The Rolling Stones ‘On Air’ Is A Pivotal Snapshot Of Their Early, Blues-Fueled Rise

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Late last year, the Rolling Stones shocked their horde of tongue-clad worshippers by dropping their first full-length album in over a decade. Titled Blue & Lonesome, the record eschewed the inclusion of any Mick Jagger/Keith Richards-penned originals, and was instead filled with twelve, newly recorded Chicago blues classics and deep cuts. For many, Blue & Lonesome marked the end-point of a long circle that began all the way back at their inception in the early 1960s when they were sweating it out in tiny clubs like the Marquee and the Ealing around London, raving up over Little Walter and Jimmy Reed tracks. With the release of their latest live collection On Air, the band has decided to give us our clearest picture yet of themselves at the beginning of that same loop in all their Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley-worshipping glory.

Comprised of 32 songs in its expanded, deluxe form, On Air weaves together material culled from a myriad of appearances made on numerous BBC Radio programs between 1963 and 1965. This is the Rolling Stones before they got into psychedelics, heroin or disco. When all that mattered was mastering the most obscure blues ephemera they could get their hands on and regurgitating it to the masses.

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