It's difficult to decide which has been more cruelly treated, the Rolling Stones' Decca/London era output or their unofficial catalog. Barely a boot goes by without offering another chronologically challenged romp through the same basic batch of material, yet it would be the easiest thing in the world to actually categorize this stuff. There's the BBC material, which dominates this set; there's the outtakes, which trace the band's own development; and there's the live tapes which, from the early to mid-'60s, can be ignored because they're usually horrible. The whole thing would be easy peasy, but does anyone bother? Not while they can just lump it all together again, and hopefully kid someone that it serves an historical purpose. There is no criticizing the strength of the material here, nor the power of the performances, at least so far as the BBC tracks go. The Stones were at the top of their blues game, outmaneuvering even their studio output as they trawled through their record collections, and hauled out their faves for a distinctive remodeling. Hard to believe, indeed, that a mere two years before, the BBC turned the Stones down because they didn't think much of the singer. Can you say "egg on face"? The studio outtakes which are featured here have their place, too, although bootleg posterity has maybe placed more emphasis on some decidedly substandard mess arounds than it should have. "Andrew's Blues" and "Spector/Pitney" in particular do not need to be reprised any more than they have been, and there's a few others which, as another song says, are now "looking tired." Maybe there is a fledgling Stones collector who has yet to duplicate this material in his collection, in which case, look no further -- you'll love it. For anyone else, though, this is simply an introduction. And you already know these guys too well. Finally, the title's emphasis on the late Brian Jones is as spurious as any other album which claims to illustrate a side of the guitarist that no other has done. Jones did write a few songs for the Stones early on while the Jagger-Richards partnership was still finding its feet. But the bootleggers haven't found them yet, and maybe that's just as well. Apparently they really weren't very good.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson