Rolling Stones – Metamorphosis

I’m a Stones fan from way back. You knew this already, from reading these pages… I own all the studio albums, most of the comps, some of the live stuff… And for some reason I never bought this compilation when it finally hit CD (the vinyl was released way long ago, in 1975…). Don’t ask me why I never picked it up, I ‘ve certainly eyed it in the shops many times. Well, at least I had enough foresight to throw it on my Amazon wishlist and, voilà, all these years later and come Christmas morning there it was!

Can I even begin to describe what a pleasure it is to hear these songs? A collection of outtakes and different versions of known tunes, it’s a real keeper. Oh sure, most of these aren’t the “hit” tracks, but as a fan who’s heard some of the nitty and the gritty, these are awesome snapshots of a band that held its creative peak for so long it’s not fair to other groups. Getting to hear these songs now, many of them for the first time is, for me, like finding a Lost Stones disc from the ‘classic’ early years. Which is what it is.

NB #1. One Amazon reviewer pointed out something I hadn’t noticed: this may be one of (if not the) only Stones record with 6 band members pictured on the cover [the artwork of which, you’ll also notice, is a nod to Kafka (of course)]! Cool.

NB #2. I have leaned heavily upon Wikipedia for song details contained below. It’d be nice if you believed I am this knowledgeable just on  my own, but it’d all be a lie. However, the opinions contained herein, for what they’re worth, are all mine. Ready? Of course you are.

I like this demo version of Out Of Time (with strings added!), and Don’t You Lie To Me is originally a Tampa Red song, though Fats Domino and Chuck Berry covered it. The Stones covered the Berry version. It’s a rocker as only the Stones can do such a thing. Somethings Just Stick In Your Mind is a mournful, repetitive, slightly cheesy track. Each And Every Day Of The Year plods along a bit, but there are enough elements here to keep it interesting. Trumpet! I like trumpets.

Heart Of Stone is not the album/single version. It has Jimmy Page on guitar! This one’s a bit slower and a bit more… what? Bluesy? Swinging? Swaggering? Yes. I like it. I’d Much Rather Be With The Boys is a tuneful keeper, complete with handclaps. (Walkin’ Through The) Sleepy City is pure west coast sixties, would sound great coming out of a jukebox. And it has a solo on bells. Oh my. We’re Wastin’ Time is a sweet waltz (yes, it’s a bit disorienting) that still sounds like it could’ve been on England’s Newest Hitmakers. Cool guitar solo, here. Try A Little Harder is a chugging little 12-bar rocker with harmony vocals and persistent tambourine.

I Don’t Know Why, originally a Stevie Wonder song, was recorded the night the news of Brian Jones’ death broke (the band was recording Let It Bleed at the time). I’d need to listen to this track another ten times to tell you what I think of what it says. It’s typical of the period, musically, a quiet build into a mid-tempo Stones stomp rocker. This may be the most affecting track here, which is saying something since every track here is a keeper.

If You Let Me is a Between The Buttons outtake, and it’s a simple, pleasing little tune with lots of build and then release, build and then release pacing… Jiving Sister Fanny is pure Stones jangling-blues rock. I love it, even the odd bit where Taylor’s guitar solo kicks in and it’s way louder in the mix than Mick’s vocals. Way louder. Anyway, I could hear the Black Crowes covering this one, easily. Right in their wheelhouse.

Downtown Suzie (originally titled Sweet Lyle Lucie) is a Let It Bleed outtake, and includes Ry Cooder on guitar. It’s an acoustic blues that struggles a bit to hold together in the intro, and with backing vocals that sound tired or bored (or stoned) here and there. Weird. But then it kicks in, complete with bongo drums (I think) and it sounds like a Stones jam around a campfire. Eventually in there somewhere it becomes a typical Stones full-band rocker too… Cool. Family Is a Beggars Banquet outtake, an odd little rocker that switches tempos and dynamics quite often. Memo From Turner (not the version from Performance) features Al Kooper on guitar, and may also contain some Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi (with Traffic at the time). It’s a cool tune. Mick’s talking more than he’s singing… I don’t have the Performance version here, so I cannot compare. And finally there’s I’m Going Down has Stephen Stills on guitar. It’s a pure Stones rocker. It’s that sound, so indelible and perfect. It’s all a bit lost-sounding, somehow, but it’s pure Stones.

Whew! I’ve played this disc three times since I received it as a gift and I love it. It’s a real gift, though, to be able to add (to me) unheard early Stones to my collection. Yes, I’m way behind the times, but I consider myself  lucky to have this one here, now. I will play it often, for sure.

Hooray! Thanks heaps, Mom!

7 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Metamorphosis

  1. Deke says:

    Welcome to the Voodoo Lounge….that has Keef written all over it!!
    Loved the TO show when he did The Worst…!!….was really hoping for T&A that’s my all time fave …BUT you can’t always get what u want!

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Yah, I think that’s what he named his dressing room for that tour… I forget exactly.

      The Worst is one of my fave tracks on that album. It still makes it onto mixes I make for the car even today!

      Sorry you missed t&a BUT if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need. 😉

      Like

  2. Deke says:

    U will love the Hamptons!!!…..
    Want a review done…have a few beers!!!
    Ha…
    Me and my buddy went to the Sat night show with the rain but we were dry due to been under the roof on the side of the CNE…it was cool from here(Tbay)they offered a fly down to TO package including tix to the Saturday show and 2 nights hotel!…
    Man we had a blast that stage was the coolest stage I had ever seen at that time and after as far as a stadium show..man that chrome snake when it chugged out that flame right at the start of Not Fading Away scared the crap out of the first few rows!!!
    The set list was perfect…one of the best live productions ever!
    I always thought VL ( Love Is Strong is one of the best lead offsingles of there’s ever)and Bridges To Babylon were very good…but like u said the masses have to compare everything to the old stuff….that kind of shit must have drove Mick nuts…

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      I think we have a request for tonight’s Drunk Review! Keef would approve.

      That sounds like a wonderful weekend. It was a GREAT show. Everything you’d want in a Stones show.

      I’m sure just about everything drives Mick nuts, by now…

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  3. Deke says:

    I remember back in 94 when they announced the Voodoo Lounge tour (I was luck to catch it in T.O with STP opening and Minnieapolis with the Spin Doctors opening?) anyways at the time they reissued all there albums that were bigger in the packaging than a normal cd case. Those were some cool reissues…so I always tended to avoid Greatest Hits stuff just cuz I already own em..but this is a great review by u..very detailed …u know your stones and like I told u one of my favs is the Still Life release…….
    Wish they would have done a proper live release for the VL tour……
    Dug that studio release(VL)as well….

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Deke! I saw that Voodoo tour in Taranna with STP too! Were you at the Friday or Saturday night show? I was at Saturday, 35th row on the floor, in the center. Perfect seats, despite it raining for part of the show. We also got pepper-sprayed that night… in the next section of seats, the cops closed in on a guy they’d been wanting for multiple sexual assaults (I got the news in next day’s paper). He was dumb enough to buy seats in his own name, so they knew right where he would be… Anyway, he resisted and, well, you know the Ex, it’s a big bowl, and when they sprayed him the wind blew it all over all of us… ugh.

      I remember they played Satisfaction that night, which was a big deal because Mick said he was sick of it and they were gonna leave it off that tour…

      Thanks for the kind words, I had fun looking up stuff about this record and writing it up with what I already knew. I wouldn’t even call this one a Hits record, more of an odds-and-sods collection of weirdo tracks that didn’t make any album, and some different versions of ones that did. It’s not for the casual fan, best avoided by people who just want the Hot Rocks or Grrrr! But to anyone inclined to dig deeper, like myself, it’s a real treasure trove.

      Still Life is indeed a great one. You keep mentioning that one, and now I’m gonna go play it again! 🙂

      Voodoo Lounge took some heat at the time, I remember, people not really liking it. Of course, those people don’t like anything they’ve done in the past 30 years. Me, I was a first-day buyer for VL and fell in love immediately. I’ve loved every studio album, even the later one. I think they’re still adventurous, still bluesy as hell and they retain that Stones sound. Let the nay-sayers go away, I loved it. I still have my ticket stub tucked into the back of the CD case… And you’re right, a live album from that tour would’ve killed… a nice memento. We should email the band and tell them! Surely to goodness they have a recording somewhere… Maybe there’ll eventually be an official bootleg like the others on their site…

      Speaking of, I got the Hamptons, but haven’t played it yet. Will do!

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