Rolling Stones to Release Deluxe Reissues of ‘Beggars Banquet,’ ‘Rock and Roll Circus’ (EXCLUSIVE)

1968 was a crucial year for the Stones: These archival releases find the group in fighting form, and "Circus" features a previously unreleased John Lennon version of "Revolution."

Rolling Stones to Release ‘Beggars Banquet'

In 1968, the Rolling Stones were at the proverbial crossroads. They were one of the world’s two greatest rock bands, but the preceding months would have decimated a less tenacious group of individuals. Three Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones — had been arrested on drug charges and narrowly avoided long prison sentences. The band hadn’t had a genuine hit single in more than a year, and hadn’t toured the U.S or their native U.K. in 18 months. They’d parted ways with Andrew Loog Oldham, who’d managed them and produced their records for their entire career. They’d just released the most negatively reviewed album to their career to date, “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” And Jones, who was to die in an accidental drowning the following year, was disintegrating before their eyes due to substance abuse, and his longtime girlfriend Anita Pallenberg had left him — for Richards.

At the same time, the world was imploding. The Vietnam war was raging, the Soviet Union violently suppressed a peaceful revolt in Czechoslovakia, and in the spring of 1968 alone, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated.

If the Stones hadn’t stepped up in 1968, they might have ended up like the Dave Clark Five. (Okay, maybe not the Dave Clark Five.) But they responded with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Street Fighting Man” and the rest of the iconic “Beggars Banquet,” as well as several songs that would appear on the ensuing albums “Let It Bleed,” “Sticky Fingers” and “Exile on Main Street.” It remains one of the greatest creative bursts in rock history.

Abkco, which curates the group’s early catalog, is celebrating the 1968 Stones with three special releases emanating from that year: a remastered and repackaged “Beggars Banquet” vinyl reissue; a restored version of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil” film (which documents the Stones recording the titular song); and, early next year, an expanded reissue of the legendary “Rock and Roll Circus” video and album.

“Beggars’ Banquet”: Nov. 16
Last upgraded in 2002, the iconic album has been transferred from the original stereo tape to direct stream digital and remastered by mastering master Bob Ludwig. Whatever all of that means, it sounded great in a preview Variety received from Abkco chief engineer Teri Landi. This is an album that should never sound too clean, and the twin engines of this album — Richards’ acoustic guitar and Charlie Watts’ drums — are made brighter while not losing, for example, the murky swirl of instruments on the fade of “Street Fighting Man.” The remastered limited-edition vinyl reissue includes:
– a gatefold jacket with a special slipcover, including both the rejected original “bathroom-wall” artwork as well as the white cover that replaced it;
– a bonus 12” of the song “Sympathy For the Devil” in mono (the only song from the album to be truly mixed in mono), backed with an etching of the original ‘toilet’ cover;
– a replica of a rare Japanese bonus flexi disc containing a phone interview with Mick Jagger from 1968, originally included with initial Japanese pressings of “Beggars Banquet” and unknown even to many die-hard fans;
– a download code for the album plus interview.

“Sympathy for the Devil” (a.k.a. “One Plus One”): Oct. 5
Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard filmed the group over five days in the studio, during which they just happened to be recording “Sympathy for the Devil,” one of their most iconic and menacing songs. The film — which has been carefully restored in 4K and will be available as a BluRay, DVD and download in North America — intercuts that footage with seemingly unrelated crypto-revolutionary scenes from the era, but it provides a fascinating record of the song’s evolution and the group’s creative process, as it moves from a rough acoustic version to a slow rock take to the percussion-filled, samba-fied final arrangement.

“The Rock and Roll Circus”: TBD 2019
Planned as a BBC special, the December 1968 all-star performance was headlined by the Stones and featured John Lennon and Yoko Ono (with Eric Clapton), The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Jethro Tull and others. The Stones were unhappy with their six-song performance at the time and shelved the footage (although The Who’s performance was released a decade later in “The Kids Are Alright” documentary) until finally, in 1996, Abkco released the complete show — which, no matter what the Stones thought, features many tight performances and is a fascinating artifact of the era. This new reissue features:
– a DVD/ Blu-Ray of the performances in wide-screen Dolby Vision, with audio in Dolby Atmos;
– a full-color booklet;
– audio CDs or vinyl editions — including several previously unreleased tracks, most excitingly a brief but previously unreleased rehearsals of the Beatles’ “Revolution” and “Yer Blues” performed by John Lennon with Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richards on bass and Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. Sadly, there is no new material from the Stones: While they played other songs during the taping — “Route 66” and “Confessin’ the Blues,” as well as a couple of solo acoustic blues numbers from Jagger — no recordings have emerged and it seems likely they were not recorded.

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Beggars Banquet (50th Anniversary Edition) CD/digital tracklist

  1. Sympathy for the Devil
  2. No Expectations
  3. Dear Doctor
  4. Parachute Woman
  5. Jigsaw Puzzle
  6. Street Fighting Man
  7. Prodigal Son
  8. Stray Cat Blues
  9. Factory Girl
  10. Salt of the Earth

Beggars Banquet (50th Anniversary Edition) vinyl tracklist

Disc 1

Side A

  1. Sympathy For the Devil
  2. No Expectations
  3. Dear Doctor
  4. Parachute Woman
  5. Jigsaw Puzzle

Side B

  1. Street Fighting Man
  2. Prodigal Son
  3. Stray Cat Blues
  4. Factory Girl
  5. Salt of the Earth

Disc 2

  1. Sympathy For the Devil (mono)

Flexi disc

1) ‘Hello, This Is Mick Jagger!’ LONDON to TOKYO April 17, 1968