Rarities 1971-2003

If you're in the market for just one Stones album this year, make it A Bigger Bang. But if you happen to be shopping for an additional stocking stuffer, you could do much worse than this odds-and-sods set. Most of the tracks on Rarities aren't very rare — all of them have been previously released in some form. But this disc works as a discriminating collection of lesser-known gems. The live tracks are revelatory: They include a torrid "Wild Horses," from 1995's live album Stripped, and an achy rendition of "Beast of Burden," from Sucking in the Seventies. The stunner is a live version of "Tumbling Dice," inexplicably left off Stripped. The first two verses (recorded at a rehearsal, then spliced together with a full-on live performance) are backed only by Chuck Leavell's rollicking piano and some righteous hand claps. Then there's a track that captures the early spark of the Stones: a loving cover of Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock," recorded in Leeds, England, in 1971, at the height of the band's powers. Once a B side of "Brown Sugar," it's a keeper — and it has finally found a loving home in a good neighborhood.

From The Archives Issue 989: December 15, 2005