Time-Life Music Presents THE ROLLING STONE COLLECTION: 25 Years Of Essential Rock [1993]

In Rolling Stone issue 652, dated March 18, 1993, featuring Natalie Merchant on the cover, a full-page ad appeared for The Rolling Stone Collection: 25 Years of Essential Rock. The seven-disc set came in a black cardboard slipcase and featured "90 of rock's most influential artists" and exactly 110 classic songs (despite the ad copy reading "over 110 songs") from the first twenty-five years Rolling Stone has been published, from 1967-1992. I did not order the set as I thought I had the majority of the songs already on other albums and Time-Life was already reaching into our bank account on the regular for other CD compilation series I was subscribing to. And did I mention our third child was due in approximately two months at that particular point in time? A month after Jeremy was born in late May 1993, I decided to quit the only real job I had ever had and snag a gig at one of the dozen or so record/CD stores in town. It took longer than I thought to find a new job and I did not land where I had hoped but things worked out and on Christmas Morning 1993, the first present I unwrapped from under the tree was, you guessed it, The Rolling Stone Collection. Thanks, Santa. The ad below appeared in issue 671 of Rolling Stone with a cover date of December 9, 1993.

It would not have been a stretch for the producers of this series to do seven discs from 1967-1969 alone as there was and is an abundance of worthy candidates for inclusion. As it stands as a single disc with seventeen tracks distilled from three years, the 1967-1969 disc covers expected essentials and includes enough pleasant surprises that the listener is not distracted by the tracks that could not be included because of licensing issues.
Moving onto the second disc in the collection, some of the notable absences from the first disc make an appearance on 1969-1970 and the massively ambitious scope of the project comes into focus with the inclusion of pop and soul songs alongside the heavy rock. The cover art by Josh Gosfield is a knowing nod to the famous Woodstock poster.
Three discs in and we've found a sweet spot. 1971-1973 plays really well as tracked or just as good on shuffle. Though Bowie is present on tracks 13 and 14, I was still hoping to hear one of his own hits before the disc was over. And you just knew Joni's "California" was going make the cut with its lyrical reference to the magazine.
And there he is: track one, disc four with "Rebel Rebel" which would not have been my pick from 1973-1977 but I'll take it. I'd have added a second Bowie track in place of Dylan's fourth consecutive appearance in the collection but the rest of the disc reveals itself beautifully don't you think?
Disc five makes a great case for being my favorite disc of the seven by representing the diverse music scene of 1977-1982 with the obvious exception of disco which could have been tastefully covered with the inclusion of Blondie's "Heart Of Glass" as it would have fit in with the punk and CBGB's acts that open the disc. The Cars / Clash / Pretenders / U2 / Prince run near the end of the disc is just about as good as it gets friends though I may have put "Mystery Achievement" or "Message Of Love" in place of "Brass In Pocket".
The 1982-1986 disc would definitely be my favorite disc in the series if it weren't for tracks 11-14 ruining the flow for me as my picks for each of the artists listed would have been different. But it's not The HERC Collection, is it? The two Prince tracks (!!) would have been three for me as I would have used Cyndi Lauper's cover of "When U Were Mine", the Prince track from the previous disc.
The Rolling Stone Collection closes out with disc seven covering the years 1986-1992 with an easily predictable tracklist of acts who appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone issues 465-646 during that seven-year span:
  • 01 The Bangles issue 496
  • 02 Run D.M.C. issue 488
  • 03 The Robert Cray Band issue 502
  • 04 Living Colour issue 590
  • 05 The B-52's issue 574
  • 06 Grateful Dead issues 504/505, 566 and 616
  • 07 Don Henley
  • 08 Tracy Chapman issue 535
  • 09 Public Enemy
  • 10 The Vaughan Brothers
  • 11 Bonnie Raitt issue 577
  • 12 The Black Crowes issue 605
  • 13 R.E.M. issues 514, 550, 607 and 625
  • 14 Robbie Robertson
  • 15 Spin Doctors issue 647 - the first issue of 1993
I take that back, I would have bet both of my dollars that there would have been a Beastie Boys track on a disc covering the years 1986-1992 and not just any track by the trio - you know the one I'm talkin' about:

Fun fact: Each of the seven discs times out at about 65 minutes so you get about seven and a half hours of music

No comments:

Post a Comment