It turns out that in the mid-’80s a true stereo version of “Satisfaction” appeared on Japanese and German editions of Hot Rocks 1964-67, which are long out of print.
The acoustic guitar is even MORE prominent on this version than on the remastered mono version. And it turns out that there’s piano underneath the guitars too, played by Jack Nitzsche.
I know Mr. Mod is going to love this, but what about the rest of you?
You know, what bugs me most about clearly hearing the acoustic guitar is how it robs the song of its mystery. When I was a kid, first learning how to play guitar, there was nothing I wanted to learn more than how to play this song. However, on the classic vinyl mix, when there’s no audible acoustic guitar banging out the simple cowboy chords, you’re left with trying to find the chords among the riff; the chunky, little guitar fills that follow each of Jagger’s lines; and the bass part, which never quite gives a clear indication of the chords. I’m talking about when you’re 15 and you’re sitting in your room with your first guitar – and you’re just learning how to play…AND YOU SUCK! By the time you finally figure how how to grasp onto the meaning of those chunky guitar fills, in terms of the song’s chords, you’ve actually learned something about how a song can be constructed. This opens the doors to beginning to understand all kinds of amazing, rocking songs that don’t feature obvious power chording: the Motown stuff I also grew up liking now makes more sense, the Costello stuff I would be living inside during my later teen years would make more sense… With the stinking acoustic guitar cranked up, “Satisfaction” loses that loose grip on its magic. It’s about as mysterious as a second-rate ’60s band, like The Hollies doing “Long Cool Woman,” or whatever that song is called. It’s still a very good song, but all the secret passages that the mucky vinyl mix offered are sealed tight.
I wonder if this mix didn’t appear on some U.S. issue, too, since I have certainly heard it on the radio. I can remember quite vividly the surprise of the prominence of the piano, which I had never even noticed, and of course the very clear “punctuation marks” of the acoustic. Very interesting, glad to be able to hear it, more glad that it is not THE version.
i’ve heard this song so many times that i would never consider listening to it for enjoyment. i just can’t care about it anymore.
i think that fact is what allows me to dig this mix. i feel i am learning a bit about how it was recorded. like if i could look at some of the layers of paint under the final mona lisa.
i can’t really care about either work, however the perspective shift is interesting to me.
thanks for posting!
While I came of age after the Death of Rock and can perhaps shouldn’t really be commenting here, as I’ve said before, I have always heard the acoustic guitar on this song as long as I can remember. I even heard it on oldies radio, which in my memory made everything sound mono — even if it was an FM station. Can we send various mixes of “Satisfaction” to RTH Labs and get a definite ruling on the degree to which the acoustic guitar is intrusive on each?
Finally, does Brian Jones play the acoustic guitar here? Is this not therefore a strike against pro-Jones factions among Stones fans and RTH alike?
I have no beef with an acoustic guitar being part of the rhythm track in an inaudible or nearly inaudible manner, as it was employed on the song’s original mix. This is an old practice that can acually bolster a song’s rhythm. My beef is when a track that’s supposed to be part of the rhythmic foundation is pushed to the fore because some tech-head nerd knows it’s there and assumes it should hold equal weight to everything else in the mix. I have the same beef with remixes of Motown and other ’60s records in which the tech-head nerdy remastering engineer pushes the tambourine to the fore. This is not meant as a blanket indictment of tech-head nerds, by the way. They frequently serve tremendous purposes in the music I love. I simply get leery of them messing with any form of dance music.
It’s times like these I wish I could SUMMON E. PLURIBUS GERGELY, a man who’s actually cut a rug in his time.
Clearly the problem with this mix is that they’ve gone overboard on the acoustic guitar to the extent that it lessens the impact of Keith’s big riff. His fills get a little buried too. The good part of this mix is that the 3-beat tambourine interjections get pushed down in the mix. That was always too prominent. But unfortunately Bernard Purdie’s drums get equally buried.
The revelation of hearing this mix is that Brian isn’t just chugging away underneath — he’s playing slashing Street Fight Man chords against the riff. I like being able to hear the acoustic guitar in this song, and I can’t relate to Mod’s very personal reactions to it. I’d like a crack at mixing it myself. Maybe the Stones could post the basic tracks and sponsor one of those remix contests like they do in electronic dance music.
Btw here is the site that I saw this on:
They’ve got some interesting stuff there.
I have to think that the original reason the acoustic got buried was due to the undeniable roughness of it, complete with missed entrances and wobbly timing, if in fact this version is mixed from the same masters..
As for technerds and dance music, people love a tambourine. It’s an undeniable signal for “this is where the party is happening. now shake your butt.” I agree with the sentiment though, sometimes it’s as misplaced as power chords on an acoustic guitar.
I don’t hink I’d go so far as to call those “rare” mixes. They’ve been around a long time, and I can shed a little light on the nerdiness behind them. for extra nerd appeal, dig this:
Essentially, what happened was that ABKCO let Mobile Fidelity do that awesome boxed set of early Stones (it really is awesome, too! even comes with a GeoDisk to help align your cartridge). ABKCO used those same tapes to make cd’s with in the eighties. Hot Rocks was the first place anyone noticed different things, but those of us with the boxed set had already heard it, but it’s less clinical sounding on vinyl, and it’s pretty nice. That’s probably just the way vinyl sounds compared to a cd.
Anyway, a lot of the original US cd’s will say “Made in West Germany” on them. If they do, then they’re MoFi masters. There’s also Japanese versions and real West German releases that are MoFi mixes, too. It’s a pain finding them all, and bootleggers have made it easier, if you ask me.
More LukPac craziness:
I must agree with Mr.Mod – the acoustic guitar should be felt, not heard.
Back to mono!
So glad to see the return of my favorite tag, “german true stereo”. I feel like there’s a massive Rock Town Hall project that we have not yet fully realized, a multi-author creative fiction work about the legendary German Stereophonic Underground (Untertagestereodeutscher) that must have been thriving during the Cold War, secretly toiling away to create True Stereo masters of the classics of the West as a means to chip away at the Iron Curtain.
Shit, this thing even has Broadway musical adaptation written all over it. You’re telling me German True Stereo couldn’t clean up at the Tony Awards in a few years? We need to get on this.
Comment of the Month!
alexmagic, it’s funny you should note the return of the “german true stereo” tag. There’s actually a plan involving that tag afloat. Your project will dovetail nicely with it!
That acoustic guitar is the equivalent of Linda McCartney singing in Wings.
Lovin’ it, bostonhistorian!