Is it okay for children to count on their fingers?
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Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. Check out the browser extension in the Firefox Add-ons Store. Can’t you hear me knockin’ down your dirty street? Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Rolling Stones fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Rolling Stones fanatics.
If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window. The Rolling Stones are the second greatest rock band to have ever existed. Naturally, this is not objective truth. In reality, maybe Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band is. Dissect their music, their style, their image, their ambitiousness into small pieces and, as it happens with the Beatles, you’ll see that in many of these areas they probably wouldn’t receive 100 out of 100 from even an exceptionally biased jury.
But then put it all back together, screw the bolts tightly, and the final construction will loom like a friggin’ Sears Tower over most of their peers and competitors. Today, it is a little hard to give our real dues to the technical level of the Stones around 1964-65, but it only takes a few superficial comparisons of their style with all that other music to see what is meant. Too many bands never really get the chance to grow beyond their idols – the Rolling Stones have, becoming idols themselves, in their turn, and influencing thousands and thousands of lesser bands in the process. I think it would work better if it were actually included into the main body of the introduction.
Beggars Banquet and Exile on Main St. Was a song like ‘Satisfaction’ written in 1968? Nope, 1965, if I’m not mistaken. The myth that Beggar’s Banquet is the first Stones’ album worth listening to is one of the vilest things that the General Critical Opinion has ever done to mar the reputation of the Rolling Stones – the one that got them forever branded with the “ROOTSY” tag. The albums in between 1968 and 1972 are great, no doubt, but they only represent several of the many sides of the rich complex of personalities and approaches that is in fact the Rolling Stones. London rockers — The Stones were, in a sense, ‘fake’. That is, their whole act was an ‘act’ — totally derivative and imitative”.
3: “Aside from ‘Satisfaction’ and maybe ‘Jumping Jack Flash,’ what did The Stones ever do that was truly and uniquely original? Let’s just say that without the Rolling Stones’ debut album, rock’n’roll as we know it wouldn’t have existed. Okay, so if there hadn’t been a Rolling Stones’ debut album, somebody would have eventually produced something like that, but the fact remains that the Stones did it first. Listen to the way they tear through ‘Carol’ or ‘Route ’66’ on that record. That sound, at the time, was something totally unheard of, unimaginable, awesome, mind-blowing.
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Perhaps it is not ‘truly and uniquely original’, but then again, Mozart didn’t invent the harpsichord either. Simply put: no Rolling Stones – no Kinks – no Who – no rock’n’roll. Besides, if we think of ‘innovative’ in the terms of “who was the first to use instrument so-and-so in rock music” and “who was the first to produce a concept album”, I’m afraid the Fab Four have some real harsh competition going there. Apart from maybe George Harrison hauling in the sitar on ‘Norwegian Wood’, I’m not sure how much the Beatles have really ‘innovated’ in that respect.
It’s not the technical innovation that counts – it’s the innovation in public consciousness. 4: ” So many Beatle songs have their inferior ‘Stones doppel-ganger’ that it’s amazing! Yes, the Stones did release records that superficially seemed to be following the Beatles’ every step – and without serious analysis, the “Stones copping the Beatles” myth is easy to believe. But apart from times of releases and record sleeves, what proof do we have? Yes, the album sleeve of Satanic is certainly lifted off of Pepper.
Decca never wanted it, so the album was delayed – had it not been delayed solely because of that reason, it would have actually come out before the White Album and saved the guys unfair accusations of plagiarism. It’s simply ridiculous to imagine the Stones’ working process as if all they did was group round the latest Beatles record, take their inspiration directly from there and then proceed to make their own clone of it. And by the way, as far as similarities go, the Who’s The Who Sell Out is infinitely closer in mood and style to Sgt Pepper than Satanic. 5: “For the last 22 years or so, they’ve been such a grotesque dinosaur act that it’s embarrassing and I have little if any respect for them at all. This is the most unpleasant and nagging myth – the myth that revolves around the band name.
The Beatles have disbanded, but did that prevent the Beatles from recording solo records? No, they went ahead and all four of them put out loads of records over the years. Truly, I don’t give a damn what name do they put out their music under – ‘Rolling Stones’ or ‘Mick Jagger and friends’. Too much fluff has been thrown on onto that ‘band’ notion. A ‘band’ is a group of individual people. And actually, the fact that the Stones stayed together resulted in their putting out less crappy albums than the four ex-Beatles who went their separate ways and put out crappy albums on their own. I seriously doubt that anybody who’s ever left an actual Stones’ concert could hold on to that statement for long.
It’s nice that people still remember Brian Jones, but first of all, history knows no “ifs”, and second, Brian never had any kind of leadership over the Stones – he tried to present the Stones as his band in the early days, but that’s about it. How did he get acclaimed as ‘early leader’ if he’s never had a single songwriting credit of his own? Mick Jagger – vocals, harmonica, occasional guitar, dancing, urinating against garage walls, you name it. The face of the Stones, and one of the many faces of the Sixties.
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Surprisingly enough, not the heart of the Stones. Yes, that’s the man who wrote the riff to “Satisfaction” in his sleep, and, although I must admit his playing, particularly live, has worsened a bit over the years, his musical sense is as strong as ever. The Riffmeister they call him, and he certainly is one: few people have cranked out more fantastic riffs in their lives than ole Keith. Probably not the best drummer in the world, as hardcore fans proclaim him to be, yet he is still a professional, with an unmistakable, steady trademark beat, and he’s also revered as the “glue” that held the rest of the Stones together through the years. For decades he’d been as loyal to the Glimmer Twins as Charlie was, then he suddenly quit in 1993, just before the Voodoo Lounge sessions. Seeing as how the Stones only get together pretty rarely these days, I certainly do not support this decision, nor Bill’s subsequent sceptical interviews in which he actually scorned the guys for still sticking together. The most “fluent” vacation, however, was always that of the second guitar player.
B, and especially in the mid-sixties, when he drove them into artistic rock and psychedelia. A note concerning the reviews: I am following the American catalog, which, until recently, was the only one to be found on CD. It is generally blamed as being totally derivative of the British one, piecing songs together almost at will, but I think it’s OK, especially since if you stick to the American catalog you’ll be able to get more songs on original albums than with the British catalog. If there ever was one band to convince you that rock’n’roll is a powerful, all-encompassing, vital force, that would be the Stones. The quality of Jagger’s ballads is a bit disputable – but could you dare arguing that something as gorgeous as, say, ‘Wild Horses’ is “fake”?
Let’s cut the crap about the Stones ‘never being original’. One point off for a too close Beatles-competition in 1966-67, but the Stones basically pioneered the whole conception of the true ‘rock’n’roll band’. These guys always knew what they were doing. The “Stones formula” is a myth.
The Stones embrace everything from R’n’B to pop to rock to reggae to funk to punk. One of the most diverse bands ever. A TREMENDOUSLY fantastic debut – but only if you’re willing to place yourself in the context of early 1964. The Stones did not need much practice or winding-up to put the “bad boys of R’n’B” image in vogue, and while future records might have made them dirtier, sleazier, and raunchier, none made them more ‘unsettling’ and ‘thrilling’. Most of the songs are covers, of course – the Glimmer Twins didn’t have their songwriting schtick worked out yet, but who can tell? Funny enough, the only complete original, apparently expressly written by Mick and Keith on orders from early manager Andrew Loog Oldham , is POP!
Rumours have it that Oldham locked them up in the kitchen and told them not to come out until they’d written something as good as the Beatles did, so they wrote ‘Tell Me’. Most of the other tracks are crude, hard, and uncompromising. Stones at this point – as a collective unit and all the band members taken separately. There’s Mick, soooo cool behind his mike, seemingly pleading to the lady but in fact letting us know that the results of his pleading are well known beforehand because there’s just no way any female can resist his ‘buzz’.
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I think only Keith Richards is downplayed a bit on that number – but Keith Richards had always been a rock’n’roller at heart, and in those early days he mostly left generic blues numbers in the hands of Mick and Brian. He more than redeems himself on the fast tunes, like Bobby Troup’s ‘Route ’66’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Carol’, though. On the other hand, even when the song in question is fast and furious, but is nevertheless reworked from a blues original, Keith steps into the shadows, as he does on ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ – content with hammering out the rhythm and calmly allowing Mick and Brian to steal the show. This amazing efficiency helps save the day even when the band succumbs to one of the main curses of the epoch, The Obligatory Filler Instrumental.
I’d be cheating the government if I said each and every one of these twelve tracks is fully adequate. What they didn’t have was a “soul soul”, for lack of a better term. The US-UK controversy: the original UK name of the album was simply The Rolling Stones, whereas for American audiences it was probably deemed suitable that said audiences actually get informed that yes, believe it or not, these assholish-looking guys are producing hits in England. A bit smoothed with some pop songs, but even the pop songs are rhythm-n-bluesically-tight. The main change from the first album is that this one is a bit more “mainstreamish”. Maybe the band was just trying to find its way into the heart of the teenager’s mother as well as the teenager himself – a hard feat indeed, as it takes just one look at Andrew Loog Oldham’s ‘fuck-you’ brand of liner notes composition to realize that no mother would come within a mile’s distance of early Rolling Stones albums. Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of pop on this record, and you can’t really get away from the fact.
Thus, for instance, the Drifters’ “Under The Boardwalk”, a cute little love ballad, would probably have never made it onto Hitmakers. I do like it, though, if only for the catchiness, the tightness, and the weird guitar sound during the instrumental break. Still, the nature of the song is still mild, and it certainly doesn’t fit in quite right with such jagged, savage tracks as “Confessin’ The Blues”, one of the most uncompromised blues covers the Stones have ever put out, featuring one of my favourite early-period Jagger vocal deliveries with each word cutting through the rhythm section like a shard of fresh-broken glass. That’s the way I like my blues to be sung. But arguably the best rock’n’roll cover on the album is still Chuck Berry’s “Around And Around”, with Keith popping out the most generic, the most simplistic of his Berry-licks like mad and enjoying every nanosecond of it. Shirley Womacks’ “It’s All Over Now”.
In 1964, there was no way of knowing the number would eventually lose the status of a generic love ballad status and move on to almost anthemic heights – last time they performed it was in 1998, I think, and the longer they manage to carry on with it, the more power to them, I say. Have I been slobbering too long? Let me apologize and point out the reasons why the album is rated lower than the debut. Oh, there’s nothing catastrophic about these reasons, but some relative filler is still detected. There’s also too few signs of maturation as songwriters. Out of the three “originals”, only ‘Congratulations’, in my humble opinion, counts as something to be mildly proud of – another ballad, in the way of sonic texture somewhat similar to ‘Tell Me’, but already converting the latter’s formulaic starry-eyedness into quintessential Stones-like misogyny.
Snap back into dark mode, for just one last shot of completely unoriginal genius. This American-only release, with no direct equivalent on the British market at all, is nevertheless important. It sort of rectifies the poppy mistakes of 12×5 and reverts us to the hard, uncompromising style of the first LP. I’ll boldly say “improves”, because one year into their recording careers, the Stones are choosing their covers with far more experience. I know I like it, meself! Mick-Keith team gets more and more self-assured. On the other hand, ‘Surprise, Surprise’ shows that the Stones have matured enough to be writing songs at least on the average Chuck Berry level: it’s a rather complicated rocker for early 1965, certainly up a notch in structure and “technique” from ‘Grown Up Wrong’, for instance, although produced a bit too feebly to be my favourite.
Still, let’s not pull the wool over anybody’s eyes: the four originals on Now! With all this rock’n’roll swirling around, there’s less space for classic blues than usual, but they sure don’t waste the little there remains with ‘Little Red Rooster’ – a great example of their adoration for Southern blues, this time featuring Brian with his slide guitar as the main hero. You thought these guys couldn’t convey a shade of swampy atmosphere? You got another thing coming, as Rob Halford would say. Stones’ already famous live sound in the studio, with the five-minute jam that they turn Solomon Burke’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ into. It’s not very successful, but the length itself is definitely a novel factor – although, to be fair, the Animals beat them to it by releasing their own seven-minute long rave-up ‘Talkin’ ’bout You’ several months earlier.
Next to these tracks, the few remaining bits of filler are pretty harmless and mostly just make the good stuff look even better. The UK-US controversy: this American “bastard” is the rough equivalent of the British No. 2 album, both having been released at about the same time. Since quite a few of the No. The more originals they give out, the less happy you’re starting to feel about the covers. It’s a little weird, of course, just how come ‘Satisfaction’ managed to become pretty much THE rock song of the decade, if not THE rock song of all time. Yardbirds, in purely musical terms, were blowing people’s minds much more effectively by that time.
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On the other hand, that might have been the very key to its overwhelming success. Another thing is, of course, the lyrics – anti-consumerist lyrics that are about ten times as actual today as they had been in 1965, and probably bound to be fifty times as actual by the next decade or so. That said, let us not forget that this is also a song, not a spoken piece of propaganda, and in that respect it is still owned by Keith and his ‘miraculously-dreamt’ fuzz riff to end all fuzz riffs. It would take a much bigger brain than mine to explain the charm and effects of that riff, but off the top of my head, I’d say it’s the combination of catchiness, tone, and especially the ‘cyclic’ character of it that produces the feeling of awesomeness. Rolling Stones’ deservedly deserved first No. 1 single of their own complete making.
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B-side to ‘Last Time’, ‘Play With Fire’, notorious for pairing a gloomy folksy acoustic guitar part with Jack Nietzsche’s ominous harpsichord and Jagger’s oh-so-English social-commentary lyrics on top. The rest of the original compositions are harmless fun pieces of filler. Despite all the leaps in songwriting, however, Out Of Our Heads still represents the Stones in transition. Half of these songs are still covers, most of them far from raw, rawkish R’n’B: in fact, they’re closely moving on on Motown territory, and for the Stones, this may not be such a hot idea.
The professionalism and the hot desire to make it all sound interesting at least does salvage most of the material. Marvin Gaye’s ‘Hitch Hike’ has its superb riff emphasized to good measure throughout. And yet it is on this album, now that the Stones have established themselves as original songwriters, that one really starts noticing for the first time just how much the Stones’ own vision differs from that of their R’n’B idols – and with this difference in sight, we are certainly tempted to leave the idols’ vision to the idols themselves and concentrate on Jagger and Richards as songwriters rather than interpreters. The UK-US controversy: the US version of Out Of Our Heads came out two months earlier than its British counterpart and only had six songs in common with it. I’m Alright’ was snatched from the earlier British EP Got Live If You Want It!
Well, maybe it is logical to scrape the proverbial bottom before moving on to the next level. What a weird name, sounds like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale rather than rock’n’roll-related. But then the association is clear enough. People Are Gonna Buy A New Stones Record Even If It Is Way Below Par”. Cynical logic, yes, but it has always worked. And even if the Christmas of ’65 is long gone, the album, for some reason, still remains. However, if you’re just one inch higher than the “average” fan of the band, you will still need to own this, as much as it pains me to give out that information.
Two of these tracks are taken from the same dissected live EP that had already yielded the ‘I’m Alright’ performance on the American Out Of Our Heads, and are as faithful and as impressive a representation of the earliest brand of the Stones Live Sound as possible. As for ‘Route ’66’, this live version is worth it if only for the opening notes of Keith’s solo – yes, the sound quality is abysmal, yes, Jagger gets out of tune a couple of times, but the devilish energy is still enough to dwarf the studio recording. Ah, weren’t these guys living this kind of music rather than merely playing it. Get Off Of My Cloud’ does not really need that much more description from me than ‘Satisfaction’ – a stonedead classic it is – but I would nevertheless want to draw attention to the fact that it’s just as entertaining musically as it is lyrically. In contrast to the ragged’n’ballsy scent of ‘Cloud’, the string-driven ‘As Tears Go By’ is often said to be the Stones’ ‘Yesterday’, and them that say that might be right, too, but as far as I’m concerned, only in the “let’s pile up some strings here in a novel way” department. The only other song that people might easily be familiar with – partly because it has been captured for eternity on the video of the band’s 1969 Hyde Park performance – is ‘I’m Free’, which is both the title and, of course, the message of the song.
The ‘hold me, love me’ part is only too familiar from the Fab Four’s ‘Eight Days A Week’, although it might have been a common cliche of the times, I have not been informed. It gets the distinction, for instance, of featuring what many fans often agree upon as the worst ever Jagger-Richards composition: ‘The Singer Not The Song’. With the other stuff the problem is that we’ve heard this before, and better. Talkin’ About You’ is a rather straightforward song even for Chuck Berry himself, no secrets or peculiarities about it whatsoever, and since tackling it at mid-tempo speed kills off about half of the potential excitement, what’s the big reason to listen to it when you can have ‘Carol’ instead?
The UK-US controversy: this time, there is absolutely no British equivalent, and for good reason. Where you never know when the blues ends and the pop begins. Up until now, the Stones were too scared to write songs. I mean, it’s all right for us to sit back and sneer at all those uninventive British invasion bands, covering one professional songwriter after another until they’d run out of professionalism and have to resort to songs with titles like ‘Sha La La La La’.
But many of them weren’t merely unable of writing: they were afraid. However, by the time 1966 and the great cultural revolution rolled on, even Brian Jones was getting tired of playing the black man’s blues. And so along comes Aftermath – the greatest jump ever for the band, if you ask me. Let ’em rot in their cobwebbed sarcophagi, the pretentious clowns who insist that the Stones never really hit their stride until Beggar’s Banquet! And that’s exactly what makes Aftermath so unique. It’s a bunch of non-professionals that happen to have a good – nay, great – nose for pop hooks, but are way too soaked in the blues to adorn them with sitars and dulcimers, and have to resort to the good ol’ fuzzbox, the trusty ol’ blues harmonica and crappy guitar tuning instead.
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Granted, Brian Jones seemed to be aware of these limitations. His transformation on this record – even though he’s never credited for any of the songs – is perhaps even more stunning, as it was he who’d been the original blues purist in the band. Keith was the rocker, Mick the PR guy, and Brian the spiritual guru. Still, it’s a goddamn shame Brian has never been given credit for ‘Paint It, Black’ at least. You only have to listen once to any of the live versions of the song available and compare it with the studio original to understand just how much it loses without the sitar.
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Because, in fact, it’s a very simple song, isn’t it? It’s essentially just one line, over and over again. The sitar is what gives it meaning: it’s a mantra, and what is a mantra but a trance-inducing repetition? The story is seriously different with ‘Lady Jane’. Courteous romantic ballads have always been a problem for the Stones, partially because of Jagger’s range limitations, partially, because, well, courteous romance just doesn’t fit in that decently between songs with titles like ‘Stupid Girl’ and ‘Under My Thumb’. And you have to be pretty thick to mistake ‘Lady Jane’ for “the real thing”. The only other song on the album that has endured as a crowd favourite is, of course, ‘Under My Thumb’, which may just be the most misogynistic statement ever committed to tape by Mick – barely rivalled by ‘Some Girls’ twelve years later, but then ‘Some Girls’ was sheer clownish vaudeville, whereas ‘Under My Thumb’ is said to have been directly inspired by Mick’s ex-girlfriend Chrissie Shrimpton.
And then, for some reason, people just don’t talk too much about the rest. The band themselves regularly downplays these songs, never resurrecting them from their 60s shell onstage, as if that whole period never existed. Oh, I know, the easy answer will be “cuz it’s not too good, dude”. Stupid Girl’ is not too good? Maybe it doesn’t have a riff as cleverly constructed as the one in ‘Satisfaction’, but in every other respect it’s perfectly comparable. There sure are a few ‘minor’ songs, reminiscent of the band’s previous semi-lame attempts at roots rock, but even these are now written with enough consideration for the poor listener.
Again, it’s advisable to compare, say, ‘One More Time’ and ‘Think’ to see the big difference. Think’ has the fuzzbox, the clever alterations in dynamics, the three-part structure, enough vocal variation to make it count, even if it doesn’t make a very good impression. Still, I do acknowledge that the Stones have indeed written much better material than ‘Think’ and ‘High And Dry’ over much of their long-winded career. What makes the pot boil over, then, is the eleven minute monster of ‘Going Home’, and I will go on record saying that it is a much more effective “free-form flight” than the critically adored ‘Sister Ray’ from the Velvet Underground’s second album. I mean, of course, normally I dislike that kind of thing. Jagger sets the lead, trying pretty much every R’n’B verbal cliche in existence – from ‘wanna make sweet sweet love’ to ‘she’ll make me feel so good’ to a couple of sha-la-la-las.
R’n’B covers for as long as the crowd could stand them. Bob Dylan, and even then they were long songs, not improvised jam sessions. The UK-US controversy: This is where things start getting a little nasty. US distributors couldn’t care less, and it took the in-yer-face conceptualism of Satanic Majesties to finally cure the gap. Don’t confound this album with the earlier EP of the same name.
That one was a document of their 1965 British tour, this one is a document of their 1966 British tour, although, perversely, it was originally released only in America. I used to love this album for some unknown reason. Maybe I’m a jerk, or I’m just too passionately in love with that early period. But I confess it’s really lousy, more of a historical interest. The sound is poorly captured and completely obscured by screaming girls – a real pain in the neck.