The Rolling Stones

Bright Lights, Big City

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As you'd expect, there are a ton of Rolling Stones bootlegs, but there isn't a great deal of essential material from the '60s to be found on them. The exceptions are these outtakes from 1963 and 1964, which have popped up under quite a few guises, but most frequently under the Bright Lights, Big City title. The five early-1963 demos were cut shortly before the band signed with Decca, and capture it at its bluesiest and blackest; when Brian Jones was being frozen out of the Stones in the late '60s, it's said that he would play these for listeners as examples of the purity of the group's original vision. With clear fidelity, the standards of these performances are well up to official release; "Baby What's Wrong," "Road Runner," and "I Want to Be Loved" are downright electrifying. The four 1964 cuts were recorded at Chess Studios, and again (with the possible exception of the jam "Stewed and Keefed") are well up to release quality, with fine, spare readings of "Hi-Heel Sneakers," Howlin' Wolf's "Down in the Bottom," and Big Bill Broonzy's "Tell Me Baby." Essential for serious fans.