On 21 November 2011, the Rolling Stones re-issued their 1978 album, "Some Girls", including twelve previously unreleased songs from that time. This review takes a look at the twelve tracks individually - where they came from, how much work has been done to them for the new release and whether they were worth the time.
The bonus CD opens with the notoriously bootlegged track, 'Claudine', which documents the controversy surrounding the Claudine Longet scandal of 1976. The song was originally left off the album through fear of litigation - perhaps now Mick feels that he can obtain lawyers as equally powerful as Longet's were back in 1976. Two versions were recorded: one version spanning nearly eight minutes and recorded in late 1977, the other (which was re-mastered for the 2011 release) a neat 3mins 42secs and recorded in early 1978 at Pathe Marconi studios in Paris. Apart from "Before They Make Me Run", much of the material from these sessions has gone unreleased and forms most of the new bonus album. The vocals have been redone, the vocal and piano parts have been made a lot louder and back up vocals imitating Keith Richards have been added (as with songs re-mastered on the 2010 re-issue of Exile on Main Street), but otherwise the song stays true to its original fast-paced form.
Track two, 'So Young' was also originally recorded in January - March 1978. A fast blues-rocker, the song's lead vocals have been totally overdubbed by a 68 year-old Jagger and the lyrics have been changed slightly. Ronnie Wood's lead guitar parts and solo have remained intact. Note that this track has previously been the subject of a re-master - in 1994 it was released as a bonus track on the 'Love is Strong' and 'Out of Tears' singles.
Track three, 'Do You Think I Really Care' was previously known largely as 'Yellow Cab'. Mick has again overdubbed the old 1978 vocals and back up vocals have been added. The lap-steel guitar solo by Ronnie Wood is true to the original, but a piano solo has been added before it comes along. Again, this song was originally recorded at Pathe Marconi studios in Paris in early 1978. A lot of country songs were recorded in these sessions - the only one to reach the final album was 'Far Away Eyes', but it is great to see the old recordings re-surface.
The fourth track, 'When You're Gone', is a medium-paced bluesy number, originating from the same sessions as the previous tracks. It was less well formed than the other outtakes, existing only as some form of studio jam. Once again, Mick has overdubbed the vocal track for the purpose of the re-master, and the new lyrics are only very loosely connected to the old ones, which existed really only as an improvised slur by Mick. Mick has also added a harmonica solo.
Track five, 'No Spare Parts' is another country record spawned from the Paris recording sessions of 1978. The re-mastered version was released as a single on 13 November 2011 and reached No.2 on America's Billboard's Hot Singles Sales Chart. Vocals have been redone but the lyrics are, on the most part, analogous to the original take. Ronnie Wood has added a pedal steel solo.
'Don't Be A Stranger' is the sixth track of the new release, originating from the same early 1978 sessions. This song sounds the same instrumentally, but the vocals, lyrics and actual title of the song have been changed (it was previously known as 'Do You Get Enough').
'We Had It All' is, in the writer's opinion, the best outtake to have been re-mastered and released on the new bonus CD. This is notable since the track, unlike most of the others, does not originate from the Paris sessions of 1978. It was recorded at Pathe Marconi studios, but comes from the sessions for the 'Emotional Rescue' album in June - October 1979. The song's vocals (provided by Keith Richards) have been reworked, but not to much greater effect - the vocals of the original take were just as well done. The harmonica we hear throughout the new version has always existed, but it was not mixed fully into the version that has been circulated in bootleg versions throughout the years (though it can be heard towards the end of the original mix). We also do not know when in time the new vocal has been added - Keith's voice these days is too husky to produce the smooth croon contained in the track, but it is definitely different from that contained in the original. The song was written by Troy Seals and Donnie Fritts, and has been covered by countless country musicians over the years, including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton.
'Tallahassee Lassie' (track eight) is a cover of the 1959 Freddy Cannon release of the same song. It was originally recorded at RCA Studios in Los Angeles in August 1978, just after the Some Girls Tour of America, and therefore this track, like the previous one, does not originate from Some Girls sessions. Vocals have been redone and the lyrics have been chopped and changed in places.
Several different versions exist of the original track nine, 'Love You Too Much', but it is most likely that the new version is based on the cut from late 1978 at Pathe Marconi studios. Mick has reworked the vocals and the lyrics.
Track ten, 'Keep Up Blues', is a slowish blues number dating, once again, back to the Pathe Marconi sessions of early 1978. If one listens to the original, entitled 'Some People Tell Me', it can be heard that Mick's vocals (as with 'When You're Gone') exist only as a rough guideline to what we hear before us now.
The penultimate track is a cover of a Hank Williams Sr song entitled 'You Win Again', another brilliant country song originating from the 1978 Pathe Marconi sessions. Mick has redone the vocals and backup vocals imitating Keith have been added. Ronnie's lapsteel guitar solo is the same as in the original. For years this song has been considered one of the Stones' great studio outtakes, and it is often speculated that the only reason a great track such as this did not make the original release of Some Girls in 1978 was that it was too similar to the other country song on the album, 'Far Away Eyes'.
The last track, 'Petrol Blues', is the track which is most true to its original version, most prominently due to the fact that Mick's vocals have not been reworked. The only difference is that the new song has been mixed differently, but, otherwise, the new song and the original take are identical (including the airy hum audible throughout - indicative of a low-quality outtake such as this).
Overall, any Stones fan that takes a thorough listen through the new bonus album, whether comparatively or not, should be duly impressed. The fact that we hear two tracks that do not date back to the Some Girls sessions may show that Mick Jagger and Don Was started to run out of ideas of what to include in a CD dedicated to outtakes from the sessions, but any Stones bootlegger knows that there is a host of material out there. The album is undoubtedly a success and analogous projects for other studio albums, such as Goats head Soup, Tattoo You, Sticky Fingers or the like, would be most welcome.