Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rolling Stones 13: Through The Past, Darkly

While the Stones took their sweet time finishing their next album, both their American and British record companies filled the gap with a hits collection (naturally, with different contents to complement with what each had already compiled in 1966). Through The Past, Darkly brought us up to date on the band’s middle period, straddling the transition from Swinging London to the cusp of their ascension to the title of best rock ‘n roll band in the world. (The Who would disagree, but we don’t have time for that now.)

All the big singles to date are included, in a juggled chronology that still flows well. “Paint It, Black” gives way to “Ruby Tuesday” (making its third LP appearance, along with “Let’s Spend The Night Together”) before falling into the psychedelia of “She’s A Rainbow”. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women”, still classic singles, make their 12-inch debuts, while “Mother’s Little Helper” and “Have You See Your Mother, Baby” get encores. “Dandelion” and “2,000 Light Years From Home” continue the trippy feel, and it all comes home with “Street Fighting Man”.

Sure, there were a few unalbumized songs that could have been collected, but that would be rectified soon enough. Besides, there was that cool eight-sided sleeve with the dedication to poor departed Brian Jones on the inside to make Through The Past, Darkly seem even more special. The music speaks for itself, and they were just getting warmed up. (The British version of the album was released the same day, and with the same cover design, but with a rejigged order that also omitted the songs that had already appeared on their version of Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass) three years before. In their place came “You Better Move On” from the first EP, “Sittin’ On A Fence”, which the US got on Flowers, and “We Love You”, which wouldn’t make an American album for another three years.)

Rolling Stones Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) (1969)—5

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