SoundStage! Music Online Editor's Pick Archives
September/October 2003

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil Remix
ABKCO Records 18771 9666-2, 2003

Musical Performance
****
Recording Quality

***1/2*

Overall Enjoyment
****

The first cut on the Rolling Stones' great Beggar's Banquet and probably the band's most famous -- or infamous -- single tune, "Sympathy for the Devil" was written solely by Mick Jagger, who was reportedly inspired by the Mikhail Bulgakov allegorical novel, The Master and Margarita. But the lyrics have always recalled some of Bob Dylan's epics to me. "Sympathy" was long rumored to be the song played while a young man was stabbed to death at the Stones' Altamont Speedway concert (it wasn't) and the inspiration for the "work" of more than a few overtly satanic heavy-metal bands. In other words, "Sympathy for the Devil" has legs, which is perhaps why the Stones not only allowed it to be remixed but also oversaw the whole process. This seven-cut Hybrid multichannel SACD, another in ABKCO Records' Rolling Stones Remasters series, includes ready-for-radio and full-length remixes of "Sympathy" by house/rap producers the Neptunes, Fatboy Slim and Full Phat along with the Stones' original version in beautifully remastered sound. None of the remixes is so off the wall that "Sympathy" is unrecognizable, but I can't say that I like one more than the others. In all, Satan is still a recognition-seeking trickster figure, but the song's Latin beat is the obvious casualty of the remixing process. While some will question why Jagger and the Stones would encourage anyone to futz with "Sympathy for the Devil," I find the reinterpretations refreshing, rather like poems written about a great movie or painting. But the original is Touch of Evil or Guernica -- woo woo to it....Marc Mickelson


Sam Cooke - Sam Cooke at the Copa
ABKCO Records 99702, 2003

Musical Performance
****
Recording Quality

****

Overall Enjoyment
****

sam_cooke_copa_snap.jpg (4561 bytes)ABKCO Records started a trend with its release of a group of Rolling Stones reissues on Hybrid SACD. Universal Music Group followed with series from the Police and Peter Gabriel, but Sony Music aims to trump all with its 15 Bob Dylan SACDs slated for release later this month. ABKCO's latest releases are six Hybrid SACDs and a DVD from Sam Cooke that include this live performance recorded in 1964 and remastered in stereo and 5.1 surround sound. I can't attest to how successful this material is with five speakers, but with two this SACD is a revelation. I can't imagine this recording being any more detailed, the master tape seemingly fully captured. The atmosphere of the July nights on which these performances were recorded is palpable -- it takes little imagination to feel the summer heat amidst the muted voices of supper-club patrons and their clinking dinnerware. The musical high point is the medley for lovers in the middle, which begins with "A Little Tenderness" and ends with "You Send Me," but if "Twistin' the Night Away" doesn't raise your pulse, you might not have one. If you can't make up your mind which of these ABKCO remasters to buy, start with this one. While it doesn't present Sam Cooke at his most soulful, its vitality and great sound make up for it....Marc Mickelson


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