From an early February 2001 Time Warner press release:
- Pop Culture Entertainment Brands Announce Long-term Deal to Create CDs Featuring Signature Rolling Stone Artists...
- Proving that pop culture icons gather no moss, Rhino Records and Rolling Stone Magazine have joined forces to create a 10-album series featuring some of the most popular cuts of the rock era. Each CD features ten hit songs by major artists and will list for $11.98...
- As the world's preeminent pop culture label, Rhino Records is the perfect match for Rolling Stone's first foray into the world of compilation records...
The press release promised a ten album series but I've only been able to find the six discs below. I also have an issue with the last statement quoted from the press release, about how this was going to be "Rolling Stone's first foray into the world of compilation records." Not only is there an undated Rolling Stone presents 50's Rock & Roll Classics vinyl album out, there are those two CD compilations series they put out with Time-Life in the Nineties that I just wrote about.
Classic Rock offers no surprises though Jefferson Starship's "Ride The Tiger" will probably be the least known song among the ten tracks. One thing you can usually count on when listening to classic rock radio is hearing full-length album versions of songs. Listening to this Classic Rock disc, there are two single edits: ZZ Top's "Legs" and Peter Frampton's live talk box epic "Do You Feel Like We Do".
The '70s California Sound disc is basically the softer side of classic rock. The final track - Jo Jo Gunne's "Run Run Run" - is without a doubt the least familiar track. The main thing that stood out about this disc as I listened was its brevity; the average song length on Classic Rock is over five minutes but that drops down to three and a half minutes on The '70s California Sound.
The titles The '70s California Sound, as well as Male and Female Singer-Songwriter, had been used by Rhino for a trio of 1996 discs under the banner Listen To The Music. Those 1996 compilations (left) have little in common with their 2001 successors other than their titles, a couple of songs and a few artists. Taking the prize home for the least known track on Male Singer-Songwriters is Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going To Rain Today".
The first thing I noticed while listening to Female Singer-Songwriters is that some of the songs were more familiar to me as later, cover versions:
- "Wedding Bell Blues" - Fifth Dimension
- "Diamonds And Rust" - Judas Priest
- "Heart Like A Wheel" - Linda Ronstadt
That's not to say the original versions on the disc are inferior in any way as they are not. Female Singer-Songwriters is the only disc in this Rolling Stone/Rhino collabo I've listened to more than once which tells you all you need to know.
The Blues, like jazz or classical music, is not easily enjoyed by the casual fan and though this Blues disc has a few songs I like, I don't think it would be anyone's first, second or even last choice off the shelf as representative of The Blues. I'll give it bonus points for including tracks from both Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi, though.
Though the title is up for interpretation, The Early Years is a solid disc of late 60s/early 70s pop/rock that sounds the most Rolling Stone of all the discs in this collection, if that makes any sense at all. I'd say Arlo Guthrie's "Coming Into Los Angeles" is more than likely the least known track on The Early Years amongst Hideaway viewers.
As you may have noticed, the artwork wasn't of the highest quality on this post and for that, I apologize. This set does not seem as widely known or collected as I thought. There is even a watermark visible on some of the images - does anyone recognize it?
Other Rolling Stone compact discs around this time include this pair of three-disc sets:
The Rolling Stone Women In Rock Collection was released in 1998 by Razor & Tie and features 48 tracks across three discs. Its very inclusiveness makes it practically unlistenable to these ears but I've used it extensively for making mix tapes and discs.