‘Satanic Majesties’ gets 50th-year deluxe set

Stones psychedelic album

The Rolling Stones’ “Their Satanic Majesties Request” can’t get no respect. Still.

The wannabe rival to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” receives its own 50th anniversary release Sept. 22, coming on the heels of an ambitious rerelease of the Beatles’ psychedelic masterpiece.

But while “Sgt. Pepper” was celebrated at the half century mark with surround sound, a new stereo mix, a plethora of alternate tracks and generational hoo-hah, the Stones’ album returns to market with a modest yet respectable offering.

“Their Satanic Majesties Request: 50th Anniversary Special Edition” features SACD and LP versions of both mono and stereo versions of the 1967 album. The stereo LP and SACD appear to have a brand-new mix while the mono dates back a year. Fans looking for studio rareties and alternate takes undoubtedly will be disappointed (unless they own the bootlegs).

The four-disc $90 set does, however, feature the restored original lenticular (3D-ish) image of the Stones in their psychedelic finery.

Also included is a 20-page book with Michael Cooper’s photos from original cover shoot. Yes, that Michael Cooper, fresh from shooting the similar but far more famous cover for “Sgt. Pepper.”

The recording was newly remastered by Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering. Ludwig did the mono Stones set of last year, which included the 1967 album. The vinyl was cut at Abbey Road.

“Their Satanic Majesties Request” has been going in and out of style for decades, but it’s widely considered among the weakest of the classic-era Rolling Stones records. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both have panned their own album (“a load of crap”). Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham walked out of the sessions, tired of the band’s stoned shenanigans. “It was so druggy — acid and all that,” drummer Charlie Watts recalled. Rolling Stone magazine said the resulting album reflected “an identity crisis of the first order.”

Stung by criticism of the work as a second-rate “Sgt. Pepper,” the band retreated to their baseline blues-based rock, in short order producing the late 1960s classics “Beggars Banquet” and “Let It Bleed.”

Still, psychedelic music fans can find some transcendent moments on “Satanic Majesties”: the spacey “2000 Light Years From Home”; Bill Wyman’s “In Another Land”; the infectious “She’s a Rainbow”; and the rocking “Citadel.”

The last SACD release for the title was in 2011, out of Japan. (The upcoming release is a hybrid SACD, meaning the disc also plays on regular CD players. The turn-of-the-century Stones reissues also are hybrids.)

The set is billed as numbered and limited.

Comments

  1. peter chrisp says:

    I must admit it pales in comparison to the recent 50th Anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s box set and i noticed too the cover has a similar effect to The Beatles, it was the one they completed before the end of the 60’s that still is a classic and you can’t go pass the legendary Let It Bleed, there are so many brilliant rock songs on albums in the late 60’s but gee 48 years later although they have released a number of killer songs but it still chills The Midnight Rambler!

  2. Steve Andrews says:

    Recently, I attended The Classical Mystery Tour Concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra! Just a fantastic and beautiful concert!! They played every song from Sgt. Pepper for the first hour of the program. Some songs from the album I did not recognize leading me to believe some of these songs were very sub-par and recognized as album fillers! As a musician myself, you should create every song to be the best it could be!!

    Also, in my opinion, the best album for the Summer of Love of 1967, is The Doors first album!! JUST FANTASTIC!! However, they gave the Beatles Sgt. Pepper the award because of the Beatles popularity!

  3. I will never understand the negativity cast upon Satanic Majesty’s Request. As a “psychedelic” piece it flies higher than Sgt. Pepper by far. Sgt. Pepper is mainly pop music more than psychedelic. Now, if you want to compare Magical Mystery Tour against Satanic Majesty for psychedelicness, that’s another story.

    I still have my original album cover for Satanic Magesty, framed and hanging on the wall just south of Are You Experienced and West of Iron Butterfly’s Heavy. Personally, I was disappointed in the direction, really a retreat, back to basic blues/rock direction the Stones took after SMR. Yes, they cranked out lots of great blues/rock material afterwards, but they didn’t really create complex works of art that they could have. Losing Jones, or maybe I should say, Jones losing himself, took much away from the Stones and really made it a different band, but I digress.

    For those who have the high appreciation for Satanic Majesty’s Request I do, I suggest instead of buying this new box set, you seek out Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of The Rolling Stones Satanic Sessions. They are out takes and alterative versions of everything on SMR. They are expensive and hard to find, but if you appreciate what a milestone in psychedelic music Satanic Majesty’s Request was, you will love them. It’s like sitting in the back of the studio listening to this masterpiece being made and a masterpiece it is.

  4. I remember when the LP came out. I really enjoyed listening to the Stones up to this LP. They took the old American Blues tunes and gave them a new life. Rolling Stones Now, 12X5 and anything before this try at keeping up with the Beatles was great.

    I laughed at the 3D plastic LP cover. I couldn’t get into it and they looked goofy with the clothes they were wearing. Don’t get me wrong. … The Stones kept making great songs but this LP was like “Jumping the Shark” and I felt they were selling out.

  5. 90 bucks? Wtf?

  6. peter chrisp says:

    Fritz good point on your thoughts on both The Stones & The Beatles land mark albums. I guess too it all boils down to your own personal tastes on what is inside, as we know there is a lot of great music in both albums and psychedelic wise there is a difference, and i can understand there is a bit of negativity on both sides of the fence, as both albums were released around the flower power era and the album covers were slightly similar and i tend to agree The Beatles’ album was a definitive pop album but still had that psychedelic feel in only a couple of songs the title track and you couldn’t get more spaced out than A Day In The Life but Fritz as you suggested you will take The Stones album & i am more than happy with The Beatles one, and with the new edition of the Beatles Sgt Peppers is also an all time classic and a masterpiece. Fritz your thoughts on a desert island Stones album? You have 2 choices which one would you choose The Satanic Majesties or Let It Bleed?

    • Between the 2, Satanic Majesties Request. Let It Bleed has great stuff on it, but you can find similar stuff on other Stones albums. Satanic Majesty’s Request has so much that is unique as far as Stones material. I know a lot of people say the album was a sellout to the psychedelic craze and a lame attempt to top Sgt. Pepper’s, but I always saw it as simply their attempt at a psychedelic album, plain and simple as such, I think its a masterpiece. At the same time, I don’t see it as an album that should be compared to any other Stones album because all of the rest of them were pretty much of the same style. It always sort of rankles me when the Stone get accused of “selling out” in regards to Satanic Majesty’s because I thought the real sellout job by the Stones was when they jumped on the glitter rock bandwagon. Talk about selling out, although Jagger seemed to fit quite well into that trip.

  7. peter chrisp says:

    Steve Andrews could not agree more on The Doors first album one of the finest debuts in history? That’s probably going a bit too far but i still believe Sgt Peppers is still a gem of a record fillers from my perspective were they experimenting with the music & maybe a couple of other hmm i won’t say what it could have been i’ll give you perhaps one guess, but gee if i had to choose the 3 albums listed The Stones
    The Doors & The Beatles which one would you put in order? I’d go for The Doors 1st The Beatles 2nd & Stones 3rd. Fritz what is your order of preference?

    • Well, if I had to put 3 albums by those 3 bands in my order of preference, it would go like this;
      #1 Magical Mystery Tour
      #2 Satanic Majesty’s Request
      #3 Waiting For The Sun

      • I have to add one point to my 3 album picks. Those are my choices as far as “psychedelic content”. Psychedelic music is one type of music I love very, very much, but it’s not the only type. Very often when I tell people Satanic Majesties Request is my favorite Stones album, I get this strange look. It’s my favorite Stones album because its their only psychedelic album and I prefer psychedelic to blues/rock. I can enjoy sitting for hours listening to Johann Strauss, Ravi Shankar or ABBA and never get tired of any of it. I sometimes wonder what Strauss or ABBA might have come up with had they taken LSD. I recently rediscovered an ABBA song titled “The Visitors” and found it to be very psychedelic, except for the break which sounds very disco. Even the lyrics sound like someone having a paranoid episode during a bad trip. To get back to my point, I’m not claiming that TSMR is the best music the Stones ever did, it’s just the best psychedelic music they ever did and for that reason for me, its their best album.

        • peter chrisp says:

          Out of all The Stones albums Fritz your fave as suggested is Their Satanic Majesties as it’s a definitive psychedelic album for sure and your thoughts on their classic Let It Bleed, as The Stones released a number of classic albums in their long and industrious and some not too good. Your initial thoughts on Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Exile On Mainstreet & Goats Head Soup? They say was this their finest era? Hmmm

          • I listened to Beggars Banquet a lot when it came out, but haven’t listened to it or the other subsequent albums you mentioned in a long time. I’ve been listening to Aftermath a lot lately and understand why I liked it so much when it first came out. The material they did post-Jones was excellent in many cases, but they just weren’t the same band anymore, still great, but not the same.

            Satanic Majesties is the only album of theirs that I can listen through from start to finish and not dislike anything there. I can’t say that about any other album of theirs, which only speaks to my personal tastes, not their artistic talents. As long as I’m on the subject, I want to say Got Live if You Want It was one of the best early live rock albums out there when it was released in 1966. The Ventures had a good one at that time and the only other one I remember being out there was a Beach Boys live that wasn’t very good at all.

  8. Greg Williams says:

    An observation: The Doors morphed from an iconic ‘psychedelic’ band into Jim’s blooze-band (saved only by their identifiable ‘sound’) … while the Stones, always a Blues band, mis-stepped into TSMR, & to their credit, quickly realigned back to the music they did best. (l do appreciate the bits & pieces of creativity the Stones managed during that LP, but find it mostly a difficult listen, even now.) For me, their debut album is still one of the most excitingly raw things ever put to tape. As for the Doors, l’d combine the 1st & Strange Days for my desert island listening. lt;s an old debate, but Beatles-wise, l imagine the added impact of Sgt. Pepper, had Strawberry Fields & Penny Lane been originally included … & wonder, along with many others, how they’d have been sequenced. (Even Paul recently said, “Where would you put them?”) Saint George Martin would have made the best decision l’m sure.

  9. Psychedelicpiper says:

    “Their Satanic Majesties Request” would have been a flawless masterpiece had it been properly produced and mixed, and better takes had been used for the longer tracks. The “Satanic Sessions” bootlegs have way better takes of “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)” and “Gomper”. No horns, and lots of incredible guitar riffs, including a Brian Jones guitar solo. It’s essential listening if you’re a fan, in my opinion. It’s no wonder Keith didn’t like the final record. His lead guitar’s shoved to the background for a lot of it.

    Another thing I always like to point out to people about this album: It has a strong African shamanic music vibe to it, which makes sense given Brian’s interest in joujouka, and which I feel fits the vibe of the Stones better than The Beatles. The album portrays a darker, uncharted, chaotic take to spiritual mysticism, and in its own way is very pioneering in terms of world music. And maybe electronic music, in some sense? I always find it interesting how “See What Happens” has this constant beat throughout the whole track, symbolic of a hypnotic shamanic trance. You get none of that kind of vibe going on with “Sgt. Pepper’s”.

    People who compare this to The Beatles generally aren’t aware of any British psychedelic music outside The Beatles. The Pretty Things, Tomorrow, early Floyd, etc. may as well be Beatles rip-off bands, as far as the average modern listener’s concerned. Sad, but true.

    Whether or not Brian Jones liked this album, I feel he’s the only one who actually understood it. But yes, the mixing and production and choices of takes on the finished product don’t fully reflect the entire potential this record had. It does lend itself to a punk-like raggedness, though, but in the end, he rejected it, I feel due to how it came out in the end. All of them did.

    Quite frankly, I’m disappointed that the people who put together the 50th anniversary set were completely oblivious to the sessions material. I feel someone should attempt a new version of the album using the session tracks. Maybe it could be an exercise in production work for me. I really do believe in the long tracks on this album.

    • Psychedelicpiper, your analysis is brilliant! The idea of reworking that whole album from the material on those Sessions discs gives me the chills. If only someone would do it.

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