Low Budget Records has released this very thoughtful double disc compilation to The Rolling Stones. Titled You Can’t Always Want What You Get, it’s loaded with renditions of Rolling Stones songs lovingly rendered by some of Roslindale, Massachusetts’s most talented players. The variety of duos and combos on this compilation are perfectly matched to the variety of Stones material it offers and the succession of successful renditions makes this a must have for fans of the Boston music scene as well as fans of The Rolling Stones.
The Lowbudget Allstars open this album with their take on “Gimme Shelter.” From the opening percussion notes to the soulful lead vocal and harmony vocals to its engaging harmonica line this version comes across with the sweeping motion of the original while breathing new life into an old classic. There is a lot of feeling in the harmonica and it makes the listener feel it too.
The Bird Mancini Band has fun with “Jumping Jack Flash,” giving it some edge in the guitar and vocals while remaining faithful to its original form. Ruby Mancini lets her soul shine through in her fiery background vocals and conjures the feeling of the song with her accordion.
Steve Baker’s “Paint It Black” doesn’t even try to cop the sitar from the original. Baker goes at it in his own special way. He sings it like a singer-songwriter with minimal accompaniment, making the lyrics and his voice the highlight. Good move. This one feels like an acoustic soul number with an authentic voice authority. Light touches of guitar in the backdrop give this “Paint It Black” a haunting forlorn beauty that Baker works with beautifully. It eventually evolves into a fiery and beautiful expression.
Ray Mason offers a brittle guitar, gentle vocal rendition of “The Last Time.” Keeping the focus on the words and the melody was a stroke of inspiration. It makes the listener appreciate the kernel of this song with changes in vocal and guitar melody shining in their own way without belty vocals and a hard charging rhythm section around it. Mason’s voice is also a winsome charm in its own right. He has a perfect expression in his simple delivery.
Doctor X delivers his take on The Stones take on Chuck Berry’s “Come On.” X keeps the bouncy, hit song joy going strong with a riffy guitar line and a spiking 1960s organ. It’s nice and catchy in X’s hands.
Boston music scene veteran Terry Kitchen sings beautifully on “Ruby Tuesday,” capturing the melodic sweetness in the vocal melody line. His bare bones approach keeps the emphasis on the melody and this forces one to take a second look at what makes this song work.
Likewise, Paul McDonough keeps the emphasis on the melody line in his stripped down intro to “As Tears Go By.” This split personality song soon turns into an electric guitar driven rocker with a speedy rhythm section keeping it in a basic rock format, something that might have been born in the late 1970s. Clever.
“Bitch” as performed by The Rolling Bones gets an exotic lead vocal supported by a fiery lead guitar. The vocal accents are engaging as hell while that guitar burns with passion and determination, like a demon driven to get the most out of each measure of the songs. The entire band still manage to keep it in bar band attitude that you could hear at the local corner bar, making it feel like the earthy experience everybody has when they’re hanging at their local watering hole.
Geoff Pango & Mr. Curt play “Hand Of Fate” as an acoustic bluesy rock ballad. It turns on the vocals instead of the music, which it does in the original. The backing instruments here follow the vocals rather than create a home for them. That bring out more of the depth of the melody and groove of the original and it shows that this duo have been listening to this song for a long time. They make it their own with this unique expression. It has a thickness of musical meaning and vocal depth that makes one appreciate the kernel of this gem.
The Abzurdists deliver “Honky Tonk Women” with the same bar band groove of the original. Yet, this band keeps it tight and compact and that gives their vocals more breathing room. There is much charisma in their quirky singing style. They’re not even trying to be cool. Instead, they play with these lyrics by singing them more formally than a rock band would. It’s almost like they’re trying to emulate a well rehearsed vocal quartet, and it’s so weird you just have to keep listening.
The Trap Doors turn “Dead Flowers” into something even rootiser than its original inspiration. Mandolin and baritone guitar work wonders at bringing out the gritty beauty of this piece. The listener gets a dose of acoustic grace amidst this roots rock interpretation.
Electric Standard maintain the lilting beauty of “Loving Cup.” A sharp vocal line contrasts sweetly with an easeful motion from the instrumentation around his voice. A trio, Electric Standard manage to keep it tight, simple while leaving the lush, sweeping feel of the song inexplicably undisturbed. Artful.
Wes & Phil Kaplan use their electronic pop approach to make something new and different out of “We Love You.” Their vocals are sweet and compact and they are quirkily irresistible along side a pretty electric piano generated melody line.
Continuing in this quirky vein, Adventure Set play up the psychedelic effects of “2000 Light Years From Home” with their clever keyboard arrangement and otherworldly vocal effects. Despite the modern instrumentation, this tune feels appropriately respectful of the original which also used state of the art effects at the time it was recorded.
Humming Bird Syndicate chime in with their take of “Child Of The Moon.” The tune gets a charming dose of fuzzy bass guitar and sweet female backing vocal that make this feel like a tune born during the late 1960s. It’s a likable rendition.
Glenn Williams turns “Angie” into a uke-synth melody mash up. While Williams’ voice is lovingly plaintive, the ukulele beneath his voice keeps the melody sweetly compact. A synthesizer, too, bring out the tender wonder of the melody while the singer reaches deeper into the heart of the song with his voice compensating for the sparse accompaniment.
Chillgroove closes out the first disc in this compilation with “Coming Down Again.” This one wins the listener over with a dreamy, lilting take on the vocals and melody. A lushness in the voice and a pleasant touch of piano make a huge impact with their minimalist touches.
Disc two opens with an unusual track. It is David Greenberger reciting “Everything Spoken Between Songs In The Order That They Appear On All The Widely Released Official Live Albums By The Rolling Stones.” It seems odd in the beginning but it soon reminds the listener why these spoken bits of banter between songs have become as much the stuff of legend as the songs themselves. They capture a moment of time while also allowing insight into the personalities of the men on stage.
Doctor X returns to deliver a fun, catchy version of “Satisfaction.” X meets the challenge of keeping this song irresistibly cool and catchy. The percussion is cleverly cheesy and an fafisa organ line wins one over in every measure. The lead vocal is perfectly large, wide, conjuring the larger than life feeling of the original.
Louder Than Milk tackle a song from this reviewer’s favorite Stones album Exile On Main Street. This band milks(pardon the pun) “Rip This Joint” for all of the busy, rowdy, bluesy joy its worth. While they don’t reinvent the wheel here, Louder Than Milk keep of the elements respectfully in tact and they rock right out.
Electric Standard present “Respectable” with a straight forward roots rock simplicity. It makes us feel all of the early country, rock and roll, and rockabilly elements that intrigued The Rolling Stones (and many other British bands at the time) so deeply. A raw, fuzzy country-fried guitar line giddily spearheads this husk of instrumentation and call and response vocals and ties it all together with earthy, down home aplomb.
Craig Carter & The Hurricane manage well the rollicking rhythms of “Tumbling Dice.” Chugging guitars layer over the groove with an anthem-like melodic largeness and the vocals remain likable, bluesy, and loosey goosey on the chorus. This rendition is another highly fun moment on this compilation.
The Rolling Bones contribute a version of “It’s Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)” that delivers the lyrical drama of the original while also remaining familiar in the punchy instrumentation. Alluring in its lead vocal charisma, this version features jumpy electric guitar bits that nail the explosive energy of the Stones classic. Just when one senses that this song will keep its tensions brewing just beneath the surface, its guitar phrase becomes louder, larger than life.
The Junk Dealers keep “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Heartbreaker” compact, tight, and fast moving. Its switch to blues guitar phrasing and police radio microphone effects offer haunting reflections of the original arrangement but wins over the listener with its bold, interesting reinvention. Bravo.
Only The Bird Mancini Band could serve up the swaggering blues crawler “I Got The Blues” with such taste. Ruby Mancini is raspy, sharp, and rangy, bringing the passion of this song to the forefront from the get go. Her accordion is a great substitute for the smoky organ as it keeps the song packed with emotion. The rhythm section keep smacking the song onward with persistently cool fills.
Mr. Curt & Geoff Pango take “I Am Waiting” to a new place with their quirky duet interpretation. Their voices arrive at that larger than life quality needed to do justice to this kind of material. Acoustic and electric fuzz guitars wrap their two warm melody lines in even greater warmth around the vocals. One could listen to an entire album’s worth of these two, over and over. Their sound here is utterly embraceable.
Glenn Williams & David Roy team up to play “Melody” with a little help from their friends. This down tempo swagger gets its strength from the strong interplay of male vocalists, lead and supporting. Feeling a bit call and response, it lures one in with the way it doubles its hip slickness. A bluesy piano line and a blues drenched guitar phrase help keep this one in a thicket of sultry soulfulness.
Patricia Abreu, Marty White, and John Macey team up to record a lilting, lovely version of “She’s A Rainbow.” Abreu tickles the notes out of her piano with ladylike tenderness while the singers form a lush vocal line with their combined phrasing. The Stones themselves may even find this one exciting for the way this trio manages to create the emotional heights of their song with such sparse arrangement.
The Trap Dorz have fun rendering the guitar gruel from the original “19th Nervous Breakdown.” The lead vocal allures with quirky charisma and with a few lyrics adjusted to the 21st century. This take dwells on the twisty lyrical delivery and that gives it strength, since that is where this song truly lives.
“Sway,” as performed by Capital 6, swaggers around with cool authority. Its lead vocal, supremely smooth, captures the moody vibe of the original while keeping its own timbre firmly in place. The instrumentalist really slap it home at the end with vibrant musicianship.
Chillgroove use synths, loops, slide guitar, and clavinet to capture the funky, otherworldly feel of “Dancing With Mr. D.” This mash up of modern electronic instruments and classic rock era guitar and keyboards leave us with something cool and funky in every measure. Listeners will surely be dancing with somebody when they hear this irresistible piece of clever reinvention.
The Abzurdists claim “Sympathy For The Devil” as their own with eerie organ swirls, djembe, and vibraslap. An engaging lead vocal glides majestically over an irresistible mesh of piano, guitar, and rhythm section. The listener can hear every note from every instrument and each player certainly holds the listener’s interest. A jazzy feel flows from the top instruments and backing vocalists while the rhythm boys play that rhythm that girls cannot resist.
Paul McDonough gives his raspy best to his delivery of “Street Fighting Man.” He sings in an understated manner the anthem like lyrics of the original while still making it sound like an anthem. His personal oomph comes from a persistent strength in his voice. The players he’s surrounded himself with here keep the guitar, bass, and keyboard notes humming while his drummer hits it all forward with a pushy momentum.
Men & Volts close out this compilation with the dirge like version of “Moonlight Mile.” This offers a new imagining of the pace and mood of the original. Here, there is even greater darkness in the guitars and the rhythm section keep it vaguely primitive. This succeeds in making the piece even more haunting, dire than the Stones classic itself.
Lowbudget’s new tribute to The Rolling Stones is a must have for fans of The Rolling Stones and fans of the greater-Boston music scene. This double disc set highlights the special qualities of the original songs while highlighting the special qualities of these wonderful local musicians. Well done.