There can be little denying the impact of England's Rolling Stones to contemporary rock music and over the decades their back catalogue has always been in print in one form or another although the catalogue is divided between that of their earliest work (1963 thru 1970) which is owned by Abkco Industries and (1971 to date) which they own and license periodically to different labels (Currently Polydor a division of the large Universal Music Group).
In 2002 that earlier catalogue was remastered and re-issued initially to super audio cd for Japan, the UK and North America, selected titles on vinyl lps and issued as downloads in late 2010 from the three big download sites.
Recently Apple have been attempting to improve the quality of their downloadable titles under the generic 'Mastered For iTunes" program where high "Studio" quality masters are custom mastered for Itunes to a specification and I wrote a short piece on it.
Last month, this early Rolling Stones catalogue was re-mastered for iTunes so I did some exploration of it having own records and tapes by them for a long time.
The first thing to say is this new collection follows the original UK studio album sequence and adds two short EP exclusive titles in the set however they have not included the two live recordings issued in the UK (The 'got LIVE if you want it' EPand 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out' discs) although they can be gotten separately.
The individual titles are available to buy separately coming with PDF booklets for front covers and original artwork but two unique compilations are added that can only bought either as part of the set or as stand alone titles from the sets own menu of titles.
These sets have the non lp singles, b sides and tracks only issued on US albums gathered together and they are called "No Stone Unturned" Volumes 1 and 2 which is based on the title of a very good UK lp compilation from the 70's.
The haven't issued in this set the UK Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) and Thru' The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol:2) compilations although they also have been remastered for iTunes and can be bought separately.
I bought a number of titles, Self Titled, No.2 (both of which aren't on cd), 12x5 (An American album with 6 stereo tracks), Let It Bleed and No Stone Unturned Vol:1 to test the re-mastered sound.
I felt the sound was very close to that of a cd, offering an upgrade on the previous iTunes and Mp3 versions I've heard sounding better in the percussion and generally that bit smoother.
I felt No Stone Unturned made more sense being a collection of songs being in chronological order than the US Hot Rocks and Fazed Cookies two cd sets, lending itself to being used on a portable player for the person who wants to look beyond their albums although by design it misses out a few hits. Many have said it's a pity this title isn't available on cd and I would agree. It removes the need to have to own otherwise unnecessary and often messily compiled US titles such as "Flowers" and "December's Children".
In addition I picked up a few weeks later No Stone Unturned Vol:2 which has tracks like 19th Nervous Breakdown, My Girl, We Love You, Child Of The Moon and Jumping Jack Flash.
I also re-transferred to iTunes some of my own discs to compare self transferred to those "Mastered For iTunes" where some tracks were shared and their was a small improvement in the bought ones when I listened closely and compared although obviously you'd be paying for a title that you may well have on your shelf although the quality was actually very good.
When one considers the sound many of us had from pre-recorded cassettes in the past, I feel users of download services such as iTunes are getting a very good deal as these titles are genuinely impressive played through a middle market set of hifi separates even if they may not hold the promise of either high resolution Downloads or lp re-issues.