In 1967 I turned 11, and my aunt Dottie’s present was a copy of The Rolling Stones Between the Buttons.
It may be my greatest present ever, though I’m sure that’s a reckless statement. I’ve been gifted a lot, thank you totally.
The thing about Between the Buttons is it is not a Rolling Stones blues record. Though the blues are played, for sure. I’m terrible at these historical things, but the record seems to represent the apotheosis of Brian Jones. His influence is everywhere, and the music benefits from odd instrumentation and challenging harmonies.
It’s not like the 12×5 Stones were underachievers, but in many ways the Between the Buttons cuts are wilder and more creative than the more extravagant Beatles experiments at the same time. The Stones didn’t ever, I think, get totally absurd in their posture (even considering Gomper), while the Beatles got pretty mental in their days. In any case, Between the Buttons is an album of pop songs, some influenced by psychedelic experiences and styles of the time.
When I decided to write about this I had an “neglected elpee” angle, but everybody gives it five stars. Everyone considers Between the Button a masterpiece. So what I have to share are some clips, in case you didn’t know about masterpiece it is (it wasn’t really conceived as an album).
My two cents. These Stones are Brian Jones Stones. This is incredible music, orchestration, songs. The Stones went from great bluesimitators to pop meisters like the Beatles and the Kinks. Brian Jones was in charge of that.
We always think of Jagger and Richard, but this was a band that was led by Brian Jones, in the first part, and Mick Taylor in the classic part. And when Ron Wood came in the live magic didn’t end, but the songwriting and arrangements did.
Between the Buttons may be the high mark of the Brian Jones era. It’s a high mark indeed.
The story I remember is that Patti Smith was recording in the same studio as Bruce Springsteen, she heard this song and put out her own version. Without approval, just hijacked it.
I’ve read Bruce’s autobiography and Patti Smith’s books and I don’t know what the truth is. Maybe I knew once, but now, I like my memory. What I do know is that this is one of the Boss’s best songs. And one of Patti’s best songs. It has become a collaboration.
So, today I was listening to the Screaming Females, a New Jersey band who have made seven albums. I don’t know that much about them, but as a rock band they’re pushing a big rock up a steep hill.
And I stumbled upon their collaboration with 90’s indie band Garbage on a cover of the Boss’s song.
It’s still a good song, but I don’t know. This makes me want to hear Patti and her group.
I heard these guys and I went (a little) insane.
But I didn’t hear this. (It was 2014.)