This tune made no one’s top 10 and I’m a little ashamed of myself. I’m also ashamed of you. You psychedelic guys anyway, for this is the Stones’ crowning psychedelic moment, I mean I love it but Dandelion notwithstanding. Actually, in England We Love You was the A side and Dandelion the B. Beatles guys should also revel in John and Paul on backup vocals, which are among the best they ever did. Absolute killer piano riff which I believe is Ian Stewart but I’m not sure.
I’m a little late to this game but here’s my list.
Putting together a Stones Top 10 List has been difficult for each of us. It seems like an impossible task. But you know, if I had to put together a list of my all-time Top 10 Rock songs, something by the Stones would have to be on it… and that something would be Satisfaction. Now that I’ve got the easy one out of the way I can move on.
2120 South Michigan Avenue
This instrumental was named after the address of the Chicago’s Chess Studios where it was recorded but was also home to many of the electric blues artists the Rolling Stones revered. I was originally familiar with the version on the US album 12 X 5 (1964). In the 80s I picked up a British import vinyl called Around and Around that also contained a version of the song – but it went on longer than the 12 X 5 version. Hearing the longer version was like discovering the song all over again.
Off the Hook
I always liked this little straight ahead, party song. Maybe it’s because of the cool performance of that they did for the T.A.M.I. Show. It was on the US album The Rolling Stones Now! that was released in 1965. It made its way onto countless mix tapes I gave away in the 80s.
The Last Time
Killer riff on this gospel influenced number.
This was a big hit that I seem to favor because it was so different than everything else when it came out. Brian Jones was the mastermind behind this arrangement. He played the recorder part (and piano) that lends the song its iconic sound. The melancholy verses blend perfectly with the anthemic chorus.
Stray Cat Blues
This song debuted at the July 5, 1969 concert the band performed in Hyde Park, just 2 days after Brian Jones died. It made its recorded debut toward the end of ’69 on the Stones album Let It Bleed. But the definitive version was the one on Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! with Mick Taylor on guitar.
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
This 7+ minute cut begins like a pretty typical Stones song but after about 2:45 develops into an extended jam – they just kept the tape rolling, thank God. Fantastic guitar solos by Mick Taylor and Keith Richards, and a very nice sax solo by one of my heroes – Bobby Keys.
Hand of Fate
I’ve chosen this song because the guitar playing is so great. The guitar solos are fantastic, especially the one that burns through the final minute of the song. And who’s ripping off those cool riffs? Black and Blue’s mystery guitarist Wayne Perkins.
The Stones at their most pissed off – calling out late 70s, squeegee NYC as they see it. “Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don’t mind the maggots.”
As I told Lawr when he suggested I make out a top 10, taking a dive into the Rolling Stones catalog is more like wading in the kiddie pool to the rest of you guys. But what the heck, it’s a fun exercise no matter what the degree of difficulty.
I’m going with the Stones because the thing that differentiates them from the Beatles in my mind is that their songs conjure up much more iconic memories for me than Beatles tunes, which always seemed to be here, there and everywhere. At least in my case, you listened to the Beatles. But you experienced the Stones.
Now, on with the countdown …
R.S. 10 Extra:Honky Tonk Women always makes me smile because of the intro where Charlie Watts does the tink-tink-tink. When I was working at a radio station back in the day, we had a fake commercial produced to coincide with Mick’s 44th birthday for “Mick’s Formula 44” cough medicine. (Fake Mick: “When I’m on stage hackin’ me lungs out, I get me a spoonful of Mick’s Formula 44.”) At the end he hits the spoon on the bottle to make his point — tink-tink-tink — and says, “Hey, that gives me an idea” as the song starts in the background. Yeah, we were easily amused back then.
10. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker). I’m not a lyrics guy. It’s always the rhythm, the melody, the harmony and the tune that make me like a song way before any lyrics. With this one, the intro is really catchy and the lyrics jump out at you from “the PO-lice in New York City” and slap you around like a crooked cop. I’m also a sucker for horns in rock n roll, and this one is a great example.
9. Shattered. This one always reminds me of Beach Week in high school. The Stones were quite prolific during those years with Some Girls, Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You all out in a four-year period. Some Girls was the one we kept coming back to. The rapid-fire lyrics here may have been Mick’s nod to rapping (“what a mess/this town’s in tatters/I’ve been shattered/my brain’s been battered/spread it all over Manhattan”). Fun to sing with a group of others who’ve also had a few beers along the way. The cold ending caps everything perfectly.
8. Sympathy for the Devil. This song reminds me of a youth event at church during high school when we had 3WV, Charlottesville’s album rock station, cranked up in the fellowship hall while we were setting up for something. This song came on and those of us familiar with it didn’t really know how to react to the irony of the situation. So we sang the “Woo Woo!” part really loud. And no one really paid any attention, except to shake their heads at those silly kids.
7. Torn and Frayed. Everything on Exile on Main Street is fantastic, so this tune serves as a representative of that album and the Stones’ ability to do country-roots-rock with the best of ’em. It also gets extra points for Phish covering it the first time I saw them live. What an unexpected treat that was.
6. Under My Thumb (live version, from Still Life). I didn’t like the studio version of this one at all, but the live version has so much more oomph. This was a staple of my listening rotation in college. Friday afternoon … crank up some live Stones.
5. Just My Imagination (live). Same deal here with the Temptations cover. Mick substitutes “strictly” in the line “To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true.” And as was the case with so many of those parties in college, the song perfectly describes my chances of hooking up with one of those beautiful girls.
4. Monkey Man. I couldn’t tell you what the hell this tune is about, but it’s incredibly haunting and it kicks ass. The slide guitar stuff on Let It Bleed like this one and Midnight Rambler is great. When Mick starts screaming like an actual monkey, you can’t help but picture him strutting around on stage. And maybe needing to be caged.
3. Brown Sugar. The Stones at their rockin’ best. Love the guitar interplay. Throw in the horns and the sax solo. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo! This could easily have been No. 1.
2. Jumpin’ Jack Flash. You can have Satisfaction; this is my pick for the definitive Stones guitar riff of all time. It’s meatier with the chords and dramatic pauses before the hook kicks in. The bass line also gets plenty of love here too. Unlike some of their biggest hits, I never get tired of hearing this one.
1. Gimme Shelter. I’m not alone in giving this one top billing. It has everything from soulful vocals (with an incredible guest performance), a memorable chorus, head-bopping drums, classic Keith on guitar and lyrics that make a powerful statement, even to a non-lyrics guy.
1. Gimme Shelter: What is that opening guitar? A riff? A lead? Whatever it is, it’s unforgettable. Everything comes together almost magically; the backup singer woken up from sleep with no notice and too hoarse to sing somehow leads to rock’s greatest mistake.
2. Moonlight Mile: Jagger steps out of character and the result is a warm intimacy that feels perfect whether he’s coming down from a cocaine high or a long, cold and lonely night on the road.
3. Tumbling Dice: Odd that something so laid back and groovy could be the product of 150 takes. The way Richards and Mick Taylor play off each other just slays me. There’s a fever in the funk house, alright.
4. Sway: Like “Moonlight Mile,” rumored to be actually a Jagger-Taylor composition. Taylor’s guitars shine regardless. Has anyone ever played better than on Taylor’s solo outro? Doubtful. That’s the sex, but the intro riff is what first seduces.
5. Miss You: Maybe the most bad-ass thing the Stones ever did was record a “disco” song when their fans were busy rioting over its sudden prominence. Of course, Miss You isn’t a disco song at all, whatever that even is. But it’s damn fine on the dance floor.
6. No Expectations: Much of Beggar’s Banquet seems posey to me: satanic (Sympathy for the Devil), salacious (Stray Cat Blues), revolutionary (Street Fighting Man), Dylanesque (Jigsaw Puzzle), blue collar (Salt of the Earth). But this seems very real and a fitting, beautiful swang song for Brian Jones.
7. Under My Thumb: Sounds as cool as the narrarator suggests he is as the winner of this sexual power struggle, a hallmark of all post-adolescent relationships. Accusations of misogyny are just lazy. The marimba riff works. And Marc Bolan made a career out of mimicing Jagger’s use of his breath as an instrument.
8. Memory Motel: One of the few (only?) songs where Jagger and Richards alternate lead vocals. Love the piano and the sha-la-las. I like the songs where Jagger as principle lyricist seems like an actual person.
9. Let It Bleed: For all its tongue-in-cheek perversion, it’s really a song about needing someone and being willing and even eager to reciprocate in kind. In other words, nice. They backed into it.
10. Ventilator Blues: You feel like you’re doing something wrong when you listen to this song. It’s one of their nastier riffs, fittingly: Your woman’s cussing/you can hear her scream/You feel like murder/in the first degree….
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.
Let me preface by saying the Stones don’t drive me crazy. I like them a lot and respect them even more, but I don’t know the entire catalog, nor have I ever seen them live. And, at this point, I probably never will. Not all that interested in watching a bunch of grandpas who are two miles away from me from a giant TV screen. I’d go if someone invited me for free.
#1 – 5 points – Rocks Off – Doesn’t get any more rock ‘n’ roll lyrically than “The sunshine bores the daylights out of me.”
#2 – 5 points – Gimme Shelter – Makes one feel bad like a rock song should. Kick ass Hellacopters cover. Nothing wrong with the Stones version either.
#3 – 5 points – Sympathy For The Devil – Lovely buildup song. Lovely Bryan Ferry cover.
#4 – 4 points – Dead Flowers – Three open chords – D A G. Just like all the best music. Next time you’re at Guitar Center and all the annoying little kiddies are wonking away, grab the most expensive Martin acoustic and let ‘er rip. Sing loud.
#5 – 3 points – Rip This Joint – Had to double-check that this was even a Stones-written tune. Sounds like it could be from some moldy old blues guy. Boogie woogie rock ‘n’ roll.
#6 – 2 points – Brown Sugar – The guitar’s gotta be alternately tuned to play this correctly and that gives it extra points (but only one). It’s cooler to say “Exile” is your favorite, but I’ll admit, mine’s “Sticky Fingers.” Take note that I’m with the masses on this one.
#7 – 2 points – Bitch – Arranged, played and sang this in a throw-together band for a festival at my church years ago, the only time I’ve ever worked with a horn section (part of the church orchestra). No one noticed the words.
#8 – 2 points – Shattered – What a weird little song, 70 percent studio production. Every live version I’ve ever heard of this is horrible.
#9 – 1 point – Hang Fire – Sort of a throwaway song from a throwaway album, but I always liked it, in a silly “perfect pop song” kind of way. Watched the “official” video as a refresher and Keith Richards still looks mostly human at this point.
#10 – 1 point – You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Here in great part because I would always sing this to my young kids when they were upset about not getting something they desired. Which made them cry more.
This is awfully, awfully hard. There are a slew of tremendous songs I’m leaving off, like everyone else. And if I did this list in 48 hours, I could have a lot of changes. The Rolling Stones catalogue is ridiculously deep.
(The number is how many points each song gets, with 30 points allocated for 10 songs.)
5 – Gimme Shelter – Not necessarily my favorite Stones song, but I think it’s their best. I recognize that’s a nebulous point. For me, it’s how I consider Pulp Fiction the best film I’ve ever seen, but it’s not necessarily my favorite (though it rates very well, too).
4- Rocks Off – To me, the quintessential Stones number. The lyrics are a perfect kick-start to Exile (also kicking off the fourth album in what is probably the best Rock and Roll run in history, Banquet to Exile), but what really gets me is everything going on behind Mick, especially the horns and Hopkins piano. Mick could sing about Peanut Butter & Jelly and this is still fantastic.
4- Bitch – Yeah, it’s been played into the ground, but rock doesn’t get any hookier than this.
3- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – Mandatory for Marty’s mob pictures.
3- Ruby Tuesday – I loved it at first listen, but I’ll admit I loved it a little more when it turned up in the key scene of The Royal Tenenbaums. (I also hated to leave out I Am Waiting, which framed the most melancholy 90 seconds of Rushmore.)
3 – Moonlight Mile – Japanese Thing
3 – Under My Thumb – Sarcasm font didn’t exist in the 60s.
2 – Waiting on a Friend – The Stones don’t get enough credit for the 80s. Maybe they weren’t hitting 100 on the gun then, but they still cranked it up into the high 90s.
This exercise started because Gene said Monkey Man was on his Stones Top 10, and I didn’t see how he’d find room for it AND Gimme Shelter.
I haven’t looked at anyone else’s list yet, so I don’t know that he did. But my guess is he made it work.
This exercise is also ridiculous, since the distinctions between scores of songs are slight. Is Gimme Shelter better than Monkey Man? I would say yes, simply because the subject is sublime instead of epic, searing instead of hot, plus there’s Merry Clayton. But those are two great songs on just one of many albums.
As Les, our newest remnant, pointed out in an email yesterday, while the Stones’ greatest stretch of creativity extended from Beggars Banquet to Sticky Fingers, the album Aftermath may be their greatest. And while some would say that’s based on the string of hits that grace the UK side one (I’m thinking Mothers Little Helper, Under My Thumb and Lady Jane) and Paint It Black, which lands on the US side one, the record is a trove of brilliant blue rock songs, including High and Dry, Think, Flight 505, Going Home, and I Am Waiting. Among others!
I could find a place for all these songs on my Top 10, and yet when I looked at the 10 songs I did name, none of them are on Aftermath. There are just too many other songs that for one reason or another are ranked higher.
Is this right? The only answer is there is no right and wrong, and it’s my hope that each of our Top 10 lists is an introduction to some surprises. And that the composite list is collectively smart rather than collectively dumb. It could go either way.
So please, enjoy these notes and clips while knowing that on any other day things could have gone very differently.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction–Out Of Our Heads (1965)
If there is a single greatest rock song, this is it. It was the first Stones single to hit No. 1. The propulsion of the opening riff, Jagger’s vocals and the harmonies, the specifics of the lyrics, the driving unrelenting ensemble beat, are all just about perfect. Played too much? Heard too many times? It doesn’t matter. That’s how good this is.
Get Off My CLoud–December’s Children (and everyone’s) (1965)
The band’s follow up to Satisfaction is kind of a rockin’ version of (I Am A) Rock, but the Stones crush Paul Simon by turning isolation into a dance party in a back room. How else does the Get Off My Lawn call and response chorus also become a party chant. In any case, a swinging rock song that also reached No. 1 in the states.
Heart of Stone–Rolling Stones Now! (1964)
This is a slow country blues that has the lyrics of a suburban teen, perfectly and candidly describing his reactions to his cold cold heart and his desire for something warmer. Twining guitars, a cleverly syncopated backbeat, and a Mick’s vocals makes some kind of soul music that sounds of the world, but is made only by the Stones.
No Expectations–Beggars Banquet (1968)
What sets this blues apart is Brian Jones’ slide guitar, but the whole ensemble is in there, having stripped the country blues down into it’s base parts. Simple, direct, unadorned, lovely, distilled and aged, smooth and rich. It’s here and then its gone.
Sway–Sticky Fingers (1971)
Sludgy Stones music. Not blues, exactly, and not country, but a ton of layered instruments interweaving, with Mick Taylor’s guitar sliding over the top when Jagger’s voice isn’t doing it. Written by Taylor and Jagger, according to Taylor, though credited to Mick and Keith, it is just a spectacular evocation of some sort of eternal gloaming and perpetual unfulfilled desire, uncategorizable and deliciously decadent, too.
Brown Sugar–Sticky Fingers (1971)
As rifftastic as Satisfaction, but somewhat more problematic lyrically, this still stands as one of the great rock songs of all time. Charlie’s dead simple drum beat (one at a time, mostly) creates a perfect syncopation with Keith’s rhythm guitar. Airy and easy and rocking, with plenty of room for piano and sax solos. One day while in high school, preparing to throw a house party, I blew out two sets of speakers playing this song too loudly for technology. The party went on anyway, but quieter.
Shine A Light–Exile on Main Street (1972)
Not a typical Stones song. Mostly written by Jagger, mostly played by Mick Taylor and Billy Preston (will Jimmy Miller on drums), this was typical of the hodge podge sessions that produced Exile. It is the gospel sounds of the keyboards and the backup singers that turn this into that great double album’s emotional climax.
Gimme Shelter–Let It Bleed (1969)
This is the one great Stones song that has become freighted with cultural signifiers. It is a summary of the 60s, and yet it is so sonically and musically powerful that it shouts down years of lame summary montages of political unrest in the states and the war in Vietnam. The bottom line is that it really does sound as big as history, and yet is a simple blue-rock stomp. Let’s thank Merry Clayton for her clarion call.
Parachute Woman–Beggars Banquet (1968)
Utterly simple blues evokes the road north to Chicago, and echoes with desire and lust, without menace, yet menacing and dark and deeply weird, too. This isn’t a major tune by any stretch, but it is a distinctive and great recording by every measure, pulsing and catchy as it bores into your head, seemingly trad and avant garde at the same time.
The Singer Not the Song–Decembers Children (and Everyone’s) (1965)
A bit of Merseybeat built on a memorable lyric and jangly guitars, it came out originally as the b-side of Get Off My Cloud in the UK and on this odds and sods collection of miscellanea in the US. Maybe my untoward affection comes from learning to play it on guitar as a teen, spending many afternoons hammering away while singing the lyrics. It also seems like the perfect capper for a Stones’ top 10.
Just want to call out some other Stones songs that could easily been included in this list: As Tears Go By, (Have You Seen Your Mother Baby) Standing In The Shadows, Stray Cat Blues, Rip This Joint, (Doo Doo Doo Doo) Heartbreaker, Jigsaw Puzzle, Connection, The Last Time, Factory Girl, Winter, Torn and Frayed, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, You’ve Got the Silver, Amanda Jones, and 2000 Man. Plus many more!
The tough part of compiling a Top 10 like this is that I can pare a catalogue of tunes down to 15-17, but then all bets are off.
So, while picking my choices, I went for a combo of my favorites that are still songs I will crank up on the radio or stereo or my IPhone or whatever music delivery system is in fashion.
Otherwise, this list does not need much of an introduction.
It’s All Over Now: Once I heard the opening riff of this song, I loved it. And, I still do, despite it being a staple of the Biletones tunes (I get to sing it) since Day 1 of the band.
As previously noted in the Obit of last week, the song was penned by Bobby Womack, but it was as clearly deconstructed by Keith and Mick as was All Along the Watchtower written by Dylan, but owned by Hendrix. To me the Stones own It’s All Over Now as well.
She Said Yeah: From the first time I heard this song, it was instant love. Rocks as hard as any punk song ever, yet pre-dates by 15 years. From the first album by the Stones I bought, much to the chagrin of my older brother who wanted something more mainstream.
I won and still have my December’s Children copy.
Out of Time: I actually heard the great Chris Farlowe version, which at the time I did not realize was even a cover, before I heard the Stones treatment. Farlowe does have a monster voice, but over the years I came to prefer the Stones copy better, even though Farlowe more than put his stamp on this bad boy.
Here is Farlowe first, though awful awful dubbing/lip-synching. Just close your eyes.
This version, however, is deadly.
Moonlight Mile: There is something so dreamy about this tune, one that probably conveys the sensation drugs can provide as well if not better than any song ever. Sticky Fingers had so many great tunes, but this one is my favorite.
Dandelion: I was always more of a pop guy than a blues guy, and with this song the band really sealed it for me as clever and tuneful and interesting as well as willing to grow. And, man Charlie Watts is just righteous in this one.
Hand of Fate: I never expected to like this song as I was much more into the punk and new wave stuff when Black and Blue came out, but my roommate of the time, Bill Emrick simply bought every Stones album irrespective. This song came on the turntable one day and it has stuck with me ever since.
A great guitar song.
Connection: Seems like a throwaway in the context of all the great songs the Stones produced, but this has a hook, great licks, and a chorus that simply will not go away.
19th Nervous Breakdown: The Stones did one thing differently than the other bands: they seemed to distance themselves from their audience such that when they wrote about drugs or heartbreak there was a detachment between them and what they were playing/singing.
In fact in Mother’s Little Helper and this song, they are almost sneering at the rest of us victims of society and social pressure that we are.
Great bass run at the end, by the way.
2000 Light Years From Home: Released in the shadow of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper, I actually think Their Satanic Majesty’s Request borne the test of time better than the Beatles classic which doesn’t sound as fresh to me these days.
Maybe I heard Sgt. Pepper too much, but this number–with some killer guitar work–is just great. And, I spent so many hours scouring the 3D of Satanic Majesty cover looking for all four Beatles (easy to find Paul and Ringo and George, but John took forever).
Factory Girl: Funny that my favorite Stones album only placed one tune in my Top 10, and at the bottom for that matter.
But, it doesn’t detract from just how fucking good and rootsy and bluesy Beggar’s Banquet is.
I did put these in order of my favorites in the moment of writing, but that could change by tomorrow.
The Rolling Stones still play, I guess you can call it that, but they can’t play this now. They’re all tricks and humping the stadium for yawns. They used to rock like this:
They rock the shit out of this too, Brian’s rhythm and Bill especially:
With the Stones I want to avoid the MONSTER SONGS that everyone has heard too much, but some of the hits are too good:
This next is the first Stones song I ever heard, on the AM radio in 1964. It’s still one of their best, at the time they were first trying to bust out of the strictly I-IV-V thing, which was pretty soon actually. The Stones always followed the trends, and so much for their uncompromising vision. Who cares. Here they do the girl group thing, as did the Beatles and all the Brit groups at that time, which I think is really interesting because you didn’t see much, if any, of this crossover thing in the U.S. After the Brits did it, it became OK for American boys. A lot of this song comes from the Ronnettes:
There are at least two versions of the next song, this is the one from the Flowers album but it has a longer coda, and is much better without the orchestration and kinda bumbling classical rhythms of the other one. Asking Charlie Watts to play classical music, the very idea. You’re obsolete my baby.
Let’s get Monkey Man in here before it’s too late. The blending of guitars and Nicky Hopkins on piano in the middle part still gives me the chills:
This song has the worst video ever made so I went for the blank screen. Really, it’s painful to watch. But the song…Stanley Booth wrote the best book about the Stones (“The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones”), he put it this way: “it has the best music ever on a Rolling Stones record, but unfortunately none of the Rolling Stones is playing it.” Stanley is referring to Sonny Rollins on sax and I can’t say he’s wrong. But ya know, to my no doubt philistine ears that’s the best Sonny Rollins ever sounded too.
I haven’t touched on Exile yet and it’s hard to know what to do with it. The whole thing is like one song, a complete tour of their music. When it first came out I didn’t like it that much, although I loved Tumblin Dice. It took me that whole summer to really get into it, but then I hardly listened to anything else for months. I still love Tumblin Dice but I love this one more better, the slowest song on the album. Mick’s got those hedonist blues:
It feels weird to leave off the songs from Sticky Fingers since there isn’t a bad song on the album and there are several great ones. Many could be subbed for those that made my list. But I’m down to two and Gimme Shelter is one of them. The other is fairly obscure, from an uneven album that many believe marks the beginning of the end for the Stones. I guess so, but they still had some great ones in them and this is one, another slow one:
And now Gimme Shelter. Extra stars to Merry Clayton, who also never sounded better. The third time she says “murder” is like the smile on the Mona Lisa.