The Rolling Stones are out on their (likely) final tour and the
time may be right for revisiting their back catalog on SACD. Why? Because — I am
guessing here — a lot of people who bought the reissues back in 2002 are now
either trading in their SACDs for newer remasters or compilations. Maybe it is coincidence, but in the last two
weeks I have found three SACD editions of Rolling Stones albums in the used
racks. What HAS been surprising that the stores selling them we’re not aware of
what they had! This spells a big potential win for the record collector and
audiophile Stones fan!
I mean, really now, it’s not entirely surprising that a young
generation of new store clerks who don’t know about SACDs — and care even less
about The Rolling Stones — might consider these tasty discs a standard CD.
In fact, these audiophile grade recordings take a somewhat
attuned eye to figure out that the discs are actually SACDs. There IS fine
print at the bottom of the actual discs that say they are “hybrid
SACDs” but you can also quickly ID them by checking if the discs are gold
colored versus standard silver issues. Chances are if it is gold it is an SACD.
And as far as I know they always came in a cardboard digipak type sleeve, but
don’t hold me to that…
How do they sound? Great! Beggars
Banquet was my first find and was a massive revelation — so much so that I
have already parted with my quite nice US pressing on LP. The guitar sounds are
wonderful with lots of amplifier-driven tones coming through super clearly.
Their Satanic Magesties’
Request clears up a lot of the psychedelic mush that is common to US
pressings I’ve heard. Never my favorite Stones album, on SACD many great tracks
shine brightly, such as “She’s a Rainbow” and “2000 Light Years
From Home.” The only reason I will still keep my original pressing is that
I have the 3-D cover, which is still really neat (the cd does not have that
element on it, alas).
Finally, I picked up a copy of Metamorphosis which is a dubious Stones album at Best anyway because it collects lots of outtakes and unreleased
versions of popular songs and present them in a rather mishmash fashion.
I never bothered to buy this album back in the day as my
college roomate’s copy left me really flat — it sounded murky. I chalk that up
to crummy mid-seventies vinyl pressing issues. On SACD, however, Metamorphasis is reinvented and many
subtle details I don’t remember hearing (pedal steel!?) jump out of the
speakers. Tracks like “Jiving Sister
Fanny” smoke and the acoustic guitar on songs like Family are really just lovely.
How do you find the Stones on SACD online? It’s not easy and in
fact it’s downright confusing because the folks running the Stones catalog have
been extremely cautious — and diligent — so that there’s almost no mention of
SACD online at retail. So, my advice to you, dear reader, is to get out of your
cocoon, go out to your favorite record stores and look for them
I have picked these up in stores for $10 or less a piece in
recent weeks although I have seen some stores selling for much more, in the
range of $30 to $40 each! Amoeba has some going for about $20. So keep your eyes
peeled see what you can find.
Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector
who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer
electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including
DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. Mark has written for EQ
Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, BigPictureBigSound.com,
Sound+Vision Magazine and HomeTechTell.com.
He is also a musician / composer who’s songs have been used in TV shows
such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. Mark is
currently rolling out a new musical he’s written. www.smotroff.com