Sunday, July 13, 2008


Sticky Fingers
Track 6
"Bitch" – 3:37

Unlike many other canonical rock bands, the Stones didn't really go in for single-string riff rock. Whereas Zeppelin had dozens of songs in that style (eg "Heartbreaker", "Whole Lotta Love", "Good Times, Bad Times", "Black Dog"), "Bitch" is the only Stones song I can think of off the top of my head.

It's not a particularly good song, although the riff itself has a kind of satisfying inevitability to it. One of the things that's always bugged me about the track is the horns: they sound like shit. I don't know why that is. Maybe I'm just used to the contemporaneous horn charts of Stax and Muscle Shoals and on all the R&B/Soul recordings of the era, which represent the pinnacle of horns on pop/rock recordings. Compare, say, Aretha's version of "The Weight", recorded the year before the Stones recorded "Bitch" (the horns kick in on the second verse):

Hear the difference? The horn charts on "The Weight" act as a counterpoint to the melody, and take off at odd angles, rhythmically and harmonically. The three horns on "Bitch" (sax by Bobby Keys, Jim Price on trumpet and trombone) play in unison with each other and with the main guitar riff. I've never liked the sound of unison horns, which sound totally artificial to my ears. (Don't the "Bitch" horns sound exactly like the early digital synthesised horns of the 80s?) I think that's what's always bugged me about this song.

Anyway, here's a great live recording of "Bitch", from a concert in Houston, Texas, June 25 1972.


Planet Mondo said...

We were playing Bitch last night - what a belter. Charlie's rhythm is so tight - and a couple of my favourite Jagger lines

"Sometimes Im sexy, move like a stud - kicking the stall all night
Sometimes I'm so shy, got to be worked on - don't have no bark or bite"

I don't mind the horns.

Nanker said...

I went back to it, just to make sure. I still don't like the horns, but the rest of the song is tighter than I gave credit for in my post. You're right, the lyrics are great.

Ron said...

I think you're both homos.