Saturday, May 3, 2008

All Sold Out

Between the Buttons (USA version)
Side 2, Track 1
"All Sold Out" – 2:17

I can't believe how bad this album is. And not bad in a good way, bad in a boring way. Before it's all over, this album will be the death of my sanity.

That said, "All Sold Out" is the least bad minor track on Between the Buttons so far, with some nice garage rock touches in the verse, and those almost catchy "hey hey"s. But what the hell is a recorder doing on this track? Or is that a Mellotron? Who gives a fuck. Am I the only one thinking that Brian Jones nearly destroyed the Stones in 1966?

Cool, Calm and Collected

Between the Buttons (USA version)
Side 1, Track 6
"Cool, Calm and Collected" – 4:17

I hate the Beatles.

That may strike those of you who know me personally as a bit of a surprise. "Ed," you say, "you've got all their albums, you play their music constantly, you're always comparing them favourably to any other band who has an ounce of ambition – how is it that now you hate them?"

Well, let me tell you how that is. It's the Stones that did it to me. The fucking Rolling Stones drove me to hate them. You see, I had no idea what a pernicious influence the Beatles has on rock and roll. I thought it was great that they came along, and by the very nature of their precision, their skill, and their ambition, they raised the whole context of discourse in the world of popular music, the way that Michael Jordan raised everyone's expectations of what a basketball player should be able to accomplish. Of course, the problem was that there weren't many players who were athletic enough, smart enough, and simply good enough to match Jordan's accomplishments – and his influence ended up creating some of the most boring basketball in the history of the sport, as player after player attempted to duplicate his play without success.

Similarly, the Beatles influence amounted to hundreds of competent, straight ahead rock and rollers having ambitions beyond mere rock and roll, that they would explore other cultural realms, other philosophies and religions and modes of thought. It wasn't enough anymore that these musicians played kick ass rock and roll – the Beatles gave them pretensions to something more than that. Unfortunately, none of these musicians had the talent to pull that off (hell, a lot of the time, neither did the Beatles – Sgt. Pepper, I'm looking at you). And so instead of great cheap thrills like "Not Fade Away" or "Get Off My Cloud" we get ponderous dreck like "Lady Jane" and "Cool, Calm, and Collected". That is why I hate the Beatles: they made mere mortals believe they were gods.

I have a confession: I couldn't make it through "Cool, Calm and Collected". This song is such an unlistenable piece of shit that so far I haven't made it through more than 60 seconds of it. Fuck the Beatles – if it wasn't for them, the Stones would never have stopped the Chuck Berry numbers to do this crap.

She Smiled Sweetly

Between the Buttons (USA Version)
Side 1, Track 5
"She Smiled Sweetly" – 2:44

Why do my thoughts loom so large on me?
They seem to stay for day after day
And won't disappear, I've tried every way
Goddammit, these are not rock and roll song lyrics! Why are they writing this shit? Where are the guitars? Why is Mick trying to sing delicately? He can't do "delicate" – never could. Look, guys, it's simple: either go back to the Chuck Berry songs or hire Mick Taylor. Else, you're in danger of going from zero to pussy in six seconds flat.


Between the Buttons (USA Version)
Side 1, Track 4
"Connection" – 2:08

Yes, Keith, you do lots of drugs. We know.

Friday, May 2, 2008

(Baby) Don't Do It (nonstones)

Some songs, it's nearly impossible to get a crappy performance.

"(Baby) Don't You Do It" was released by Marvin Gaye in 1964, one of his series of hits at the time.

No chord changes!

The song then became popular among British rock bands. Here is The Small Faces (released on From the Beginning in 1967, but recorded much earlier):

And The Who (recorded during the Who's Next sessions in 1971, but ultimately left off the album):

That's Leslie West on lead guitar. If you want to see how unorthodox Keith Moon's drumming was, watch this guy show you how it's done. Smack that cymbal, son!

See also: Stevie Wonder, Pete Townshend.

The Band put an end to all that. They recorded several versions, released some. This version, the first I ever heard, is said to date to 12/28-12/31/71, at the Academy of Music, NYC:

But really, every version of the song I've heard them do has been an awesome cacophony.

Ruby Tuesday

Between the Buttons (USA Version)
Side 1, Track 3
"Ruby Tuesday" – 3:17

Apparently, Keith wrote this one. Go figure.

I've never really liked the song – the arrangement always seemed too fussy. I mean, what is the hook? Obviously the singalong title phrase and the great Charlie Watts drum fills in the chorus. Why the hell are you adding flutes and cellos to a straightforward rock song?

Anyway, I don't have much to add. I'd rather talk about Rod Stewart's version:

That is the most hilariously literal video I've ever seen. Aw, she's so carefree! She doesn't have time for photoshoots (or statues) – she just wants to blow bubbles in the fields and drive down streets with her head hanging out the window.

Rod's voice sure does sound good, though, doesn't it? I just wonder why he was so interested in that menu.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yesterday's Papers

Between the Buttons (USA Version)
Side 1, Track 2
"Yesterday's Papers" – 2:04


Friend of the blog Ron Littlejohn warned me about the upcoming psychedelia on this album. I didn't listen. I said, hey, bad songs are easier to write about than good songs. A pile of steaming shit in the form of misogynistic, harpsichord-driven Stones songs would be great! Think of the snarkable bits! My god, the snark!

Jumping Jesus Fishburne, was I wrong. I can't think of a single interesting thing to say about "Yesterday's Papers". I can't think of a single dull thing to say about "Yesterday's Papers". I wish now that I'd never heard it. The fact that this is only the second track on this album is causing me to tremble before the darkness. The knowledge that after this I still have Their Satanic Majesties Request is starting to fill my soul with a blind panic. I fear not only for my well being, but for the continued existence of Blogging the Stones.

Pray for me.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let's Spend the Night Together

Between the Buttons (USA Version)
Side 1, Track 1
"Let's Spend the Night Together" – 3:36

This was the song famously censored by Ed Sullivan for the Stones appearance on his show – he made the band change the title lyrics to "Let's Frolic Through the Daisy Fields Together". In protest, Mick performed the song dressed as a giant ham, which of course later led to him being cast as Victor Vacendak in Freejack.

Never liked this song.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Aftermath (USA version) Roundup

Aftermath (USA version) Roundup

Side 1
1. "Paint It, Black" – 3:45
2. "Stupid Girl" – 2:55
3. "Lady Jane" – 3:09 (Seriously, I mean it: what the fuck?)
4. "Under My Thumb" – 3:41
5. "Doncha Bother Me" – 2:41
6. "Think" – 3:09

Side 2
1. "Flight 505" – 3:27
2. "High And Dry" – 3:08
3. "It's Not Easy" – 2:56
4. "I Am Waiting" – 3:11
5. "Goin' Home" – 11:13


Aftermath is the fourth UK and sixth US studio album by The Rolling Stones and was released in 1966. The album proved to be a major artistic breakthrough for The Rolling Stones in that it was the first full-length release by the band to exclusively feature Mick Jagger/Keith Richards compositions. Aftermath was also the first Rolling Stones album to be recorded entirely in the United States, where it was recorded at the legendary RCA Studios in Hollywood, California at 6363 Sunset Boulevard, and was also the first album the band released in stereo.

The album is also notable for its musical experimentation, with Brian Jones playing a variety of instruments which feature prominently in each track, including the sitar on "Paint It, Black", and the dulcimer on "Lady Jane" and "I Am Waiting", the marimbas on "Under My Thumb", harmonica on "Hight And Dry" and "Goin' Home" as well as guitar and keyboards. To this day the Aftermath album remains a big fan favorite from the Brian Jones era.

Once again, two editions of the album were released. The first release of Aftermath appeared in April of 1966 as a fourteen-track long-player, and is considered by many to be the definitive version. Issued between the non-LP single releases of "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Paint It, Black", Aftermath proved a big smash, spending eight weeks atop the UK charts.

In the US however, fourteen tracks were considered too many. With a substituted cover art, the American edition of Aftermath, released that June, features a subtly re-shuffled running order that eliminates "Out Of Time", "Take It Or Leave It" and "What To Do" (all later released in the US), while replacing "Mother's Little Helper" with current #1 hit "Paint It, Black". Despite compromising producer Andrew Loog Oldham's and The Rolling Stones' intentions for the album, the revamped Aftermath shot to #2 in the US, eventually going platinum. In 2002, the US edition of Aftermath was ranked number 108 on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Aftermath was important in establishing Jagger and Richards as respected songwriters in the same vein as Lennon-McCartney and Bob Dylan and also redefined The Rolling Stones from being R&B enthusiasts to a progressive and artistically-inventive group.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Goin' Home

Aftermath (USA version)
Side 2, Track 5
"Goin' Home" (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards) – 11:13

I went through a Stones phase in high school.

Not a huge revelation, I know – almost every suburban white guy born in the seventies went through the same thing, I'll bet: a period of time where, having grown jaded of the music coming out of your radio, you looked to the past for inspirational stories, and, having discovered the Rolling Stones hits of the sixties and early seventies, considered them to be the quintessential rock and roll band. This phase lasted until you grew tired of their unsubstantial non-hits, when you probably went back to thinking of the Stones as merely a great band.

That's my story. One of the reasons I started writing this blog is to give myself an excuse to revisit some of those non-hits, and give myself a chance to re-evaluate them. I knew there was gold in them thar hills – as I mentioned before, "Can I Get a Witness" has always been a favourite – and I felt I may have dismissed the majority of the band's output too easily.

So far, it's been hit and miss. Some forgotten tracks (to me, at least) surprised me with their ferocity and drive: ("Mona", "She Said Yeah", "It's All Right"), but most reinforced their status as album filler ("Off the Hook", "Under the Boardwalk", far too many blues tracks to name).

Which brings me to "Goin' Home", all 11 minutes of it. I'm not sure, but there couldn't have been too many rock and roll tracks of this length released previously. With good reason: it takes real compositional skill to make long tracks interesting. Most never meet that standard, and "Goin' Home" is no different. The song is essentially over at the 3 minute mark (although I would argue that the song is pretty much over before it starts) – and yet, there's 8 more minutes of boredom. By the 6 minute point the song has devolved into a freeform studio jam, with Mick babbling into the mic without purpose. I mean, the song isn't very good to begin with – a blues-influenced pop number lacking even a bridge. God only knows why they would inflict it on the world, all 11 minutes of its pointlessness. This, then, is the ne plus ultra of album filler.

There is a single point of interest on "Goin' Home": Mick's bom-bom-bom in the chorus, which makes me giggle like a schoolgirl every time I hear it. You will too:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Am Waiting

Aftermath (USA version)
Side 2, Track 4
"I Am Waiting" (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards) – 3:11

Another one of the songs the Stones did trying to sound like the Beatles. That is a cute melody in the verse, but these kinds of songs were never convincing to me. I mean, it's not "Lady Jane", but still – it's not "Get Off My Cloud" either. There aren't too many bands that could get away with a dulcimer – the Stones aren't one of them. Some nice percussion work taking place on this track – sounds like Charlie overdubbed some toms throughout.