To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones album Their Satanic Majesties Request, ABKCO Music is releasing a limited edition deluxe double vinyl/double hybrid Super Audio CD (compatible with all CD players) package on September 22. The set contains both the stereo and mono versions of every song, all newly remastered by Bob Ludwig. Their Satanic Majesties Request 50th Anniversary will include Michael Cooper’s original 3-D lenticular cover photograph, featuring the band in peak psychedelic regalia.

Originally released in December of 1967, Their Satanic Majesties Request is the first self-produced album in the Stones’ vast catalog. Experimental in nature, it was such a departure from the band’s rhythm & blues roots that it threw critics for a loop. Initially derided by Rolling Stone Magazine for being “too infused with the pretentions of their musical inferiors” (namely the Beatles), the record was simultaneously lauded by DownBeat with a five star review declaring the album “a revolutionary event in modern pop music.”* Over the ensuing decades, it has proven to be a highly influential body of work; generations of bands have covered Satanic songs, from punk legends The Damned, Bad Brains, and Redd Kross, to hard rockers KISS and Monster Magnet, as well as indie taste makers Cibo Matto and Arcade Fire. Music from the album can be heard in Wes Anderson’s directorial debut Bottle Rocket.

The title was derived from a pun based on the inside of British passports at the time which read, “Her Britannic Majesties Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Requests and Requires . . .” Their Satanic Majesties Request was recorded in pieces between February and October of 1967. It was a tumultuous period for the Rolling Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones were arrested for drug possession, with Jones spending three weeks in a nursing home. Stones’ original manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham quit halfway through recording sessions, leaving the band to finish the album on their own. A chaotic spring European tour that involved a riot in Poland also interrupted work flow. Very rarely were all five members in the studio at the same time but despite these impediments, Charlie Watts recalled, “The sessions were a lot of fun because you could do anything. It was so druggy—acid and all that.”

Grammy award winning music historian Rob Bowman writes in the liner notes for the new set, “Their Satanic Majesties Request should be recognized as an important stepping stone in the Rolling Stones’ development from an r&b-inspired band to the inventors of modern rock for the 1970s.” Falling between Between the Buttons and Beggars Banquet, it was the first of their albums to have identical tracklists in the U.S. and UK. Satanic Majesties’ ten tunes are saturated with studio effects, non-traditional instruments such as mellotron and theremin, ambient sounds created using oscillators, string arrangements by John Paul Jones (who went on to help establish Led Zeppelin the following year) and more percussive devices than can be named. “Citadel” foreshadowed the direction towards straight-forward rock the Stones would take, while “2000 Light Years From Home” and “She’s a Rainbow” (a minor hit in the U.S.) capture the band in all its psychedelic glory at that moment in time. They remain the only two songs from the album the band has ever played live. “Sing This All Together,” its looser reprise “Sing This All Together (See What Happens),” “Gomper” and “On With the Show” transition from traditional song structure to free form freakout – a trademark of that era, also heard on records by the Mothers of Invention and Pink Floyd.

Offered as a single just before the album’s release, “In Another Land” is the only song in the Rolling Stones canon both written and sung by Bill Wyman, who took advantage of the fact that he was the lone member who showed up to the studio one day. The Small Faces happened to be recording next door, so Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lanewere invited to contribute backing vocals, with Marriott also providing 12-string acoustic guitar. With Brian Jones on mellotron, Stones cohort Nicky Hopkins on harpsichord and Charlie Watts on drums, Mick and Keith laid down backing vocals, making it a complete Stones affair.

Michael Cooper, who had created the immaculate art for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandearlier in 1967, was hired by the Stones to make something equally striking for the cover of Their Satanic Majesties Request. All four Beatles’ likenesses can be seen popping out of flowers, surrounding a photograph of Charlie, Keith, Mick, Brian and Bill in technicolor garb. Cooper used a rare 3-D camera, employing lenticular technology – when the cover is tilted, the image changes, and every member except for wizard-hatted Mick appear to be moving their heads. Reproduction of the lenticular cover proved costly, and it was eliminated from many subsequent pressings of the album, being replaced by a still image. Their Satanic Majesties Request 50th Anniversary restores the original lenticular art, and the discs are housed in a bespoke fold out album limited edition numbered package with a 20 page book including more of Michael Cooper’s photos from the original session, expanding on what the record-buying public saw in 1967.

Their Satanic Majesties Request was originally mixed in both stereo and mono, as was standard practice in 1967. The limited edition 50th anniversary edition will include the entire album on 180 gram vinyl in stereo, another 180 gram vinyl record in mono, and two hybrid Super Audio CDs (one in stereo and one in mono). Each of these discs includes the entire musical content in both Super Audio CD (SACD) as well as standard CD, providing for complete backward and forward hardware compatibility. The discs will play flawlessly on any SACD compatible or standard CD player. In an SACD player, the laser pick-up automatically reads the SACD layer in Direct Stream Digital (DSD) format, while a standard CD player’s laser pick-up will automatically read through the SACD layer to the CD layer in Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) format. Recently remastered by eleven time Grammy winner Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios, the SACD audio is the exact product of his work.

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