Music Review: The Rolling Stones - Totally Stripped (CD + Blu-ray)

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Back in 1995, not long after the close of their Voodoo Lounge world tour, The Rolling Stones released a cracking live album of performances recorded at small venues, Stripped. Coming after the relatively predictable, routine Steel Wheels tour document, Flashpoint, the scaled-back Stripped was a delight. Deep tracks like "The Spider and the Fly" and "I'm Free" (actually recorded live in a Tokyo studio) share space with hits like "Street Fighting Man" and "Wild Horses." Covers factor in, too—highlighted by a spirited take on Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." The album sold well all around the world, including a Top Ten Billboard placing and platinum certification in the U.S.

More than 20 years later, we have Totally Stripped, available in various configurations but reviewed here in two-disc form (CD and Blu-ray). This is not a reissue of the original Stripped album, but in fact a sequel featuring a lineup of mostly previously-unreleased performances. Of the 14 tracks, only "Street Fighting Man" (live in Amsterdam May 26, 1995)) is the same version carried over from the '95 Stripped (not sure why, considering there were plenty of other songs to choose from). "Gimme Shelter" (also from the Amsterdam date) was previously available as an extra track on a Stripped single release of "Wild Horses." Otherwise, the album consists of songs not found on the original album or alternate versions of ones that were.

The emphasis on Totally Stripped is now more firmly on the hits, with "Brown Sugar," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Honky Tonk Women," and "Miss You" taking the place of some of the more obscure material. There's also a energetic takes on album tracks "Rip This Joint" and "Midnight Rambler." For a less-expected surprise, there's a loose run-through of Some Girls' "Far Away Eyes." And while the original album included a Steel Wheels cut ("Slipping Away"), Totally features a rousing blast from the then-recent Voodoo Lounge, "I Go Wild."

The documentary included on the Blu-ray is feature length at 91 minutes and boasts plenty of onstage performances to accompany the various band interview clips. Since all the footage was shot in '95, Eagle Vision's release is technically billed as "SD Blu-ray" (standard definition). Despite the dated visual look of the documentary, the real reason to go for the Blu over the also-available DVD is the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio.

If you can swing the nearly $100 price tag, there's also a deluxe edition available that includes all of the above plus three additional Blu-ray (or DVD) discs. The extra video discs contain the full concerts from Amsterdam, Paris, and London from which the album cuts were culled. For non-completist Stones fans, however, the two-disc Totally Stripped should probably suffice (though, quite honestly, if you love the Stones that larger package is certainly tempting). Those who enjoyed the original Stripped are definitely going to want at least the standard edition of this second helping.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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