The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Singles Collection: The London Years

James McNair

By James McNair

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

When a band has existed as long as the Stones, a good chronology can be your foothold on Everest. Though it only focuses on Stones 'singles recorded, but not necessarily first released in the '60s (witness 1971 chart-topper "Brown Sugar"), this three-disc box set is arguably the most useful Stones compilation in existence.

This three-disc box set is arguably the most complete Stones compilation in existence.

Its inclusion of the attendant 1963-69 B-sides adds width and colour, but the broader story is of a band initially reliant on cover-versions (Lennon & McCartney's "I Wanna Be Your Man," Chuck Berry's "Come On") quickly cutting the umbilical cord to rely on the formidable Jagger/Richards writing partnership. By the time they'd hatched "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" — a song possessed of a guitar riff so insistent, so monolithic that only the likes of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" comes close — they were beholden to no-one.

The Rolling Stones Singles Collection: The London Years

The Rolling Stones

Keith reportedly dreamt the "Satisfaction" riff in Clearwater, Florida in May 1965, and from then on in, he and his fellow Stones only dreamed harder, still. The heartbreakingly beautiful "Wild Horses," the gloriously lascivious "Let's Spend the Night Together," the rampant and bruising "Jumpin 'Jack Flash" — these weren't so much songs as chunks of the '60s staked-out for the world to enjoy.

The decade would end badly for them, of course, but it was telling that even Stones-related events beyond their control — the passing of Brian Jones, the bloodbath that was Altamont — would resonate widely beyond the confines of the group and its fan-base. This fabulous compilation underlines that, together with the Beatles, the Stones were the 1960's. And when the Beatles split in 1970, it was winner takes all…