I figured it was time for another theme week seeing as how I had a lot of releases by arguably the two greatest rock bands of all time waiting for reviews. The classic debate between the Beatles and the Stones is really just about a matter of taste seeing as the two bands are not so drastically different in the style of music they play. It's like watching Star Wars and sometimes you're drawn to the Rebels and other times, admit it, you like the Empire. I love both of these bands and both have the moments. Here's some of those moments captured forever.
The Beatles - Reunions 74 & 92: Well, not exactly a reunion but on these two different occasions, there were semi-reunions. The most interesting being the '74 home sessions with John and Paul (along with guests such as Stevie Wonder and Nilsson) got together simply to jam for fun. The result sounds a bit like band practice, a lot of aimless rambling, but when they do come together to play "Stand By Me" at the end, it's fantastic. The other reunion is Ringo joining George on stage for epic rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Really, this bootleg is for music history nerds like myself and not the casual fan.
The Beatles - Acoustic Masterpieces: Aptly titled, this is one of the best Beatles bootlegs I've ever heard. It's basically early studio sessions for The White Album with acoustic takes on almost every song as well as a bit of Beatles weirdness, the odd little tracks that never made it onto albums. It's completely amazing. Even songs that I don't typically enjoy, (ie. Back in the U.S.S.R) are fantastic.
The Beatles - Songs for Eleanor: This bootleg covers the recording sessions for the Help! film and album. Now, I love the early period Beatles. Help! is one of my favorite albums and this is a great insight on the process of that album. There are multiple takes of many songs, but all in all not too different from the final versions. There's of course some tossed away tracks that are worth a listen, and the prize is really "Yesterday (Take 1)" in which Paul is still teaching the track to the rest, it's beautiful.
The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street Rarities Edition: There was lot of hype when this (one of the best albums ever) was re-released a few months back with addition songs originally left off the album. After listening to it, it's clear most of these tracks were left off for a reason. With the exception of "Pass the Wine", these represent a collection of decent Stones period tracks, but nothing essential. Still though, pretty much anything done by the Stones in the late '60 and early '70s is worth hearing.
The Rolling Stones - headin' for an overload: This concert bootleg features songs from the Sticky Fingers, Goat's Head Soup, Beggar's Banquet, Exile era, the best era of Stones music. The set list is phenomenal, and the band sounds great. However the sound quality leaves something to be desired. Plus, a big part of the Stones live is the energy that can't really be captured on tape. But if you're a nut for concert albums, this is a good one to have.
The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil: Like the Beatles acoustic album above, this one is a must have for any fan of Beggars Banquet. These are outtake sessions featuring completely different arrangements on some songs and acoustic versions of others. If you listen to this and then the original, you can really see how varied and talented this band was.
The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction: I recently spied the '45 for this in a record shop and picked it up, mainly because the edition I bought had a B-Side credited to Nanker/Phelge, the pen name Jagger and Richards used for some raunchier material. The A-Side, though it's been played to death, is still such great song and one of the best riffs in rock.
Rather than review these separately, I'll talk about them as a collection. These are the Stones earliest singles from 1963 and 1964. A lot of tracks are covers (the best being the Buddy Holly "Not Fade Away"). The band hasn't developed it's edge yet, and these are very Beatles-esque tracks, more playful and raw than the Beatles, but in the same category to be sure. There's a lot of fun songs, "Poison Ivy", "Money" and "Tell Me" have always been favorites of mine. There are some tracks where you see the Stones trying to develop their own sound, and though they don't quite make it there, it's always interesting to hear the beginnings of what they eventually become.