Friday, May 1, 2009

Please hold...

I'm having a bit of trouble arranging for the hosting of the songs. Until I figure it out, here's Brian Regan being funny.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Felice Brothers - "Frankie's Gun!"

The Felice Brothers - "Frankie's Gun!"

[Download link]

Sometimes I tell people about this blog and they might think, "Wow, you must love music." Then they might read the blog and think, "Wow, you must hate music."

I'm 38 years old. Over the last decade, my musical life has revolved pretty much around artists that came and went before I was born. It's all Napster's fault: who among you will forget that glorious six-month period in 2000-2001 when Napster was at its height of popularity, when its broad network not only made it possible to find virtually any song you could think of, but thanks to the introduction of low-cost broadband, you could download all of these songs faster than you could listen to them?

It was during this period that I gave up listening to radio. Even forgetting the interminable commercial breaks, why would I listen to songs some other guy had selected when, waiting for me at home, were three Aretha Franklin albums I'd never heard before? I mean, why take a chance on some programming director's taste in music? Aretha in Paris might not be the best album in the world, but it was almost certainly going to give me more pleasure than any random hour of music I would hear on the radio.

Aretha led to the broad soul scene of the sixties, and Napster helped me discover journeymen singers like OV Wright and James Carr. Sixties Soul led me to the "hard" gospel groups of the fifties, and Napster once again stepped in to point me in the direction of singers like Inez Andrews and Dorothy Love Coates.

And believe me, once you hear Dorothy Love Coates belt out You've Been Good To Me it's hard to go back to the more sedate fare that has ruled the airwaves in this century.

A few years ago friend of the blog Ron Littlejohn posed a philosophical question to me: when was the last time I was into a band that was new and hip at the time I was into them? I had to think — I really dug Public Enemy, but I didn't get into them until the mid-90s, 5 years after it was hip to be into them. I loved Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, but I don't think it was ever hip to like these guys. I loved a lot of local bands at a time when it was hip to like them, but I think it goes against the spirit of Ron's question to answer with no-name bands. Finally, I answered with The Black Crowes, whose Southern Harmony and Musical Companion represented the band's musical high point in 1992.

That's right: I haven't been into a new band since 1992. For someone who was raised on the glory days of top 40 radio, who got to hear Prince, Van Halen, Cyndi Lauper, and Run DMC all on the same station, this was depressing.

Today, however, I come to you with news. No longer shall I hang my head in shame. For I have found a band whose music excites me in ways I feel a little funny about discussing in public. I don't know anything about The Felice Brothers, but their song "Frankie's Gun!" had me smiling like a ninny when I first heard it. Smiling not only because it is a truly great song, but also because I proved to myself that I haven't completely closed myself off to new music.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Goats Head Soup Roundup

Goats Head Soup Roundup

Not the worst album the Stones had recorded, and certainly not the worst in their discography — Goats Head marked the precise moment where they went from being an inspired, if inconsistent, ramshackle rock and roll band to a professional entertainment group. While there are moments of near-sublime ridiculousness and a spot or two of raw energy, what emerges from the album is a pervasive sense of 70s studio professionalism. And while the band has not yet reached the level where they are audibly going through the motions, you can hear that they are done taking chances, at least for now. We'll see whether they carry on avoiding risks on It's Only Rock 'n' Roll. (Answer: yes.)

Notes provided by Wikipedia since I am too lazy to do it myself.

Side one
1. "Dancing with Mr. D" – 4:53
Features Nicky Hopkins on piano and Mick Taylor on bass
2. "100 Years Ago" – 3:59
Features Billy Preston on clavinet and Mick Taylor on backing vocals
3. "Coming Down Again" – 5:54
Features Keith Richards on lead vocal, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Mick Taylor on bass
4. "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" – 3:27
Features Billy Preston on clavinet
5. "Angie" – 4:33
Features Nicky Hopkins on piano

Side two
1. "Silver Train" – 4:27
Features Ian Stewart on piano and Keith Richards on bass
2. "Hide Your Love" – 4:12
Features Mick Jagger on piano and Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Recorded during rehearsals at The Doelen in Rotterdam in the summer of 1973
3. "Winter" – 5:31
Features Nicky Hopkins on piano
4. "Can You Hear the Music?" – 5:31
Features Nicky Hopkins on piano
5. "Star Star" – 4:25
Features Ian Stewart on piano
Original title was "Starfucker", but the title was changed for the packaging and radio play.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Goats Head Soup
Side Two, Track Five
"Star Star" – 4:25

[Download link]

This song makes me unhappy. I'll leave it at that.

Joan Jett adds irony to the mix:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Can You Hear the Music?

Goats Head Soup
Side Two, Track Four
"Can You Hear the Music?" – 5:31

[Download link]

Can you feel the magic hangin' in the air?

Easily the most ridiculous song the Stones have been involved with until this point. This is the kind of thing you'd expect to hear on a shitty McCartney album. The lyrics are insane, nonsensical pseudo-mystical babble. Favourite line:

Love is a mystery I can't demystify

If that doesn't say "phoning it in" I don't know what does.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Goats Head Soup
Side Two, Track Three
"Winter" – 5:31

[Download link]

On first listen, an utterly conventional rock ballad.

And it's sure been a cold, cold winter
And the wind ain't been blowin' from the south
It's sure been a cold, cold winter
And the light of love is all burned out

It works for me, however, as a pure mood piece, something the Stones didn't really engage in often. The banal lyrics are emotionally evocative in a way I can't really describe, helped along by the strings and Mick Taylor's kickass solo. This may be the most humble peice the Stones recorded in the 70s.

UPDATE: I listened to it again just now, and Mick Taylor's solo kicks seven kinds of ass.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hide Your Love

Goats Head Soup
Side Two, Track Two
"Hide Your Love" – 4:12

[Download link]

This is what it would sound like if Mick ever wanted to turn the Stones into a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. At least, that's what the opening sounded like to me.

"Hide Your Love" is a undercomposed studio jam. Wikipedia says it was recorded during rehearsals at The Doelen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in the summer of 1973. I guess there's some kind of visceral thrill to listening Jagger scream "oh yeah!" over and over again, but they already did that (and did it so much better) on "Stop Breaking Down" from Exile. Besides the fluid lead guitar by Mick Taylor, the song is an unremarkable piece of effluvia from an album specialising in effluvia.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Silver Train

Goats Head Soup
Side Two, Track One
"Silver Train" – 4:27

[Download link]

How is it that I don't know this song? I mean, I've probably listened to every Stones album at least a dozen times in my life – why is it that this little rocker failed to lodge itself in my memory? Oh right: the song itself is unremarkable.

There is really not much to "Silver Train" apart from the chugga-chugga-chugga rhythm section – there aren't even any chord changes until 60 seconds into the song. Mick isn't quite as distracting here as he is on the rest of the album (although it's becoming increasingly clear that he has left any subtlety he once had behind), but there aren't any vocal hooks, or instrumental flourishes, or anything at all that would cause the song to linger in one's memory.

So why have I been listening to it on repeat for the last hour and a half?

You'll want to check this clip out for Mick's ridiculous wardrobe:

You may also enjoy Johnny Winter's version of "Silver Train" – released 6 months before the Stones' version.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Goats Head Soup
Side One, Track Five
"Angie" – 4:33

[Download link]

You know how there are some jokes you never get tired of? Many years ago, in the pre-internet days, a local weekly had a contest to find the best misheard lyric. Of course, nowadays, there are hundreds of sites that will have countless misheard lyrics, but back then these things spread by word of mouth – it was the height of comedy in my eyes to see all of these mondegreens in one spot. Today I can only remember two entries: one person believed Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" began with the line "Last night I dreamt of some bagels"; another person wrote that he had thought for years that the opening line of "Angie" was Mick Jagger singing "I ain't Jed".

I know it's not very funny, but I can still make myself laugh hysterically by saying "I ain't Jed" while looking in the mirror.

I don't know why I'm surprised that there is an I Ain't Jed YTMND page. I don't recommend clicking that link.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Your mouth don't move but I can hear you speak

Well, it's been a couple of months since I updated, but I decided to give it another shot. It's funny: if you had suggested that listening to one Rolling Stones song a day for almost a year and writing a couple of paragraphs about it would suck the will to live right out of me, I wouldn't have believed you.

Friend of the blog Ron Littlejohn has been after me to start updating the blog again. He told me that it was unconscionable that I quit right after the peak Stones period, that I wouldn't have to deal with the precipitous decline in quality after Exile. He also reminded me of my stated goal for Blogging the Stones, to look for nuggets of gold in the Stones discography that had eluded me before. I couldn't argue his logic.

So here I am again. I'll give it another go, and hopefully I'll be able to follow through to the bitter end. Wish me luck.

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

Goats Head Soup
Side One, Track Four
"Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" – 3:27

[Download link]

Where was I? Oh, right. "Heartbreaker with your .44". It's not so much that this song sucks, it's more that it is an almost perfect example of generic hard rock from the 70s. The funk touches – the clav, horns, wah pedal – are completely vanilla. From the opening line Mick Jagger is in self-parody mode. The drums sound great though.

It always fascinates me how the Stones went from being one of the most inventive rock and roll bands in the world on Exile to an innocuous purveyor of plodding undistinct mid-tempo rock on their very next album. Their ambition changed into blandition har har.

That's terrible.

Here they are doing the song in 1973: