Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shake Your Hips

Exile on Main St.
Side One, Track Three
"Shake Your Hips" (Slim Harpo) – 2:59

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Kind of a proto-ZZ Top shuffle via John Lee Hooker on the one. The Stones attack the blues from many different directions on Exile, but on "Hips" they meet the blues head on – something they haven't done in a while (maybe since "Parachute Woman"). I was never a big fan of this track, but now I'm starting to hear some things that escaped me before: Charlie's clickity clackity percussion work; Mick's echo-drenched vocal; Keith's chugging open-G rhythm work.

"Shake Your Hips" is a song closely associated with its composer, Slim Harpo (né James Moore). Swear to god, until this moment, I thought the songs was one of those ancient delta blues songs, but it turns out that Harpo first performed it in 1966, only three years before the Stones recorded it using his arrangement. Take a listen:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rip This Joint

Exile on Main St.
Side One, Track Two
"Rip This Joint" – 2:23

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Mama said yes, Papa said no
Make up you mind 'cause I gotta go

This is as close as the Stones got to the sheer anarchy of those great Little Richard singles: two minutes of sustained chaos.

I really have nothing to say here. "Rip This Joint" has always been one of my favourites, and if you put on some headphones, turn up the volume, and press the play button above, it will become one of your favourites as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rocks Off

Exile on Main St.
Side One, Track One
"Rocks Off" – 4:32

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When I first started this blog, I was enthusiastic about getting to two areas of the Stones discography: their shitty late-70s and 80s material, and Exile on Main St. – the former because it's always more fun to write about bad things than good things, and the latter because Exile is a special album to me, one that has accompanied me through every music phase that I went through over the years. Reviews of the album typically use the words "sprawling" and "mess" in the description, and there can be no argument that Exile is maybe not as concise as it could have been. However, by trying to do so many things on those four side, not limiting themselves to the best material or apt arrangements, they managed to produce music that can appeal to a listener is different ways depending on the mood.

Exile opens with Keith playing that brutal "Rocks Off" riff, and the effect is opening your front door to have someone punch you in the face.

Charlie and Mick Taylor come in, beefing up the sound, and then it's off to the races, with Jagger slurring incoherently about real and imagined slights. Here and there you hear a phrase that sticks out

The sunshine bores the daylights out of me.
Chasing shadows moonlight mystery.
Headed for the overload, splattered on the dusty road.
Kick me like you've kicked before, I can't even feel the pain no more.

But I only get my rocks off while I'm dreaming.

Justin Heming was a friend who died yesterday. I was going to write a little memorial, but now I find that I can't. Sorry, man. Can't do it. All I can say is this: he was a great guy and musician, and one of the best compliments I can give to anyone is to say that they had a great record collection. Here he is playing straight-up rock and roll on that familiar low-hung bass for the Brown Hornets.