The Rolling Stones have never exactly been generous with the extras on their reissues. That goes both for the albums they own the rights to (from 1971’s Sticky Fingers forward) and the titanic ’60s catalog controlled by ABKCO. And it goes quadruple for Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, a four-disc expansion of the band’s most celebrated live album, recorded at New York’s Madison Square Garden on November 27 and 28, 1969. The original LP is abetted by a disc of—count ’em—just five unreleased cuts totaling 18 and a half minutes, which would have all fit on one disc with room to spare. There’s also a CD of songs from two of the tour’s opening acts, B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner, a DVD with (woo!) 29 minutes of outtakes from Albert and David Maysles’ classic documentary of the tour, Gimme Shelter, and a small hardback book that doesn’t add much. All of it is skimpy, and together it goes for a suggested retail price of $59.98. The Stones—and their corporate masters—didn’t get rich by accident.
The original Ya-Ya’s, of course, remains superb. The band, featuring new guitarist Mick Taylor (founder Brian Jones had been let go earlier in the year, shortly before drowning in his swimming pool), was rangy and loose, particularly the theatrical, nine-minute “Midnight Rambler” and a “Sympathy For The Devil” that switches gears from the samba groove of the version on Beggars Banquet to something closer to funk. But the extra five Stones cuts earn their position as bonuses because they aren’t as good as the ones on the original LP. The DVD outtakes are just that, fleeting celebrity cameos or not. (Look: Janis Joplin watching The Stones! Jimi Hendrix fiddling with one of Keith’s guitars backstage!) As for the opening acts, B.B. King’s five fine songs and Ike & Tina’s showbizzier seven represent neither act at their best—and besides, who buys a Rolling Stones box to hear them?