A sequel of sorts to ABKCO's three boxes of singles replicas from the mid-2000s, Universal's The Singles: 1971-2006
is a gargantuan 45-disc box set that offers single replicas of every 45 the Rolling Stones released between Sticky Fingers
and A Bigger Bang
. Singles that saw release over multiple formats, whether they're 12" dance singles or multi-format CD singles, see their various B-sides combined onto one CD, resulting in a whopping total of 173 tracks, 80 of which are "not currently available on official release." This is a true statement but it greatly overestimates the actual number of genuine rarities here: most of these cuts are dubs, remixes, and extended versions, with only a small handful of B-sides being non-LP cuts. Of these, there's even a smaller number dating from the Stones' '70s prime: their cooking cover of Chuck Berry
's "Let It Rock" (flip of "Brown Sugar"), the ragged disco rock of "Everything Is Turning to Gold" (the B of "Shattered"), the languid ballad "I Think I'm Going Mad" ("She Was Hot"). The collection includes a fair number of non-LP cuts from the late '80s and '90s -- often tossed-off blues that are quite enjoyable for their casual authority -- but only the hardest of hardcore should go into this thinking that they'll get their money's worth in rarities. Instead, this is a beautiful collector's item, something that is fun to look at and sample but nearly impossible to enjoy as a straight listening experience.