The Rolling Stones Announce Tattoo You  40th Anniversary Reissue

The Rolling Stones just announced a series of 40th anniversary, expanded editions of Tattoo You, the group's multi-platinum 1981 release from Polydor/Interscope/UMe.

The remastered set will include "no fewer' than nine previously unreleased tracks from that era. The rocker "Living In The Heart Of Love" is available now on all digital services. The album due out October 24th is available for pre-order here.

The 11 tune album, originally mastered on vinyl by Bob Ludwig and still sounding great inlcudes "Waiting on a Friend" (with Sonny Rolling on sax), "Hang Fire" and of course "Start Me Up", which I predict one day soon will be licensed for a laxative commercial. Meanwhile The Stones hit the road September 26th on a 13 date No Filter tour starting in St. Louis and running into November with Charlie Watts sitting it out this time due to post-op recovery from unspecified surgery.

The deluxe format editions wil include Lost & Found: Rarities and Still Life: Wembley Stadium 1982 that the press release describes as featuring 26 tracks including "newly completed and enhanced..." tracks with "additional vocals and guitar by the band".

The standard CD edition contains the original 11 songs. The Deluxe 2CD set includes the original album plus the 9 tune Lost & Found:Rarities on disc 2. The 4 CD "Super Deluxe Boxset" includes the above 2 CDs plus on 2 additional CDs 26 tunes from the 1982 Wembley Stadium concert.

The vinyl offerings include the original album on 180g black vinyl, a 2 LP Deluxe black vinyl edition in a "gatefold sleeve" (sic) containing the above referenced rarities set, a 2 LP set as above but on clear vinyl (a The Rolling Stones Store exclusive) and a 5 LP Super Deluxe Box Set that includes the contents of the 4 CD set plus a 124 page hardback book featuring over 200 rare photos from recording sessions and world tour+ interviews with producer Chris Kimsey and photographer Hubert Kretzschmar and more.

As for who mastered from what source and to what format and from what the LP editions were cut and by whom and who pressed, apparently neither The Rolling Stones nor the labels care to share that information. So I'm left to guess the best case real world scenario (best case fantasy scenario is "cut from tape with full dynamic range preserved"), is Bob Ludwig mastered to 192/24 from the original analog tapes and GZ Media cut lacquers from the files. That's the best case real world scenario. Worst case is that it's horribly dynamically compressed so it matches the low standards set for most of the rest of the group's Rolling Stones Records catalog.

I'm not being cynical. I'm being realistic. As with automobile commercials these days that don't tell you a thing about the car, like horsepower, engine, braking system etc. physical media publicity announcements leave out what's really important.

However, it should be said that the 2020 Goat's Head Soup set returned the album to #1 in the U.K. as did the unacceptable and shitty reissue of Exile on Main Street. Unless and until you hear the original Artisan Sound mastered vinyl edition cut while Mick and Keith sat there having rushed the tape over following overdubs and final mixing at Sunset Sound, you really haven't experienced Exile on Mainstreet's full musical and sonic power.

In a Rolling Stones interview for the 2010 Exile... reissue that also includes deluxe editions featuring bonus tracks (some of which also had new parts added), Mick Jagger says he was surprised to find the original tapes in excellent condition though in need of baking before digitizing. But as we all know, a tape can be baked and then played so lacquers can be cut to produce an all-analog facsimile of the original and there's no reason to not do that and to not dynamically compress the living shit out it (especially since some compression was originally done). As many of you know, the original was not well received by the rock press in 1972, in part because there were not immediate hit singles (though there surely were some great candidates) and the press characterized the sound as "muddy and messy", which of course is simply not true! The problem was that the rock press at the time almost uniformly listened on crappy "record players". An original pressing on a good rig sounds incredible. "Tumbling Dice", "Sweet Black Angel" and most of the rest are sonically amazing.

I'm hoping to get the full Tattoo You reissue production details and if I do, I'll fill you in.

Steve Edwards's picture

it is one of my favorite Stones records; probably in my top 5. Though I don't have an original UK copy (not sure which US version I do), and my system is not in the same orbit as Michael's, I would not label it sonically amazing. At least, not my copy.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is the American pressing with Artisan stamp on all 4 sides....
Martin's picture

that apparently Andy Johns did personally when he brought the tapes round after finishing mixing at Sunset sound.
That's the first cut.
You have one of those, you'll know seconds after the needle hits the groove...
The American Artisans get you 90 - 95% there. But that first cut :-)

mb's picture

So the original isn’t solely the US pressing

orthobiz's picture

On Sides 2, 3 and 4 but not Side One (no matter how hard I squint at the dead wax...)


Martin's picture

All four of my German pressings are the same - Artisan stamp on sides 2, 3,4. But not side one.

Elubow's picture

Michael- you spelled TATTOO wrong. You left out a middle T.

Michael Fremer's picture
DJ Huk's picture


Grx8's picture

Mike, I asked Miles Showell on twitter if he was involved (FWIW, he was in charge of the previous half speed LP’s) and he says “ This is not one of mine, I had not even heard about it until I saw your tweet.”

firedog's picture

Several of the recent Stones Reissues have been terrible sounding, with the decent sound volume compressed out of them. I'd wait on this one till you hear it, or MF tells us it's okay.

Exiles: only original vinyl or needle drop of the vinyl

The Bob Ludwig Remasters from the early 2000's of the ABKCO catalog (60's Stones) was done tape>DSD and then either SACD release or conversion from DSD to CD and later to 176.

Those sound very good.

Martin's picture

that sounds great.
From memory it's a flat transfer to DSD done by the FX lab in London...
I think....
Whatever, sounds great. Not squashed to death.
Ripped to my playlist :-)'s picture

Good morning,
The Half Speed Exile mastered by Miles Showell sounds very good, far superior to the bad 2010 compressed reissue.

firedog's picture

Mostly sound really good, including recent digital reissues.
It's ironic, I think, that the catalog not controlled by the Stones (at least that's my understanding) gets better treatment than the catalog that is.

StonedBeatles1's picture

What's worse, These horrible sounding Rolling Stones Records catalog reissues or the alta cockers touring without Charlie? Terrible..

Bigrasshopper's picture

“The 40th anniversary edition, remastered by Stephen Marcussen.” An easy place to start

xtcfan80's picture

Heard the urban legend about how Exile was not accepted as a great album upon it's release too many times. What I know for sure is that as a 16 year in 1972, I dropped the needle, heard the first riff of Rocks Off and connected with one of the greatest albums ever on first listen...No Lester Bangs or other "Feisty Rock Critic" opinions needed, brilliant then brilliant now....

Martin's picture

The digital versions were all done by Stephen "Masher" Marcussen in LA.
From "who knows what" sources.
Which is really, really bad news.
Compressed to death, unplayable digital crap.
No idea on the vinyl....

Martin's picture

do a 40th anniversary of a great album, put some pretty decent bonus tracks in and give it to Masher Marcussen to barbarise. What a shame.
Love the Blue & Lonesome vinyl edition, but the high rez. digital download is unplayable.
Will be interesting to see who did the vinyl on this one. And how it sounds.

But I'm happy with my half dozen or so "RL" originals. Have a French pressed RL that sounds particularly good. Better vinyl than the US presses.

garyalex's picture

RIP Charlie.

Mile High Audio's picture

Sad to hear Charlie Watts passed away today in a London hospital. No specific cause has been given. Thank you for so much great drumming over so many yearsCharlie - RIP.

Hope it's OK to post a news link here:

Jazz listener's picture

Very sad to hear, but a life well lived.

xtcfan80's picture

No Rolling Stones without Charlie....The end of an era. Speaking of Charlie and Exile....Play Tumbling Dice and marvel in the genius of Charlie Watts.

Analogue+Fan's picture

Tatoo You is one of the great classic records.
Jagger said, "I think it's excellent. But all the things I usually like, it doesn’t have. It doesn’t have any unity of purpose or place or time."
The original recording is excellent, because it was recorded at Compass Point Studios, and Studio Pathé Marconi EMI, by recording engineer Christopher Kimsey, but then it is Mixed by Bob Clearmountain, and Mastered by Bob Ludwig.

So these new copies are analog or digital .?

delleceste's picture

So sad for Charlie...

Since probably many of you ran into the last 2020 reissues, what is your general opinion about those?
In several cases, mine are affected by severe inner groove distortion, noticeable in the vocals yet generally in the mid highs. Examples: Voodoo Lounge (out of tears is unlistenable), all four end of side Bigger Bang's tracks, Moonlight Mile on S.F....
Anyone experiencing the same?

Grx8's picture

Yes, same with Voodoo Lounge.