Agony Shorthand

Monday, August 11, 2003
ROLLING STONES : “12 X 5”….This one was a missing gap in my STONES collection, primarily because I have a German LP collection with a bunch of overlapping tracks called “Around and Around”. But lately it’s been easy to find the essential 1960s and early 70s Stones CDs, ever since London/ABKCO did their reissue/remaster series in digipack editions (yet with no extra tracks). Now it’s obvious that the obsessives are dumping their previous remastered versions into the used bins in favor of these new ones, leaving these perfectly fine earlier editions for the rest of us. “12 X 5” was the Stones’s second LP, released at the tail end of 1964 and during the band’s fast & furious rise to int’l stardom – and their transformation to a real (non-cover) band. There are 3 Jagger/Richards tracks on this one: “Good Times, Bad Times”, “Congratulations” and “Grown Up Wrong”, the latter a true rough & tumble standout, and two by the mysterious Nanker Phelge (“Empty Heart” and the instrumental “2120 South Michigan Avenue”). I’ll still take their totally jukin’ cover of Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around” over any of those, and let us not forget the great megasmashes “It’s All Over Now” and “Time Is On My Side”. Only the ill-advised, spine-chillingly awful cover of “Under The Boadwalk” almost ruins the blues-joint party here; I guess an argument could be made that their “Susie Q” isn’t so hot either, but I never dug that song anyway. The CD is a fun R&B romp pretty much from start to finish, especially when it’s been remastered and the sounds leap right off the laser beam.