Rolling Stones

Compilation Reviews:

1964: Around and Around

Around and Around

Rating: 6.9/10
Rated as
: Compilation
Compilation Status: Historically Interesting
Released: 1964
Recorded: 1963–1964
Specific Genre: British Rhythm&Blues
Main Genre: Rock
: Rock&Roll, Rhythm&Blues, Blues Rock
Label: Decca

Side A: 1. Around and Around 2. Good Times, Bad Times 3. It’s All Over Now 4. Empty Heart 5. Confessin‘ the Blues 6. Not Fade Away
Side B: 7. Bye, Bye Johnny 8. You Better Move On 9. I Wanna Be Your Man 10. 2120 South Michigan Avenue [long edit] 11. If You Need Me 12. Poison Ivy [second version]

What a crazy sound

A compilation of sorts issued 1964 in Germany (and France), and while it contains mostly songs from their second USA-album 12×5 (which was issued a few weeks later!), it was clearly meant to supply the continental market with singles and EP-tracks in the LP-format. Even for the UK-market, this was valuable back then: None of these songs were available on a UK-LP at the time! For all practical purposes, there is no reason not to call this compilation a proper ‘Euro-continental’ album measured against the common categorization of UK- vs. US-albums. But that’s not how things were done, so here we are.

Now, the default position would be that this LP, released not even a year after their first (Lennon/McCartney-penned) hit “I Wanna Be Your Man”, must be obsolete, right? But I find it more interesting than that, musically and as an artefact. To sweep past the music very quickly: early Stones doing Chuck-Berry-rock&roll, unmodified deep blues (Jay McShann’s “Confessin’ the Blues”, a choice cut to cover!), soulful Motown-ish rhythm&blues, like the classic shuffle “Empty Heart”, ramshackle and off-kilter, background vocals so amateurish that only this band’s amount of charisma can get away with it.

But it does get better: “2120 South Michigan Avenue” is not only a cooking instrumental blues jam shuffle (play that harmonica, Brian), the title refers to Chess Records’ address (where it was recorded) – and it was cut to about 2 minutes for the EP-releases Five by Five and the first LP-release 12×5. This German LP was the only place you could get the longer cut (around 3:40 minutes) before it replaced the short version on a CD-reissue of 12×5 – in 2002, almost four decades later.

Let’s wrap things up. It is notable that Lennon/McCartney gave a song to the Stones with the explicit purpose of finally producing a hit for them – not only did it work, it basically jots down the elementary differences between the bands. While the Beatles would eventually deliver an incredibly vital, chiming version with ascending harmonies for the chorus, the Stones turn in a proto-punk song, Mick channels all the energy of a snotty schoolgirl embarrassed by the lyrics, and the band simply pounds on a bass-heavy, distorted, twangy hulk of a chord for the entire 105 seconds the song lasts. And did anyone notice the cover photo? “Yes, put the old drummer guy in the center, the one who looks like a constipated, overwhelmed barrister. And make sure the cute lead singer has his eyes closed… and have his mouth wide open. Yes, yeah, that’s the one!” Great artefact here overall – and actually essential for the longer edit of “2120 South Michigan Avenue”, unless you’re planning to get the 12×5-reissue.