December 1, 2009 | 11:30am
The Rolling Stones
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! 40th Anniversary Edition (ABKCO)
In rock and roll, 1969 was perhaps the most historic year of the 20th Century. Of course both The Isle of Wight and Woodstock went down that year. Black Sabbath and The Doobie Brothers were formed. And, yes, the Beatles broke up.
But of all the many milestones to have occurred in 1969, perhaps none was more pivotal than The Rolling Stones' coast-to-coast American tour. For that was the year that "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" played "The World's Greatest Stage" -- Madison Square Garden -- and cemented their place atop rock's hierarchy. And they've been there ever since.
Indeed, in addition to Altamont, which of course was violently captured in the film Gimme Shelter, The Stones' stand at MSG was the stand to remember. It was the band's first appearance at the legendary New York venue, and for those two November nights Mick and Keith and company could do absolutely no wrong.
That stand, of course, was documented in the legendary live LP Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, a record that is still the pinnacle of raw rock-concert capturing. Chances are, though, you not only missed those shows; you missed out on the hoopla sparked by Ya-Ya's release.
Well, fret not, dear rock and rollers, because ABCKO has just released an anniversary edition of Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! that will absolutely blow your mind. Actually, there are two editions: a Deluxe and a Super Deluxe. The Deluxe consists of three re-mastered CDs -- the original 10-song set, a five-song disc of unreleased tracks, and a third disc with sets from openers B.B. King and Ike and Tina Turner. Then there's a bonus DVD shot by Albert and David Maysles. In addition the box set includes a 56-page collectors' edition hardcover book filled with Ethan Russell's tour photos (and essay), as well as a Rolling Stone review by the late, great Lester Bangs, who claims therein that "no doubt [Ya-Ya's] is the best rock concert ever put on record." Plus, for all you budding guitar heroes, there will be a code in a limited number of box sets enabling fans to download "I'm Free" for Guitar Hero 5.
The Super Deluxe Edition includes all of the above as well as three vinyl LPs, "one of which," says the press release, "has etched images featuring the cover art and the Rolling Stones' signatures."
But at whatever degree you decide to delve into Ya-Ya's, it'll be those songs that'll get you. From the opening chords of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" to the cheers that almost drown out the close of "Street Fighting Man," there's not a song in the set that doesn't roar with the fervor of a great awakening. Then again, any collection that contains the Stones performing classics such as "Midnight Rambler," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Live with Me" and "Honky Tonk Woman" (from the original set), not to mention "Under My Thumb" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (from the unreleased disc), is bound to be some great awakening.
Add the bonus DVD glimpses of Jimi jamming backstage with Keith, or Janis bopping stage-side while the Stones tear through "Under My Thumb," or even a heliport collision between the British bad boys and the Grateful Dead, and you've got something eminently collectible. When you witness Mick and Keith alone bluesing through "Prodigal Son" and "You Gotta Move," however, all you can say is, "Wow."
Not since 1969 has a band broke with such a universal wildnes. And it's highly unlikely we will ever see a time like that again. That's what makes Ya-Ya's so damn potent. But it's the potency of the Stones that made them "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World." And what makes this box set something to behold.