9-6-12 The Rolling Stones on SA-CD
Bluesman Jimmy Reed born 1925, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters born 1944
Now here are some re-masterings I did not mind re-buying!
I am generally fond of the 1960’s output of The Rolling Stones, but the two titles which benefit from 2002 DSD re-mastering are “Beggar’s Banquet” (1968) and their final studio album for Decca, “Let It Bleed” (1969).
I think the reason these two titles sound so good now are that they are generally recorded much better than any that came before them. I have a theory about the evolution of recorded sound that goes something like, in England in 1970 – someone at Philips figured out how to record loud rock bands. The touchstone album I can recommend to illustrate my point is the debut album by Gracious!, simple called “Gracious!” – on the Vertigo label, released 1970. On the cover it simply says “Recorded at Philips”. And, boy, does it ever sound good!
A lot of studio work must’ve lead up to this. With both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones recording a lot at the end of the 60’s, the staff of various atudios in England must’ve really gotten a work out from those artists – always wanting to find a new sound. At Decca Records – home of The Stones – there’s the famous story of the engineers telling Eric Clapton that his electric guitar is too loud by asking him, “Does it have to be so loud?” Thankfully, Eric replied, “Yes, it does.” – and from that fateful moment in 1966 onwards, the men at Decca UK were on the road to better recording techniques.
The people who benefited from this scenario were The Rolling Stones. They may have been a loutish / brutish band, but Decca did not back away when they set their equipment up and began work on these two latter day albums. Good clarity in the original recordings; bass has never been their strong point, and thankfully it is not ‘booming’ (as a poorly recorded bass can sometimes sound). The vocals are clear. They accurately recorded the vast array of ‘effects’ that the boys brought with them – fuzz boxes, phlangers, phasers etc.; and a virtual army squadron of percussive implements.
Always amused at The Stones “Let It Bleed” to The Beatles “Let It Be” – it’s clearly a superior title to The Beatles work. The bass on “Live With Me” is the best sound The Stones ever got on vinyl. There’s actually ‘dynamic range’ on “Let It Bleed”! Bass and high end. Jimmy Miller (the producer) was the right man to find all of those myriad guitar sounds for The Rolling Stones of 1969.
And the 2002 SA-CD DSD masterings for “Beggar’s Banquet” and “Let It Bleed” are worth your $12.98 (or however much you can find them for in 2012) for a cleaner, better listening experience.