REVIEW: This week's best rock album releases – The Beatles, Rolling Stones, more

November 19, 2018
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The Beatles
The Beatles (White Album)
(EMI)
★★★★★

“You say it’s your birthday, well it’s my birthday too, yeah” so goes the barnstorming track Birthday. And this 50th-anniversary re-release has a bounteous bag of extras including demos and alternative recordings collected together with Giles Martin’s new remixes of the original recordings.

From the heady rush of screaming jet engines and rumbling instrumentation on Back In The USSR, this ninth album release from the band that forever changed the musical universe lifts the sound into the sonic stratosphere with its remix on this latest edition.

Jam-packed with 27 early unreleased demos – the most revealing are the Esher demos of the Fab Four running through the songs at George Harrison’s house – and 50 session takes which peel back the layers of each song’s construction making this is an essential artefact to treasure forever. The last word goes to Paul McCartney: “We had left Sgt. Pepper’s band to play in his sunny Elysian Fields and were now striding out in new directions without a map.”

The Rolling Stones
Voodoo Lounge Uncut
(Eagle Rock)
★★★★

Nobody plays the voodoo quite like the Stones do as this consummately collected live recording attests.

Recorded at their 1994 Miami Stadium concert, this is the first time the unedited full show has been released and it’s a satisfaction guaranteed listen as the chugging Buddy Holly riff to Not Fade Away belts out from their immense soundstage.

Primarily promoting the Voodoo Lounge studio album, this is an essential collector’s greatest hits release that includes a passionate take on Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) from the much-overlooked Goats Head Soup album.

As an additional bonus, the DVD includes five tracks from the earlier New Jersey gig which were not performed at the Miami show.

Jethro Tull
This Was
(Rhino)
★★★★

This was the studio album that started this now legendary and much loved British blues, rock, prog and folk band on their long and prosperous journey of memorable recordings and theatrical live performances.

The only album recorded with original guitarist Mick Abrahams, the title reflected the group’s desire to shuffle away from their blues-based sound towards a more adventurous musical landscape.

However, captured here in aspic is a solid, chugging British blues band blasting a booming sound playing songs some of which remained in their live canon for years to come.

Anderson’s pied-piper flute blowing on A Song For Jeffrey spawned a unique signature sound that became synonymous with Tull’s flute rock oeuvre. My Sunday Feeling stills rocks along with its avalanche riffs creating a big boulder of noise.

The real treasures unearthed and dusted down here are the extra discs containing all the BBC radio session recordings of the album, 4 previously unreleased associated recordings, and a DVD of the original album and bonus tracks re-mixed by the ubiquitous, studio tanned Steven Wilson.

The Pretty Things
S.F. Sorrow
(Madfish)
★★★★

This lovingly curated hard-hitting psychedelic rock opera still packs a sonic punch like a hypnotic Bridget Riley designed boxing glove of smashing songs. Being its 50th-anniversary, this 4 album vinyl box set collects the original recording, non-album singles and a 1998 Abbey Road recording of the entire album featuring Dave Gilmour and Arthur Brown.

Squeezed into spare time recording sessions at Abbey Road when The Beatles weren’t about, and produced by The Beatles’ engineer Norman Smith, S.F. Sorrow still remains a gleaming gem of a somewhat overlooked concept album.

Originally released in the same week as The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society and The Beatles’ White Album, S.F Sorrow didn’t have the record company backing muscle that these former R’n’B hard men fully deserved for an album of outstanding quality songs.

This has finally been rectified. Put the needle into the groove and let these trippy songs take you on a magical, musical journey.



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