An Update on the Rolling Stones Reissues on SACD

In May, the big news from the Home Entertainment 2002 show was that ABKCO Records plans to reissue 22 albums by the Rolling Stones on SACD. Since that time, interest in the “Rolling Stones Remastered” project has remained high. Recently, ABKCO provided us with an update on the progress of this project. Here are the highlights of that update:

About The SACDs
Fans of the Rolling Stones and SACDs will be pleased to hear that the release of these SACDs remains on track for an August 20th release date. The initial set of the discs, now known as the “inaugural pressings” will carry a certificate of authenticity that will not be included in future pressings.

The project is said to be “one of the most comprehensive restoration and remastering programs ever undertaken for a major catalog”. Each album will be made available as a Stereo Hybrid SACD which includes a Stereo Super Audio CD (SACD) layer as well as a standard CD layer. This will offer the consumer compatibility and playback on any SACD or CD player. With an SACD player, the laser pick-up automatically reads the SACD layer while a (standard) CD player’s laser pick-up will automatically read through the SACD layer to the CD layer.

Original art and liner copy including the essays by Anthony DeCurtis and Andrew Oldham that appeared in the original release of The Singles Collection have been replicated in digipacks that capture the look of the original LPs. While it was not possible to reproduce the original 3D cover of Their Satanic Majesties Request for the SACD version, the cover of this SACD will be printed on holographic board stock. Graphics and texts will be rendered exactly as they first appeared as part of the LP packages “without gratuitous after the fact embellishment”, underscoring ABKCO’s “commitment to authenticity that is the hallmark of The Rolling Stones Remastered Series”.

ABKCO says that “every effort has been made to ensure that each of the 327 tracks presented on the 26 discs covering all 22 titles meet the highest audio standards that exist today making The Rolling Stones Remastered Series the Stones collection for the ages.” The SACDs will sell for a suggested retail list price of $18.98 for the single disc SACDs in the United States market.

Both US and UK Versions Will Be Released
As we reported at HE 2002, in a number of instances, where the repertoire is substantially different, both domestic and – for the first time in this country — UK versions of the original albums will be issued on SACD. This includes the albums Out of Our Heads, Aftermath and Between The Buttons.

The Stones album Metamorphosis has never been available on CD and ABKCO is releasing the UK version in The Rolling Stones Remastered Series as it includes two tracks not included on the US vinyl album that was originally released in 1975: “Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind” and “We’re Wasting Time.”

The Rolling Stones Remastered Series version of More Hot Rocks features three additional tracks. The album now includes the version of “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” that originally appeared on the UK LP release Rolling Stones #2 as well as a version of “Poison Ivy” that has never before appeared on CD. The collection also features “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” The version now included first appeared with an overdubbed audience on Got Live If You Want It and will be making its CD debut in its un-dubbed form on The Rolling Stones Remastered Series edition of More Hot Rocks.

No Electronically Enhanced Stereo Used
Stones fans will be relieved to hear that all electronically reprocessed stereo recordings have been replaced with mono mixes. ABKCO says that “when available and appropriate”, true stereo mixes replace their mono counterparts on the following songs: “2120 South Michigan Avenue,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Around And Around,” “Confessin’ The Blues,” “Empty Heart,” “Heart Of Stone,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “If You Need Me,” “It’s All Over Now,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Look What You’ve Done,” “Paint It Black” and “Time Is On My Side.”

Original, First Generation Masters Used Whenever Possible
ABKCO says that meticulous attention has been paid to ensure that original analog sources for all of these titles are as close to first generation as possible. Research conducted in New York and London turned up a number of “the best quality two-track masters ever used to produce discs by the Rolling Stones”. The result is said to be recordings that when played back in SACD “provide unprecedented brilliance and rawness never before experienced outside of the Stones’ recording sessions”. The Stereo CD version of these recordings was created with SACD’s Super Bit Mapping Direct process.

Some Songs Will Be Featured For the First Time at the Correct Speed!
A surprising revelation from ABKCO is that a couple of Stones songs have never been released before at the correct speed!

During the research for the analog sources for The Rolling Stones Remastered Series it was discovered that the production master responsible for producing some of the original LP and CD releases were recorded on a tape machine running at a faster than called for speed. This resulted in a “slow” tape master when these songs were played back on a tape machine running at the proper speed.

A new master featuring correct speed versions of these tracks are included in The Rolling Stones Remastered Series SACD editions of December’s Children, Big Hits (High Tide & Green Grass), Between The Buttons, Flowers, Beggars Banquet, Through The Past Darkly, Hot Rocks, More Hot Rocks and The Rolling Stones Singles Collection.

Masters for The Singles Collection and Let It Bleed
Beyond that, this edition of The Singles Collection now reflects the original US and UK singles with original single masters used as sources while the track listing was not changed.

When the first generation master of Let It Bleed was found, it was discovered that the original intent for the album was for the tracks to be contiguous without bands of silence between the songs. The new version reflects that original intent though it may also be programmed on a track-by-track basis, as well.

The People Behind The Scenes
As the Rolling Stones Remastered series moves to the SACD pressing plant before its release, ABKCO has also released information on the team behind the album remasters. The people involved in the project are as follows:

Restoration Producer: Jody H. Klein
Sound Restoration and Archive Coordinator: Steve Rosenthal/the Magic Shop
Analog to Digital Transfers and Tape Archive Research: Teri Landi
Mastering: Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering
DSD Engineer: Gus Skinas
Additional Tape Archive Research: Jane Byrne and Mick McKenna
Additional Analog To Digital Transfer: Jon Astley and Pascal Byrne
Production Assistants: Maria Papazahariou and Laura Walton

Repackage Art Direction: Iris W. Keitel and Alisa Coleman-Ritz
Repackage Design: Zane Peterson/AGI
Art Production Assistants: Nicole Monea and Patricia Sheppard
Conception: Lenne Allik

More Information to Follow
We’re continuing to follow the Rolling Stones Remastered project and will have more information on these SACDs in the days and weeks ahead. From all indications, these SACDs will be a real highlight for fans of the Rolling Stones and the SACD format.