The Rolling Stones – Rarities 1971-2003

Rarities 1971-2003 (2005)

B

1. Fancy Man Blues 2. Tumbling Dice 3. Wild Horses (Live Stripped Version) 4. Beast Of Burden 5. Anyway You Look At It 6. If I Was A Dancer (Dance Pt. 2) 7. Miss You (Dance Version) 8. Wish I’d Never Met You 9. I Just Want To Make Love To You 10. Mixed Emotions (12” Version) 11. Through The Lonely Nights 12. Live With Me 13. Let It Rock 14. Harlem Shuffle (NY Mix) 15. Mannish Boy 16. Thru And Thru

 

Never one to miss an opportunity to rip off his fans, Mick Jagger had a brilliant idea one day: “hey, let’s release an album called Rarities and then not actually put any rarities on it! Then we’ll sell it at Starbucks, so when a bunch of easily suckered baby boomers shuffle in for their morning coffee, they’ll buy it, expecting to hear a bunch of great rare Stones songs! And then when they bring it home, instead they’ll hear ‘Harlem Shuffle (NY Mix)’ and kill themselves out of confusion! But we’ll still have their precious money! Mwahahahaha!”

OK, that’s probably not exactly how it went down. There are a few real rarities on this so-called rarities collection, i.e. previously unavailable on CD b-sides, alternate live versions and such. But please explain to me exactly how “Wild Horses” off of Stripped is a “rarity.” Or “Mannish Boy” from Love You Live. Last I checked, neither of these albums is particularly rare, and if I want to listen to either of those songs, I can just put on Stripped or Love You Live. Also, while you’re at it, please explain to me whether or not I’m imagining the fact that some guy named Bill Whatsisname used to be this band. My memory is shaky on this one. See, I could’ve sworn they had a dour looking bass player who used to lurk around back near Charlie’s kit up until the early ‘90s or so, but that picture on the cover from the ‘70s only has four people in it! I must be imagining things.

As for the actual “rarities” on this album, you know how bands make “dance remixes” of their songs that aren’t actually meant to be listened to but are only created so that DJs will play them in clubs for coke-snorting metrosexuals and tanning bed-happy nightclub sluts will dance to? Well, the Stones actually put a bunch of those on this album! I mean, who in the world wants to actually sit down in front of their stereo and listen to a 6-minute “trendy” dance mix of “Harlem Shuffle” or “Mixed Emotions?” Nobody, that’s who! However, the extended dance mix of “Miss You” is, on the other hand, pretty cool, mostly due to the fact that the song was actually good in the first place. And the 6-minute version of “Dance” found here is not a remix but rather just an alternate version with a different melody and set of lyrics. I like it! Possibly because I’ve been listening to so much of this late period Stones stuff lately and I’m starting to mistake Emotional Rescue for some sort of golden age for the band.

Even beyond the egregious errors of including non-rarities and stupid dance remixes, Rarities, despite being generally enjoyable in its eclectic unpredictability, is still a pretty badly bungled collection. I know the professed time frame that the disc covers begins in 1971, but don’t expect a bunch of lost gems from the Exile era or anything. Only four of the sixteen songs were recorded before 1989; one is the alternate version of “Dance” and another is a live version of “Beast Of Burden” from the ’81 tour, which leaves only two tracks from the juicy Mick Taylor era. Unsurprisingly, they’re the highlights of the disc. “Through The Lonely Nights,” the b-side of “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll,” is an awfully pretty country-tinged ballad that, boosted by some lovely Keith harmonies and an equally lovely Taylor solo, is considerably better than any of the ballads on the It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll album. Then there’s the b-side of “Brown Sugar,” a live version of Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” recorded at Leeds University in 1971. It’s the Stones playing straight rock ‘n roll in 1971; I don’t have to tell you that it kicks fuckin’ ass. But practically everything else here could’ve been replaced by something better. We could’ve gotten any of the four stellar b-sides from the Voodoo Lounge era; instead we get decidedly mediocre ‘90s live versions of “Live With Me” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You.” We could’ve gotten the soulful “She Was Hot” b-side “Think I’m Going Mad;” instead we got the dreadfully morose “Saint Of Me” b-side “Anyway You Look At It,” which is like a cross between “As Tears Go By” and your grandpa dying slowly on the toilet. On the other hand, we get the bluesy Steel Wheels-era b-sides “Fancy Man Blues” and “Wish I’d Never Met You,” which are surprisingly great, and a terrific version of “Tumbling Dice” recorded for Stripped but not used (that’s right, an actual previously unreleased song! Get out your sparklers and party hats!), that starts out with just Mick and his backup singers harmonizing along to some barrelhouse piano. So not all is lost. Nothing wrong with getting fleeced and still enjoying what you got ripped off for.



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