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The Rolling Stones Grrr! Review

Compilation. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Immediately assumes the status of the best Stones compilation on the market.

Sean Egan 2012

This three-CD compilation gets off to a start to gladden the heart of the purist by including The Rolling Stones’ 1963 debut single Come On, underrated by even the band themselves. However, any hopes raised that Grrr! will be a completist exercise are immediately dashed by the omission of follow-up I Wanna Be Your Man.

It’s probably for the best: a collection devoted to mopping up the singles might have led to the exclusion of some of history’s greatest, most epic recordings, among them the seething Satan flirtation Sympathy for the Devil, the melancholic exploration of the demi-monde You Can’t Always Get What You Want and the smouldering, apocalyptical Gimme Shelter.

These are all blissfully present on disc 2, which straddles the late 60s to the late 70s and makes clear why the Stones’ music and image was then the template for all rock bands.

Disc 1 covers the Stones’ tenure as teen idols, a status they managed to combine with records that captured the bellicose, decorum-busting 60s zeitgeist such as Satisfaction, Get Off Of My Cloud and Let’s Spend the Night Together. Remarkably, tracks like Time Is on My Side and Ruby Tuesday prove they could do lip-quivering sensitivity with equal aplomb.

On the debit side, the stupid title and stupider cover artwork of Grrr! seem to suggest that enthusiasm was in short supply as the Stones’ camp approached yet another permutation of their greatest hits.

Meanwhile, another sort of fatigue is conveyed by the fact that seven years after their last album, all they can muster in the way of new material to mark the milestone of their half-centenary is Doom and Gloom and One More Shot, a brace of tracks that – in the typical modern Stones style – are just riff, slogan and biscuit-tin drums.

They at least don't do anything so embarrassing as try to pretend their recent output merits equivalence with their peak material: on the third disc, their last 34 years are represented by just 17 cuts.

As ever, omissions can be complained of. And concluding with the two newies is unwise, if unavoidable with a roughly chronological tracklisting.

However, the whopping 50 tracks are judiciously enough chosen to demonstrate why the band is legendary. What with that and its pocket-friendly price, Grrr! immediately assumes the status of the best Stones compilation on the market.

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