As most collectors know, the mid 60s catalogue of The Rolling Stones is a bit of a mish mash of UK vs US versions featuring different track listings and album covers. It’s one of the reasons that Let It Bleed has been the only the Stones disc I’ve owned for many years. Wanting to start at the beginning of their career, I knew where to start but not where to go from there. Having recently finished reading Keith Richards’ entertaining Life autobiography, I went back and did research on how to build an album collection of The Rolling Stones. Taking cues from more knowledgeable fans online, I went out and bought the first five US versions of their albums starting with England’s Newest Hit Makers and man does it not disappoint.
“Not Fade Away” swings the door wide open of what to expect for the next 31 minutes. A stuttering guitar gives way to a Bo Diddley strut with handclaps and a swaggering Mick Jagger vocal. Sparks fly off of Chuck Berry`s “Carol” as well as Holland Dozier Holland’s “Can I Get A Witness”. Three original Stones tracks announce the new songwriters with the slower “Tell Me” being the definite highlight. “Walking The Dog” is all foot tapping, heading nodding, whistling greatness.
While The Rolling Stones would move onto great things, this has the sound of the best covers band in the country hitting on all cylinders. Its timeless music played impeccably well with an energy that fizzles throughout. And while there is surely no comparison between hearing this in 2016 and actually being there to see it live in 1964, England’s Newest Hit Makers does an excellent job of capturing the youthful energy of the band. You can practically feel the sweat dripping off the walls.