This is one of the great party records. All the cuts are favorites, all are terrific — loud, tough, flashy rock and roll. Even if you already have every song on Flowers, Aftermath, Between the Buttons, and Beggars’ Banquet, all together they’ve probably never sounded as good as they do on this LP. Whether or not the songs were chosen with great care or virtually at random, they form an album of tremendous impact, just like any record of Little Richard’s greatest hits. If you’re a true Stones fan, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the cover.
That said, it’s still disappointing that things like “Mother’s Little Helper” were included while “We Love You” and “Child of the Moon,” which have never been on albums, were omitted. If the Stones are really going through the past darkly they ought to at least give us a reminder of where they’ve really been — in jail, for instance. And they might have given American listeners a treat by including the best of their really old material: their school-boy proud versions of Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” “Poison Ivy,” “Money,” “Bye Bye Johnny,” and the tune that really put them over the top, “I Wanna Be Your Man.” But albums like this are part of the Stones tradition — don’t be surprised when you buy “Ruby Tuesday” for the fourth time, come a year from now.