The Rolling Stones

Strictly Stereo: 1964-1969

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Strange as it is to report, many of the Rolling Stones' best-known recordings are not generally available in true stereo. Buy the ABKCO CD reissues of the Stones' albums, and you will hear songs like "It's All Over Now," "The Last Time," and even "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in monophonic sound. As this bootleg album attests, however, that's not because there are no stereo recordings of these tracks. Here they are, in distinct stereo mixes that allow added appreciation of them. Listen, for example, to the way the acoustic rhythm guitar works within the arrangement of "Satisfaction," a detail not previously audible. Other Stones songs from the ABKCO albums, while nominally in stereo, are actually in "rechanneled stereo," that is, a mono track has been manipulated by pushing the higher frequency sounds to one side and the lower frequency ones to the other. "Mother's Little Helper" is a good example of this. The version here is not necessarily an improvement, but it is in stereo. It sounds like the song was recorded on three tracks, with most of the instruments on one track (now hard right), the sitar separately on a second (now hard left), and the echoed, double-tracked vocal on the third (now in the center). The intention probably was always to mix it for mono, which is how it appears legitimately. Much the same thing can be said of "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadow?," on which the various elements in the arrangement can be heard more distinctly, even if the concentrated power of the legitimate mix is dissipated. As of "Out of Time," the compilers seem to be simply repeating the existing stereo mixes of songs from the late '60s. But this album still will be valuable to Stones fans.