The Rolling Stones: England's Newest Hitmakers (US)
ABKCO 882 287-2
"England's Newest Hitmakers (US)"
The Rolling Stones
With the British invasion of America in full swing the band were announced as England’s Newest Hit Makers.
Released to coincide with the Stones’ arrival in New York City on 1st June 1964, where they began their first US tour. The band played to very small audiences in the eight cities. The tracklisting is the same as their eponymous first UK release, but it includes the Womack and Womack classic, “Not Fade Away”. The inclusion of the hit song and good airplay helped the album make no. 11 in the Billboard Top 50.
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Review by Mark Werlin - November 15, 2020
The first LP released by the Rolling Stones documented the progress of three professional musicians (Jones, Wyman, Watts) and two enthusiastic music fans (Jagger, Richards) beginning to become a cohesive band.
A question to collectors of this SACD: Why do you think "I'm a King Bee" sounds so much better than all the other tracks on the album?
The Rolling Stones website timeisonourside.com, in the Track Talk for the song, http://www.timeisonourside.com/SOImAKing.html, makes no mention of the superb sound quality. To deepen the mystery: the site lists the same engineer, studio and recording date as the other tracks on the album.
I discussed the standout audio quality of the track with an old friend who is familiar with studio techniques used in early-60s recordings. After listening closely to "I'm a King Bee", he agreed that the sound quality was markedly superior. A clue is that nearly all of the other songs use overdubbed hand claps to augment Charlie Watts' drum kit, which was mixed too low in the basic tracks. In an era when most tape machines had only two channels, overdubbing required copying the basic tracks into one channel of a second tape recorder (possibly with additional instruments performed live onto that track) and then recording more vocals — and in the case of this album, hand claps — onto the blank track. By comparison, "I'm a King Bee" has a robust drum mix, no hand claps, and sounds like live, single take. It's possible that the tune was an afterthought; Jagger didn't think the band were very good at playing Chicago blues, but Brian Jones or Charlie Watts might have felt otherwise. The IBC studio demos recorded by Glyn Johns that preceded the January-February 1964 sessions for "England's Newest Hitmakers" captured the Stones in a more traditional blues orientation, with Brian Jones on mouth harp and Ian Stewart featured on piano. But producer Oldham was pressing the band for hits, to sell singles to the UK mass market. The band persisted in recording covers of American R&B songs until their first all-originals album, "Aftermath", but each new hit single composed by Jagger-Richards shifted their direction away from blues and towards a synthesis of pop and rock'n'roll influences.
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