Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

ABKCO/Polydor B0027711-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

“Long before ‘The Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band in the World’ became a reality,” Richard Havers writes in his liner note for the Rolling Stones’ On Air, “this was a band playing the music they loved so much -- Blues, R&B, and even Country music.” The deluxe two-disc set includes 32 tracks from broadcasts the Stones made for BBC Radio between 1963 and 1965. (A single-disc version comprises 18 tracks.) At the end of that time, they were more than a band with an uncanny command of American music -- they were making music as exciting and as transformative as the records that had inspired them.

The tracks are not in chronological order, and the first two on disc 1 show how much the Stones grew in just two years. They’d released their first single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” just a few months before appearing on the BBC Radio show Saturday Club, in October 1963. Young and green, they played Berry’s tune with respect and skill -- Brian Jones’s harmonica is particularly effective. Reappearing on Saturday Club two years later to play “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” they’re a tougher band playing a song as pivotal as any in rock history.

On Air

In 1963, the Stones’ versions of Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Memphis, Tennessee” are those of a talented cover band, though Keith Richards already has an uncanny grasp of his hero’s guitar style. In May 1964, just seven months after their first appearance on the BBC, they play with more confidence, putting their own stamp on Bo Diddley’s “Mona” and Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now.” And by 1965 Mick Jagger has found his voice, singing with more force than in the earlier broadcasts, in original interpretations of “Mercy, Mercy,” “Cry to Me,” and “Fannie Mae.”

Most of the tracks on disc 2 come from 1964, and have the charm of the Stones’ early studio recordings, along with a rawness that makes them even more enjoyable. Also included are eight songs the Stones never released in studio versions, including Diddley’s “Cops and Robbers,” and Berry’s “Beautiful Delilah” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” the latter with a breathtaking solo from Richards.

On Air

The tracks on disc 1 have been subjected to a process, developed by Abbey Road Studios, to “de-mix” the original recordings so they could be “rebalanced and remixed into a fuller sounding performance.” It’s sonically the better of the two discs, but disc 2 is entirely listenable. Bill Wyman is especially well served on disc 1, where his bass is easier to hear. Wyman was often buried in the mix on the Stones’ early recordings; here, it’s possible to hear how melodic and rhythmically effective his playing was.

The two discs of the deluxe edition of On Air cost only a few dollars more than the single-disc edition, and its 14 additional tracks give a fuller picture of the Rolling Stones at the beginning of their long career. You can hear guitarists Richards and Jones becoming more attuned to each other, Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts growing into the tightest rhythm section in rock music, and Mick Jagger coming to his full strength as a singer. “The Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band in the World” starts here.

. . . Joseph Taylor