With the eleven A sides and fourteen B sides collected on Singles 1965-1967, the Rolling Stones outgrew their blues roots to become genius pop craftsmen who ran neck and neck with the Beatles. (That’s despite the occasional dud: See Bill Wyman’s homely, harpsichord-laced “In Another Land.”) The era is a tour de force for Keith Richards‘ fuzzed-up Chuck Berry-a-go-go guitar, consecrated on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” a song that started out as a garage-rock throwaway and ended up a masterpiece. Mick Jagger‘s petulance and wicked humor are everywhere: His condescension is corrosive as he mocks the “seer-suckah suit” of the “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man,” the boredom turning spiteful as he hisses, “What a drag it is getting old” on “Mother’s Little Helper.” Brian Jones is the secret weapon here, bringing exotic flair to “Paint It, Black” and “Lady Jane” with sitar and dulcimer; he was responsible for the anything-goes playfulness that led to the radiant psychedelia of “She’s a Rainbow.”
Like the previous collection of singles released by Abkco this year, 1965-1967 justifies its seventy-dollar price tag with meticulous packaging that re-creates the original single sleeves, which makes it for hard-core fans only. Unlike the first box, 1965-1967 captures the Stones at a crucial point: just before they assumed their role as rock’s darkest hedonists — a time when the Stones actually sounded like they were having fun.