Old Music Gets A New Life: Reissues From The '60s And '70s Each of these records has a raw quality that provides a welcome break from overproduced music. Critic Tom Moon says it's enough to make listeners question whether the computer age of recording is a good thing.
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Old Music Gets A New Life: Reissues From The '60s And '70s

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Old Music Gets A New Life: Reissues From The '60s And '70s


Music Reviews

Old Music Gets A New Life: Reissues From The '60s And '70s

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of song, "Plundered My Soul")

THE ROLLING STONES (Rock Band): (Singing) I thought you needed my loving, but it's my heart that you stole. I thought you wanted my money, but you plundered my soul.

BLOCK: That's who else but The Rolling Stones with the song "Plundered My Soul." It was recorded during the Stone's "Exile on Main Street" sessions, but the song never made it to the original 1972 release. Well, this week, that seminal album is reissued in a remastered and expanded version. It contains 10 songs that didn't make the original.

Music critic Tom Moon joins us to talk about "Exile on Main Street" and a couple of other old recordings just coming out now.

Hey, Tom.


BLOCK: And, Tom, this album, a lot of people would say, is the Stones' best - a double album. Why would you go back and mess with the original?

MOON: Well - and, of course, people think of it as perfection, but it's a very sloppy kind of perfection. And the Stones have been very careful not to do too much in the way of revisiting old stuff. They haven't added extra tracks to a lot of their reissues as they've come out. And so, part of this, it seems to me, is simply saying this is an amazing unit, this 18-song original.

And they didn't seem to do that much to the mixes. They didn't futz with the sort of core of the record. So part of what I think they wanted to do was represent it in the best way it could be without sort of getting all glossy and taking it out of its context because, let's face it, it's a sloppy rock 'n' roll record.

BLOCK: A sloppy rock 'n' roll record. But Tom, let me tell you, my favorite juxtaposition on this new album, I think, is listening to the original version of the song "Loving Cup." Let's take a listen.

(Soundbite of song, "Loving Cup")

THE ROLLING STONES: (Singing) Yes, I am nitty-gritty and my shirt's all torn. But I would love to spill the beans with you till dawn. Give me little drink from your loving cup.

BLOCK: Okay. So, maybe a little raggedy, but still, you know, compared to what we're about to hear, really, really tight. Here is the previously unreleased outtake of "Loving Cup."

(Soundbite of song, "Loving Cup")

THE ROLLING STONES: (Singing) But I would love to (unintelligible) with you (unintelligible). Give me little drink from your loving cup. Give me little drink and I'll fall down drunk.

BLOCK: Tom, I'm just picturing them falling down drunk, falling off their stools in the studios like, 4 a.m., I think.

MOON: Yeah. And, you know, the thing about the Stones is they were able to create in an environment that was otherwise chaotic. So, even when what's on top does feel like it's falling down and falling apart and everyone's just sort of shouting lyrics, the core of the thing is still there. And that to me is "Exile" up and down.

BLOCK: Okay. Well, another CD we want to talk about is from the same time period. It's from Kris Kristofferson and it's called "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends: The Publishing Demos of 1968-72." This will be the very early days of his career. These were demos that he recorded then to shop around to other singers.

(Soundbite of song, "Me and Bobby McGee")

Mr. KRIS KRISTOFFERSON (Musician): (Singing) Freedom just another word for nothing left to lose. Nothing ain't worth nothing, but it's free. Feeling good was easy, Lord when Bobby sang the blues. Feeling good was good enough for me. Good enough for me and Bobby McGee.

BLOCK: So "Me and Bobby McGee" would go on to be a huge hit for Janis Joplin, but this was his original barebones recording of it.

MOON: That's right. He was making sketches. He thought of himself as a songwriter more than anything else. And when he landed in Nashville, he was unemployed. He worked for a time as a janitor at Columbia Studios there; happened to be there when Bob Dylan was recording "Blonde on Blonde."

All he wanted to do was get his songs down. So they would do these very crisp little sessions where, essentially, the guitar and voice, sometimes they'd have a rhythm section; sometimes they'd have background vocalists. But the idea was to just give a singer the sense of what the song was. So there's very little embellishment. It's very straight.

(Soundbite of song, "Me and Bobby McGee")

Mr. KRISTOFFERSON: (Singing) And I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday, holding Bobby's body next to mine.

BLOCK: These songs would never have been intended to be released then, right?

MOON: That's right. What's amazing about these is Kristofferson's one of these songwriters and storytellers, really, who - you hear him for maybe half a verse and you're right in the middle of the story. You're absorbed in it and you forget that it's a publishing demo and you're just engaged in the song itself. It's quite something.

BLOCK: Okay. We're going to have a big energy shift now, Tom.

(Soundbite of song, "Respect")

Mr. OTIS REDDING (Singer): (Singing) What you want, honey, you've got it. What you need, baby, you've got it. All I'm asking is for a little respect when I come home. Yeah, now. Hey, hey, hey. Yeah, now. Ooh, Lord(ph).

BLOCK: That's Otis Redding, of course, from a two-CD set, Otis Redding and his orchestra "Live on the Sunset Strip." And this is three full sets from the Hollywood club, Whisky A Go-Go. It was recorded in April of 1966.

Tom, this is great stuff.

MOON: It's incredible. He's 24 years old and he's completely at the peak of his power. He's very much comfortable in the setting. He used to play in clubs and the band's his road band and they are just on fire.

BLOCK: Tom, it's stunning to think, he's 24 here and it's just a year before Otis Redding died in a plane crash.

MOON: That's right. And you just wonder what would've happened had he lived because he was such a vital performer. He's like a freight train of a soul singer. People talk about the voice as an instrument; his was a true instrument. It occupies the center of attention always. And he was such a fiery performer that you listen to him sing anything. And on this, a couple of times he does, you know, a Beatles song and he sings a couple of versions of the Stones' "Satisfaction," actually. It doesn't even matter that he doesn't get the words right because the feeling is so strong.

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfaction")

Mr. REDDING: (Singing) Hey, hey, hey. Oh, got to, got to, we got to groove(ph). We got to hound(ph). Got to, got to, we got to hound.

BLOCK: You know what I think links these three recordings together, Tom, is the rawness behind them. I mean, when everything we listen to now seems so auto-tuned and overproduced and sanitized, there's just raw energy and enthusiasm in these that's just (unintelligible).

MOON: Boy, isn't that true. And it really says a lot about the DNA of music because you respond viscerally to "Exile on Main Street." You can hear anything, drop the needle anywhere on "Exile" and you're like, oh, yeah, I know. That's rock 'n' roll. Likewise with Otis Redding. Drop the needle anywhere on these live shows and you're like, oh, yeah, this is real. This is soul music. These guys are at a peak. Likewise, Kris Kristofferson with his songs. It's quite extraordinary. It makes you wonder whether the aid of computers in recording is all together a good thing or not.

BLOCK: I agree. Tom, thanks very much.

MOON: Thanks for having me.

BLOCK: Music critic Tom Moon is author of the book, "1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die." And you can hear more music from Otis Redding "Live on the Sunset Strip" and "Exile on Main Street" at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfaction")

(Soundbite of cheers and applause)

Mr. REDDING: Oh, man, we can do it all night long, you know?

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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