Release Date: Dec 1, 2017
Record label: Universal
Heavily bootlegged over the years, the Rolling Stones' BBC sessions from the '60s didn't see official release until 2017, when Universal put out On Air as both a single-disc and double-disc set. The Stones first entered a BBC studio in October 1963 when they were peddling their debut single, "Come On," and their last session arrived in September 1965, just after releasing "Get Off of My Cloud" as the sequel to the smash "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. " During these three years, the Stones racked up several number one hits in the U.
Due to the fact that The Rolling Stones have been playing that live set, with little deviation (for want of a better word), for the last forty years, it's easy to forget that there's a rich seam of their back catalogue that's been pretty much Jumpin' Jack Flashed out of history. Spool backward past Their Satanic Majesties Request to when Brian Jones was still a going concern and there they are: the band that ensnared the hearts of the born insolent, the antidote to The Beatles, The Greatest Rock'n' Roll Band In The World. When they actually still played some pure, unalloyed rock'n'roll.
The BBC has come in for a tremendous buffeting in recent years, not least for the perception that it was complicit in harbouring criminals of the most heinous stripe. Demonstrably, "here be monsters" might as well have been carved into the lintel above the Lime Grove studio doors: but it's still difficult to ascertain exactly how many people within the corporation knew what dark deeds were afoot, and to what extent. It's all deeply regrettable, and understandably tends to override what the BBC did (and does) best: implementing the altruistic, Reithian principles of "inform, educate, entertain".
In theory, there shouldn't really ever be anything surprising about yet another archival release from The Rolling Stones - especially this close to Christmas. What does beggar belief, though, is that after a full 55 years, the world's savviest rock and roll brand still has previously unheard material tucked away. You suspect that the most dedicated of Stones completists - and there must be some of them out there - would need their own warehouse to store the veritable avalanche of live albums, greatest hits collections and rarities compilations that the band have put out over the years.