by Les Ogilby
A Rolling Stones Top 10?! Impossible! I agonized while eliminating favorites from my initial list of about 18. I also thought, “How much credibility can I have when no songs from Exile made my top 10?” As I looked at my list that leans heavily on the Stones’ 60’s output, I think I figured out how this happened. When Mick Taylor joined, they were introduced at concerts as “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World” and they were! As a live act, no one could touch them. They had all these great songs, and in concert they put a different spin on every song every time (prompting us to buy stacks of bootleg concert LPs), and they had the unsurpassed guitar interplay of Mick Taylor and Keith Richards. So unless I just say that my top 10 list is everything on “Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out”, I gotta go with these brilliant, creative and mostly 60’s studio efforts that often featured unique musical ornamentation by Brian Jones. The first five get 4 points each and the last five get 2 points each. I hated leaving off “Ruby Tuesday” and “Mona”.
Under My Thumb – What a brilliant intro. That rolling drum rhythm, Brian Jones’ marimbas and Mick’s fabulous singing! How was this NOT a single? Biggest mistake since the Beatles not releasing “Yesterday” as a single in the UK. I also love the 90 mph version of this song kicking off the “Got Live If You Want It” LP.
Sympathy For the Devil (Beggar’s Banquet) – How did Keith come up with that sinister guitar solo? Who else could come up with a solo like that? Also love the Mick T. and Keith guitar solo trade-off on the live version on “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out”.
Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (UK) – I credit this song for plunging me into record collecting. I heard it on a late night FM station about 1969. The DJ (Humble Harve – Los Angeles) explained that this was the UK version from the “Rolling Stones No. 2” import. Import?!I didn’t even know there were import versions of Beatles and Stones albums before that and I had to find them. This recording is usually referred to as the long version, but it is really the only version that was supposed to be released. The wrong master was used on the USA “Rolling Stones Now!” LP, so we got the shorter, live in the studio, raw run-through, instead of this carefully crafted masterpiece. Also, it is worth seeking out the stereo version of this recording – It will change your life.
Spider and the Fly – I took up the harmonica because of this brilliant song. Mick and Keith write their own blues classic.
Paint It Black – Brian and Keith attack with sitar and guitar! Brian just picked it up the sitar (after hearing George Harrison) and without researching the proper way to play it, started playing it his own way and it rocks!
Going Home – The ultimate jam. It wasn’t supposed to be nearly 11 minutes long, but the Stones were all dialed into one another and they just kept the tapes rolling. Mick’s best vocal performance ever.
Brown Sugar – When I first heard this I just couldn’t believe how great it was. Has that trademark Stones’ electric guitar plus acoustic guitar thing happening.
Let Me Go – from 1980’s “Emotional Rescue”. A lot like “Hang Fire” but better. It wasn’t until 1978’s “Some Girls” that their recording engineers finally figured out how to mic Charlie Watts’ drums and crank him up. We finally can hear him loud and clear and he is the star of the show on this track.
Long, Long While – a great forgotten ’66 b-side that is really spooky.
Faraway Eyes – The Stones dabbled in country music with songs like “Dear Doctor”, “High and Dry”, “Factory Girl” and “Sweet Virginia”. They pioneered country rock with “Dead Flowers”. “Faraway Eyes” is a bit campy, but the music is undeniably great and Jagger’s spoken parts are unique, charming, and really funny.