh LP. Acknowledging, but without directly borrowing from, the usual R&B and blues influences, the Rolling Stones crafted an album that’s simultaneously raw, scary and sinister. More than that, it launched a staggeringly fruitful creative period (which continued through 1972’s career milestone ‘Exile on Main St.’) when the Stones more than earned their title as the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Band.

Containing at least three certified Stones classics—“Street Fighting Man,” “Salt of the Earth (featuring a rare lead vocal from Keith Richards) and the signature song “Sympathy for the Devil”Beggar’s Banquet marked the first entry in a four-album run—followed by Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street—that would go down as maybe the greatest winning album streak in rock history.

Sadly, it also marks the final album with Brian Jones’s full participation, and his reliability at the time was clearly in question. The original cover image, featuring a graffiti-strewn lavatory, was rejected by the record label and replaced with an unadorned invitation image that drew instant comparisons to the Beatles’ White Album, which had come out three weeks before. Nevertheless, the inner gatefold, depicting an enthusiastic food fight, ensured the Stones’ depravity wasn’t diminished.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland  –  Released: October. 16th

Jimi Hendrix  radiated genius from the get-go with Are You Experienced? and Axis Bold As Love, his first two albums with the his band Experience in 1967. On Electric Ladyland, he took that extraordinary innovation into entirely new realms that were difficult to define then and remain so now. The trio, with its British rhythm section and American front man, was perfectly suited to their era, and with a supporting cast that included Traffic’s Steve Winwood, Dave Mason and Chris Wood, as well as drummer Buddy Miles and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady, Electric Ladyland redefined the concept of modern rock within a progressive posture. The album boasts everything that Hendrix (who produced it) did well: slinky psych-soul (“Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” the title track), explosive electric blues (“Voodoo Chile”), melodic pop (“Crosstown Traffic,” “Long Hot Summer Night”) and tripped-out sonic explorations that take the listener under the sea (“1983… A Merman I Should Turn to Be”) and into the heavens (“And the Gods Made Love”). His version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” showcased his ability to put an indelible mark on any popular music of the day, making it little wonder that even now, half a century later, the final studio effort recorded in Hendrix’s lifetime continues to set an almost unattainably high bar. Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland was the only two record set of the year that made it in my book. He is the authoritative lead guitarist, the coolest showman, an excellent songwriter, and a constantly improving vocalist. He has one of the finest drummers in pop music working with him and an imagination of touring performers on the scene that day, Hendrix is tops and 1968 was his year.

The Beatles (The White Album)

The Beatles, The Beatles  –  Release: November. 22nd

After the critical success of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the rapid follow-up of the equally colorful and hallucinogenic Magical Mystery Tour, this expansive double-disc allowed the four Beatles both to stretch out artistically and reconnect with their roots in a way that would be further explored with the bare bones concept for their 1970 swan song, Let It Be.

A series of solo excursions made by an increasingly fractured band, the so-called White Album collected songs composed while the Fabs were meditating in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It mostly resisted the pressure to address the social upheaval swirling outside the doors of EMI Studios (later called Abbey Road) and focused instead on wide-ranging song craft, with each member managing to create some of his most lasting work despite—or maybe because of—the infighting and tension that plagued the recording sessions. Lennon emerged with “Dear Prudence,” Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” “Sexy Sadie” and “Revolution 1”; McCartney composed “Martha My Dear,” “Blackbird,” “I Will” and “Helter Skelter”; and Harrison contributed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Long Long Long” and “Savoy Truffle.” Taken together, they form what many consider to be among The Beatles’ greatest collection of songs.

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On December 6th in 1969: the infamous concert known simply as ‘Altamont’ (officially,The Altamont Speedway Free Festival), headlined by The Rolling Stones & also featuring Jefferson Airplane, Santana, CSN&Y, & The Flying Burrito Brothers, took place at the speedway of the same name outside of San Francisco, California; The Stones had organized the show as a free ‘thank you’ concert, but hired Hell’s Angels instead of police for security; four people died in the crowd of 300,000, including Meredith Hunter, stabbed to death by the Angels; many music historians consider the event a milestone marking ‘the end of ’60s innocence’; the 1970 documentary film ‘Gimme Shelter’ chronicled the last weeks of the band’s 1969 US tour which culminated with Altamont

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The Rolling Stones  –  On Air

On Air is a collection of rarely heard radio recordings from The Rolling Stones formative years. The songs, including eight the band have never recorded or released commercially, were originally broadcast on bygone UK BBC shows such as Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show between 1963 and 1965. These flashbacks offer an insight into the band as a vital and constantly surprising live unit. Such was the frequency with which they visited BBC studios in the 60’s, the group constantly set out to offer listeners something different. As well as songs that never appeared on singles or albums, there are seven tracks that were debuted over the airwaves before featuring on albums or EPs.

The group’s take on familiar R&B staples like Roll Over Beethoven, Memphis, Tennessee and Beautiful Delilah (all originated by Chuck Berry) illustrate the verve and energy the Stones regularly brought to their live shows. The BBC would urge them to perform their current singles, and while happy to do so they also relished the opportunity to showcase a fuller picture of their prowess as Britain’s foremost blues outfit, packing clubs and ballrooms night after night.

Among the tracks, first heard ringing out of transistor radios over a period of just under two years, is Come On, the group’s debut single and also the first number laid down for the iconic Saturday Club, hosted by the late, legendary Brian Matthew. Other highlights include the strutting Fannie Mae(originally recorded by bluesman Buster Brown in 1959), Tommy Tucker’s Hi Heel Sneakers, and Bo Diddley’s Cops And Robbers. Nestling among the illustrious and well-chosen cover versions, are raw and vibrant renditions of Stones Jagger / Richards originals, such as (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, The Last Time and The Spider And The Fly in a form closer to the thrilling immediacy of the band’s live shows than on vinyl. These recordings bring the listener as near as possible to the excitement of the era without actually being there in person. If last year’s collection of new recordings of past masters Blue and Lonesome presented the Stones returning to their roots after more than 50 years, On Air is the perfect “sister” compendium, a lovingly curated and restored treasure trove that puts the listener front and centre in the eye of the original storm. To help recapture the spirit of the songs when they were first performed, the tapes have gone through a process called “audio source separation”, which involved de-mixing the transcripts and allowing engineers at Abbey Road access to the original instrumentation and voices within each track, so that they could be rebuilt, rebalanced and remixed to achieve a fuller, more substantial sound. The end result is the Stones at their most passionate and intense, transporting listeners back to the band’s lean and hungry years when their standing as household names was already assured, and global domination was just 12 bars away.

The variety of radio shows from which the material is compiled is testament to the special relationship the Stones had with the BBC from the very beginning of their recording career. The music speaks for itself, but ‘On Air’ also serves as an important historical artefact, and an essential of the group’s impressively evergreen canon. On Air offer a unique insight into the formative days of The Rolling Stones a few years before ‘The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World’ became a reality this was a band playing the music they loved so much – Blues, R&B, Soul and even the odd country song. Performing these songs night after night in clubs and dancehalls meant they are all honed to perfection and performed with the genuine love and affection that The Stones have for their musical heritage.

The Rolling Stones’ On Air marks the first wide release of any of the band’s live BBC sessions, recorded during the beginning of their storied career.  An audio companion to the recently published book of the same name, On Air features a bevy of tracks recorded between 1963, when the group appeared on Saturday Club just months after the release of their debut single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” and 1965, when the band returned to the show armed not only with more great blues and soul covers but a new original, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Available in 1CD and 2CD formats, as well as a 2LP vinyl edition (which replicates the contents of the 1CD version).

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Muddy Waters  –  Electric Mud

Third Man Records reissue of Muddy Waters’ fifth studio album Electric Mud, which comes as a continuation of Third Man’s partnership with Universal Music Group and the Estate of Muddy Waters. The album, which Chess originally released in 1968 has not seen a legitimate domestic vinyl release since 2002, despite its enormous influence on generations of blues rockers. It features members of Rotary Connection as Muddy’s backing band and was very controversial upon its release for its fusion of electric blues with psychedelic elements. The album is now recognized as a forward-thinking classic, sampled extensively by artists like The Black Keys and Gorillaz.

Van Morrison  – Versatile

Van the man releases his 38th studio album Versatile, which arrives less than three months after the singer released his 37th studio album Roll With the Punches. While Roll With the Punches, found Morrison reinterpreting the work of blues and soul legends like Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley and Little Walter, Versatile sees the Irish crooner shifting to jazz standards like George and Ira Gershwin’s A Foggy Day and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You and Unchained Melody, popularized by the Righteous Brothers. Like Roll With the Punches, the covers are interspersed with Morrison originals; the singer penned seven new songs for Versatile, including an arrangement of the traditional Skye Boat Song.

For his second studio album of the year, Van Morrison has turned to the classics.  Versatile features six Morrison compositions alongside jazz vocal standards and other legends of the Great American Songbook.  Of the six Morrison-penned songs, three are originals and three have been previously recorded: “I Forgot That Love Existed,” “Only a Dream,” and “Start All Over Again” – on Poetic Champions Compose (1987), Down the Road (2002), and Enlightenment (1990), respectively.  Flautist Sir James Galway appears on the new Morrison song “Affirmation.”

Neil Young and Promise of the Real  –  The Visitor

In addition to new single Already Great, the 10-track album The Visitor also includes Young’s patriotic Children of Destiny, which the rock legend surprise-released on July 4th. Young recorded that song at Hollywood, California’s famed Capitol Studios alongside Promise of the Real – led by Willie Nelson’s son Lukas – and a 56-piece orchestra; in total, 62 musicians played on the track. The Visitor, also arrives less than a year after Young released his solo Peace Trail in December 2016; earlier that year, Young and Promise of the Real unleashed their double-disc live LP Earth.

Neil Young with the band Promise of the Real for his latest studio album on the same day that he opens his online archives for business.  Songs like “Already Great,” “Fly by Night Deal,” and “When Bad Got Good” show Young as fiercely political and fiery as ever.

U2  –  Songs of Experience 

U2 return with their hotly anticipated new studio album Songs of Experience. Recorded in Dublin, New York and Los Angeles, Songs of Experience was completed earlier this year with its subject matter influenced by Brendan Kennelly’s* advice to Bono, to “…write as if you’re dead”. The result is a collection of songs in the form of intimate letters to places and people close to the singer’s heart: family, friends, fans and indeed himself. Songs Of Experience is the companion release to 2014’s Songs Of Innocence, the two titles drawing inspiration from a collection of poems, Songs of Innocence and Experience, by the 18th century English mystic and poet William Blake. Produced by Jacknife Lee and Ryan Tedder, with Steve Lillywhite, Andy Barlow and Jolyon Thomas, the album features a cover image by Anton Corbijn of band-members’ teenage children Eli Hewson and Sian Evans.

U2 is garnering acclaim for this newest studio album, a follow-up to 2014’s Songs of Innocence.  

Wilco, A.M. / Being There

Wilco revisits its first two albums this week.  A.M., the band’s 1995 debut, is expanded on 1 CD or 2 LPs with eight previously unreleased bonus tracks, including “When You Find Trouble,” the last track recorded by Jeff Tweedy’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo.  The band’s sophomore double album, Being There, morphs into a 5-CD or 4-LP box set by pairing the original album with a disc of 15 unreleased outtakes and alternates plus a clutch of live material recorded in Los Angeles just after the release of the original album. (The vinyl includes a radio set for KCRW-FM, while the CD box has that, plus a lengthy show recorded at The Troubadour a day before that appearance, on November 12th, 1996.)

Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols: 40th Anniversary Edition

UMG revisits the long out-of-print 2012 Super Deluxe Edition of The Sex Pistols’ album in a smaller format still boasting 3 CDs which include the original studio album with 1977 B-sides, a disc of outtakes, and one disc of live material. A DVD has 1977 footage of the band playing live from the infamous boat party held on the River Thames, London, the Winter Gardens, Penzance in Cornwall and the Happy House, Stockholm, Sweden.  A 48-page booklet rounds out the set.  Available today in the U.K., and next Friday in the U.S.

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The Skids  –  Scared to Dance

Deluxe Expanded Edition of the debut album by The Skids. Originally released in March 1979 the album spent ten weeks in the UK National Charts, eventually peaking at No.19. The hit singles Sweet Suburbia (No.70), The Saints Are Coming (No.48) and Into The Valley (No.10) are all featured. This three CD edition contains the original album expanded with nine bonus tracks, a second disc with 12 previously unreleased 1978 studio demos (long sought after by collectors of the band) and a third disc with the complete show from a late `78 show at the legendary London Marquee from which the B-side T.V. Stars (Albert Tatlock!) was taken. Each disc comes in its own cardboard wallet and is housed in a clam shell box featuring original album artwork. A 20-page booklet contains lyrics to the album, pictures of all relevant singles and detailed liner notes.

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Hater  –  Red Blinders

Rough Trade Shops top tip.You can imagine John Peel’s hurriedly inaccurate summation of a cold and unforgiving Swedish winter as he juxtaposes the big-jumper-like welcoming warmth of Hater. Their lush and tempered guitars are an almost Marr-approved Smiths-like foil for Caroline Landahl’s beautifully accented and accentuated vocal – it’s a heartwarming brew. Hater are new to the game. Last year’s well-received debut album, You Tried earned comparisons to Alvvays, The Pretenders and even Jefferson Airplane, eclectic for sure, but that’s just incidental. Their new EP distinguishes their very own super polished and intricate guitar-led dreamy pop. Featuring their first single for Fire, the wonderfully forlorn and truly lovesick Blushing (we’ve all been there) and Rest with its haunting monosyllabic guitar break, a super-clean chiming motif that seems like a closing salvo before it regains momentum and brings proceedings to a suitable climax, welcoming back Landahl for one last chorus. The echoey eeriness of Red Blinders could have come right out of the bubble blowing indie pop hey days of the early ‘80s, while Penthouse is a chunkier c86 groove with a wind blowing through its motorik rhythm.

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The Lovely Eggs  –  Cob Dominos

Repressed on their own Lovely Eggs imprint. Described as unhinged, strange, bizarre, cuckoo and howling mad; but with a growing army of fans including Radio One’s Huw Stephens and Art Brut’s Eddie Argos you’d be crazy not to fall in love with their underground grunge-pop sound. Inspired by everyday life, coupled with a fierce ethos that music should be about magic and art and feeling and fun, the Lancashire duo have more in common with writer Richard Brautigan and artist David Shrigley than they do with their musical peers.

Big Country, – We’re Not In Kansas (The Live Bootleg Box Set 1993-1998)

One of the Scottish alt-rock group’s lesser-known periods is examined in this band-approved 5CD set of recordings of live shows across the U.S. and Europe during their second decade.

Other Re-Issues Releases This Week on Vinyl and CD

Suicide – The First Rehearsal Tapes – Superior Viaduct
Olafur Arnalds – Eulogy For Evolution – Erased Tapes
Bob Dylan & The Band – The Basement Tapes – We Are Vinyl
Bob Dylan & The Band – Before The Flood – We Are Vinyl
The Specials – The Specials – Chrysalis
Special AKA – In The Studio – Chrysalis
Tom Waits – Glitter & Doom Live – Anti
Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained – Silver Lining
Andy Human & The Reptoids – Kill The Comma 7″ – Emotional Response
Protomartyr – Under  Color Of Official Right – Hardly Art