The term "Early Years" is pretty nebulous in regards to Rolling Stone's history, since the ten tracks on this collection range from songs recorded before the magazine was publishing (Lovin' Spoonful's 1966 hit, "Summer in the City") to after it was established as the music-industry standard (Little Feat's 1973 classic, "Dixie Chicken"). Between those two extremes are songs that were staples for the magazine's hippie/countercultural audience ("Get Together," "White Rabbit," "Casey Jones"), plus selections from artists like Arlo Guthrie and Delaney & Bonnie that weren't hits but certainly emblematic of the times. Truth be told, the collection is a little scattershot and plays that way -- it's hard not to be scattershot if it bounces from "Time of the Season" to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" -- but all the selections are good, the artwork nicely evokes the classic Rolling Stone layout, and David Wild has some nice notes, so this is good as midline various-artists collections go. Still, it's hard to imagine anybody would actually need to buy it, since it doesn't really offer a clear nostalgia trip, and musically, it's a bit too all over the place to satisfy most listeners.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine