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Thursday, September 16, 2004


That's the title to a great Robin Trower song, but this post is about the greatest rock and roll band in the world, The Rolling Stones. My girlfriend wants me to school her on the Stones, but my problem is; where do I start? What can I say that hasn't been said a thousand times? To that end; read the Stanley Booth book, 'The True Adventures Of The Rolling Stones'. To qoute Mick "I know Stanley Booth, and he knows the Rolling Stones." It's a great book, exceptionally well written, and very informative.
My brothers are both Stones fans, and tried in vain to get me into them back in the early eighties. I was too deep into Heavy Metal to get it at that point. In 1984, however, my good friend Tony Alva slapped 'Sticky Fingers' into the tape deck of his car as we were driving one day, and that was all it took. Hooked for life. It was probably 'Dead Flowers' or 'Sister Morphine' that sank the claws in. At any rate, that's where it began for me, and that's where I suggest any uninitiated person to begin.
'Exile On main Street' would be my next suggestion. For me it doesn't get better than 'Exile", after that it's just a matter of buying them all. It took me a bout six months after my initial "Stcky Fingers' experience before I had gone out and purchased their entire back catalog. Every album has it's merit. Some come up short of the mark; 'Emotional Rescue', 'Undercover', 'Dirty Work', but even as late as 'Bridges To Babylon' they were putting out great records. It really is a 'no lose' situation.
Keith. There just isn't anybody who embodies rock and roll like Kieth. Keith is rock and roll. Keith understands. Keith knows. Add Mick and you've got the formula. How many times have we seen it since? From Aerosmith to the Strokes, we see it again and again. Well, the real deal starts in '64 with 'England's Newest Hitmakers' and it just keeps on keepin' on. That's right, forty years folks, can you imagine?

You are on the money here Ted, but my first real intro to the Stones was Hot Rocks, if someone is not that familiar with the stones, this compilation is a real treat. It might not have sister morphine or ventilator blues, but is have paint it black, get off my cloud, lets spend the night together, wild horses, jumping jack flash and much more, as one album goes, this one defines the stones better than any other. Next point, sure exile and sticky fingers are some of the best they ever did, but what about let it bleed, song for song it is the best album; live with me, let it bleed and monkey man rock, if you want blues you got love in vain and you got the silver. Gimme shelter and you can�t always get what you want are classics and country honk and midnight rambler, (although the week spots) are fun.
Rod, I won't try and claim that I know more about the Stones than you, but I disagree about Let It Bleed. Though it certainly is a classic, and a great place to start, I think it's weaker. I think 'Live With Me", and the title track are weak tunes comparitively. It's a mtter of taste, and that just goes to show how deep the Stones catalog goes, we don't have to agree which song is the best, we can agree that the Stones are the greatest rock and roll band in the world. AS for Hot Rocks, it's good for thr novice, but I don't count greatest hits packages.
exactly, good for the novice, great intro to the Stones.
Blasphemy!!! Blasphemy I say� Country Honk and Midnight Rambler weak moments?!! I'll let it slide this time, but if it happens again you'll be sentenced to potty training my kid. Truth is that there are NO bad songs on Let It Bleed, but Theo is right. Sticky Fingers and Exile represent the best work these guys ever did. I can't really choose one over the other even if pressed. Sticky Fingers is flawless from beginning to end, and the production, while noisy compared to today's standards, is unparalleled. It is an Englishmen�s tribute to the best of American music, written and recorded partially while in country on tour. Over the course of recording Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed, Brian Jones paid homage to the Elmore James world of blues and kept the band in this pocket. On Sticky, it was all about more obscure Delta influences like Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell, etc... Mick and Keith were never closer spiritually to these blues shaman than they were at this time. Sticky Fingers is a peak record for Mick Jagger. Listen with headphones to Mick�s vocal on I Got The Blues. This is a man who has more than just studied the blues he feels it. I used to be hard on Mick�s ability, but after listening to this track I owed him a huge apology. Sticky Fingers is perfection, end of story.

Exile On Main Street on the other hand, is far from perfect, but it�s this beautiful chaos that propels its greatness. It is perfect in it's imperfection. The Stones did what every band should if they knew what was good for them, they understood that they were experiencing a once in a lifetime creative groove where songs were just pouring out of them like a waterfall. They knew if they didn't dedicate themselves to getting it all on tape at that moment, many would be lost. They moved into together for the most part, rented a mobile recording unit, threw production concerns out the window, and let the tape roll. And boy did it roll. Exile is about songs, not the package. The shear volume of prime material on this double album set is staggering. The conditions under which this album was recorded are stuff of legend. Stanley Booth accurately scribes it all for the future generations. His book is the Old Testament for those interested in getting under the blanket with this rock and roll band.

It took me some time to really get into the Andrew Loog Oldham era Stones. I still lack some of that catalog in my collection to be honest. That would be my only concern with handing someone the Hot Rocks record to start with. While the older stuff is great in it's own right, it pales compared to the Beggar�s and Let It Bleed songs, otherwise it's a great place to start. Andrew spent his tenure trying to steer the band away from American blues influences and more in the direction of writing the next "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" type hit. I still have not forgiven him for this. The older material is obviously restrained, although you can hear the bands influences sneaking out from under the producer�s watchful ears. Andrew didn't know shit and admitted so much, so I can't completely condemn him. He was the person who locked Keith and Mick in a room and wouldn�t let them out until they wrote a song. After a few hours they came out with This Will Be The Last Time (great song). I must give him credit for that. What the hell, they needed the money right?.

If you're going to bring your girl around to the Stones, I recommend you have her read the Booth book, and play some Sticky and Let It Bleed tunes to her now and again. No way she'll be able to resist. No doubt that if you end up living together at some point in your lives, you're sure to have many doubles of great Stones CD's.
I knew you'd add the depth and breadth that my post lacked. Thanks Tony. I remember when I was first reading the Booth book back when I was living with PW in Greenbelt. On the cover, under the jacket, were the initials S.B. for Stanley Booth. PW wrote 'Stupid Book" in pencil. He never got the Stones thing, and hated my passion for the written word.
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