Rounding off its 12 Days of Gifts promotion for yet another 12-months, Apple is today returning to its core – music – for its 12th FREE gift.

In both the U.S and UK, the company is giving away an exclusive live single by none other than The Rolling Stones. Described as the “World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band,” the live single – available for FREE, today only – features three tracks from the band’s appearance as part of their “Sweet Summer Sun” tour, performed in Hyde Park, London – last year.

SummerSun

The three tracks featured on the single, include:

Beast of Burden (Live)
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Tumbling Dice (Live)
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Doom and Gloom (Live)
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Previews courtesy of iTunes.

By the time the Rolling Stones began calling themselves the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the late ’60s, they had already staked out an impressive claim on the title. As the self-consciously dangerous alternative to the bouncy Merseybeat of the Beatles in the British Invasion, the Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock & roll that came to define hard rock. With his preening machismo and latent maliciousness, Mick Jagger became the prototypical rock frontman, tempering his macho showmanship with a detached, campy irony while Keith Richards and Brian Jones wrote the blueprint for sinewy, interlocking rhythm guitars. Backed by the strong yet subtly swinging rhythm section of bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, the Stones became the breakout band of the British blues scene, eclipsing such contemporaries as the Animals and Them.

Over the course of their career, the Stones never really abandoned blues, but as soon as they reached popularity in the U.K., they began experimenting musically, incorporating the British pop of contemporaries like the Beatles, Kinks, and Who into their sound. After a brief dalliance with psychedelia, the Stones re-emerged in the late ’60s as a jaded, blues-soaked hard rock quintet.

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