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The Rock and Roll Circus - Annotated

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Playlist: The Rock and Roll Circus - Annotated

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Profusion, superabundance, an embarrassment of riches: they all describe the popular music world around the time when the Rolling Stones made Rock and Roll Circus. It also helps explain why the band left it unreleased for more than 20 years. The extraordinary variety and quality of rock, jazz, soul, country rock from November 1968 to March 1969 was un...

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The Rock and Roll Circus - Annotated

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Title Artist Album Duration
Crosstown Traffic
Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland 00:02:26

Eddie Kramer, Re-Mastering Engineer - Eddie Kramer, Recording Engineer - George Marino, Re-Mastering Engineer - The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Performer - Gary Kellgren, Recording Engineer - Jimi Hendrix, Composer - Jimi Hendrix, Producer - Jimi Hendrix, Arranger

(P) 2009 Experience Hendrix L.L.C., under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

Love Child
Diana Ross Love Child 00:02:57

Berry Gordy Jr., Producer - Deke Richards, Producer - Paul Riser, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Henry Cosby, Producer - Pamela Sawyer, ComposerLyricist - Dennis Lussier, ComposerLyricist - Diana Ross, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Frank Wilson, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Diana Ross & The Supremes, MainArtist - R. Dean Taylor, Producer, ComposerLyricist - The Andantes, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1968 Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Street Fighting Man
The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet 00:03:15

KEITH RICHARDS, ComposerLyricist - MICK JAGGER, ComposerLyricist - The Rolling Stones, MainArtist - Jimmy Miller, Producer

℗ 2008 ABKCO Music & Records Inc.

You've Made Me So Very Happy (Album Version)
Blood, Sweat & Tears Blood, Sweat & Tears (Expanded Edition) 00:04:20

Al Kooper, Arranger - B.Danis, Composer - B.Danis, Lyricist - Berry Gordy, Composer - Berry Gordy, Lyricist - Blood, Sweat & Tears, Arranger - Blood, Sweat & Tears, Performer - Brenda Holloway, Composer - Brenda Holloway, Lyricist - Frank Wilson, Composer - Frank Wilson, Lyricist - Fred Lipsius, Arranger - James William Guercio, Producer - Patrice Holloway, Composer - Patrice Holloway, Lyricist

Originally released 1969. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Lawdy Miss Clawdy (First 'Sit-Down' Show - Live)
Elvis Presley '68 Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition) 00:03:02

Elvis Presley, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lloyd Price, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 1998 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Dear Prudence (2018 Mix)
The Beatles The Beatles (White Album) [Super Deluxe] 00:03:54

Giles Martin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - CHRIS THOMAS, Producer, Additional Producer - John Lennon, Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Paul Mccartney, Bells, Drums, Flugelhorn, Bass Guitar, Piano, Tambourine, Clapping, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - GEORGE HARRISON, Guitar, Clapping, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - George Martin, Producer, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Geoff Emerick, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - MAL EVANS, Clapping, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Miles Showell, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - James Clarke, Editor, StudioPersonnel - Jackie Lomax, Clapping, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Sam Okell, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ken Scott, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - The Beatles, MainArtist - Matthew Cocker, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stefano Civetta, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Pritchard, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Matt Mysko, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Barry Sheffield, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 Calderstone Productions Limited (a Division of Universal Music Group) / Apple Corps Limited

The Loner
Neil Young Neil Young 00:03:55

Jim Messina, Bass Guitar - Mark Richardson, Engineer - Donn Landee, Engineer - NEIL YOUNG, Guitar, Harpsichord, Organ, Piano, Lead Vocals, Writer, Synthesizer, MainArtist - DAVID BRIGGS, Producer - Rik Pekkonen, Arranger, Engineer - Henry Saskowski, Engineer - George Grantham, Drums - Dale Batchelor, Engineer

1969 Reprise Records 2009 Reprise Records

Starstruck (2018 Stereo Remaster)
The Kinks The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (2018 Deluxe) 00:02:24

Raymond Douglas Davies, Producer - Dave Davies, Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar - Ray Davies, Guitar, Vocals, Writer - The Kinks, MainArtist - Mick Avory, Drums - Pete Quaife, Bass Guitar

© 2018 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company ℗ 2018 Sanctuary Records Group Ltd., a BMG Company

Gentle on My Mind
Aretha Franklin Soul '69 00:02:28

Richard Williams, Trumpet - Jerry Wexler, Producer - Arif Mardin, Conductor, Arranger - Aretha Franklin, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist - King Curtis, Tenor Saxophone - Bernie Glow, Trumpet - Frank Wess, Alto Saxophone - Joe Newman, Solo Trumpet - Seldon Powell, Tenor Saxophone - Jimmy Cleveland, Trombone - TOM DOWD, Producer - Urbie Greene, Trombone - David Newman, Saxophone - Ron Carter, Bass Guitar - Ernie Royal, Trumpet - Pepper Adams, Baritone Saxophone - Kenny Burrell, Guitar - Bruno Carr, Drums - Junior Mance, Piano - John Hartford, Writer - Thomas Mitchell, Trombone - Benny Powell, Trombone - George Dorsey, Alto Saxophone - Jack Jennings, Vibraphone - Wyline Ivy, Backing Vocals - Snookie Young, Trumpet - Evelyn Greene, Backing Vocals

© 1969 Atlantic Recording Corp., manufactured and marketed by Rhino Entertainment Company, a Warner Music Group company ℗ 1969 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc.

Son of a Preacher Man
Dusty Springfield Dusty In Memphis 00:02:28

Ronnie Wilkins, Writer - John Hurley, Lyricist, Writer - Arif Mardin, Arranger - TOM DOWD, Arranger - Dusty Springfield, MainArtist

1969 Atlantic Recording Corp. 1968 Atlantic Recording

Frelon brun
Miles Davis Filles De Kilimanjaro 00:05:40

Miles Davis, Associated Performer, Main Artist, Trumpet, Associated Performer, Trumpet - Unknown, Producer - Tony Williams, Drums - M. Davis, Composer, Lyricist - Herbie Hancock, Piano - Ron Carter, Bass - Wayne Shorter, Tenor Saxophone

Originally released 1969. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Kick Out the Jams
MC5 Kick Out The Jams 00:02:41

Wayne Kramer, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Writer - Rob Tyner, Vocals, Writer, Harmonica - Fred Smith, Guitar, Vocals, Writer, Harmonica - MC5, MainArtist - Bruce Botnick, Producer - Jac Holzman, Producer - Michael Davis, Band Member, Vocals, Writer, Bass - DENNIS THOMPSON, Drums, Vocals, Writer

© 1999 Elektra Entertainment for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States. ℗ 1969 Elektra Entertainment for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

Do Right Woman
The Flying Burrito Brothers The Gilded Palace Of Sin 00:03:56

Chris Hillman, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Ethridge, Bass Guitar, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gram Parsons, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Chips Moman, ComposerLyricist - Henry Lewy, Producer - Dan Penn, ComposerLyricist - Larry Marks, Producer - The Flying Burrito Brothers, Producer, MainArtist - "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

An A&M Records Release; ℗ 1969 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Girl From The North Country (with Johnny Cash) (Album Version)
Bob Dylan Nashville Skyline 00:03:44

Bob Dylan, Acoustic Baritone Guitar - Bob Dylan, Composer - Bob Dylan, Lyricist - Bob Dylan, Performer - Bob Dylan, Vocal - Bob Johnston, Producer - Carl Perkins, Electric Guitar - Johnny Cash, Guitar - Johnny Cash, Performer - Marshall Grant, Bass - Norman Blake, Dobro - W.S. Holland, Drums

Originally Released 1969. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Both Sides Now (LP Version)
Joni Mitchell Clouds 00:04:34

LEE HERSCHBERG, Mastering Engineer - Stephen Stills, Guitar, Bass Guitar - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist

© 1969 Warner Records Inc. ℗ 1969 Warner Records Inc.

About Playlist

Profusion, superabundance, an embarrassment of riches: they all describe the popular music world around the time when the Rolling Stones made Rock and Roll Circus. It also helps explain why the band left it unreleased for more than 20 years. The extraordinary variety and quality of rock, jazz, soul, country rock from November 1968 to March 1969 was unprecedented and is yet to be equaled again.

Jimi Hendrix - "Crosstown Traffic" (Electric Ladyland, October 1968) A varied experimental-for-its-time track that's filled with background singers (and Jimi on kazoo), pop tune is a groovy, less-guitar-more-singing classic and may be a clue as to where Jimi would have gone musically had he lived.
Diana Ross and The Supremes - "Love Child" (Love Child, September 1968 / November 1968) Although it was released in September, this anguished plea against illegitimacy became the tune that knocked "Hey Jude" out of the top spot in singles chart in November 1968. A group effort by the Motown creative team, including James Jamerson and other Funk Brothers setting the groove, it was recorded during a period of upheaval in the group and became one of their last hits before Ross went solo in November 1969.
The Rolling Stones - "Street Fighting Man" (Beggars Banquet, December 1968) With that bravado opening of oddly-toned guitar strumming, claves and Jagger's double tracked vocals, this call to revolution was supremely tuneful and more evidence that Brian Jones was out and the Jagger/Richards songwriting team had now made the Stones their band.
Blood, Sweat and Tears - "You Made Me So Very Happy" (s/t, December 1968) A fertile era like no other, there was even room in the late '60s for so-called jazz rock horn bands like BS&T After personnel changes (including the exit of founder Al Kooper), the band recruited David-Clayton Thomas, and powered by a clutch of killer covers including this Berry Gordy/Brenda Holloway number, the second self-titled album beat out the Beatles for the 1970 Album of the Year Grammy.
Elvis Presley - "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" ('68 Comeback Special 50th Anniversary Edition, December 1968) In the "sitdown show" part of the Elvis' famous Comeback Special, fans and those who'd wondered all along what all the fuss was about, got to see the hillbilly cat one last time. The portrait of raw sexuality in a Bob Mackey-designed black leather suit, Elvis, surrounded by members of his original band, enthusiastically launched into a set of his early rock 'n' roll numbers including this Lloyd Price classic. Energized by the TV special's success, he went into Chips Moman's American Sound Studio and made From Elvis in Memphis, the last, and perhaps best album of his entire career.
The Beatles - "Dear Prudence" (s/t [The White Album], November 1968) While "Hey Jude", the foursome's monster hit single of 1968, would not be released as an album track until 1970, it was the band's self-titled double album, soon to be known as just The White Album for its blank cover, that set the world on fire. As their most sprawling recording, it contains traces of nearly every musical and cultural influence the four had ever used in their expansive musical vision. A Lennon tune written for Mia Farrow's sister, "Dear Prudence" opens with a crossfade of jet engine noise from the album's opening track, "Back in the USSR." Covered many times since by the likes of The Grateful Dead and Siouxsie and the Banshees, the song benefits from George Harrison's droney guitar parts and it remains one of Lennon's finest compositions.
Neil Young - "The Loner" (s/t, November 1968) Another soon-to-be influential voice emerged in late 1968, as Young left Buffalo Springfield and made this low key debut which hints at greatness to come With a lilting number of string and flutes, "The Loner" (which may or may not be about Stephen Stills) charges through galloping verses and is enlivened by the psychedelic guitar tone Young achieved via Leslie speaker.
The Kinks - "Starstruck" (The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, January 1969) Written around the loose concept of a special protected place, a nostalgic place of memories and wishes, what Ray Davies called "ideals that can never be kept," this album by a band at the height of their powers was a critical success but did not sell, hamstrung perhaps by its stuffy concept and title. It has subsequently come to be thought of as one of Ray Davies' true masterworks. "Starstruck" is a classic bit of hooky Kinks-ian pop with its charming repeated chorus and handclaps.
Aretha Franklin - "Gentle on My Mind" (Soul '69, January 1969) An odd conundrum in the large Franklin catalog of recordings, Soul '69 somehow gets overlooked, overshadowed perhaps by the hit-filled Lady Soul album of the previous year. Here she improbably takes on John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind," and shows that she could indeed make any song her own. Thinking of Aretha stowing her sleeping bag behind a couch is a stretch but thanks to an inventive upbeat arrangement for Atlantic Records she turns in a tour de force performance.
Dusty Springfield - "Son of a Preacher Man" (Dusty in Memphis, January 1969) Looking to recharge her career, UK singer Dusty followed Aretha Franklin to Atlantic Records. With label execs Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd, backup vocals from The Sweet Inspirations singers, and an A-list of Memphis studio players, Springfield created the most transcendent album and single—one originally written for Aretha—of her career.
Miles Davis - "Frelon Brun" (Filles de Kilimanjaro, February 1969) A mix of acoustic and electric instruments, Filles, features the playing of one of Miles' finest ensembles: Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams. Released at a time when jazz musicians like Miles would routinely appear on bills with rock bands, Filles is another snapshot of this moving target transitioning from one artistic direction to another, in this case from acoustic jazz to his controversial electric fusion period. "Frelon Brun" features bassist Dave Holland and pianist Chick Corea playing with the trumpeter for the first time.
MC5 - "Kick Out the Jams" (Kick Out the Jams, February 1969) Music often leads social change and here, the coming hard rock revolution which destroyed the world of peace and love, was presaged by this wonderfully unhinged Detroit rock band. The band became legends when initial copies of this album got out with the F word prominently howled in the spoken word intro.
The Flying Burrito Brothers - "Do Right Woman" (The Gilded Palace of Sin, February 1969) Made famous by the aforementioned Aretha Franklin, this Chips Moman/Dan Penn classic transforms into a country rock standard courtesy of Gram Parsons who infused his post-Byrds repertoire with a host of diverse musical influences including gospel, soul and country. With Parsons’ quavery lead vocals and high harmonies from Chris Hillman, this is a prime example of the "Cosmic American Music" Parsons wanted the Burritos to make.
Bob Dylan (with Johnny Cash) - "Girl From the North Country" (Nashville Skyline, April 1969) Originally part of his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, this wondrous original was re-recorded as a duet with Johnny Cash in a much more dramatic fashion with Dylan using his "Lay Lady Lay" voice.
Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides, Now" (Clouds, May 1969) Recorded by Judy Collins the year before, this Mitchell original from her second album, which she says was based on reading Saul Bellow's novel Henderson the Rain King while on a plane, has become one of her best-known tunes. It has been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby and Dion to Herbie Hancock and Hole. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
Photo © Michael Randolph

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus

by Robert Baird

What a difference 50 years can make! By early 1969 rock music had become a leading cultural force: The Who had just recorded Tommy; Cream packed Royal Albert Hall for their farewell concert; Janis Joplin became a solo act; Led Zeppelin performed for the first time. And after four months of recording, The Beatles (aka The White Album) was out and climbing the charts. To understate the obvious, rock music was awash in talent and standards were high.

The au courant description of working "from the original analogue tapes" may help sell today's glut of expensive reissue LPs, but it can in practice, especially for multi-track remix projects like Circus, be problematic. If the tapes still exist, most are too fragile to be used, so often a digital transfer is created. The analogue source, whether the original master tape or in the case of the The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus the original multi-track session tapes, is played through an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) and the resulting file is sent to a digital audio workstation like Pro Tools.

A higher sampling rate in a transfer means higher resolution, and the fresh transfers Landi supervised for the The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus reissue were sampled at 192 kHz (192,000 times a second) and a bit depth of 24 which means better resolution, a more accurate copy of the original analogue signal, more frequency detail captured and a wider dynamic range—the difference between the softest and loudest sounds—to the resulting sound. The main equalizers used on the tracks in the new mix were originals from the Olympic Sound Studios Studio One and Studio Three soundboards. The sonic improvement between this new 192/24 high resolution mix and that of the 1996 CD quality release are obvious.

"If I do a transfer at 96kHz/24-bit and one at 192kHz/24-bit and compare them, even then there are definitely differences that anyone can hear. There are different transients (the attack, the brief burst of signal energy or loudest part of the music that you can hear). The low end sounds very different. There's a wider breadth and depth to the sound. Even the wave forms look different from each other," says Landi.

Long desired by collectors and yet abandoned as a failed project by the band that inspired it, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a classic example of the power inherent in the passage of time. Thought of as subpar when judged against the competition at the time, its awkward charms now, thanks to a high resolution restoration, have a fresh charismatic resonance.

Listen to and read our annotated playlist, The Rock and Roll Circus, chronicling the rich music of November 1968 - March 1969.

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