The Rolling Stones – Sucking In the 70s

stones

Ever eager for a few extra dollars to pay for their extravagant lifestyle, The Rolling Stones were no strangers to compilations, and the masters of recycling their own material ad nauseam (Hot Rocks, More Hot Rocks, Rolled Gold, the list is almost endless). Sucking in the Seventies could be described as yet another cynical grab for cash, and I would have to agree, except what makes this collection worth owning is the inclusion of a few rarities and hitherto unreleased tracks you can’t find anywhere else. Some other good news (for those who truly care about such things) is that most tracks were remixed specially for this release, although the bad news is that many of them had to be edited in order to fit on to the album. But that is not necessarily as unpleasant as it sounds.

“Hot Stuff”, off Black and Blue, benefits from having nearly two minutes cut from its original length of 5:20. It’s essentially the same ‘Hot Stuff’ as before, but just a little shorter. Although where the editing arguably does do a disservice is on the two other Black and Blue numbers, “Fool to Cry” and “Crazy Mama”. Why anyone would take a couple of the better songs from that LP and condense them just doesn’t make much sense; almost a whole minute in the case of the former, and nearly a half-minute from the latter. Oh well. I guess they thought that the remixes would be enough to please the fans. Likewise “Time Waits for No-one”, a fine tune made even finer by Mick Taylor’s sultry and sophisticated guitar playing. Here it fades out too soon, denying any newcomer of the beauty of Taylor’s solo at the end.

“Beast of Burden” is so truncated it might as well not even have been included. “Shattered” is the only track spared from the editor’s knife, but as I’ve never been all that enamoured with it, such a reprieve perhaps doesn’t really matter (perhaps it would have been best to exclude it so as to allow more space for some of the other tracks?).

But now let’s talk about the actual reason why I bought this album in the first place. Side one’s “Everything Is Turning to Gold” was the b-side to “Shattered”, and although the song itself is not all that important, as far as the Stones are concerned, its inclusion here is most welcome (and it hasn’t been edited), and captures the group at their late 70’s bloated best. Similarly with “When the Whip Comes Down”, from the same period, only this version was recorded live in Detroit on 6 July 1978. It’s the only song I’m aware of where the Stones (i.e. Jagger/Richards) went out of their way to write an outwardly blatant gay song. One thing’s for sure, it leaves its studio companion in the dust in terms of energy.

The final nugget is “If I Was a Dancer (Dance Pt. 2)”, an outtake from the Emotional Rescue sessions. A funky, almost disco oriented number, there can be little doubt this was more Jagger’s thang than it was Richards. Still, good on old Keef and crew for indulging Jagger on occasion with his club-oriented misdemeanours. However as if to make amends, they chose to include “Mannish Boy”, a song which needs no introduction to anyone who has an even passing interest in the blues. Recorded live at the El Mocambo Tavern, Toronto, and taken from 1977’s double LP Love You Live, amongst everything else, it’s the one track which stands out the most, as if to remind the listener that through all the debauched disco, and modern change in their music, the blues was still at the core of their essence, and the very reason the band existed in the first place.

At the end of the day Sucking in the 70s is hardly essential, especially in the age of YouTube, where just about any rarity can be heard for free. But what it does do is successfully capture some of the dangerous decadence not to mention insolence for which the Stones were always famous for, albeit inadvertently I’m sure. And until Tattoo You, this was about as close as anyone got in terms of audio archaeology. It’s just a shame that the cd release is a straight transfer, without any bonus tracks, nor the songs themselves appearing in their original unabridged form. However if you ever see it in your local record store’s ten dollar bin, and haven’t as yet heard those rarities I was referring to earlier, pick it up. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

And what about the phallic album cover?