Various Artists

Walkin' Thru the Sleepy City

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It's never been too easy to find, but this Japanese compilation will intrigue Rolling Stones fans, as it collects 13 singles from the mid-'60s that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote for other artists, rather in the manner of John Lennon and Paul McCartney writing for Peter & Gordon or Billy J. Kramer. About half of the material would eventually turn up on the Stones' releases (sometimes not until the bottom-of-the-barrel mid-'70s compilation Metamorphosis); they never released their own versions of the rest. Rather surprisingly, the songs are quite mediocre, lightweight Merseybeat/Beatles-style concoctions. When Jagger and Richards began writing for themselves, it took them a good year or so to lock into a fierce R&B/rock groove, and most of these compositions -- some of them quite dreary, actually -- date from the era when they were struggling to find their own identity and vocabulary. The most famous tracks, Marianne Faithfull's "As Tears Go By" and "Sister Morphine" and Lulu's "Surprise, Surprise," are easily available elsewhere. The obscurities by George Bean, Adrienne Porter, the Mighty Avengers, Bobby Jameson, Thee, and Vashti are of historical interest only, and the LP doesn't include the relatively decent songs they penned for Gene Pitney ("That Girl Belongs to Yesterday") and the Toggery Five ("I'd Much Rather Be out with the Boys").