Music Review: The Rolling Stones, On Air

On Air is a fascinating window into a band which was on the cusp of hitting the big-time.
On Air is a fascinating window into a band which was on the cusp of hitting the big-time.

The story goes that the Stones' manager locked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in a room to force them to write their own material.

Prior to that their live material and recording sessions reflected their common affinity for the blues, particularly that of Chicago with Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Little Walter.

On Air then takes us into those early days of the Stones, and beyond their initial albums like their self titled first release and 12 x 5, both released in 1964. All 32 tracks were recorded live by the BBC between 1963 and 1965.

Yes, some of them are a little rough but it's a fascinating window into a band which is on the cusp of hitting the big-time.

Chuck Berry's contribution is, as you'd expect, significant, with Come On (their first single), Roll Over Beethoven, Carol and Memphis Tennessee, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley (a hot version of Mona), and we hear live and work-in-progress versions of Satisfaction and The Last Time, as the soon to be called Glimmer Twins start to demonstrate their songwriting ability.

I have very fond memories of the early Rolling Stones as they began to impact as an alternative to the Beatles. Of course included here is the song that John and Paul gave them and which became their first hit (I Wanna Be your man), while another highlight for me is Brian Jones' harmonica wailing on their cover of the Willie Dixon/Muddy Waters classic I Just Wanna Make Love to you.

Aside from the historic value, the joy is hearing the Rolling Stones as their skills were on the rise. On Air is a must listen for students of mid 60s rock.

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