The Rolling Stones

Totally Stripped

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Released in time for the 21st anniversary of the Rolling Stones' 1995 live album Stripped, Eagle Rock's Totally Stripped package focuses on the visual element. At its simplest, it's a CD/DVD set, with the DVD containing a documentary following the Stones through studio sessions and rehearsals for their club shows in London, Amsterdam, and Paris, while a super deluxe set contains Blu-rays of the full concerts of each of these gigs. In each incarnation, the CD cherry-picks highlights from these live shows, presenting 13 previously unheard performances plus recycling a "Street Fighting Man" initially released on Stripped. That 1995 album didn't rely strictly on hits: the Stones emphasized their roots, covering Buddy Holly, Willie Dixon, and Robert Johnson, while also finding space for country-rock and such rarely played '60s gems as "The Spider and the Fly" and "I'm Free." Comparatively, the CD on Totally Stripped plays it fairly straight, concentrating on hits and live staples. The curve balls are "Faraway Eyes," the Voodoo Lounge single "I Go Wild," and a cover of "Like a Rolling Stone" that was designed as the emphasis track for the Stripped project. So, there may not be a lot of surprises here, but this particular disc retains the same appeal as the original album. Moving from stadiums to theaters reinvigorated the Stones, letting them reconnect with their lithe essence. Charlie Watts drives these performances, giving them a big, hard swing; Keith Richards and Ron Wood weave their guitars with audible glee; and Mick Jagger doesn't toss off the songs, he sings them with the precision his words deserve. The Stones wound up touring for another 20-plus years but this marks a point when they begin to ease into their veteran status, getting more out of revisiting the old tunes than pushing the new ones.

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