Around the time that their ABKCO catalog got a major overhaul, with handsome digipacks, improved sound and, in some cases, SACD layers for the audiophile, somebody at the Stones office got thinking. Since they weren’t doing much else anyway, why shouldn’t the Stones put out another hits collection on their current label? For a twist, maybe it could encompass their entire career, and how about a couple of new songs to entice the wary? With a really suggestive title, like Forty Licks or something? And maybe even use it to launch an official website?
And that’s just what they did. The forty songs here are collected to commemorate the Stones’ fortieth anniversary. It should surprise nobody that the earliest twenty tracks cover their first ten years, and the remaining twenty (four of which are indeed brand new) cover the other thirty years.
Disc one is the first repackaging in a while of the ABKCO-owned material, and while it doesn’t quite replicate Hot Rocks, most of it is there. (And as long as we’re keeping score, it’s got only half of Big Hits and all but two from Through The Past, Darkly.) Disc two is much more traveled, sporting six songs from Made In The Shade, ten from Rewind and the 374th appearances of “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses”.
Of course, it’s the new songs that generate the most interest. “Don’t Stop” was the single, an inoffensive rocker, as was “Stealing My Heart”. “Keys To Your Love” brings back the old falsetto, but for many, Keith’s slow burner “Losing My Touch” was the winner.
Each disc is sequenced non-chronologically, but nothing from either “era” mixes with a stepsibling. Also, as a compromise, “Wild Horses” is on the ABKCO disc, while “Brown Sugar” is on the post-1971 disc. Forty Licks delivers what it promises, giving a nice overview of what made the boys great. But part of us still thinks Forty Lashes would have been just as fitting a title.
Rolling Stones Forty Licks (2002)—4