Stereo Stones?

[8/12/02] Here's my review of the ABKCO sampler disc. Comments/questions welcome.

As of August 27th, 2002 (the discs got pushed back a week), the entire London/Decca/ABKCO catalog is being reissued on dual layer CD/SACD hybrid discs. It seems as if great care has been taken to do things the "right way". The ABKCO press release even mentions mono and stereo:

All electronically reprocessed stereo recordings have been expunged from the catalog and have now been replaced with mono mixes while, when available and appropriate, true stereo mixes replace the mono counterparts on the following recordings: "2120 South Michigan Avenue," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Around And Around," "Confessin' The Blues," "Empty Heart," "Heart Of Stone," "Honky Tonk Women," "If You Need Me," "It's All Over Now," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Look What You've Done," "Paint It Black" and "Time Is On My Side."

Some songs that were in stereo on the London CDs will only be available in mono, however. These include (but may not be limited to) Get Off of My Cloud, Mother's Little Helper and Play With Fire. In addition, it seems that 19th Nervous Breakdown will NOT be getting a true stereo debut.

Satisfaction is being released in a different mix from the one found on Hot Rocks 1. Also, 2120 S. Michigan Ave. will be the long version, as per Jody Klein:

"2120 South Michigan Avenue" - "On 12x5, the short version of the song was on all of the CDs and the original LP," Klein tells ICE. "The long [five-minute] version appeared on this EP, Five by Five," so ABKCO is now using the long version on the new 12x5 CD.
Here are some links to more information:
Some Background

In the '60s, when this material was first released, all Stones albums were released in mono (or fake stereo) only up to the Aftermath LP (the only exception being Look What You've Done, which was indeed in true stereo on December's Children). Even then, some singles were still only released in mono. In the early '70s, after the Stones London/Decca contract expired, Decca in the UK put out many compilations of various material. For the first time, many of those early tracks were in stereo. Also, in the late '60s or early '70s, Decca upgraded their masters on the two Big Hits LPs to include more true stereo tracks. Then, in the early '80s, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs put out a box set of Stones LPs, with many songs in stereo for the first time. Then we come to the CD age...


When ABKCO (Allen Klein's company, manager of the Stones in the '60s and owner of those masters) released the catalog on CD in 1986, almost all of that early material was in mono, sometimes even when it had originally been released in stereo as well. There was one exception - the Now! CD had three tracks in stereo, but other than that, mono reigned. Even Paint It, Black and Honky Tonk Women, which had originally been released in stereo, were now in mono. There was still hope in sight, however...

Better Versions Abroad?

For some reason, while ABKCO put out the CDs in the US, London/Decca/Polygram still had the rights to release the catalog in the rest of the world. Unlike the US CDs, which had the US LP track lineups, the foreign CDs (for the most part) had the original UK LP track listings. Not only that, but the CDs were mastered using the same tapes as the MoFi LPs, which meant many tracks were in stereo. Many tracks were still in mono only, but progress was being made. Until...

ABKCO for Everyone

In 1995, the London CDs were pulled in the UK and replaced with the US ABKCO versions. Many people thought these were new and remastered, but in fact are the same CDs that have been in the US since 1986. Luckily, the London CDs were still available in Japan. Until 1997 that is. The ABKCO CDs finally took over there as well. I've heard reports that the London CDs are still available in some parts of the world, but I'm not really sure either way.

What Does It Mean?

Well, if you want those early tracks in stereo, you'll have to search long and hard, or find someone with a CD-R. To help out a little, I've put together a list of stereo tracks and where to find them. There is a section put together by song and another (in its infancy) by album. Have fun!

By Song | By Album

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