Guide to British Music of the 1960s

May 2018

CD Review: The Rolling Stones - On Air

 

In the days before Radio 1 and Radio 2, the BBC had the Light Programme which was the national source of music for young people. Even if the BBC was seen to be slow in adopting the new "popular" music they still recorded a lot of the groups for broadcast within the UK and overseas syndication. Tracks recorded "live" for the BBC have been released by many great British artists and now it is time for the Rolling Stones. As the track listing shows, the band were regular visitors to the BBC studios in 1963-1965 where they played singles, LP tracks and several tracks that were never released on record. At first glance it may seem strange to mix all the tracks up rather than keep sessions together in the order they were recorded. However, the fact that most were recorded within a short period of time and maintain the same blues style mean that they fit together well as one body of work. The two exceptions to this are the two major hits The Last Time and Satisfaction which are later tracks written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards which are more commercial and less "pure" blues. It's good to hear "live" versions of these classic singles.

Most of the tracks here made their way on to the first two Rolling Stones LPs and will be familiar. There are also non-album singles. Come On was the first Rolling Stones release and is indicative of how important the Chuck Berry songbook was to the band. There are several other Berry compositions here including a great version of Roll Over Beethoven. Like Carol and Memphis Tennessee, this was also part of the Beatles' set although the Stones' version does not have the Merseybeat style that made the Liverpool version sound so different. Effectively, this is the Rolling Stones set from their early days, tracks they had been playing night after night in clubs around the country. As a result, the band is tight and well-rehearsed.

Lennon & McCartney are present here through having written I Wanna Be Your Man which was released as the Stones' second single. The song was written for the Rolling Stones and later available by the Beatles on their second LP. The Stones' version is superior as it is well-suited to Jagger's vocals and it features some wonderful slide guitar from Brian Jones. In fact, Brian Jones has a very strong presence on the earlier tracks with some superb slide guitar as well as harmonica playing.

The tracks give a very good indication of what the Rolling Stones sounded like as they perfected their craft in the clubs of London before moving further field around the UK. You can almost imagine being in the Ealing Club, Richmond's Crawdaddy Club or the Marquee.

This is a wonderful record of the survivors of the British Blues Boom of the mid-1960s. While many bands were playing similar sets, and some of these making a commercial breakthrough, the Rolling Stones have remained largely true to their blues roots. Great listening.

Polydor 870 274-0

CD Release: 1 December 2017

Essential Tracks

  • I'm Moving On
  • It's All Over Now
  • I Wanna Be Your Man

Track Listing

Disc One:
  1. Come On (Saturday Club, 26 October 1963)
  2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (Saturday Club, 18 September 1965)
  3. Roll Over Beethoven (Saturday Club, 26 October 1963)
  4. The Spider & the Fly (Yeah Yeah, 30 August 1965)
  5. Cops & Robbers (Blues in Rhythm, 9 May 1964)
  6. It's All Over Now (The Joe Loss Pop Show, 17 July 1964)
  7. Route 66 (Blues in Rhythm, 9 May 1964)
  8. Memphis, Tennessee (Saturday Club, 26 October 1963)
  9. Down the Road Apiece (Top Gear, 6 March 1965)
  10. The Last Time (Top Gear, 6 March 1965)
  11. Cry To Me (Saturday Club, 18 September 1965)
  12. Mercy, Mercy (Yeah Yeah, 30 August 1965)
  13. Oh! Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin') (Saturday Club, 18 September 1965)
  14. Around and Around (Top Gear, 23 July 1964)
  15. Hi Heel Sneakers (Saturday Club, 18 April 1964)
  16. Fannie Mae (Saturday Club, 18 September 1965)
  17. You Better Move On (Blues in Rhythm, 9 May 1964)
  18. Mona (Blues in Rhythm, 9 May 1964)

Disc Two:

  1. I Wanna Be Your Man (Saturday Club, 8 February 1964)
  2. Carol (Saturday Club, 18 April 1964)
  3. I'm Moving On (The Joe Loss Pop Show, 10 April 1964)
  4. If You Need Me (The Joe Loss Pop Show, 17 July 1964)
  5. Walking the Dog (Saturday Club, 8 February 1964)
  6. Confessin' the Blues (The Joe Loss Pop Show, 17 July 1964)
  7. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (Top Gear, 6 March 1965)
  8. Little by Little (The Joe Loss Pop Show, 10 April 1964)
  9. Ain't That Loving You Baby (Rhythm & Blues BBC World Service, 31 October 1964)
  10. Beautiful Delilah (Saturday Club, 18 April 1964)
  11. Crackin' Up (Top Gear (23 July 1964)
  12. I Can't Be Satisfied (Top Gear, 23 July 1964)
  13. I Just Want to Make Love to You (Saturday Club, 18 April 1964)
  14. 2120 South Michigan Avenue (Rhythm & Blues BBC World Service, 31 October 1964)

 

 

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