The Rolling Stones put out two compilation albums in 1975 — two! It was one of the few years of the ’70s they had no new studio album out. They had Sticky Fingers in 1971, the double Exile On Main St. in 1972, Goat’s Head Soup in 1973, It’s Only Rock And Roll in 1974, Black And Blue in 1976, Some Girls in 1977 and Emotional Rescue in 1980. So in 1975, they released the greatest-hits compilation Made In The Shade and the rarities compilation Metamorphosis.
You can see evidence of the lack of new material in the chart placements in both the U.K. and U.S. Compiling the two, the Stones don’t even rank among the top 100 bands. No. 1, by the way, was Bay City Rollers, followed by John Denver, The Four Seasons, Elton John, Eagles and David Bowie. The Four Seasons? Yeah. Frankie Valli had his own entry as well. But it gets worse — also in the top 100 instead of the Stones were Mud, Showaddywaddy, Kenny, Jigsaw, Smokie, Fox, Jessi Coulter and Hamilton Bohannon. I’ve never heard of any of them. And it’s not like compilations don’t sell — in fact, they dominated the top 50 in 1975.
Here are the compilations or live albums which made up almost HALF the top 50 in 1975: KISS Alive (4), History: America’s Greatest Hits (6), Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest Hits (8), Cat Stevens Greatest Hits (10), Abba Greatest Hits (11), The Best Of Carly Simon (14), The Best Of The Statler Brothers (17), Gratitude by Earth Wind & Fire (18), Al Green’s Greatest Hits (21), Gord’s Gold by Gordon Lightfoot (22), The Best of Abba (23), Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits (24), We Sold Our Soul For Rock & Roll by Black Sabbath (26), Pure Gold by Elvis Presley (28), Seals & Crofts Greatest Hits (36), An Evening With John Denver (39), The Best of Leonard Cohen (42), M.U.: The Best of Jethro Tull (45), Bob Marley & the Wailers Live! (48) and Barry White’s Greatest Hits (49).
The Rolling Stones spent 1975 on a major North American tour, which was supposed to be a tour of North and South America. It was essentially a U.S. tour, with two gigs at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The two compilations were meant to capitalize on the tour, not vice versa. With a staggering 10 compilation albums (12 including the two from 1975) and two live albums in their catalogue already, I guess music fans were just a bit Stonesed-out. Yeah, 14 albums of not-new material in 11 years. That’s bonkers.
Well, I thought I’d examine one of those two 1975 compilations — the lesser-known Metamorphosis. It’s a curious thing, because it’s hardly the Stones at all on Side 1. It begins with the same version of Out Of Time which Chris Farlowe had a hit with, except with Mick Jagger singing instead of Farlowe. Then it’s a cover of Don’t Lie To Me from 1964.
Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind is from even earlier in 1964, and was recorded by both Dick & Dee Dee and Vashti Bunyan. Much like Out Of Time, Each And Every Day Of The Year is next. This has exactly the same backing track as the Bobby Jameson version of the song, except with Mick singing again. Then you’ve got the demo of Heart Of Stone, which is also not The Stones — it’s Jimmy Page on guitar and the prolific Clem Cattini (The Tornados) on drums.
Next up is The Beach Boys-esque Andrew Loog-Oldham/Keith Richards co-write I’d Much Rather Be With The Boys. It’s a song which caused a bit of discussion about possible homosexual overtones, so when it was first released by The Toggery Five, they added the word “Out” with the boys. This version features John McLaughlin on guitar, Joe Moretti on bass and Andy “Love Me Do” White on drums.
This is followed by another song meant for someone else. The Mighty Avengers were the first group to release (Walkin’ Thru The) Sleepy City. Same with the pop-country We’re Wastin’ Time, which was first released by Jimmy Tarbuck. The last song on the first side, Try A Little Harder is a discarded song from February 1964.
Side 2 is decidedly more interesting. I Don’t Know Why, a Stevie Wonder cover, was recorded the day Brian Jones died. The music before the stop was recorded on a different day than the rest of the song. If You Let Me is an outtake from Between The Buttons. Initially, the plan was to have two more — both instrumental — outtakes from Between The Buttons included as well.
Jiving Sister Fanny is a contender for best track on the album. Classic-sounding Stones from the Let It Bleed sessions. Also left over from Let It Bleed is the Bill Wyman-penned Downtown Suzie, which features Ry Cooder. Then it’s the rather dark Family, which was left off Beggar’s Banquet.
Another contender for best track, Memo From Turner is next — a different version than the more familiar Jagger solo version from the Performance soundtrack. Apart from Jagger and Richards, nobody can say for certain who the musicians are on this. It may well be members of Traffic.
Maybe they saved the best for last — I’m Going Down might have been a little late for inclusion on Let It Bleed. It’s as good as the Goat’s Head Soup outtake Scarlet, which finally surfaced in 2020. How that didn’t make this album, I’ll never know. Still, it’s a strong 3/5.