On Dec. 1, the Rolling Stones will fill a giant void in their official discography when they release “On Air,” a 32-track collection of live and studio recordings the band made for the BBC between 1963 and 1965. Available for decades on bootlegs in generally poor sound quality, the album combines studio sessions with raucous live material recorded before a studio audience, and features several songs that were not released on the band’s official 1960s discography.Along with hits like “Satisfaction” and “The Last Time,” the inclusion of rock and roll staples that the band performed in its very earliest days, like Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee” and “Beautiful Delilah,” Buster Brown’s “Fannie Mae” and Tommy Tucker’s “Hi Heel Sneakers” makes the set the best representation of the Stones’ legendary nascent performances.
Of particular note is a fiery May 1964 performance that finds the band playing two songs from their then-new debut album along with the EP track “You Better Move On” and a version of Bo Diddley’s “Cops and Robbers.”
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Wonderful news that will amuse L’il Bri(an Jones) and original pianist/roadie Ian Stewart from their celestial perches. For mere mortal Stones fans this will be a must-have release.
Mick, Keef and Charlie are obviously ensuring their recorded legacy gets stirling treatment. If, as rumoured, they tour late this year or in 2018, I hope they continue to honour their past by having Mick Taylor reprise his several-songs onstage appearances of recent years. The reviews I’ve read never explain whether Ronnie Wood exits the stage during Taylor’s performances, switches to bass…or helps create a three-guitars wall of riffs.