Like the Beatles, The Rolling Stones don’t suffer from a lack of exposure. They’ve been around for almost 50 years and everyone knows at least six or seven of their songs. So let me start this one off by reversing the trend. Here are two songs by the Stones that you do know, but shouldn’t. Start Me Up and It’s Only Rock n Roll.
Wow, I wish they had never written those two songs. Not that they are all that bad. They both have good hooks and they give Mick a chance strut. But when did these two songs from the late 70’s (not their best era) define this band? The Stones did the Super Bowel half time a few years ago and they played these two songs and Satisfaction (overplayed as it is, I never get tired of it). Their first 13 Albums were pure gold and yet these two, thoroughly average songs have stayed around longer than Paint it Black. How is that? Oh well, on with the show.
Memo From Turner 1970 – From the Movie Soundtrack Performance (starring Mick)
This song has the violence and casual racism of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Is that a compliment? Either way it has that “I’m too cool to sing” Johnny Cash style speak sing that give the coarse lyrics that much more of a punch and Keith has a great whisky bottle (where would he have gotten one of those?) slide going. That’s a winning combination. I wish they had written more songs that sounded like this.
The Stones doing a little smoky bar room Honky Tonk sing a long. As a general rule I hate saxophone solos. They ruin most songs they touch. They’re too whiney and they usually just don’t fit the song. I’m looking at you Bruce Springsteen. But this particular sax solo is perfect. Has a good Gary US Bonds feel to it.
Out of Time 1966 – Aftermath (
Here we have the Stones bringing in a String Quartet into the Rock n Roll studio. They were a few steps behind the Beatles on this one. They typically were. However, even though The Stones would often be second place in doing something new, they frequently did it better than their Liverpoolian counterparts. I love Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby, but I’ll take Out of Time over those two sad bastard songs any day. Plus Charlie really pounds the crap out of his drums on this one.
Dead Flowers 1971 – Sticky Fingers
Mick singing with a bad southern accent. I love it. Is this was Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent from Mary Poppins sounds like to the English? But I forgive Mick his poor impression because this has a credibility that I can’t quite put my finger on. Here is a Townes Van Zandt cover that seems a little more authentic but is a bit of downer (what Townes does best). Here is the opposite extreme with Guns N Roses. By the way, how awesome is Youtube? I can easily pull up a decent bootleg concert video of GNR circa ’93. You gotta love the obligatory acoustic set complete with stage couch. They’re just jammin’ in Axel’s basement. It looks like the opening of Friends.
Shine a Light 1972 – Exile on
Exile is my favorite Stones album and for my money the best album from the 70’s. And that was a hell of a decade for music. The Stones had used a lot of gospel influence in previous songs, but here they lose that ‘influence’ part of it and take some Southern Baptist strait up, no chaser. Piano, organ and a choir that compels you to stand and clap along. Sometimes when I’m dragging through another rendition of Scatter Sunshine in Sacrament Meeting, I wish we would add this little number to the hymnal. I then wish I was a large black woman so I could add some soul to the singles ward. If only.