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GREATEST HITS ALBUM REVIEW
(1964 - 1972)
Released - 1972, on London (now ABKCO) Records. Produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, Jimmy Miller, The Rolling Stones, and Glyn Johns
(Click on song for writing credits, lyrics and additional musicians) (Year song released below in parenthesis)
Okay, first off, I know I'm a totally hooked Stones freak/junkie, and every song on Hot Rocks I rate a solid ten But that isn't just the Stones fan in me, hell no! Just look at some of my past reviews of Stones' albums and you will see how low I've rated several of their songs from many of their studio albums. The songs on Hot Rocks are as great as the ratings I gave them, and you don't need to be a Stones fan to know this. What you hear on this great album is some of the Stones best output from the 1960s.
The Stones had just put out a greatest hits album - Through The Past Darkly, in 1969, only two years before this one, so why another greatest hits package so soon? Well the former was put out shortly after the death of Brian Jones, and in his memory. But after their label, London/Decca Records, held up the release of Beggar's Banquet for months in 1968 because of the cover art work, the band planned on and finally started their own label, Rolling Stones Records in 1971. They had an agreement with London/Decca Records that a (this) greatest hits album would be released to forefill their contract. Boy, were we Stones fans happy that this one came about!
The Stones back in the 1960s were the number two band in rock, behind the great Beatles. But really, even though there were so many other great '60s rock bands out back then, the Stones were really the only band to come close to the Beatles, and the songs found on this album help to prove that. Mick Jagger really did have a great singing voice for the kind of rock 'n roll music the Stones were playing in the '60s (as is still the case today). He also had that great '60s "look" that drove the young female Baby Boomers wild, and there were a lot of them around back then. Keith Richards, who back then spelled his last name without the "s", was slowly turning into the great guitarist he would become, and by the mid '60s he already was playing that special guitar riff that became the trademark sound of the Stones. He, along with Jagger, also wrote most of the great songs for the Stones, including what some consider the mid 1960s best rock song ever, "Satisfaction", which he wrote the music to alone.
Yet it was Brian Jones, the band's founder, who was as important to the Stones as both Jagger and Richards were back then. Like Jagger, even more so, he had that rock look (was the Kinks' hit song "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" really about him?). The many different instruments he could play was what made the Stones music stand out as being different. Yes, the Beatles had some different instruments on a few of their songs too, but they used session musicians (including Jones); where as the Stones with Jones, didn't need to look for outside help. Several of the great songs Jagger/Richards wrote, only became hits because of Jones' contribution, using instruments never heard on rock songs before.
Really, how does one pick out the best tunes on this album when they are all so damn good? Well, all these numbers are special in their own way, these solid songs were part of the reason the Stones could stay so close to the Beatles in fan support. "Sympathy For The Devil" is perhaps the best written one found here, but overall, I'll go with "Jumpin' Jack Flash" for the best rocker, and "Ruby Tuesday" for the best soft rock song. But really as soon as I type that out I'm about to change my mind, all of the songs found on here are all great songs - one better than the other.
There are only two studio songs from the 1970s on this album, "Wild Horses" and "Brown Sugar", and then there is the late '60s tune, "Midnight Rambler", with a live version taken from a show at Madison Square Garden in November,1969, and released first in 1970 on the live LP Get Ya Ya -Ya's Out! These three songs feature the then new Stone Mick Taylor on guitar, with most of his great playing still to come in the next few years.
The Stones put out a new greatest hits album in 2002, 40 Licks, which not only contains the best of the many songs released by the band since Hot Rocks was released, but it also contains several of the songs that you find on here. 40 Licks is a great album too, but really, if you're only looking for the early '60s hits - well most of them are found on Hot Rocks (but sadly not all - where the hell is "The Last Time"?) . This greatest hits album from the Stones sure does contain some real hot rocks!
- Keno 2005
To listen to some soundclips from HOT ROCKS or to purchase it, click on this link Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (Remastered)
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