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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/12/02

The Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!
1970 (2002) - Abkco

review by Matt Rowe of The Digital Bits

Super Audio CDStereoDirect Stream DigitalCompact Disc Audio compatible

The Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! (SACD) Album Rating: A+

Audio Ratings (SACD 2.0/CD 2.0): A-/B-*

Extras Rating: N/A

Specs and Features

48 mins, single-sided, dual-layered (SACD/CD Hybrid Disc), tri-fold CD digipak packaging, track access (10 tracks - see track listing below), audio formats: SACD DSD 2.0 & CD PCM 2.0

*SACD/CD comparative grading

Produced by Rolling Stones and Glyn Johns
Mastering: Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering
DSD Engineer: Gus Skinas

Mick Jagger (lead vocals/guitar), Keith Richards (guitars/vocals), Mick Taylor (guitars/vocals), Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums) and featuring Ian Stewart (piano)

The Rolling Stones have produced some of the world's most enduring rock and roll albums, from their entrance in the early 60s, to their dominance in the 70s, and on up to the present time. They are currently treating fans with yet another tour (for future reference, this "tour", called Licks, began on September 3rd, 2002, in Boston and finished its US leg on February 6th 2003). The fans are legion, the songs many, and some of their albums are legendary. That's the thick of it. You could say that The Rolling Stones are to rock what the Bible is to Christianity, and you would not be wrong... nor would you be much disputed.

While many of The Stones studio albums are extraordinary, they fail to capture the raw brilliance that one of their better live albums can easily reveal. The Stones have quite a collection of live titles available and they're all good. But the one that stands out, the one that can keep you coming back for more, is 1970's Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out. This live disc is so good that it still raises the hairs on my arms, even after some 32 years of deepening the grooves on my LP from repeated play. Recorded in 1969 (in what proved to be a difficult year for the band) at Madison Square Garden on November 27th and 28th, Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out documents a wildly successful tour and for good reason. The Rolling Stones were on a course that would carry them to immortality.

In 1969, The Stones waded through the muck with the departure of band leader/originator Brian Jones, who was later found dead in his pool. Between that departure and the discovery of Jones' demise, a young guitarist, Mick Taylor, plucked from John Mayall's blues band, began his rocky stint as the new hired gun. Also in 1969, the ill-fated Altamont free concert occurred. So, The Stones had both heartbreak and triumphs. This recording of those Madison Square Garden concerts documents not only the achievement of The Stones, but also the beating heart of Rock and Roll. There aren't just moments on this disc. The whole thing is a moment in music history, suspended in perfection.

There are ten dynamically performed songs on the disc, with two penned by Chuck Berry (Carol, Little Queenie), one by the inimitable Robert Johnson (Love in Vain) and the other seven by the fertile collaboration of Jagger/Richards. Of the seven Stones originals, all of them have gone on to achieve classic status, defining the era as well as the band.

This review of this live masterpiece is also a first look at the high resolution audio format known as Super Audio CD or SACD. Recently, Abkco re-released their catalog of Stones albums in remastered form, something they'd held off doing for a long time, making it long overdue. But it was worth the wait. Using a process known as Direct Stream Digital (DSD), digital encoding of analog signals, the industry can now remaster at a much higher sampling rate. Without drawing out the technical aspects of this, the sampling rate of SACDs can achieve 2.8 MHz, much higher than CD standard's 44.1 kHz. For the moment, suffice it to say that music on SACD can not only shine, it can rock!

On Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, the SACD stereo mix is nothing short of amazing. The sound of every bass rip, of every drumstick fall, of every uttered word is accentuated. The timbre and nuances of Mick Jagger's vocals are stunningly clean and clear, but in a purely natural way. Gone is the "same pitch" tinny quality of CDs. When Mick growls here, it's an unmistakable growl. When he talks, you can hear the tonal changes of his voice. The guitars of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor are beefy and full. When Keith rips, the strums are heard for what they are - his plucks resonate and linger. When Mick gives us his bluesy slide treatments for Robert Johnson's Love in Vain, you can hear the depth and the pressure of the slide. Wyman's bass becomes a true rhythm, sounding like bass should - deep, rich and recognizable. Watts' drumming sounds as perfect as it will ever get with the clear sound of the sticks bouncing off the skins. And as a listener, you're so bleedin' blown away you'll want to cry.

From a concert setting perspective, the staging is spectacular, not only in the expansiveness of the soundstage but also in the true ambient sense. Anyone who has attended a concert recognizes the live sounds that make up a show. It's a hard thing to explain, but I think you're with me on this. This disc brings out the true qualities of a live show to the fullest extent. The audience is well defined to the point that the girl uttering the infamous lines "Paint it black... paint it black... paint it black, you devils" sounds as if she is next to you, as if you can hear her moving. The transient sound of the crowd as you absorb the spacing is evident. You can hear someone on the left as well as on the right.

What all this means is that depth becomes a real thing, even in a stereo recording, given the DSD treatment. This makes every song on Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out a new experience, a musical tour de force. I don't have to tell Stones followers how good this album is; they already know it. But what I can tell them is that, for now, they can't hear it in any better quality than the SACD version of the disc.

But if you don't have an SACD player, don't despair. Abkco has thoughtfully made these re-issues hybrid SACD/CD discs, by layering on a standard CD that doesn't need a specialized player. That means you can play this disc in your car, in your Walkman, and at home. The CD portion has also been remastered using DSD technology. It's not as rich and enveloping as the SACD version, but it is a magnificent improvement over the original issue, and an excellent CD recording in its own right. This hybrid disc concept represents a fantastic boost of faith and goodwill by the label. Not only do you get the value of an excellent remastered recording that you can enjoy right now in your standard CD player, you'll also get greatly improved quality from the same disc when you upgrade your equipment to SACD. And at roughly $18 give or take, the price isn't that much greater than a standard CD release.

The disc comes in a tri-fold digipak package. The artwork is original as found on the LP. Inside are track listings and credits with an explanation of the DSD/SACD process. You may find yourself confused when looking for these Rolling Stones Abkco remastered catalogue discs, because there is nothing on the outside of the packaging to alert the consumer that they're SACD/CD hybrid discs. So you heard it here, folks. Every reissued Stones discs from Abkco is an SACD/CD hybrid disc - there are no separately packaged versions.

As a Stones fans, after hearing this disc, I'm now setting out to add all of the remastered Stones SACDs to my collection. They're that good. And if you're in a music store one day, and you happen to hear someone shouting, "Paint it black!"... it's probably just me, still intoxicated from spinning this disc.

Matt Rowe
Visit Matt Rowe's MusicTAP ------ Music Flows There!

Track Listing:

Jumpin' Jack Flash
Stray Cat Blues
Love in Vain
Midnight Rambler
Sympathy for the Devil
Live With Me
Little Queenie
Honky Tonk Women
Street Fighting Man

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