The Rolling Stones – No. 2

More The Rolling Stones

No. 2

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  • This vintage Decca pressing has outstanding sound – both sides did very well in our recent shootout, earning Double Plus (A++) grades and playing fairly quietly
  • This Mono pressing (made from the mono tapes) will show you the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones 
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “…[No. 2 includes] one of the group’s best blues covers, their version of Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” which wasn’t released in America until 1973 and features some killer slide playing by Brian Jones.”

This vintage UK Decca mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

The Real Sound of the Real Tapes

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us. Since the tapes are now more than 60 years old, no reissue will sound remotely as good as this one.

Some tracks do sound quite a bit better than others, recorded as they were in three different locations (including Chess studios) by two different engineers (Ron Malo and Dave Hassinger).

The Stones wanted their stuff to sound like the old Blues albums they grew up on and revered. With that sound in mind, you can’t argue that they didn’t succeed here.

What the best sides of the Stones’ Second Album have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl import pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with the guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we listed above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Albums by The Rolling Stones

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love 
Down Home Girl 
You Can’t Catch Me 
Time Is on My Side
What a Shame 
Grown Up Wrong

Side Two

Down the Road a Piece 
Under the Boardwalk 
I Can’t Be Satisfied 
Pain in My Heart 
Off the Hook 
Susie Q

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

The group’s second British album actually appeared after their second U.S. LP, mostly owing to the fact that the British rock & roll audience wasn’t focused on the long-player as a medium (singles and EPs were the driving force of the business in England then).

It uses the same David Bailey cover shot that had graced the U.S.-issued 12 X 5 album two and a half months earlier, but only four songs — “Under the Boardwalk,” “Suzie Q,” “Grown Up Wrong,” and “Time Is on My Side” — overlap on the two albums.

Rather, Rolling Stones No. 2 offered seven songs that weren’t to make it out in America until four months later on The Rolling Stones Now!, and they’re all solid numbers: “Off the Hook,” “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” “Down Home Girl,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “What a Shame,” “Pain in My Heart,” and “Down the Road Apiece,” plus one of the group’s best blues covers, their version of Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” which wasn’t released in America until 1973 and features some killer slide playing by Brian Jones. The U.K. LP also had the advantage of only being released in mono, so there are no “rechanneled stereo” copies with which to concern oneself.