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The Rolling Stones / GRRR! super deluxe makes a monkey out of fans

FIRST PICTURES: The Rolling Stones / GRRR!  Super Deluxe Edition

The new Rolling Stones hits collection GRRR! was released yesterday (in the UK), and here we look at the most expensive Super Deluxe Edition variant.

The first thing to say is that this set is 17 inches high by 12 inches wide – it’s massive. What you are supposed to do with this rather impractical box it is anyone’s guess. Put it on your 17-inch high shelf with all your other 17-inch high items, I guess…

Lifting the lid reveals a folded glossy blue poster, and underneath that sits a black wallet containing a seven-inch vinyl record. The vinyl has four BBC session tracks from 1964, which are exclusive to this set. In the wallet with the vinyl, are four high gloss tour poster miniatures, which are slightly smaller than A5 paper size.

The Rolling Stones GRRR! Super Deluxe Edition

Seven inch vinyl with poster minatures top right

Our vinyl was in a terrible state for a brand new record. It was covered in dust, dirt and had a big mark on the surface. The picture below shows exactly how it came out of the sleeve – unacceptable in a set currently retailing at £105 on amazon.

The Rolling Stones GRRR! Super Deluxe Edition

Click to enlarge this picture of the vinyl

Apart from the poster and the vinyl wallet, the only other item in the box is the massive book, which fits snugly in place. Apart from a short foreword by Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner,  photo captions, and CD track listings, there is no text at all in this book. No critical essays, no album-by-album assessments, and no personal contributions from any of the band.

After a dozen or so pages of black and white photos, laid out on uncoated paper, the meat of the book (68 pages to be precise) is made up of white glossy pages, each with a single photograph of some piece of Rolling Stones memorabilia. A radiocassette player used by Mick Jagger in 1975, a Charlie Watts flight case, or a promotional plastic harmonica. The whole thing has the feel of a Sotheby’s auction catalog – there is even a completely pointless memorabilia ‘index’ at the end where we see all the same photos again much smaller over a few pages.

The Rolling Stones GRRR! Super Deluxe Edition

“Union Jack cape worn by Mick Jagger on 1982 tour of Europe”

The book is stylishly laid out, but the content feels very thin. This is supposed to be celebrating 50 years of The Rolling Stones, and all we are really getting is a enormous tomb full of semi-ironic imagery (“a Mick Jagger mask”).

Five CDs are contained within this book – the five-track disc of IBC two-track demos (previously unreleased and exclusive to this box set) and four discs compiling 80 tracks from the last fifty years, including two new songs Doom and Gloom and One More Shot. The CDs all sit in pockets in the book, meaning that unless you take them out and store them separately, every time you fancy playing a CD you have to lug this thing out from wherever you decide to keep it to play the damn things. Apparently, even though you are paying around £100 for this set, there is not enough in the production budget for separate sleeves or packaging for the discs.

The Rolling Stones GRRR! Super Deluxe Edition

Even the music disappoints. A quick listen to Tumbling Dice reveals a harsher and ‘louder’ sound than is present on the Virgin release from 1994.

In the end this set leaves you with a rather empty feeling. Five CDs and a seven inch record are not worth £100 and the giant book that has been created to try and give the illusion of value is, frankly, pointless. It doesn’t educate, inform, or even tell you something new about the band. It takes less than 3 minutes to flick through the content and with the one-photo-per-page approach, it looks like it could have been laid out in half a day.

In the end this Rolling Stones GRRR! super deluxe edition is all style over substance. It’s ludicrously over-sized, horribly over-priced and is close to an insult to Stones fans. Stick to your bootlegs of the early demos and avoid this set.

The Rolling Stones / GRRR! Super Deluxe Edition

The book next to a CD for size comparison (click to enlarge)

More photos of this set below:

[nggallery id=90]

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35 responses to The Rolling Stones / GRRR! super deluxe makes a monkey out of fans

  1. AlanDistro says:

    I was never a huge rolling stones fan, so this wasn’t even on my radar outside of SDE, but ouch, if I were a fan I’d be so pissed reading this. The book might be cool if available alone for a decent price, I’d enjoy a book of large color photos of rare memorabilia like that by some of my fav bands. But not at this price, and not with ‘loud’ CDs glued to the back.

  2. Rami says:

    Same here. Not a Stones fan and never even thought of buying any edition of this compilation, but this is incredibly frustrating even for me!

    Excellent review Paul, I’m sure you made up people’s minds about weather or not to buy this set.

  3. Stevie Dal says:

    Style over substance , a bit like the last 30 years of the bands recording career then , i’m shocked !

  4. Chris says:

    I’m a huge Stones fan, but even before reading this review it was clear that there wasn’t enough content to justify this expense. I don’t really care about a handful of demos, and the new tracks are easily obtainable via iTunes. I already have both of the Stones vinyl box sets, and those are all I need.

  5. Gary says:

    It’s things like this that make this site such a find for me. Otherwise who would know just how shoddy some of these sets are? Great write up Paul.

  6. JL says:

    Not shocked at all. I returned the new Jethro Tull Thick as A Brick complete with quality control glitches yesterday. Amazon refunded it even though they did not even receive the returned item yet, because they know it is crap. Can we all just bury the record companies and call it a day. Quality of released material gets worse and worse. Glitches, rip-offs, and inconvenience is the order of the typical major label day.

  7. Rami says:

    JL Wait! What glitches in the Thick As A Brick box? I ordered it through amazon, where exactly can I find the glitches and what are they?

  8. Steven Cacciaroni says:

    Frustrating! I ordered mine from the German Amazon site, which means to ship back would be $60 U.S. based on weight and size.
    How difficult is it to fill that book with lyrics? If not essays and a biography, why not lyrics? Very frustrating. So far, from a “Definitive Collection” standpoint… sets presented as “The closest thing to complete and the last set you’ll ever need”, only Blur and The Smiths have done it right…

  9. Calgary669 says:

    That vinyl sure looks horrible.

  10. Jaysen says:

    Even the 2CD and 3CD non-deluxe versions offer NOTHING in the way of liner notes. I guess no one had anything important to say on the occasion of the band’s 50th Anniversary. Very disappointing.

  11. Neil Ebden says:

    Thank you very much for this review. It’s very helpful.

  12. Richard says:

    Thank you for this review, it will save me lots of money.

    I feel a little sad because I really like most of the albums/songs from The Rolling Stones and now see how exceptionally high prices for concert tickets and this almost useless and expensive boxset.

  13. Tim says:

    I run www. stones7.com, solely dedicated to 7″s by the band, and somewhat ‘had’ to buy this one for its EP. Very frustrating and I totally agree to this article; No wonder this book was computer made, a folder of pictures thrown to center in the middle of blank page – not even sure it took the designer half a day to make (I am a designer); In all, this compilation is a terrible waste of money, efforts, and ecology. The ‘deluxe’ feel only is aimed to sell and seduce, but content is irrelevant, it just has no purposes. As far as such work, bootleggers now do as well if not better sometimes.
    My global feeling is that one should ban such unresponsible and greedy product, completely superficial and environment unfriendly!
    A pure shame.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t know about you but I feel very let down with the Rolling Stones of late. Far too much product with an eye on profit. The Some Girls Super Deluxe Edition from last year should have included Live In Texas 78, but didn’t because they wanted to make more money by marketing it separately. And then there are the ticket prices. Shame really.

  14. JL says:

    Rami,

    The glitches are on the 5.1 tracks of the DVD. And the mastering is also apparently problematic on the stereo version as well.

  15. Martin K says:

    Thanks for the heads up. Ive really only got into the Stones big time via Spotify-due to the sheer size of the interesting back catalogue-something that allways fascinates me about long longevity band. I must say-this “box” looks so `90`s and “Milton Keynes Bowl” only.
    Its the personal stuff we want of the Stones` at their ages surely by now and not the myth?
    mk

  16. jean-pierre says:

    ..Thank you very much for your review..as a great fan since 1964 I did hope a great package but with a so blank, useless (and heavy) book I will not buy it..and the price !!!!… If the Stones could recognise their error and do better next time..!!??

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  18. MR T says:

    One could weep at the lost opportunity.However to any casual Stones fan not aware of the official bootlegs released on the Stones Archive web site get on there NOW. Mp3 or FLAC you pay your $7 or $9 you takes your choice.
    Live bootlegs, pro mixed by Bob Clearmountain. Truly excellent, stunning and best of all cheap.There IS value with the Stones you just gotta know where to go.

  19. David Martin says:

    These reissues that stuff the discs into a cardboard sleeve, invariably scuffing the discs, infuriate me. My set of KIND OF BLUE had all three discs scuffed from centre to edge, and the vinyl stuck to the jacket with glue. We all know about the unsecured discs in the DSOTM Immersion issue, and try and find an unscuffed copy of Kate Bushs’ THE DIRECTORS CUT.
    Time for a buyer rebellion I think.

  20. David Martin says:

    These reissues that stuff the discs into a cardboard sleeve, invariably scuffing the discs, infuriate me. My set of KIND OF BLUE had all three discs scuffed from centre to edge, and the vinyl stuck to the jacket with glue. We all know about the unsecured discs in the DSOTM Immersion issue, and try and find an unscuffed copy of Kate Bushs’ THE DIRECTORS CUT. So many of the recent RUSH sets came in damaging cardboard sleeves. I think the artists themselves need to take some responsibility for what goes out in their name.
    Time for a buyer rebellion I think.

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  23. Tim Getz says:

    I cannot believe the boys who recorded “Ruby Tuesday” would stoop this low, either. Do they really want us to remember them as a money grubbing, nauseatingly optimistic white funk band?

  24. Celeste says:

    Did anyone buy the vinyl box set?

  25. jessica says:

    Wish I would have seen this before I bought it as a gift for my dad. The book that I saw for sale at WalMart would have been better and like 1/4 the price!!
    Also, didn’t the website list an exclusive 12×12 print as part of the package? I never received mine. Apparently they were to ship separately (not ready at the time of ordering) along with an autographed 7″ vinyl. I never received either of those, and it’s been 4 months since I placed my order.

  26. rochie seara says:

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  27. Philip David Williams says:

    I’m here in New York, and I was seriously thinking of shelling out $150 for this Golden Anniversary set. (And I already bought the 3 CD-set, too!) What made me consider it wasn’t so much all the fancy, shiny trappings and “valuable” merch inside. No, it was the songs themselves; the fact that, along with the usual hits, some choice album cuts were sitting here right alongside them! “She Said Yeah,” “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” “Flight 505,” “Midnight Rambler,” “You Got The Silver” and a few others have never appeared anywhere but on their parent albums. I thought it was nice that they were being aired someplace else for the FIRST time in decades. Maybe this seems silly to non-fans (and maybe even to die-hard fans!), but that kind of thing means a lot to me…especially considering that again, most “best-ofs” are the same tired thing over and over, the Stones’ being no exception.

    But after reading all these negative comments, I see that this set is truly not worth it, even with the bonus disc of demos.

    And guys, with the edited editions? Seriously? Come on, already! If it’s for time/disc space, that’s one thing, but it’s not! It never is! And you know it! Fading out “IOR’n’R” before you get to that coda is just criminal. And NOBODY cares about the single version of “YCAGWYW.” It SUCKS!!! (I want my fair share of abuse! ;D )

    What’s with the Stones’ office over there? Can’t they give up some REALLY good stuff for their long-time fans instead of takin’ ’em for a ride with their discs AND the concert prices?

    Oh, well. So much for “Super Deluxe” GRRR.

    I’m getting The Beach Boys’ SMILE box set instead.

    Five discs of Brian Wilson’s out-there demos are more of a bargain than this.

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  29. Sam says:

    Might be worth noting that ImportCDs has this for $38 and some change. Almost worth it…?

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  31. Phil Cohen says:

    The most insulting (to the fans) thing about the 5-CD “Grrr” is the presentation of the five 1963 IBC Studios demos. Though the master tapes exist (in Mick Jagger’s personal collection), the compiler of the 5-CD “Grrr” copies the recordings from bootlegs. 4 of the 5 tracks quite obviously come from “Swinging Pig” bootleg CD’s(either the “Bright Lights, Big City 20th Anniversary” CD or the “IBC Studios 1963″ CD E.P.). Apparently, the compiler of the 5-CD “Grrr” set didn’t like the source for the song “Bright Lights, Big City” presented on those CD’s, so he dubbed the song from bootleg vinyl, and didn’t even bother to clean up the(very audible) vinyl noise.

    The decision to create a very short “Disc Five”(with only the 5 IBC demo tracks) is what forced the use of edited versions of many 1970’s songs in this boxed set. Evenly spreading the music across the five discs(I.E. having a full length Disc Five) would have enabled the use of all of the full-length versions.

    Even more shocking: ABKCO didn’t want to make the effort to create a Rolling Stones “copyright extension” release, so, as a result, all of the unreleased(but already bootlegged) 1963 & 1964 Rolling Stones recordings fell into UK/Europe public domain. That means, that even if Mick, Keith, Bill, Charlie & the estate of Brian Jones someday permit ABKCO to release the recordings, they will no longer be copyright protectable in the UK & Europe. Any UK or European label can release them.

    While the 2002 ABKCO SACD’s were a marked improvement over ABKCO’s previous Stones CD’s, there are still problems, notably the use of rough stereo & mono mixes of “Ruby Tuesday”, which lack one of the harmony voices during the chorus. and ABKCO is still oblivious to the fact that there ARE true stereo mixes in their vaults for “Play With Fire”, “The Last Time” “Satisfaction”, “Get Off of My Cloud”, “Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown”, “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?” & the RCA/Hollywood version of “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”(the take which opened their 2nd Uk album. a true stereo mix appeared on the Uk Decca vinyl album “Rock n’Rolling Stones”. Note:Russian pirate CD’s of “Rock n’Rolling Stones” DON’T have this true stereo mix).

    Also, the 2002 SACD of the UK “Aftermath” rolls off all the highs and (somewhat) reduces the stereo separation. I held onto my old 1985 “London” label West German CD. It sounds excellent.

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