3 ‘Spillers (Amy, Fuel, and Shane) – 3 Stones Playlists. Enjoy.
I was born in 1960. I knew the early Stones tunes from the radio mostly. Caught the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, even at 3 years old, i somehow knew this was an important thing to see. Amazing, actually. But never knew a peep about the Stones on there. First Stones album i bought was Hot Rocks, followed by More Hot Rocks which i figured had all the oldies i ever needed. Never saw any reason to get the older albums – they all had pretty much the same songs on them anyway! So there are still plenty of oldies i’ve never heard. Wanted to get a sampler of some of them on the list, but Shanes’ covers list made my job a lot easier – there would have been a lot of duplicates – and most of those songs probably aren’t new to folks on here anyway. Shane’s Empty Heart was newtome and great, i hear echoes of that one, and Heart of Stone and Time is on My Side in the snotnose garage bands i’m liking now. Under My Thumb and Play With Fire would have probably made my list – i think they foreshadow some of the darker tunes yet to come. Some other standouts for me – Ruby Tuesday, As Tears Go By, Lady Jane, Sitting on a Fence, Spider and the Fly, Not Fade Away, The Last Time, I’m Free – although biggies like Get Off of My Cloud (sorry, Fintan), Satisfaction, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, and Mothers’ Little Helper still don’t do much for me.
So i cut right to the meat. After Hot Rocks and More Hot Rocks, i bought Exile and Sticky Fingers, which were basically in real time, and worked backwards to Satanic Majesties from there. I would have been 11 for most of ’72, not even Stray Cat fodder yet! This was the Stones at their peak – Exile came out in ’72, they did some blowout tours, and it was all rather downhill after that.
Satanic Majesties was a weird little transition album – an attempted psychedelic stew to counter Sgt. Pepper’s. She’s a Rainbow is just flat out pretty though, thanks mostly to Nicky Hopkins’ piano work. I’m pretty sure it’s Pairubu‘s, (and maybe Shiv‘s) favorite Stones album, i think mostly because of the weird noises that weave through the album. Should be gratified to know in that downloading the tune from iTunes, it cam bundled with noises intact. (Could have sworn that We Love You and Dandelion were on this album too, but old age is a bitch, they were singles.)
Beggars’ Banquet followed, and unleashed Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man on an unsuspecting public. Neither are personal faves – I’m with Tinny (who will henceforth be my go to guy on all things BB) and i’ll take Jigsaw Puzzle over both of them. (See his brilliant comments on the previous Spillover Stones thread). Didn’t know Stray Cat Blues was about Brian either. But as IvorEngine says, complete, utter, glorious filth. And most definitely in my top 10. Salt of the Earth (on Shane’s list) is another beauty, and never performed live since Rock n Roll Circus until Axl Rose and Izzy chose it to do live with the Stones, who had forgotten the song in the meantime.
I think i did have Through the Past Darkly, this is where we got Jumpin Jack Flash (and it’s b-side, Child of the Moon, on Shane’s list and would have otherwise been on mine, it’s a beauty), Dandelion, We Love You, Let’s Spend the Night Together, and Honky Tonk Women on an album finally. Not a bad compiliation to pick up.
Monkey Man is an overlooked gem on Let it Bleed (understandably, maybe given the company it keeps on there). I was kind of bummed it didn’t get listed for the Riffs topic (nope, didn’t envy Jon D on that one), it’s one of their smoothest, tightest, and best ever. They do play it live, but i suspect there are a few secrets tucked away on that one too.
So we can all agree of course that Gimme Shelter is probably the greatest rock song ever recorded. (just humor me and nod yes). As Carole said, the canonical version would be the studio version with its ominous intro and Merry Clayton’s chilling vocals. Don’t forget the near perfect lead break in there too. But if Merry ever joined them on a live version, i’m unaware of it (and if you’re not, please point me to it). By ’72, Brian was gone, Altamont had happened, they were full on junkies and cokeheads, and as a saving grace they had Mick Taylor (could Mick Taylor have played like that if he wasn’t a cokehead?). If the studio version foreshadowed coming horror, it had happened and was happening in the live versions now, the storm had come, and they were standing in the full hail of bombs and bullets.
The studio recording of Midnight Rambler is a kind of eerie, disembodied, and coldly dispassionate accounting by a serial rapist and killer of his methods. But live it’s a blowout, from the sleazy harmonica (Pairubu, if that’s actually Mick you have to give some respect), guitar rhythms mimicing the sex act, to the stalking, boo and gotcha part before the climax. (especially filthy version boxed from the Leeds show) Some live versions are a bit disjointed and the parts don’t quite hang togehter, but when they do, rock and roll doesn’t get much better. Hands down top 10.
Sticky Fingers is i believe Beth‘s favorite Stones album, and damn near perfect album it is, with nary a clunker on it. I think my personal fave by a hair is Bitch
with it’s killer riff and relentless sexual urgency underscored by the “tightest rhythm section in rock” (paraprhased from Fintan at some earlier point in time). Brown Sugar probably wouldn’t make my top 10, but it’s still a stonking tune, and so filthy even Jagger had the later grace to be embarassed by the lyrics. Plenty of full on live versions out there, but i like the way they went the other way on the alternate studio version and prettied up the riff, with (presumably) Mick Taylor weaving a melody line around it. Seems to be some sort of castinet type rhythm thing showing up in there as well. Sway is another fave, as Ivor said, Mick Taylor’s finest moment. Maybe, but if you’ve listened through the live tunes on the list, you’d know by now that we aren’t exactly running short of fine Mick Taylor moments.
Wild Horses my be one of the greatest rock ballads ever written (just nod yes), but you hear a song a bazillion times, it’s nice to hear another version. Jagger’s vocals are a bit affected on the unplugged version on Stripped, but it’s maybe a bit less cloying then the original can seem on SF, and a bit more cynical too – the “after we die” bit has been changed to “after love dies”. But don’t stop here – the whole Sticky Fingers album needs a listen so you don’t miss beauties like Sister Morphine and Moonlight Mile.
But along with the Llama, I’d take Let it Loose from Exile as my single choice desert island Stones ballad. Unutterably gorgeous. Yet another one night stand doesn’t work out, and the gospelly end chorus hints at the faith needed to either try yet again in the future, or just accept what may or will be. What else to pick from Exile? They outyanked the yanks on this one to glorious effect – there are blues, country, gospel, calypso, at Dr. Johnish attempt, and much more. Torn and Frayed is a humble countryish tune made sublime by Al Kooper’s pedal steel guitar. There are a few full blown corkers, i’ve probably rammed Rip This Joint down your throats for too long by now. Blowout live versions too, but it’s almost too much adrenaline, the studio versions will be just fine. So All Down The Line will do nicely instead, with Mick Taylor’s insane slide guitar the star.
And it’s basically on the decline from there. Goat’s Head Soup and It’s Only Rock and Roll have a few decent tunes on them, but well down on the food chain. Esentially meh in the grand scheme of things, so i’ll take a pass. I’m not even sure that i even had those albums.
So what happened? Conventional wisdom blames the departure of Mick Taylor, but i’m blaming the declining songwriting skills of the Glimmers. Take a fun but sub-par rocker like If You Can’t Rock Me, there’s only so much Mick Taylor could do with it. I’m not dissing Ronnie Wood either, he’s a damn good guitarist. It obviously takes a lot of skill (and coke) to pull off Taylor’s unearthly guitarwork, but it takes a different kind to strip a lead break down to exactly the right notes. Wood can.
Black and Blue has some ok tunes and some crap, but i’m again with the Llama here, i think Memory Motel is kind of lovely, especially Wayne Perkins’ guitarwork. But there’s a monster tune tucked into the grooves here. Ignore the lyrics of Hey Negrita, most likely racist garbage about either Bianca of black prostitutes, depending on your sources. But if Billy Preston was ok enough with them to take on piano duties, then i’m cool enough with it to post the song. There’s a sleeper tune on here too – Hot Stuff is a kind of bloodless diss of probably Bianca and he Studia 54 twats. But they took it out on the road (with Billy) and morphed it into a killer slice of funk.
Some Girls was a decent enough album where the Stones jumped on the disco bandwagon and fared better than most (Hi Rod). A few folks mentioned Miss You which is a fine tune, and Shattered is a great song about NYC. Beast of Burden is the real keeper for me though – according to Keith it’s his thank you to Mick for keeping the band afloat while the 70’s went through his veins. Guess it’s kind of their Two of Us – (except that they kept going), but it always cheers me up and has me smiling and dancing. Some great blues and country stuff on the Some Girls outtakes, but apparently they decided on a different direction. For better or worse, who knows. This tour was the first time i finally saw them live. They were good and it was great fun, but it was a long, long way from ’72.
I have no idea where this version of Cocksucker Blues is from. Or what year even. I knew the short version and thought it basically, erm, sucked. First heard this when Tipatina posted it on the mothership, and am still none the wiser. Supposedly a kiss off, or fuck you more accurately, to their record company, it’s the kind of filthy, sleazy blues they do best.
And that was about it for me and the Stones. I had a few more albums, could pick a few more half decent tunes (ballads, mostly – Fuel is right and Keith can still do those very well), but it was obviously time to part ways. Fuel, unbidden, took one for the team here and will attempt to convince us of the merits of later work. I only know a very few tunes on his list, so i’m open to being convinced. Given the few i do know though, he has his work cut out for him ;) Big thanks to Fuel and to Shane, and to Shoey for sending me off on possible my most fun assignment ever. And of course to all of the folks who posted tunes in the earlier thread.
Hmm, i did go on a bit, sorry. Digested version – just listen to the albums – Satanic Majesties through Exile.
1. She’s a Rainbow (Satanic Majesties)
2. Jigsaw Puzzle (Beggars’ Banquet)
3. Stray Cat Blues (Leeds 13/03/71)
4. Monkey Man (Let it Bleed)
5. Gimme Shelter (Philly 20/07/72)
6. Midnight Rambler (Fort Worth 24/06/72)
7. Bitch (Sydney 26/02/73)
8. Brown Sugar (Sticky Fingers – Alternate Version)
9. Sway (Sticky Fingers)
10. Wild Horses (Stripped)
11. Let it Loose (Exile)
12. Torn and Frayed (Exile)
13. All Down the Line (Exile)
14. Hey Negrita (Black and Blue)
15. Hot Stuff (Love You Live – Paris 07/06/76)
16. Beast of Burden (Some Girls)
17. Cocksucker Blues (Long Version) (?)
Bonus Country Stones Mini-List -
1. Dear Doctor
2. Country Honk
3. Dead Flowers
4. Sweet Virginia
5. Far Away Eyes
6. We Had It All
The Rolling Stones glimmering:
Continental Drift wanders where Brian Jones would have taken them. Oh for a left-field influence in the band.
Might as Well Get Juiced is The Rolling Stones doing the Alabama 3 doing The Rolling Stones. It’s a fat Mona rhythm. It’s leery, debauched and sleazy and so is Too Rude. It’s the Stones doing the Clash doing reggae. Are you disoriented? Where is the rock’n’roll?
Break the Spell, flits like Just Can’t Be Satisfied and Hip Shake. Moon Is Up harks back to the sound of the 68 to 72 period. Actually, it could be the odd rhythms you’d find on Aftermath and Between the Buttons but it’s slinkier. You Don’t Have to Mean It is an oddity: Texicalireggae. I like Keith’s attempt to suspend the reality of being an old man.
Undercover: if they had pursued this guitar-driven dance-rock groove, they’d not have become irrelevant. Pretty Beat Up’s insistent drive also hints at what might’ve been. It’s made more interesting by Jagger receiving the pain his macho posturing usually dishes out to females. Sleep Tonight is a classic Keith Richards’ ballad, something that has improved during the decline. He sounds like he cares, although the 1980’s drum sound makes him sound like he’s hammering someone to sleep by the end. (A Nick Cave version is required.)
“Take this pain, it’s all yours anyway”. The Stones do country well and The Worst is Lucinda Williams good – helped by Keith’s honesty. It has a yearning quality that Mick rarely matches nowadays. However, in New Faces Jagger is bitter, twisted, vengeful and jealous. A young rival, “a devil” with “an indolent air and insolent stare,” screws Jagger’s girl and mind, leaving him vulnerable – the song taps into a Lady Jane/As Tears Go By atmosphere.
That rival was a mirror of his younger self. But Saint of Me reveals the devil. It has the build of a Let it Bleed classic, not to mention the space and imagination that inhabited the grooves on that counter culture favourite. Jagger sees an angel cry but you feel he couldn’t care less.
You Got Me Rocking rediscovers their mojo and does what their many imitators rarely manage: rock and groove. Jagger preens throughout; it’s a highlight amongst the mid-tempo rockers that mostly fill the later albums, tainting rare good stuff.
Can they still do the blues? Back of My Hand is as basic and harsh as their production values allow. Jagger comments on a ranting preacher and his message. Oh Mick, why can’t you do this more often?
Instead he gives us male fantasy lyrics about wild or unfaithful women. Jagger, make up your patronising, objectifying mind, or at least put the lyrics in songs like Start Me Up or Sad Sad Sad that you can dance to before going out. (Thank you, Mnemonic.)
Do the Stones care? “Have they ever?” is my answer. Yet, High Wire and Sweet Neo Con have lyrics that could come from an earnest punk band. But I chose Neighbours because it’s a different type of lyric and still entertaining. The barroom piano at the end of Neighbours is echoed in Piano Instrumental – a sad reminder that they have replaced boogie with bluster. Oh for the band that played Around and Around and Down the Road Apiece.
They are Slipping Away – as Keith admits. However, that song is also about a woman who’s just material for another song. It’s the second twist that keeps it from being MOR. (A Tindersticks cover, please.) The strange jazz-blues and country combination of Thief in Night shows the music they could develop while retaining their credibility – and my interest, as if they care.
Waiting on a Friend took almost 10 years to commit to vinyl. It’s the Glimmer Twins acknowledging their co-dependency. Listening to the lyrics on the later albums, I think: “Are they singing hidden messages to each other? Is that “bitch” really Jagger or Richards?” I don’t care. I just wish they’d record like they used to, produce more songs like the ones I’ve included here. Even in this rightly maligned period, there are moments worthy of the once greatest rock’n’roll band in the world. Enjoy.
1. Continental Drift
2. Might As Well Get Juiced
3. Too Rude
4. Break The Spell
5. Moon Is Up
6. You Don’t Have To Mean It
7. Undercover of the Night
8. Pretty Beat Up
9. Sleep tonight
12.Saint Of Me
13.You Got Me Rocking
14.Back Of My Hand
15.Start Me Up
16.Sad Sad Sad
20.Thief In The Night
21.Waiting On A Friend
There weren’t many cover tracks left in the dropbox – so I used a selection process that involved, reading all the comments, listening to the tracks – then adding any that I owned already … plus a mix of extra tunes I found interesting – those I couldn’t track down had to be sadly left out. At least you know you like it – here’s an alternative saneshane playlist.
1 Paint It Black Vitamin String Quartet
2 No Expectations Soulsavers
3 Play With Fire Dum Dum Girls
4 Get Off My Cloud [Live] The Flying Pickets
5 Gimme Shelter The Sisters Of Mercy
6 Ruby Tuesday Over The Rhine
7 Child Of The Moon Radon Daughters
8 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction Cat Power
1 Backstreet Girl Lambchop
2 Under My Thumb Pentagram
3 Not Fade Away Takuma Watanabe
4 We Love You Cock Sparrer
5 Jumpin’ Jack Flash [Live] Johnny Winter
6 (I Can’t Get Me No) Satisfaction Devo
7 Salt Of the Earth Ian McNabb, featuring Mike Scott and Arto Thistlewaite
8 Sympathy For The Devil Laibach
9 No Expectations The Dirtbombs