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The Rolling Stones

Have Now Been Old Longer Than You've Been Alive

Introduction
England's Newest Hitmakers
          12 X 5
          Now!
Out Of Our Heads
December's Children (And Everybody's)
Aftermath
Between the Buttons
Flowers
Got Live If You Want It
Their Satanic Majesties Request
Beggar's Banquet
Let It Bleed
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out
Sticky Fingers
Exile On Main St.
Goat's Head Soup
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll
Black And Blue
Love You Live
Some Girls
Emotional Rescue
Tattoo You
Still Life
Undercover
          Dirty Work
Steel Wheels
          Flashpoint
Voodoo Lounge
          Stripped
Bridges to Babylon
          No Security
Live Licks
A Bigger Bang

When one thinks of the Rolling Stones nowadays, one usually considers their advanced age, Mick Jagger's lips and wrinkles, Keith Richards's drunkenness and incidences of debauchery long since passed into the annals of rock lore. And one huge catalog of music. (But not as huge as it could have been, for our Stones liked to take at least a bit of time between each record, and lately they've been downright lazy). But realize this: As of this new year (2002), the Rolling Stones will turn 40 years old this year. 40 years! And they've been doing 'Satisfaction' for 37 of them! And none of the versions of that song has ever sounded like Britney Spears. Of course, there MAY be bands that claim to have been around longer (Beach Boys, Ventures), but none of them have had a majority of their original lineup continue without exception for each and every one of those years. And considering that the Rolling Stones can still release albums that are purchased and enjoyed by a large audience, and can continue to tour the world, selling out gargantuan stadiums to even larger audiences, is testament to a strength of conviction and quality not much seen in the modern world. And the simple fact that Keith Richards is still living (and looks fit to live to 100 if you ignore the fact that he looks like shit) despite hoovering up and jacking in more elicit powders than most small EU nations is testament to...shit, biochemistry I guess. Some strange sort of biochemistry only the CIA and my friend Terry know about.

A little history: In the early 1960's Mick Jagger was singing like a black man in various London-area trad blues bands such as Alexis Korner's Blues Inc. and something called Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys (hey, it was a naiive time) when he joined up with Welshman slide guitarist Brian Jones (who called himself Elmo in those days, and it's good he changed back to his original name because otherwise that band would have been the Elmo Jonestown Massacre, which just sounds silly). Jones gathered together Chuck Berry-fanatic Keith Richards (still with the 's') and Jay Leno-esque boogie pianist Ian Stewart for the first version of the Rollin' Stones, after the late-70's disco rock band of the same name. They performed for the first time with future Pretty Thing Dick Taylor on bass and future Kink Mick Avory on drums, but probably sucked because those two jumped ship real fast. They were replaced by dirty old-man (read his autobiography!) bassist Bill Wyman, and after a bit, supercool jazz drummer Charlie Watts. The (nearly) final first lineup was now solid and began ripping up London clubs with their fresh take on blues and R&B favorites. They were spotted by young gay freak manager Andrew 'Loogie' Oldham who, after convincing them to throw Stewart out of the band visibility-wise because he was old and ugly, proceeded to sell them to a record company, take them to the top on a bunch of crappily self-produced songs, make them a bunch of cash, steal it all, blah blah....the usual mid 60's manager/band story.

Musically, the band progressed from simply blues and rock covers to writing their own songs, which were poppier (and better) than most of their cover material. They then moved to a folk-rock sound, then on to embracing dippy psychedelia for a year before reverting to the Stones we know and love: hard-rockin', hard-hearted blueswasted longhairs drinking groupies and throwing televisions into their veins. They would then survive: the firing and death of drug casualty extraordinaire Brian Jones, being totally ripped off by their second manager Allen Klein, the tenure of flash guitarist Mick Taylor, Mick's marriage, drug addiction by most of the band (but most notably by Keith...more on that later), the departure of Taylor, arrests, drug trials (one of them carrying a possible life sentence!), another new second guitarist Ron Wood, fame, disco, Mick's divorce, Keith's (relative) sobriety, Mick's 'tude, 80's rock, irrelevance, Stu's death, Mick's solo career, a near break-up, Mick's marriage, Keith's solo career, a reunion, the departure of Bill Wyman, Mick's divorce, electronica, and Mick's solo career again. Well done, lads.

I went through a totally obsessive Stones-period through the latter half of High School and most of college. I saw the band live three times on three separate tours (permanently denting my wallet, thank you very much Mick Jagger). I've read so many books and learned so many songs that I was able to write the entire introduction thus far using nothing more than my memory. If pressed, I will still name this band to be my favorite rock band of all time, though I don't have orgiastic reactions to my favorite songs quite like I used to. They still represent for me, far above anyone else, the prototypical rock band. I also love every period of the band, with the exception of the late 1980's, of course. Unlike me, most listeners tend to discount the band after a certain period of their existence based on the fact that the band was 'old' after that. For example, one friend of mine only listens to the Brian years. Many folks dig the early roots-revival years of 1968-1972, some strange birds dig the late 70's early Ron years best. Listen....these guys have been described as 'old' since the late 1960's when they were, at most, 27 or 28 years of age. But the amount of life, professionalism, and care that this band still places in their art is simply amazing. I'm not saying that they were seriously mixing anything up style-wise at any time after 1967, for almost each Rolling Stones album can be easily identified as such by style alone. I'm also not saying they didn't change at all, but with the Stones we're talking more continental drift than sparks flying when it comes to non-superficial stylistic evolution. But they have (almost) always had their artistic pride remain intact. Name another band that has done that for 20 years, much less double that.

Eh...if you love rock 'n' roll music at all, you absolutely must own at least some of these records. Any more, they're like holy writ for all that came after.


England's Newest Hitmakers - Abkco 1963

Rocks. I love those early Sixties debut albums where you can just feel how great the band feels to finally be making their Very Own Record Album. And, unlike the Hollies, for example, the Rolling Stones made a pretty great one. They sound young and inexperienced, especially Mick's voice, but manage to put together a really cool 'dark' bluesy vibe on the record nonetheless. There's all sorts of sharp guitar tones and such that sorta stick out all inappropriately from the mix sometimes, thus breaking the spell that's being woven, but I'm going to blame that on Andrew Oldham's first stab at producing a record. He would not be improving much any time soon.

Song wise, someone versed in R&B at all (as opposed to whale songs...they criminally forget to cover any Songs of the Blue Whale on here.) will find a lot of familiar faces like Marvin Gaye's 'Can I Get a Witness', Chuck Berry's 'Carol', Bo Diddley's 'Mona' (which is my vote as the best song on here...they just burn it up here) and ol' blues sexual soundtracks like 'I Just Wanna Make Love to You' and 'I'm a King Bee'. Each of these songs is performed faithfully to the original so you're not going to really get much you wouldn't get by buying 11 other guy's records, but you see the Stones are interested in saving you money. And each song is Stones-ized a bit with a dose of a sneer ('Walkin' the Dog' sounds especially snotty, but in a non-sinusital sense, you see), a pound of pomade, and all sorts of Charlie Watts kicking rhythmic ass all up in here with his rock-solid drumming. This bad would blow if it weren't for Charlie, let's all admit it right now. There's some slow winners, too, like 'Tell Me', which shows just how far the Stones were from the Beatles at the outset. You could be fooled by that 12-string sounding intro and the gently strumming acoustics, but the Beatles never had back up vocals as emotively homely as Keith Richard's now did they? Nope...the Beatles harmonized while the Stones just pour buckets of (real good) white soul on everything. Oh, yeah, the group writes exactly one song on here, the instrumental harmonica showcase 'Now I've Got a Witness' (no points for originality) that's quite obviously all Brian Jones at this point. Mick and Keith were still too busy fondling each other in their communal bed (honest!) to write songs yet. Wait a year for the Jagger/Richard machine to really start turning.

Capn's Final Word:  Better than a predictable covers record should really be...really a peak of the form.

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Robert Grazer  Rating: D

The only remote trace of quality I can find in this one is "Now I've Got A Witness". The others range from mediocre to atrocious. Despite its importance this remains one of the weakest debuts I've ever heard. Then again, I was never much of a Stones fan at all, but even by the low standards I set for these guys, this album fails to deliver.

 

doorag     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: right on, great debut album... as good as the Downliners Sect or the Count Five! you're right tho, that they'd suck but for charlie watts, that's especially apparent at this early cover-versioning stage. this album by the way was called just the rolling stones in its original british version (which is what got released here (new zealand)) but it it isn't as different from the american version as most of the early stones lps...it doesnt have not fade away on it but it does have mona which is sorta the same, but better! actually i wish i did have a copy with not fade away on it 'cause it's one of the few rolling stones tracks i don't have & i don't need mona so much 'cause i've got bo diddley's version which  is sorta the same, but better.

 

Chopped Liva     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Maybe I owe this album a few more listens but I think at this time I'll say that this is a pretty good rock n roll album. Yeah, I like how they merged blues, Berry, and bad motherfucker attitude. Let's see, "Not Fade Away" is a good one with those raucous guitar breaks in the middle and that cool harp. "Route 66" has some good guitar raunch, so that's a goodie. I like the rowdy "...Love to You" cover. "Honest I do" is a little stinky, but enjoyable in a stupid kina way. That chord sequence was better off in that Elvis song at the end of that '66 or '68 comeback special he did. The two "Witnesses" are fun keyboard grooves, and the soul vocals on the real version makes it somewhat preferable. Nobody likes the early originals too much, I guess, but I like that "Little by Little" more than anything else on the record. I love those fuckin' midtempo grooves. I fuckin love midtempo grooves! Shit, I'd give "Rock   On" by Humble Pie a motherfuckin' A+. I swear! Oh wait, no I'd give it an A cause there's some filler. Anywho, "King Bee" owns your mom's ass. That slide is a Manley Pointer. "Carol" is a fast mother, man. That's some real fast shit. "Tell Me" is whiter than an albino's cum, but it's ok. "You can Make it" is alright but y'know, more acceptable filler. And they close out pretty good and raunchy with that "Walking the Dog" and those mexican sounding vocals(you know what I mean). Yup, that's a pretty good album.

 


12 X 5 - Abkco 1964

More of the same, a bit less energetic than England's, but somehow even better atmosphere, possibly as a result of recording some of it at Chi-town's famous Chess Studios, where the band found Muddy Waters busy painting the ceiling because he couldn't pay the bills from his recordings. Why did I tell you that story, other than it's a fairly interesting rock anecdote? Because now, in case you happen to meet Keith Richards for some reason, when he starts to tell that story, you can just say 'Hey, that's cool, I've already heard that one.' And just watch Keith's mood drop! He LOVES to tell that story...he tells it in every single interview I've ever read of the man. But as far as I can tell, Keith needs as much oxygen as possible to keep breathing, so maybe it's best if he minimizes his story-telling.

Songs? Quickly children, quickly! No time to dawdle on these covers! 'Around and Around' gets the Chuck Berry over with quick. 'Confessing the Blues' has a snazzy harmonica and sounds just like the blues to me (yawn.) The original 'Empty Heart' has cool surf-y drumming and blues noises flying all over in all directions, just like a hoodoo showdown, really. Their version of 'Time Is On My Side' included here is about a thousand times less intense (and worse) than the single version, so narf...the slow vibe goes on with J/R's 'Good Times Bad Times', a competently performed acoustic blues but with no gas and I need a hit of high-octane by now. Hey! That's what the poppy blues singalong 'It's All Over Now' is for with its Chuck Berry rip guitar solo that just rules! And did they used to blot out 'half-assed games' in the old radio days? Probably so, because people used to be just a stupid and conservative as they are now. Ok, not as bad as now. 

Ooh, side 2 gets a bit strange. There's a cream-filled danish instrumental called '2120 South Michigan Avenue' after the Rush album, but then you get to see Jagger turn wussy right before your very eyes. 'Under the Boardwalk' performed without a hint of irony? 'If You Need Me'? The fuck is that? What is this, the Lovin' Spoonfull fer chrissakes? The poppy original 'Congratulations' sounds like a Beatles song but with dumber lyrics (dumber when compared with 1964 Beatles...about equal to 1963 vintage though). 'Grown Up All Wrong' is a bit harder but still catching, and they have the decency to finish with a sloppy, short 'Suzie Q' which reminds you you're still listening to a bunch of guys who want to have sex with your unborn daughter. Nice of them to remind us after all those sticky-sweet ballads they threw at us.

Capn's Final Word: That pop stuff is jarring. Less fun than the first one for more of the same, but isn't that still a great time?

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Now! - Abkco 1964

Really just a rewrite of the debut album, foregoing that fluffy pop nonsense and giving us only the salacious sex-blues we love so much. This is really the only place on the early albums the Stones seemed to really feel effortless all the way through, doing what they know they do better than anyone else: playing covers of black people's songs and writing white interpretations of them. 'Everybody Needs Somebody to Love' is real ace, about half as slow as the Blues Brothers' version, and unfortunately missing any male stage-splits. Or cars falling to pieces...hilarious! Or girls shooting assault rifles...damn funny! Or Robin Williams using the Holocaust as a setting to make a dumb remake of Good Morning Vietnam...sidesplitting! Or any of the Baldwin brothers...even Alec!...gobstopping! *sputter sputter* Gawd its SO funny.

Actually I love The Blues Brothers. Definitely one of my all time favorites. Billy Baldwin can polish my knob, though. Just kidding. I'm not gay.

The covers here cook so hard they torch the house down, gather up a town full of Pennsylvania Amish men, build another one on the same site in the space of an afternoon, wait until all have sat down to a huge outdoor feast of smoked ham and creamed corn (Do the Amish have creamed corn? I say they DO!) and then burn that fucker down again right in front of them just to make them industrious Amish men cry like the technologically retarded sissies they are! They fucking scorch! 'You Can't Catch Me' is my favorite Chuck Berry song, and they do it much better than even the old pervert himself. 'Down the Road Apiece' is the Chuck Berry song I've never heard before, but it rules just as good thanks to Stu tinkling those boogie piano keys like he wasn't just a glorified roadie. And 'Little Red Rooster' is better than all those songs put together....its fanTAStic!

The originals are, ummm....okay. Taking new directions, already. 'Heart of Stone', while no great shakes itself, begins the longstanding Stones tradition of the 'fuck you, woman...you can't get me down even though I constantly ache for your wet pussy' song. 'Off The Hook' is silly and would be rewritten many times over the course of the early Stones career. ('Under Assistant' from Out Of Our Heads, for instance) And the other songs? I don't feel arsed to find out whether they're covers or originals because I can't really tell what the hell they are just by listening. But they're all right!

Capn's Final Word: A hard dose of young Stones, but I wish they'd learned to write songs a bit faster than that.

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Out of Our Heads - Abkco 1965.

The British version of this record is a real letdown from the likes of Now!, because by mid-1965, the faults in the Rolling Stones old strategy were beginning to show. The most threatening crack in the dyke was that there just weren't that many really great R&B songs left for the Stones to unearth and wow the world with. Secondly, but just as importantly, everyone in 1965 (besides maybe the Beatles and Beach Boys) was doing the same covers/originals thing...and it was the originals that were hitting the charts now, not the covers. The days of 'Little Red Rooster' hitting #1 were over...from now on the chart success of The Rolling Stones was placed squarely on the shoulders of Jagger and Richard. And they were ready.

But since we're all Americans here, we get a much superior record than the Loyalists. It is in thanks for us saving Earth from the forces of Evil on many an occasion (haven't you seen that Independence Day documentary? We can save humanity using nothing more than our president and a drunken psychotic former 'Nam pilot. Cool, huh?) that we get three of the Greatest Rock Songs in History placed on this record (in place of some stuff that was otherwise placed on Now! and December's Children for the Yank market...you confused yet? Have a cigarette.), those being 'The Last Time', 'Play With Fire' and 'Sailing (Takes Me Away)', of course. Now 'The Last Time' is a classic switchblade knife of a break-her-heart anthem situated on one bastard of a catchy riff, better than any of the other ones on this record (yup, you heard me...better than 'One More Try'). 'Play With Me' is a brooding bastard of a veiled threat to a rich bitch, and really sorta 'socially conscious' in a weird way. Must be about Marianne Facefull. And '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' is only the best rock 'n' roll song ever written.

Nothing else on the record matches those three (of course), but it shows that Jagger and Richard are continuing on their journey from Blues to Rock (and Pop) without a stopoff, even for a whiz up against the side of a gas station. 'Spider and the Fly' and 'Under Assistant West Cost Promotion Man' are examples of our boys' strong senses of humor when the subjects are cheating on the road (former) and lame music personalities (like Andrew Loog Oldham) (the latter). If only they'd filled up the album with Jagger/Richard songs, I could turn in my library card a happy man. Instead we get a load of low-class R&B covers (not that the originals are low class, mind you) of stuff like Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding...stuff that should honestly have been left to the originators, thank you very much. Jagger doing Otis Redding makes my scalp itch. 'I'm All Right' either rocks mightily or is a complete embarrassing mess....I can't tell for the life of me through all those urinating pubescents. And 'Good Times' wasn't ever any good no how. I can hear the bottom of the barrel being scraped on this record, covers-wise. It was high time our boys trusted themselves a bit more and lost the R&B training wheels.

Capn's Final Word: Probably feels sorta yucky but only because the covers eat shit and die. Those originals.....maaaan!

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December's Children (And Everybody's) - Abkco 1965

Godawful Frankenstein of an album lineage-wise (songs from as early as 1963! Live cuts! Singles!) and yet another still less-, but still marginally-entertaining record. And the band were certifiable huge popular rock performers by now, so this could even be viewed as a record company cash-in if the stars are in the right position and that chick is changing clothes in the window across the street again.  But! If you can give me a record with such cool originals as the Swinging London rock-classic soundtrack 'Get Off Of My Cloud' and the smooth personal protest anthem 'I'm Free' on it and I'm not going to sneeze at it. Add in some raunchy live cuts of 'Route 66' and 'I'm Movin' On' that kick the crap out of that stupid live song on the last one and I'm interested. Crank up the entirely over-aggressive 'She Said Yeah' and I might wiggle if I'm in the right mood. Thrown in some more of the Stones weak mid-60's slow pop songs like 'The Singer Not the Song', 'Gotta Get Away', and 'When Blue Turns to Grey' and my attention will begin to wane. Play me the pretty but airheaded early original 'As Tears Go By' and I begin to think about doing the dishes. And then I go and do them because the other songs aren't even worth mentioning.

Oh yeah, I'm going to tell you why my dad hates 'Get Off My Cloud' so bad. When he was in Vietnam in 1966, the song was like, new and real popular and stuff, and they played it on Armed Forces Radio all the time over there. And one of his clearest memories of the war is finally getting to sleep at the hospital (he was a Marine corpsman) at about 2am, having to get up at 6 again, and having this group of black guys blast 'Get Off My Cloud' from their portable radio at 3, thus waking my dad up and pissing him off royally and reminding him once again that war is shit . To this day he hates the song. But then again his all-time favorite Beatles track is 'Day Tripper' so he can't be all bad.

Capn's Final Word: They really, really, really need to get off their fat Brit butts and write an album of originals. Pronto. This cover version shit doesn't fly around here anymore.

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Aftermath - Abkco 1966

Finally they gather the sack to write and record an entire album full of originals instead of wasting space on the 11 gazillionth Buck Cherry cover (hey! I just got that one-hit wonder band's hip name-joke. Hardy har, Buckcherry man! No, I don't want any fries with that.) and, as if we thought they couldn't do it, they hit a home run. The only thing they don't change is the dark vibe of England's and Now!, which has returned after a two-album hiatus working with the Animals and lends this record a nice menace. And (with a notable exception or two), we've really begun to change from partially blues/partially rock to partially rock/partially folk-pop here. What else would you call 'Under My Thumb' but folk-pop? They never used vibes in blues! And 'Thumb's partner in misogynist crime, 'Stupid Girl'? Poppy! If you're a tad squeamish about having songs on your turntable called 'Under My Thumb' and 'Stupid Girl', you're A) probably not really up to continuing on with more The Rolling Stones albums and B) probably not really up to continuing on with more G.G. Allin albums. These guys are not The Feminist's Best Friend, but then again neither am I, if you believe the rumors. Call me simply unreconstructed. PC has yet to grace either Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, or myself, and I for one am sorta refreshed by it. Sometimes, somewheres, there is, in fact, a 'stupid girl'...believe it or not you apologists!

Okay, I'll back off the rant...I got a really annoying response on George Starostin's message board today because I had the nuts to say that American women are yucky. Ooops! Did I just say that again? Well, I guess 50 million Jenny Craig candidates can't be wrong.

Back to the record...well MY copy happens to be the British version, which this time actually rules harder than the American one, because the Yankistan copy has only 12 songs (including 'Paint It, Black'...check out that comma positioning. Racism, anyone? Wouldn't be the first time the charge has been leveled. I think that if you look that hard for racist and sexist statements you ought to find yourself a hobby. Like reviewing music.) (There I go again. Fuck!) and the Brit copy has 14, including 'Mothers Little Helper', which also rules. Like 'Paint It Black' rules. These guys were singles machines at this point, and check out London Singles if you don't believe me. I'm a cool guy (who objectifies women) so I'm going to review all the songs that exist on both copies. How's that? Send the checks care of Ryan C. Atkinson...

And you know what's more impressive? There's not one of these songs I'd want to get rid of! Not a one! Of course, not all of them are uber-special (the country 'High and Dry' for one, the eh blues 'Doncha Bother Me' another...sound too much like J/R originals of years past) but most of them are at least cool (the haunting chimer 'I Am Waiting', the dark-yet-Berry-esque plane crash anthem 'Flight 505') and the singles are ceiling-scorchers. Have you heard 'Paint It, Black'? I mean it's SO evil! The guys like a goth, but for real and about 15 years early! And that sitar! Did you know that Brian and Bill snuck into the studio after the basic track was done and overdubbed the sitar over it? And that Brian had learned to play the sitar in about 6 hours? So THAT's why they used to think Brian Jones was a genius. He could play anything! And didn't it take some cahones to release this one as a single? So much for thinking the Stones were turning soft on the last one. Whenever you think they're straying a bit too close to the Wussy Pop crowd (parts of 12 X 5, December's Children), they come right back and prove you damn wrong.

'Mother's Little Helper', about momma's dirty little drug habit, is a pretty edgy topic for 1966 (and 2002, doncha think?), and those sitar-esque flourishes before the verse are snazzy, as is the feedback burst before the first one. Less musically interesting overall perhaps, but still nice. 'Lady Jane' was also a hit, I guess, because it's always on the compilations and everyone talks about it. I dunno. All I know is that it's an oldy mouldy renaissance-sounding folk tune with dulcimer and lyrics about pledging onesself to ladies Jane and Anne. Interesting change of pace, I admit, but I'm glad this is the last one of this sort for a long while. One foray into English folk tunes is enough, thanks. As is 11 minutes of blues noises on 'Goin Home', which I seriously don't hate as much as most folks seem to, but also in which I see some big problems. Why can't they jam their guitars more? Why is it just a bunch of 'huh! huh! huh!'-ing? Yeah, it fits in with the dark mood, and some of those band sounds are neato, but I'm glad they didn't attempt this long jam thing again until they'd grown some instrumental chops.

I dunno if I've made my point here quite clearly enough. This album is a peak of form. It's got a real nice pre-Strange Days feel to it, sorta menacing but sorta playful at the same time with lots of interesting instrumentation. The band is tight, the songwriting has arrived, and this is really the crowning achievement of the unfragmented Brian-era Rolling Stones.

Capn's Final Word: A fine album in a fine year. Shaking off the covers yoke was the best thing they ever did. Wait a couple of years for it to really pay off though.

 

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Zach Smith     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: A HUGE dissapointment for me. But man, those first four tracks are the shit! Paint it black! Stupid Girl! Lady Jane! Under My Thumb! Now if you will excuse me, after all this anti-woman shit, I have to go kill my mother. (I'm just kidding) (Or Am I? :( )
Your Email (optional): beatleskid99@yahoo.com

M Gartly gartlym@hotmail.com    Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: "Lady Jane" is a sly little song about drugs - think about the names.

(Capn's Response: Dammit! I can't be associated with that! Don't you know I'm a cop!?!?)

Steve Knowlton     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: So American women are gross... but so are American men.  We deserve each other, really!

(Capn's Response: Dammit! I can't be associated with that! Don't you know I'm Canadian!?!?)

Michael Bleicher     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: Important historically, all those originals (get that British version, fools!) and whatever, but don't you know, I don't think most of it really holds up. "Doncha Bother Me" and "High and Dry" and "It's Not Easy" and "Think" and "What to Do" are all basically unremarkable songs. "Work" songs, I'd call them...the kind of stuff you can turn out in bunches when you're really starting to songwrite, but haven't got your chops yet. At the time I bet this stuff was fairly mind-blowing for the fans, but I look at what Lennon/McCartney and Townshend were writing at the same time (okay, in 1966 Townshend was smoking weed and writing prissy pop tunes, but My Generation and all those singles were kickass) and I can't help but be a little underwhelmed by this stuff...they couldn't authentically write "roots" music on their own yet, but the time had come to stop with the covers. A stepping-stone album. Some of it's pretty good (my dark horse favorites are "Out Of Time", which sounds like "Under My Thumb" but with a totally different, yet equally catchy, melody...and more mysogynistic lyrics! yay! and "Take it or leave it" cracks me up≈were they serious or tongue in cheek? At this point I'm tempted to say they kind of meant it...). Some of it is so-so. Nothing really sucks except for "What To Do". Overlong. Not essential. But fun to have.

 


Got LIVE If You Want It! - Abkco 1966

The last gasp of the teenybopper years. After this the band would never be as innocent, never as cuddly, and never sounding so bloody ragged under all those screaming girls. Or so much like a punk rock band. You may have the impression that the early Stones were some sort of blues gods on stage, but in reality they tended to speed up their hit songs to nearly un-recognizable proportions, and bash their way through them (hitting most of the right notes along the way) to get along with the next one as quickly as possible. Apparently these weren't the most entertaining of affairs if you weren't too busy pissing your girly knickers to notice (I once read about the rivers of girl urine running down the auditorium stairs, and how the custodial staff would be constantly mopping through the course of the entire show.. Rivers of girl pee. That's exceedingly gross. Yet strangely intriguing.) because the sound blew, the band ran through its set so quick you barely saw anything anyhow, and Keith wasn't yet the Coolest Looking Man With a Guitar Ever on the Planet Earth.

Which is basically what you get with this early live album. Bash! Bash! Bash! Get 'em over quick and go home. I can't say it's not fun, but that sound quality reeks something awful. Three channels? One of them for Mick, one for the band, and one for the chicks? Fuck that! The Grateful Dead were already recording 8 track live concerts without crowd noise as early as 1967, so eat shit and die. But if you're curious about what the early band sounded like, check it out. It's not at all as bad as I might have made it sound like. It's actually all right.

Capn's Final Word: Not as good as the live Kinks albums of the same time, but all right...if you can stand a bunch of high-pitched girly caterwauling, that is. And then there's the audience noise...

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Between the Buttons - Abkco 1967

The freak flag flies a tad bit higher. While Aftermath filled us with visions of beehived-mamas popping downers over twanging sitars, this one gives us visions of dancehalls filled with weird 1920's British characters over wonky folk rock. I can't say the effect is entirely unpleasant, but now we're seriously straying quite far from the likes of Now!, anyway. Our two great big band-wide developments from last time are 1) the serious fading of Brian Jones as a viable creative force in the band (lookit his picture on the cover! He can hardy raise his head from his chest, the drugwhore!), and 2) the incorporation of Dylan-ist and Kinks-ian musical and lyrical structures. As if 'Ruby Tuesday' isn't influenced by Big Bob (or at least by the Byrds). Ha, he scoffs! The other guys are pretty much the same as before, but probably taking more drugs and definitely open to musical ideas that are as far from basic R&B as possible.

For us rockers you've got slim pickins, I'm afraid: 'Let's Spend the Night Together' counts only if you can really dig deeply into that bonging piano riff, but if you're a pop-melody guy you're going to think this stuff is the Holy Writ for sure. Perfect, simple, memorable. A great pop song. 'Connection', about meeting your favorite dream merchant for a transaction, rocks real good and is a true forgotten gem in the Stones catalog that (thankfully) Keith remembered on his first solo tour (it was also the best song on the live album, and it was just supposed to be some sort of wind-up to 'Happy'...heh! Now if you can overshadow 'Happy' you've got something going for you as a song). 'All I've got to doooooo...Is to get back to youuuuuu' over Keithian riff-harding? Good enough for clover, I say. 'Miss Amanda Jones' is allright, nothin' too special, but rocks okay. Hey, it is the Stones, you know. You've also got a deep Kinks SuperBritish thing here which I forgot to mention. 'Cool Calm Collected' is just a '66-vintage Kinks rip, no more no less.

Too much of this stuff is light to the extreme, to burst your bubble if I may. 'Yesterday's Papers' with its childish ploink melody just drives me nuts with its 'Who wants yesterday's papers? *ploink! ploink! ploink! ploink!*' all the time. And 'Something Happened To Me Yesterday' is some weird shit to come out of the mouths of Mick and Keith, but this ingratiatingly cute (cute like you'd like to slap it in the face, that is) account of a close encounter of the lysergic kind is actually sort of funny if you realize they're keeping a journal account of the beginning of their descent into the psychedelic hell they'd report back from so nicely on Satanic Majesties. The rest is mostly dreck I don't listen to much.

Capn's Final Word: Allright, but no forgotten gem because it strays too far from the band's strengths. It also strays too far from rock music, in my opinion.

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Flowers - Abkco 1967

I've probably grossly underrated this period of the Rolling Stones development, an interesting gap between the blues magoo hard-rock 1965 period and their bewildering descent into cosmic-slop psychedelia later on in 1967, a period when they became baroque and complex, exploring light radio pop by putting on a ruffly shirt and rose-colored glasses but without selling out their back-street pimp streetfighter perspective. I originally thought this period was somewhat unsatisfying as they seemed to compromise themselves to fit into a swinging-London hipster persona that was incongruous with their zit-faced, glowering mid-60's punks and the satanic gypsy pirates of their post '68 days. They were paisley poofs, fashion bugs, pot smokers, and one listen to Between The Buttons shows that they just wanted to make love to you much more than they ever wanted to jab a knife right down your throat.

Flowers is a US-only bastard compilation album that straddles this baroque Aftermath/Buttons period and the preceding dying days of their cover band phase, combining a bunch of tracks that were included on the British versions of their album releases but were replaced by singles on the American ones.  Lots of these tracks were also included as B-sides and  It took me a long time to finally seek out Flowers because I already had 'Ruby Tuesday' and 'Let's Spend The Night Together' in probably half a dozen different versions, and already had 'Lady Jane' on Aftermath, 'Have You Seen', 'Mother's Little Helper', 'Fence', and 'Out Of Time' on the greasy-good London Singles Collection (which should really be owned by all of you who care enough to read this page).  I guess that leaves a five-song EP of otherwise unavailable material, one of which is an unadvised rendering of the Temptations 'My Girl' that's probably one of the worst Stones covers ever.  They'd really hit the wall on that blues/soul cover stuff by about Out Of Our Heads, and this quite clearly indicates that the barrel was being dredged by the time they recorded this overfamiliar Motown classic.  The only excuse for recording this song seems to be that it gave Andrew Oldham some experience working with clueless studio orchestras so he could, oh I dunno, snort powdered mescaline off the tympani drums or whatever. Otherwise, compared to Eddie Kendricks and the other Temptations, Mick's a darn good rock singer, one of the best, but is one poxy, immature sonofabitch when he tries to be soulful. 'Backstreet Girl' is a folkie waltz (no shit, accordion and everything) that seems to be trying to out-Kinks the Kinks and is oddly sincere as a kiss-off of a wanton woman who insists on flashing the police that have come to bust Keith Richards.  'Please Go Home' is a Bo Diddley tornado of proto-psychedelic burbling that recalls the darker moments of Aftermath, as the acoustic poptone 'Take It Or Leave It' recalls the more pensive. As a whole this stuff sounds like the album tracks that they are, though let me remind you that both Aftermath and Between the Buttons are damn fine albums and that second-rate tracks from these two probably equal the best work of lots of other folks.

As for the material available elsewhere, other than the fact that you should already have Aftermath, Between the Buttons, and the London Singles Collection anyway, I can't find any reason why anyone wouldn't like 'Ruby Tuesday' or 'Let's Spend The Night Together', both mid-60's pop classics of the highest regard.  'Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow?' is pretty wacky with its horn-section-on-a-roller-coaster melody line and all, and 'Mother's Little Helper's condemnation of 'legal' drug addiction is pretty creepy like when you look behind you at the opened living room window while watching a horror movie in the dark and see the retarded neighbor girl staring in, trying to figure out what you're watching.  Creeeeee-peee. 'Out Of Time' is some catchy bop, but kinda uninteresting, the medieval chivalry ballad 'Lady Jane' is either gorgeous or laughable depending on your mood ('I pledge my troth to...Lady Jane'... but will happily dip my lance in Ladies Anne, Carolyn, Victoria, Marge, and Bertha). All in all, a fine collection, though you should be warned that besides 'Ruby' and 'Let's Spend', these probably aren't the best things to come out of this era, but they're still damned impressive considering these were considered throwaways back in those days.

Capn's Final Word: A likeable compilation album that shows up how unlikable Allen Klein still is.

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Alan Brooks     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: This is a great Stones album, and it is proof positive that they were, and are still, the greatest band.

 

Chopped Liva     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Shit, man this is one of the best rock albums of all time(and I don't even own the American version with the hits). On the UK edition "Let's Spend the Night..." and "Ruby Tuesday" are replaced by the psychedelic Bo-Diddley filler(but still titty-fuckin' good) "Please Go Home" and the ridiculously mysoginist,accordion-augmented ballad "Back Street Girl". I like the vibe on the Brit version, though, because all the songs are pretty much obscure, and the track listing makes much more sense. Concerning the track listing, "Something Happened to me Yesterday" is put at the end of the album. The Cap'n did a good job describing the couple of tracks he mentioned, but the others are really good! "My Obsession" would have been a great psychedelic pop-rock single with its cool arrangement and drum beat. "She Smiled Sweetly" is a beautiful ballad with some great organ. "All Sold Out" is a killer groove rocker. "Who's Been Sleeping Here" is an effective Dylan rip and !"Complicated" is pretty much a great American garage rock single by Brits who can actually play their instruments. Overall, I'll say this is their best record outside of the classic '68-'72 period
 


Their Satanic Majesty's Request - Abkco 1967

The psychedelic mess your parents warned you about. It being 1967, and our friends being deeply into psychedelics at the time (hey! so was everyone else besides John Fogerty and Richard Nixon) it would have been even more of a surprise if the Rolling Stones hadn't released a pseudo-embarrassing fruitcake of an album. As it is, they did, fans and critics alike have hated it without letup for 35 years now, and I think its sort of a shame. Sgt. Pepper's knockoff? No way! This album has rock 'n' roll songs on it, not the foo foo pop dancehall that record (and Buttons) had. What you really have on this record, if I may do some reverse extrapolation for a moment and totally confuse anyone reading these reviews chronologically, is Beggar's Banquet with a bunch of noise effects and a little bit less twang. Oh, now don't take it that I'm saying that this album is equal to that one, 'cos it's really not, but a lot of this music sounds just like that hard rock stuff!

It's just that all of it is mixed in with these gimmicky (obviously Mick-penned) bullshit 'psychedelic togetherness' crap songs like both versions of 'Let's Sing This All Together' and the closing 'On With the Show' that totally stink up the joint like cabbage flatulence. While Mick may have had visions of everyone sitting around enjoying a good buzz with flowers in their hair and peace on their brains, all I hear is a bunch of childish crap singing and pointless noise on 'All Together' 2 (not as pointless as 'Revolution 9' though! But not as good as a good ol' live Grateful Dead 'Feedback' either!). And 'Gomper' is pretty fucking stupid with those badly edited changes and the sitar and tabla and all that carp. Listen, sitar has to be played in the context of a rock song (take 'Paint it Black' fer instance!), or else you sound like squirrel shit, unless you're some old Indian raga master or something, in which case it's merely strange.

But when you get around to programming your CD player to skip the awfuller parts, you're going to find some prime-A beef, man. Like how good? The Rolling Stones beat the psychedelic bands at their own game! '2000 Light Years From Home' kills any of the space rock by contemporary Pink Floyd ('Interstellar Overdrive'? Bah! This is tons better.) and you know why? Because the Rolling Stones have the greatest rhythmic sense of any rock band ever! Simply having Charlie do a 4 on the floor would have been average, but putting that shaker over it makes it FUNKY! And that Mellotron and Theremin and Keith's belching guitar all combine together to make me really experience astral travel, for once.

Still a bit freaked about buying an album with this gay of a cover? 'Citadel' is just good hard Cream-y rock, with Charlie bashing as hard as possible and a bunch of chiming whatnots over Keith's best riff in a while. 'In Another Land' is Bill's only Stones tune, and while the kiddie tune verse is fooking shite, the chorus RULES! You know who that is on the piano? Its NICKY 'Fucking' HOPKINS!!! My favorite pianny player of all time, hands down (Liszt? Fucker! Rachmaninoff? Poser!). He's finally joined the band! Yeeeeaaaahhhhhh!!!!! You may know '2000 Man' by the 1979 Kiss cover, but this one is better. A song about alienation at the turn of the century, about having sex with computers....did someone maybe have a few time travels while tripping? Those really loud blaring parts are sorta unfortunate, but you know. And 'She's a Rainbow' is just pretty, pretty, pretty and it rocks, too!

Capn's Final Word: Gahh! I get such a kick out of this record I have to give it an A. Those bad parts are really really bad, but you know...total entertainment value is worth a lot. And I guarantee you haven't heard most of this anywhere before.

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Beggar's Banquet - Abkco 1968

The Rolling Stones make a statement of purpose. In the aftermath of Satanic Majestie's crash and burn, the boys quit taking acid (except for Brian, who quit just about everything besides drug-taking, including playing music), went back to the drawing board, signed Piano MVP Nicky Hopkins to a 4 year contract, and returned with the anti-Summer of Love record of all time. Forget the flowers. Forget Peace and Love. Mick and Keith are preaching old time religion, now....Sex, Darkness, Violence. Try to find yourself in 1968, when riots replaced love-ins, heroin replaced LSD, and assassinations became daily occurrences, and then you tell me with a straight face that The Rolling Stones (along with the MC5, maybe) weren't providing the soundtrack for a Summer of Hate and that the Beatles weren't just fucking around in the sandbox. 'Revolution' my ass...the Rolling Stones didn't need to cop out with an ambiguous 'You can count me out....in'. They were preaching the gospel, children, and you could see the flames burning beneath Mick Jagger's eyeballs. They were the real deal.

I'm not going to even go song by song here. You're just going to have to trust me. I'm going to give you just one example of the brilliance of this record. In the middle of the itchy riot-anthem 'Street Fighting Man', after about 2:30 of stomping percussion and howled calls to destruction, Mick exhorts us to 'Get Down!' after which follows what sounds like the beginning of a saxophone solo...you know, the usual kind that begins with a long drawn-out bluesy note before all the fiddling begins. But the fiddling never comes. And the note begins to twist and bend and the listener begins to realise its not a saxophone at all...but the cold cry of Brian's sitar which has been banging away in the background unnoticed all this time. Boom...the new revolution has arrived in a single note. Then some pretty piano twills and the fadeout. Tell me you don't get shivers up and down your spine.

The rest of the album is full of those moments. Its the Rolling Stones in their full glory, playing like their lives depended on it. Its also full of brilliant country blues and dense hard rock done better than anyone else at any time. It drags a bit at times (especially with the two 'little man' anthems at the end), and if your redneck tolerance is low you may wish to start elsewhere. But it's a musical statement that still hits with the force of a hellbound Greyhound bus full of goddamned demons.

Capn's Final Word: You should own it.

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Billy Williams     Your Rating:  A
Any Short Comments?: This is a fine record. Every track, 'cept two, is fantastic. And those two are...."Parachute Woman" and "Jigsaw Puzzle." They aren't terrible, but just not up to par with the likes of "Sympathy," "Street Fighting Man," and "Prodigal Son."

 

Marty Holt     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: You're exactly right on this one. If you ever see the video for when the STones played 'Paint It Black' on the Ed Sullivan show you can see it in Mick's eyes... its spooky.

On the record, the only not up-to-par song is really 'Prodigal Son.' It's just a really boring preachy shuffle, but otherwise, every other
sing is superb.
 

Catherine  dollmaker@eudoramail.com Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: First of all, the Stones have NOT been older than I've been alive.  I'm 50 & love them now as much as I did when I saw them on "Shindig" when I was a kid.  "Beggar's Banquet" is my favorite album by the Stones.  I love every cut, have worn out three LPs and now have it on CD.  "Sympathy" is fabulous, also "Street Fightin' Man" but "Parachute Woman" is one of my all time favorite Stones songs.  I also love Mick's vocal on "Prodigal Son."  He sounds like an authentic blues man on that song, & I know what I'm talking about, I'm from the backwoods of Mississippi & have heard A LOT of blues.

(Capn's Response: Hey, square, doncha know you can't understand the music of the younger generation? I mean, erm, um...okay, yeah, this album rules. The Stones rule. Damn artistic merit! Damned Sixties make the Nineties look like Amateur Hour...)

Nathan Harper nator9999@comcast.net  Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: I can see why people like this one, it's the beginning of the Stones roots rock period and it's got some great tracks on it (Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man spring to my mind). But I can't understand why so many reviewers seem to think this one is equal to the next three albums. It's basically just fillerish prototype for Let it Bleed. I'm sure the comparison has been made many times before: Gimmie Shelter=Sympathy for the Devil, You Can't Allways Get What you Want=Salt of the Earth, Love in Vain=No Expectations. And everything on Let it Bleed wins in practically every comparison. I think Gimmie Shelter is slightly superior to Sympathy, and Love in Vain vs. No Expectations is sort of a tie for me, although you seem to prefer the former, and You Can't Always... has no competition. Let it Bleed just has better songs and a better feel to it. Beggar's Banquet is good, but not that good. A stylistic turning point, I guess.

 

Mike    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: That instrument at the end of "Street Fighting Man" isn't Brian Jones - he's twanging away in the background on sitar. What it is is an Indian, clarinet-like instrument called a shehani, and Traffic's Dave Mason played it.

My favorite Stones album, although it's a crime that "Jumpin' Jack Flash" didn't end the album.
(Capn's Response: VERY COOL COMMENT. Now that's the kind of neato-keeno useful information I like to get in my email box, that comment about that instrument. Thanks Mike!)


Let It Bleed - Abkco 1969


 

Not one iota less superawesome excellent than Beggar's Banquet. Not one. Of course, it's nearly identical structure-wise, and we're still really far down into roots music, but still they keep growing within their newly-staked-out territory. Fewer dull spots, a bit of bombast for interest, some more fun...they just don't let up on the energy or the darkness at all. This album is dark (song subjects include Armageddon! Rape and Murder!) but I always get the feeling that Demon Mick is smirking throughout the entire thing, dancing like a possessed marionette and feeling that evil vibe run through his lips and into that microphone.

For some historical reference, Brian was kicked from the band for once and for all during the recording sessions for Let It Bleed for being a useless druggy flake, went home, planned a comeback group with Eric Clapton in it, then drowned in his pool under some fishy circumstances. So the band was undergoing some real live death during this album...spooooky!

Brian was replaced by Mick Taylor, hencefore present on all of the rest of the Stones God albums of 1969-1972. Mick was a John Mayall replacement for Eric Clapton, and his guitar style proves it. He's fluid, a soloing maniac, and consistently came up with the best non-Keithian guitar parts in the band's history. Here, he only plays on 2 songs ('Live With Me' and 'Monkey Man' I think) so the rest is All Keith. If you ever wanted to know exactly what Keith soloing over Keith's madman rhythm work, look no further than this record.

Things get kicked off on the right foot with 'Gimme Shelter', this time about the end of the world instead of about Santa, but hoooey is this some creepy shit. That slightly echoed opener, that fish percussion (that scratchy thing's called a fish...see what I learned in high school jazz band?) those eerie howls, blaring overdriven harmonica, Charlie's M-16 snare shots....eeks! I always get pictures in my head from the sequence in the documentary Letters Home From Vietnam where they used this song as a backdrop for some footage of GI's setting fire to a village. A Zippo Raid, they called it. That's what I think of. Keith also performs the simplest, but best ever rock 'n' roll guitar solo on this song. Best ever. Keep your 'Stairway's and your 'Guitar Gently Weeps's. 'Rape, Murder....it's just a shot away! Love, sister....it's just a kiss away.' and doncha ever forget it.

'Love in Vain' is about as much of a reprieve as pouring salt on your wounds, but this (heavily rearranged) cover of Robert Johnson's song is about the peak of the Stones country blues as far as I'm concerned, besides maybe something hidden deep in the middle of Exile I'm forgetting about. And Mick T's slide guitar is positively riveting here. 'Country Honk' is an all acoustic version of 'Honky Tonk Woman' all a-howlin' Keith and offbeat kick drum and I love the shit out of it. I once saw that fiddle player (Brook Benson? I'm screwing that name up, I know) play live at my university and the guy is GREAT even after 30 years. He even played this song...wotta guy.

If you were wondering if this was merely Beggar's II, 'Live With Me' will dispel those concerns by wrapping you up in the New Style Rolling Stones Hard Rocker based on hard drumming (for Charlie...he ain't no Bonzo, y'knows), some snazzy horns (welcome to the band Mr. Bobby Keys!!) and another super simple but catchy riff...and I bet this is the kind of song they just tossed off back in those days. Lucky bastards. More country-blues on 'Let It Bleed', and more of that fantabulous Nicky Hopkins piano. 'You can come on me'? Allright Micky. I like the way this one keeps adding parts over the song, but one can still hear that strumming acoustic keeping it together. Yup. And the words too. The words are great on this whole album. 'Midnight Rambler' is confusing-ass blues about murdering and raping....'Stick mah knaf raht dan ya throt baybee it hoits!' indeed. Keith turns that fonky fonky rhythm around about 50 gazillion times over the course of the song...its amazing just to sit and watch what the hell has happened to 'Goin Home' after 3 years.  And that warmed-over bass heavy reverbed sound is so oppressive...heeby jeebys! If you want to hear what an 8-armed 2-headed blues monster sounds like, listen here, chilluns.

The rest of side 2 is just as good. 'You Got the Silver' sets the tone for all further Keith-sung songs (his first solo singing spot was last time, on the first verse of 'Salt of the Earth'). Keith's voice is a taste to acquire, much like George Harrison or Bob Dylan, but I love the bejeezus out of the guy when he sings because he puts so much durn feeling into his performance. Mick is often just clowning or mocking, but Keith is always 100% sincere. And so's this rollicking barroom country rock tune. 'Monkey Man' is sub-'Live With Me' hard rock with some sorta goofy lyrics ('hope we're not too messianic or a trifle too Satanic...' haHAAAA! Brilliant!), OTHER than on the intro, which is gorgeous, and the god almighty deity middle section where the band drops that hard-as-nails riff and floats on a cloud of soaring slide guittars and Our Maker's own piano for a minute until Mick goes 'Ahma MONKEEEEEEAAAHHH!!!' hahahaha! Wotta song! You already know 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' (with the classical choral intro), which actually, I think is about the worst song on here. Just like Cindy Crawford is the worst looking of the supermodels but I'd still sell my soul to touch her on the ass.

Capn's Final Word: This album is SO good that I'd really have to look hard to find faults in it. And then I don't find any. If you care about rock music at all you need to look here.

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Nathan Harper  nator9999@comcast.net   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Completely agree with you on this one. Except about the last song. What a great way to close the album! I think it's better than "Country Honk," "Love In Vain," and "You Got the Silver," although they're all excellent songs in their own way. all the other songs are pretty much in a tie as for being my album favorite. But it's hardly even worth comparing the individual songs on this one, it's just a flawless album!
 

Alan Brooks     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Good review. Now, regarding the last track, 'You Can't Always Get It On With Your Aunt', it IS pretty, but isn't it just end-of-album filler?

Kake      Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: The production of probably the best song on this album, "Gimme Shelter", is damned poor. You just can't hear that
legendary guitar riff initially at all. But the rest of the songs rock (except "You can't..." because well, its not supposed to I guess and "You got the Silver", cause it sucks, methinks)...

And my favorite on this one is probably "Live with me"... Those lyrics are something else..."I got nasty habits, I take tea at 3" indeed...


David K. Ordonio     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: God himself must own this album.

Oh, and the Bee Gees have actually been around longer than the Stones, the Ventures, AND the Beach Boys.

Shannon kissing_daylight@hotmail.com    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: An excellent, excellent album from the boys.  This is an album that is instantly satisfying, unlike "Beggars Banquet" and "Exile" which take a little while to sink in.  It is such a simple album-no pretense, no posing.  Just good, strong rock, blues, country and folk.  A Godlike Stones album.

I also wanted to add that you made a small mistake in your review.  Mick Taylor DID play on two songs, but they were "Live With Me" and "Country Honk."  "Monkey Man" is all Keith.  Brian Jones was also on two songs, if anyone cared.  They were "Midnight Rambler" and "You Got the Silver." 

 


Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! - Abkco 1970

The Stones hit the road for the first time since early 1967 and boy how things have changed. First of all, this is Mick Taylor's true inauguration into the band, the audience is listening rather than urinating, and the Stones are playing rock rather than goony dark pop music. I don't seriously see too much here to comment on, other than the band sounds real powerful, and those guitars (besides being somewhat muffly) have some real fine tone...I always wanted to be able to match the guitar tone they had on this album. They play real tight, and Mick is running the show effortlessly. Hearing bootlegs from the '69 tour, I can vouch for the fact that this is a fine performance, and this is very representative of what they did on stage back in those days. I don't even hear the studio overdubs the Stones liked to unceremoniously smack on their live albums in later years (though supposedly they're there...eh. I guess only Mick Keith and Mick T know for sure).

But gosh, there's something here that can't be described at all, in the way they play these songs. The Magic is there! They got it on the studio albums and they got it on here...take 'Stray Cat Blues', isn't the way the second guitar starts sawing away before the 'It ain't no hangin' matter' part just amazing? The version of 'Love in Vain' is better than the original. Better. The version of 'Midnight Rambler' is better than the original, and harder. and creepier. and longer. and more complex. and sounding like it could blow apart at any minute. Wow. 'Sympathy' isn't any better than the original, but those solo-tradeoffs are fantastic. Can you believe the only thing they did to change over for 'Sympathy' was to bring Charlie an extra cymbal for his kit? Nowadays they have a 15 minute break and extend a huge flagging-phallus bridge over a 70000 person stadium. Oh how times have changed.

The end is a tiny bit of a stinker, with another Berry song ('Little Queenie', which I could have done without) and add-nothing-to the-original versions of 'Honky Tonk Woman' and 'Street Fighting Man'.

Oh, and there's this hilarious lady going 'Paint it Black. Paint it Black. Paint it BLACK you DEVILS!' before 'Sympathy'...check it out.

Capn's Final Word: Amazing playing here. The live album you should get first if you care more for the Stones the musicians than The Stones the hit factory.

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Chopped Liva     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I second the notion that Mick is runnning the show well. His "trousers" bit after "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is brilliant! "Stray Cat Blues" is quite a bit different from the version on "Beggars Banquet" but when that second guitar kicks in with that initial burst of feedback, it gets rowdy! However, I think that "Little Queenie" is a highlight, "Honky Tonk Women" is fun as hell, and "Street Fighting Man" kicks complete ass, because of Mick T's cool leads! Overall, this is a helluva record.

Ben Valerius brv@uwm.edu    Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Excellent album. The slowed down dual guitar attack of "Stray Cat Blues" works just as well, if not better, then the driving, swaggering studio take. "Honky Tonk Women" outgrooves the original, and "Midnight Rambler" is done faster and harder than the original - dig that maniacal groove! Great stuff.


Sticky Fingers - Rolling Stones Records 1971

Confident as hell. The Stones had done their '69 tour, meshed nicely with new boy Mick Taylor, solidified their extended lineup (Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys and the other horn players) and now had no worries at all. They were rich, nicely drugged out (this is the beginning of Keith's heroin years, but as usual, it takes a few albums to feel any effects. If anything he's better than usual here...just goes to show that sometimes smack does open up your talent before it kills you.) and ready to rock 'n' roll. The dark vibe is lessened here, and mostly the Stones just want us to boogie and revel in their guitar sound. You see, Mick Taylor can jam, mister, and he does it...and for my money beats Eric Clapton at his own game. Take 'Sway', a heavy sounds-live-in-the-studio fast-sounding mid tempo rocker (how do they DO that? Must be Charlie.) with totally alive Keith riffing...well check out when Mick starts his solo at the end and how the band just speeds along behind him...this is what bands would kill to sound like when they do solos. No one else could ever sound like this, because no one else had players as good as Keith and Charlie and Bill behind them.

Keith spent a lot of time in '69-'70 hanging around with country-rocker and fellow junkie Gram Parsons, and you can hear the influence on 'Wild Horses', which sounds more like the 1960's then the 1930's, as country-rock ballads go. But its fine, and has a great ol' hook...but does the newfangled huge band beat the stripped-down likes of 'No Expectations'? No, not really. But if you want to hear exactly what the new band can do that the other one couldn't, take a listen to 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking'...which has to have some of Keith's fiercest riffing of all time...the funk is just flying at you from all sides on this song. When that sky-high chorus comes on its like a hit right in the vein. But then we change into a Santana jam, complete with bongo percussion and Mick Taylor getting it on with Bobby like we've all moved to Cozumel and ordered extra hash for the day. I tells ya...what band could do this and make it work? Only the Stones, baby! In anyone else's hands (besides never being conceived of in the first place) it would only sound stupid.

For the rest, a quick quack rundown: 'I Got the Blues' and 'You Gotta Move' sound like they'd be the same song, but they're really not. One is pretty stupid sub-Beggar's country blues aping and the other one is sorta boring blues ballad aping. 'Dead Flowers' is allright 'screw you' country music, and I guess has a nice melody to it. 'Bitch' is another terrifyingly good fast horny Keith rocker ala 'Sway' or the first part of 'Knockin', but this time without any jamming bullshit. 'Sister Morphine' is the bands scariest-ever tune (and about smack....whee!) and 'Moonlight Mile' is all stately gorgeousness and icy cool night ambience to finish us off in the right way.

Somehow this album gets the shaft compared with Let It Bleed (and/or Beggar's, and/or Exile) and it does seem to be missing the message that those albums always had...the application to what was happening in real life. This one is simply the Stones having a great time at the peak of their powers, announcing their new record company and telling us to lick their balls, but it has that certain intangible Stones magic in spades, like if you listen real close you'll always here something brilliant at every second of play time.

Capn's Final Word: Unzip that fly and whip out that marvelous 12-incher of rock mastery today.

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Billy Williams  :konner3@yahoo.com   Your Rating:A+
Any Short Comments?:This is damn good album!! It deserves an A++++++! This is the Stones finest. Every track is a winner, though I think "Moonlight Mile" is rather boring. What else is there to say except that my reader is quite bland and short. Enjoy.
 

Nathan Harper  nator9999@comcast.net Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Not as good as Let It Bleed, but almost. It's got some really great songs, like "Brown Sugar," "Wild Horses," and "Bitch." Still worthy of an A+, and much better than Beggar's Banquet.

Chopped Liva     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: This album features the Stones at their peak. You've got quite a few legitimate classics on this album, including the fucking barn-stompin' riff rock of ol' "Brown Sugar" and "Bitch", the country flavored ballad "Wild Horses", the noisy soul-rock and extended jam of "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'", and the epic closer, "Moonlight Mile". We also have some personal favorites of mine, the country-rock humor of "Dead Flowers" and the boozy jam "Sway". The latter track doesn't feature Keith on guitar, but maybe that's why you wrote "Keith-ian" in the review. Elsewhere there's the obligatory blues cover, which is pretty cool in this case("You Gotta Move") and a soul ballad that has some good features(most notably a kick-ass organ solo from Billy Preston) but is less successful than Exile's gospel ballads. And finally, this album is the only place to find "Sister Morphine", a strange, eerie overdose song that doesn't appear to have much blues in the roots styles t!he Stones were exploring. Ultimately, this album stands as one of the band's essential classics.

 

nazar    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: This is a certified classic, no holes barred. It begins perfectly, with a fast, rocking song, and it just maintains that vibe throughout. Then, it ends with Moonlight Mile, a slow yet gorgeous tune about...something. My personal favorite is Sister Morphine. It's scarier than any heavy metal song I've ever heard, and it's not even heavy. The lyrics really freak me out. Excellent album.

 


Exile On Main St. - Rolling Stones Records 1972

My personal choice for Best Rolling Stones Album Ever....personal choice for Best Rock Record Ever, and it's not really an easy one to love. If you've ever wished to find an album that you can listen to a million times and still find something new (and not delve too far into prog rock), this is the album for you. On first listen, this is one long nearly-undifferentiated double album of Rolling Stones rock, country, and blues songs...muffled sound, incomprehensible lyrics, and all. My personal first impression of this album was 'Wha?'...I simply couldn't see why this was ever seen on the same level as a Let It Bleed.

But then, somewhere along the line, you listen again and the picture begins to form in front of your mind's eye. This is the most densely packed rock album I've ever heard. On even the simplest of songs, there are 10 layers...each instrument is doing something fantastic and if you listen really hard you'll find yourself surrounded by these God sounds, like heaven's angels themselves are surrounding you and wrapping you up in a blanket of sound. I don't know, maybe its just me...

This is one of those treacherous albums that I simply cannot write objectively about. Each song on here holds so many memories (passing out to this record on my first night at college after puking on the Fiji frat house...driving through the New Mexico mountains after proposing to my wife...nearly singlehandedly helping me to make it through the breakup of a 4 year relationship...learning to play each guitar note on the dang thing, even the solos)...hell...this album isn't individual songs. It's one long song, really. Once I start it I always finish. Blah Blah Blah. You name it I do it. I even had the reissue T-shirt. I worship this record.

To set a little scene, this album was recorded nearly-live in the basement of Keith Richard's new house in the French Riviera. It was summer, hotter than a bastard down there, there were like 15 people involved in the recording, and Keith kept spending 5 hours each night putting his newborn son to bed, shooting up (and consequently passing out) in the bathroom while everyone waited. No wonder it sounds muffly and overheated.

The words are all about getting old, failing, dropping out, finding solace, and getting through. 'Thought I heard one...sigh for you', 'Joe's got a cough, sounds kinda rough...ooooh the Codiene'll fix it', 'The sunshine bores the daylights outta me', 'Thank you for your wine, California....thank you for your sweet and bitter fruit', 'Cream and sugar', 'Takes the shine right off yer shoes'....just to name but a few.

One of the songs mentions 'niggers all in a row', but its about the unfair trial of a black activist. Don't be uptight.

It's got my favorite musical instruments of all time on it. And a lot. Overdriven harmonica. Nicky Hopkins's boogie piano. Keith Richard's guitar. Slide guitar. Steel guitar. Black backup singers. Saxophone solos. God have mercy!

It's impossible to go song by song. I can't even choose highlights. They're all highlights, dammit. I always the end would have been better without the cover of 'Stop Breaking Down' (the only cover here), and 'Soul Survivor' is about the lamest original song on here, and a bad way to finish. But I'd still say those two songs are better than 90% of the rest of the Stones output.

You may not find as much as I do in here, but you will find The Rolling Stones spinning off the very last of their greatness. To those who find it boring, I say listen again. Me? I'll be listening to this when I'm 90. I've already got 15 good years out of it. It's my 30 years of rock, pop, and blues all wrapped up in two black vinyl discs. It's my bible.

Capn's Final Word: Yes indeed.

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Your Name: Joe     Your Rating: A+     Your Email (optional): joem@ms.com

Any Short Comments?: First review that's taken this like I take it myself. In the saddle, whacked out, smacked out, by a pool full of empty JD bottles somewhere up in the Hollywood hills. Some gonzo lunatic in underpants playing alto, sticky fingers slipping over the fingerboard of my guitar and evr'y one else singing "Coooooooome on come on dowwwwwn, sweet fergiiiniahhhhh......."

This is old testicles rock and roll.

Keith, Mick, Mick, Bobby, Charlie, Billy, Mr's Hopkins and Preston: Stroll on.

andrew r  stray_toasters@juno.com   Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I had to listen to this A LOT of times to fully absorb it, but it was worth it.  What I don't get is, why do some many people complain about the production?  I can hear everything just fine!  I even like how Jagger's vocals are lower in the mix than usual. 

The hardest part of listening to this album is that the major classics (the two openers, "Happy", "Tumbling Dice", "Shine a Light") drastically over-shadow the filler songs ("Casino Boogie", "Turd on the Run", whatever else you consider filler), at least at first.  But the filler is important - I think of "Sweet Black Angel" and "Just Want to See His Face" as interludes rather than rule songs, but there's an ethereal, almost ambient quality to them.

And look at "Casino Boogie" - there's not a single distinct musical idea here but it rules,  because every part is buried in the mix where it belongs and plays off each other for a tasty chicken pot pie of a song.  And though it wouldn't work well as a song's main hook, Bill Wyman is pounding out some fantastic notes.

Many of the lesser songs have at least one great moment to justify their existance (the orgasmic chorus of "Loving Cup") or at least some drive to compensate for the shortcomings ("Turd on the Run", "Soulsurvivor").  This is an album where the songs that look like they were thrown together and the songs that look like the product of heavy inspiration boost each other to such a degree you'll learn to appreciate everything on here.

David Dickson ddickson@rice.edu     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I don't like the Stones.

Okay, you probably want to destroy me now.

But I DO like this album.  It's their best, in my opinion, and the only all-out masterpiece in their catalogue.  And I thought that on first listen.  I STILL think that.  Thank you for not giving it an A- while simultaneously giving Let It Bleed an A+ like so many other reviewers littering the landscape of This Our World Wide Web.  Rockin' review.

 

Nathan Harper nator9999@comcast.net     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Well I still like the perfection of Let It Bleed better but...this really IS rock and roll, and deserves nothing less than an A+.

Harry Niemi h51@spray.se    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Just the best ever done! Yet


Barrett okeydoke@yahoo.com    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?:     Exile is not an easy album to truly love, though its certainly an easy to like given the past 10-15 years of revisionist criticism. It's great to finally hear of a person who loves this album other than just giving the usual lip service. also loved the review of tonights the night, though i dont believe youre giving third/sister's lovers a fair chance. it's the byrds version of tonight's the night!

champollion     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Well like you said, possibly the best rock album ever. However, we now have "London Calling" by The Clash.

I will summarize by saying that when, as a guitar player/singer, I need to go back to roots, I spin that disc alongside "Get yer ya's ya's out" and I play and sing every note/word.

I highly rate the first 3 albums by The Undertones too.
 


Goat's Head Soup - Rolling Stones Records 1973

This one isn't quite as soul-destroying as some may make it out to be, but anyway...there's the dropoff. Never again would the Stones be anywhere close to the Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World, at least until 1994 when there weren't too many competitors for the title (who would compete? Early Blur? Pearl Jam? Yeah right.) In 1973, it was still high-quality taco time for rock music (though everyone at that time was strangely complaining that rock was dead...whatever. Each era has its illusions. Like how rock even exists as a music form today.) so everyone believed this to be a work made of shit. The drugs were doing their dirty work, for sure, but after 5 years of roots-rock the Stones wanted to meet Glam half-way and revisit some good ol' pop sounds. Nothing wrong in that. See how highly I rated Satanic above? But while on that record the high points remained in strong relief despite the horrible mistakes? Goat's Head makes too many mistakes, and its high points aren't high enough to make me forget them.

Soundwise, the magic is gone and replaced by Billy Preston keyboards and wah-wahs. This album has no atmosphere other than 'reverby-pop' despite its having the most hoodoo voodoo on it of any Stones record. The creepiness goes no deeper than the song titles. Keith is nearly inaudible throughout, and Mick T is falling into his role as 'Muzak solo specialist' where all he does is play his little twiddly bits throughout. I mean, Exile was not exactly Mick T's day in the sun, but the fire from the '72 tour couldn't have burned out that fast. Charlie is Charlie, Bill is great, and Nicky Hopkins is gone.

Track by track: 'Dancin With Mr. D' is 'scary' for children, and 'rocks' for XTC fans. Not even a pale representation of 'Sympathy'...its just a joke. Awful. '100 Years Ago' must be considered a highlight for sure, a Billy Preston-fuelled funk fest with nice wanky parts by Mick T and about the best lyrics on the plastic. 'Coming Down Again' is merely dull...Keith's worst ever, least emotive vocal tune. And long. And slow. And Going Nowhere Slow. Bleah. You see, drugs at first make you write floored-in-your-seat songs like 'Sister Morphine'...then 2 years later they make you write songs like the bloodless 'Coming Down Again...Where are all my friends?'

The wah-wah soul hit 'Doodily Doo (Heartbreaker)' is faster, and catchy sure...that Mick performance is weird though, isn't it? Is he glamming it up on purpose? I guess it fits the 'social consciousness' thing here, but whatever. That Mick's a weird bird. The acoustic non-country ballad 'Angie' is pretty and poppy and a perfect early 70's #1 radio song and I'm happy it exists. They wouldn't be doing these kinds of songs well again for awhile. I can just see the super-made-up, short haired '73 Mick wiping away fake tears while doing this one live. 'Silver Train' is godawful 'rock' bearing little resemblance to how such things were ever presented on Fingers. Paint by-the-numbers. 'Hide Your Love' sounds like an Exile outtake without all the good hidden parts, but, hey...it's alright. 'Star Star' is Chuck Berry rewritten about screwing groupies and is a sad highlight. 'Winter' is as good as this album ever gets, with Mick doing his best mush-mouth delivery over a re-do of 'Moonlight Mile' with as much conviction as the band can muster. Which ain't much, man. Bombastic as hell, retarded lyrics reaching for the evocativeness of Exile's and failing, but gosh...Its pretty! There's also a weird, cacophonic revisitation of the worst of Satanic called 'Can You Hear the Music' which is simply sad. sad. sad.

Some folks love this record, and if the whole 'golden Stones' period left you cold with its rootsy rock, I suggest that you may find this one quite enjoyable. But there's simply enough bad shit on this album to make me wish I were listening to some other band, which almost never happens with the Stones.

Capn's Final Word: Strange pop, and a far cry from past glories. Makes my muscles twitch in an odd, not altogether pleasant way.

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Your Name: Joe  Your Rating: A- Your Email (optional): joem@ms.com

The Rolling Stones Goat Head Muta.

Any Short Comments?: Nahhhh man. Gotta come up. This is last testament from Keithy's stones era and as such displays all the cheeba dragon chasing lethargy and disallusionment attached therein. Ol' Riff'ard had

shot his bolt twice a night at the dawn of the seventies with (Sticky/Exile).For a vampire smackbaron more interested in the pin prick of the needle than any action in the stabbin' wagon, there just wasn't the energy or interest left to convert the new generation of non-music fans. This is also the last album in a while where Mick allows a modicum of insecurity to show in his delivery. Check in 'Can You Hear The Music' when he sings "love is a mystery, I can't demystify nooohh" and in the similar chorus "and I get scared...." - Can you believe it? Mofo sounds truly lost, makes my heart bleed. Remember, next stop after this (s'only rock'n'roll) the stones became a nitrous powered, chokayne fuelled ICBM to carry Mick and Bill's outsized, rock playboy libidos. Mick's being evident in the music, while Bill's were more evident in his bedsheets.

You are correct in points: 'Silver Train' is arse,

the sort of shit that might have had Nixon bopping his feet. But I can still feel sleazy fires burning on the rest and on a personal note; this is the last Stones ALBUM that I dig as a whole. Shame they couldn't have done better as at the time they were truly at their live evil peak (Heard brussel's '73? bootleg, awwwwww baaeeyyybe!)

and how fucking hard is it to write like Mick speaks?

Best Regards from Soho (london),dig the site man I really do-do-do-dodo,

Joe.

 

 


It's Only Rock 'n' Roll - Rolling Stones Records 1974

Trying too hard to be 'The Rolling Stones' on this one for us not to notice, most or all of the pop experimentation of last time is thrown out the window and replaced by songs that have a lot fewer 'cringe' moments than Goat's Head Soup did. But if we compare it at all to anything before 1973 it sounds just as weak as that one. Its full of more of those basic Stones rock songs: Riff (not as good as before, repeat as much as possible), Hook line (fit to riff if possible, try to be catchy), lots of Charlie (still excellent), lots of Mick Taylor's now-soulless gas attendant soloing. I like the cover of 'Ain't To Proud to Beg', but that's only because I like the original song, and Charlie does a fine job. The title track is the best thing on here by far, and almost sounds like Real Stones, but you know why? Because Ronnie Wood's playing lead rhythm guitar on it! Keith's buried in the back in his drug idiocy. Mick does real well though, talking about how he can't write like he used to. (Check it out. That's really what it's about!)

I wanna say something about Keith here, because this was apparently his drug low point, at least performance-wise. Looking at pictures of the guy from the 1974 video shoot for the 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' single (funny video of them playing in a tent wearing sailor suits while all these bubbles start pumping in) and somehow he broke his front tooth so it looks like he's just been in a fight and lost. Like half of the tooth is there, and its all pointy and shit...plus his head looks like a skull and his greasy-ass hair is just plastered down to his deathly-grey scalp. It's fucking nasty. Don't do smack, kids.

'Time Waits For No One' isn't much songwriting or melody wise, but Mick T puts out a nice solo on there, probably because he co-wrote it. See, Mick T wanted the band to start doing more of his songs, always the death knell for a Stones member. You either go sideproject and do your idiotic thing away from the Stones where it doesn't get in the way (Bill, Charlie, Ronnie) or you die (Brian) or you quit and fade away (Mick T). Mick and Keith have a stranglehold on songwriting here, and no man's getting royalites except for them.

Other funsies are 'Luxury', which is supposed to be reggae (whatever, its just Mick aping a Jamaican accent over a 'jauncier' than normal Stones rocker), but the song is lively and the words are funny. And for their first foray into disco, 'Fingerprint File' is a hoot...all Mick eeping about his CIA file in a paranoid voice. 'Some little jerk in the FBI...keepin' papers on me, six feet high' over a nice Keith riff and some wah? Hey now! What a nice lead-in to Black And Blue, which is chock full of great stuff like that!

Capn's Final Word: Has a few moments, but still lacking fun power. Probably the most formulaic of Stones albums.

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MR manatane MRmanatane216966 Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: un Stones sous-estimé

(Capn's Response: Dude, anyone know how to make these French characters come out right? My PC only speaks Russian.)


Black and Blue - Rolling Stones Records 1976

Our boys still like black music. And how do we know this? They decide to record an album full of the stuff, just in case we forgot they were the original wiggers of the world. And since Big Blonde Mick Taylor left the band to concentrate on his heroin habit full-time, I guess we've got The Core Stones again, but then again I guess not....Just when you thought maybe this was another Keith-only effort like Let it Bleed, the men bring in a collection of the best candidates for the seat of Keith's Bitch and decided to make the Black and Blue sessions not much more than one big audition. Check out these names: Harvey Mandel (no, not Howie, but I made that same fucking mistake myself), some idiot named Wayne, and Ronnie Wood! I know who they picked! I know! I know!

Shya, right, like they'd ever have some fucking Yankee play second guitar in the Goddamned Rolling Fucking Stones! No way! It's Ronnie Wood, all the way. The man who made Rod Stewart a star, the man who righteously pissed off Jeff Beck, the man who played guitar not only on the 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll But I Like It' single AND the '75 Rolling Stones Tour, the man who looks JUST like he would have fit in as a Stone from the day he was born anyway...was there any competition? Really? The fuck there was. The man had dark wonky hair! Just like all the rest of them! (Except for Charlie Watts, who has had grey receding hair ever since the 'Not Fade Away' single was released.) It was his position from day one. He just had to realise that no, after 3 years of not recording an album or speaking to one another, the Faces were finished. Duh. Ronnie's not the sharpest knife in the murder victim, you see.

Oh, right...on to the album and why I like the dang thing so much. See, since they'd lost Keith's crutch, he couldn't be Mr. Lame Junky this time and had to actually show up to the recording sessions. As a result, we have a fine sight more funky good rhythm playing than we've had in awhile and Charlie's good tonight and...well sheeeeeit soldier! What else d'ya need? They're not trying really damn hard to make a great song on something like 'Hot Stuff' (the long, sharp, opening disco guitar jam on here with truly awful less-than-'Fingerprint File' Mick singing...really bad), they're just having some fun with themselves. 'Cherry Oh Baby' is a darn sight better reggae tune than 'Luxury' ever was and funny too. Keith sure does like that Jamaica, don't he? 'Woooah ohhh eeooo eeoo eeooo!' Right on, brother. Preach it.

'Melody' (with Mr. Billy Preston trading off vocal lines with Mickey for the title of Most Over-the-Top Soul Singer Ever) shows that Mick DID in fact learn once and for all how one should sing a soul number (remembering all of the lame early attempts like 'Hitch Hike' and such.) and that Charlie is one fantastic swing drummer, in case we had a doubt. 'Memory Motel' and 'Fool To Cry' attempt to being some feeling in on the boys silly party, and while I can totally buy the sappy but grizzled 'Memory' with Keith doing his cool vocal line and Mick telling us a story about some nice groupie he's met on his travels over a pretty dualed piano/keyboard line, 'Fool' is just silly. I'm really thinking its just a joke...but then again Keith used to say it was his favorite song to nod out to on stage. Eh? Did I hear someone just say Shitty Song? I guess it must have been myself.

For rockers, you all are probably not going to find this one all that inspiring as there's really only two, and neither one really shakes 'em on down in any way shape or form. But they're good songs! Finer than a frog's hair! Like in 'Hand Of Fate' where it sounds like Mick's singing 'Hand or Feet' and some guitar player or other makes like '74 Mick Taylor, but then this is better than '74 Mick Taylor ever was. But why is it so sorta slow and listless? Jack it up, mates, and this could be something for the highlight reel. But the minute you might consider that either Harvey or Wayne would have been a better choice than Ronnie, 'Hey Negrita's funky butt comes rollin' on in...and takes the cake for me. What a snazzy little deep bottom song. Thanks, Ronnie, for your 'influence', whatever that might have been. You're the one, the one I want.

Capn's Final Word: Shoogity Boogity, to borrow a phrase. Light as a feather, fun and entertaining, and containing no  annoying seriousness to get in the way.

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 Love You Live - Rolling Stones Records 1977
 

Time for another live album? Well, all right if you say so. I guess they skipped the (fantastically brilliant and devilish) '72-3 tour, so they have to give us something from the '75-6 (sorta dull and messy) one. And, if you believe the hype, the main 3/4 part of this record is supposed to be Keith's best performance of the tour. Something about him not knowing if his daughter's birth was successful or not until he got off stage made him tear into his performance like he didn't do too much on that their tour, it being his low point chemically and all...I dunno. Alls I hear here mostly is Mick forgetting to sing correctly because he had a 30 foot inflatable penis in his mouth the entire time. And I wasn't even born yet! Where did they get a 30 foot penis before my birth? The mind boggles...

I'm not feeling too good so the dirty jokes aren't flying so well as they were back up there in the 60's section. Just you wait. I roll around to reviewing Still Life and there's gonna be some chucklin' goin down, you'll see! My funny's never been kept down for long!

Hmm...the French live part of this album half sucks ass. I mean, is Mick even trying on something like 'If You Can't Rock Me'? I hear 'Can' Rock Me...Sahmby Wee-l' over and over and over. Is He too lazy to get that fucking tongue off the floor of his mouth to enunciate for us? Enunciate, you de-vil! Luckily the band makes up for it when it isn't too busy fucking up (oops! did I say that?) (Except for Charlie. He never fucks up. He gets fucked up though, or at least he did in the mid-80's. Smack. Sad shit, man, when a rock musician never did a single drug all the way through the late 60's and early 70's and proceeds to wait until 1986 to fucking get hooked on junk and then get off it again. That's piss poor if you ask me.)

Tracks? Oh fuck it...I'm not naming tracks. They're really all okay except for 'Get Off My Cloud' because Billy Preston pisses my shit off, and umm 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' sorta blows. But 'Fingerprint File' and 'Hot Stuff' are great, groovin' stuff. I'm probably making this sound much worse than it is...it's really like this: Take a good, fast, tight, fun Rolling Stones live performance and insert a random 'suck' every 10 minutes or so, lasting about 1-2 minutes each time. There you have it...the arena sides of Love You Live.

But awww you gotta hear the third side, the El Mocambo Club, Toronto 1977 side. They recorded this when Keith was awaiting trial for drug trafficking ('I swear, Your Honor, I was planning to do all of that by myself! No, no, I'm not suicidal, your honor...I'm just a man who is MADE OUT OF FUCKING AFGHANI TAR HEROIN!!!!') You like the Chuck Berry? 'Around and Around' played better than in 1965! You liking the Muddy Waters? 'Mannish Boy' and it Kicks ASS! Hecklers! Crazy random yelling! This whole side is simply blabbermouthingly good times. Gawk! What stuff, those club performances. 'Bum's Rush Jagger'....ha HA!

Capn's Final Word: The other three sides get a B-. The Third Side gets an A. Love that third side, will ya please?

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Some Girls - Rolling Stones Records 1978

Aiming straight for the nuts of the record buying public, are we now, Mr. Michael Jagger? And didn't the Stones need a big hit or what, in 1978. So many people were proclaiming the band Deceased for various reasons (mistakenly thinking Black and Blue sucked, mistakenly thinking punk had actually changed something permanently, mistakenly thinking the Stones were too old and rich to rock, mistakenly thinking Keith was gonna die/be in prison/sell his endocrine system for drugs, correctly thinking the Stones hadn't been trying very hard) that, after a long while without one, the band had a Mission. And the Mission was to show the world they were wrong and to have sex with the Canadian prime minister's wife. And, I'm proud to say, the boys did both with time to spare. *Wipes tear from his eye*

Now I'm talking from the public's point of view, not my own. In my opinion the band had really picked it up since IORR and the '75 tour and were happily taking chances again with B&B and the third side of LYL. . Some Girls was just another step in the right direction, albeit one calculated to the nth degree by Mick Jagger to have the biggest popular impact possible.

What do you need to get the Stones on everyone's lips and turntables again? Make the songs fit the trends, but make them still sound like Stones songs. Like 'Miss You', the Stones last ever #1 hit (even 'Start Me Up' only hit #2, no doubt kept out of the top spot by the soulful sounds of Christopher Cross or some equally pathetic early 80's yuppie easy-listening horseshit.) made its way not by being disco, but being a great Stones riff song that, if someone walked up to you and said 'That's disco', you'd have to say 'Oh yeah! I guess you're right.' to. It's not hit you over the head it's disco like on Elmo's Rescue. It's just a damn rock song with Bill funk-thumping and Charlie hitting that high-hat all funny up in my colon. And dig that new thing, the Ron/Keith guitar conversation. Keith doesn't even really riff any more! Not in the 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' vein, anyway. Mark my words! More often than not he's just doing funky tradeoff shit with Ronnie from this point onward in the Stones career, but it's genius. No one plays guitars like that. No one can.

Rockers? Hey, that's the meatball in this grinder! 'When the Whip Comes Down' must be the second hardest-rocking song ever about being a male whore ('53rd and 3rd' by the Ramones of course beats the pants off it. Figuratively, of course.) and is all wrapped up in punk trappings like fast-eighth note mute strumming (look it up!) and lyrics all about poop and being hit with a whip until you ejaculate. Really. 'Just My Imagination' is about my favorite Stones cover since 'Mannish Boy', and before that....ummm....shit. 'Not Fade Away'? Great song, and doing that Ron/Keith thing on there actually improves on the original. 'Beast of Burden' is the best soul original since B&B, but before that since, umm...1966? Mick's doing his best to play along, but after all the girl bashing on this record its obvious this is Keith's song. 'Respectable' and 'Lies' are also fast and without much letup, but they're less differentiated melody-wise. I can tell them apart only by lyrics. 'Respectable' is the one about taking drugs at the White House, and 'Lies' is about...god I dunno. Mick's bitchy ex-wife Bianca I guess. But so is 'Respectable'...fuck. Now I'm in a hole. Bitch bitch bitch.

Need some press-generating material, for sure. Call Jesse Jackson 'cos I smell a bigot AND a sexist. Get a rope. HahAAAAA! 'Some Girls' is EXCELLENT! My favorite song on the album. Take a R/K conversation tune and add Mick's mouth harp and have Mick bash women all over the top of it. I love objectifying women, because it's so much darn fun, like that old board game PayDay. Yeah! That's right. Talking about how horny black chicks are and how materialistic American women are? Now you're a speakin' my language. Can you believe the uncut version of this song is even funnier? I can. (Note: I rated a 75% on The Online Bastard Test, so you may actually find this song offensive, especially if you have a clitoris or used to be breast fed until age 9.) Oh and the cover got yanked after the first LP pressing because Lucille Ball's picture was on there without her permission. If you find a record without the 'Under Construction' signs on it, buy the crap outta it and keep it in a cool dry place for 50 years, then sell it and never worry about retirement money again.

'Far Away Eyes' is really funny, especially the part about 'running 20 red lights in his honor' and about the best sounding Nashville country they ever did. Score another one. Keith's spot, all about his (still not begun as of 1978) recovery from drugs called 'Before They Make Me Run' is also one of his tip top best, and even sorta feels like it has an Exile 'Happy' vibe, except stripped down and no slide guitar.

The ending 'Shattered' is my second favorite song on the album, and surprise! its another fast groovy jam like 'Some Girls' with Charlie at his absolute minimalist funky best. Okay. I lied. There's a riff. When these guys get themselves a guitar effect, they play the damn thing for all its worth. Out of Our Heads was the fuzztone album, Goat's Head was the Wah album, and this is the Phaser album...But couldn't you just ride that groove forever? I sho could...hump, shadoobie....shattered shattered....hump shadoobie....shattered shattered. Nice to know you, Mick. Fine job on this album, fellah.

Capn's Final Word: Hey now! Not one bad song on here....still not the Stones that lorded over Altamont or ate out groupies on Cocksucker Blues by a long shot, but for a new sound this is a great way for the group to get it on again.

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Emotional Rescue - Rolling Stones Records 1980
 

So what the hell is really wrong with this album? I mean other than containing very few new ideas? I can remember each and every song on here! And I like almost all of them....there, I said it. It's another one of my Sacred Overabused Stones records like Satanic and B&B, ones that everyone but myself and some schizophrenics think are a sackload of piss but I think are really really entertaining. Not well written, not well-conceived, but fun. 'Dance Pt. 1', for example, with its plastic horns and robotic disco beat is some funky sheeeit, and though of course its sloppy shitty disco...it's FUN goddammit! Truckloads of dead babies sorta fun! 'Summer Romance' and 'Where the Boys Go' are both snottier than anything on Some Grills and sound like their about to fall apart at any moment but still keep it together. If this is punk then I'm a Bush supporter...its just Rock 'n' Roll played godawful raggedly but with a mile-wide grin and Mick hamming it up to unprecedented levels of cheese. And Bill does one fine job on those. Good work, Bill, you boring stoneface, you.

The album loses its charm on the serious tracks, of course, because without that silly-willy drunken grin this stuff is leaden. Crap like the overserious 'Indian Girl' is so bad its funny...which is awful because its about what Mick saw in El Salvador after the '79 earthquake there (Bianca was from there...I guess their relationship warmed up to 'friend' level after the anti-Bianca bile spew of Some Girls cooled off a bit.) Thanks for making me laugh at other people's pain, you asshole Mick Jagger. And fuck you twice for playing your 'ironic' button so much I can't tell when you're actually trying to be sincere any more. And is it just me or does 'Let Me Go' slow down to about half the speed that the song began at? Your formulaic rockers need to be FAST gentlemen, you read me? In fact, the only serious track that works at all as intended is the dire blues 'Down In the Hole' about what? Former Nazis in postwar Berlin? Fucking wack, man....that's fucking wack.

Heh, but the fun stuff makes a comeback fer sure. Like the title track, wotta joke! Man, if you are dumb enough to take this seriously you have worse problems than whether or not you should buy a third-rate middle period Rolling Stones record or not. But, if you want, you can secretly enjoy the bonking bass line and the fine saxwork as you smirk knowingly at Mick's uber-fey falsetto and laugh heartily at the fantastickly Teutonic-macho spoken word part.

Capn's Final Word: Ohhh man...this stuff all sucks Donna Summer's cock if you use your usual methods of measurement. They probably spent more effort scoring the coke than making this record. But its a hoot and a party if you just engage your sense of humor for a minute or two.

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andrew r    Your Rating:C
Any Short Comments?: I listened to this twice, as background music, granted, but I don't feel the need to listen to it again.  I don't even like Some Girls that much, how in the hell could I ever learn to like this?  "Dance pt1" is nothing but the sort of third-rate disco you'd see from some one-hit wonder disco artist I'm not sophisticated enough to name-drop.  What songs I can remember just have a few undistinct chord sequences pasted together with this twangy guitar sound, plus some acceptable but not too enticing bass underneath.

The title track and "She's So Cold" are great, of course, but they offer nothing I haven't got from the Stones before.  How did you arrive at the conclusion that this is the equal of Tatoo You?

(Capn's Response: Heh...this album doesn't have a whole side that bores me to tears like Tattoo does. That's why.)
 


Tattoo You - Rolling Stones Records 1981

Every time I hear this record I think its about 15 minutes too long. I'm like, Jesus! Isn't this big bastard finished yet? But I can't argue that it doesn't have some fine-ass songs on it. It does, it's just sequenced all wrong. And its fucking horrible. But it's great.

Oh yeah, it starts out just fine, with the most 'lively' Stones track in a LONG time, 'Start Me Up'...the Stones haven't sounded this loose and relaxed since what? 1965? Even the Golden Stones era songs were all too 'edgy' all the time...this one is just like Keith took out his old bent spoon and boiled his riffing down to its funnest core and made a silly song out of it. Great stuff, if about as meaningful as a monkey jerking himself off. And 'Hang Fire' takes the punky rockers of SG and ER and removes all the punk. Is it about England? Cool, but the boys haven't lived there since 1970, so what do they know? Just like they didn't know jack about being a 'poor boy' in 1968 either. Let's all face it...the Stones haven't done meaningful since 1972...they peddle in fun nowadays.

Wait, wait...I've heard this album before. In it's entirety. Bits and pieces on each Stones record since GHS. Know why?

I haven't mentioned the best part about this album... It's Sucking In the Seventies 2: The Outtakes for chrissakes!!! A bunch of leftovers from SG, ER and as far back as 1973? The fuck is that? You gotta be shitting me that this album is ever considered to be a career peak for the Stones. What career? Mick Taylor's? Billy Preston's? I mean 'Slave' sounds just like something off B&B other than the modern guitar tones and the sax playing. Put some funky butt electric piano and smooth soloing on there and you've got 'Hot Stuff' again. And like 'Black Limousine' doesn't sound like something straight off Goat's Head. No wonder fucking Mick T was so pissed he didn't get any credits on this record. That Mick and Keith can be right bastards if you give them half a chance.

So the stuff that was obviously recorded somewhere near 1981 is no better than ER if you're asking me. And since you went to the trouble of entering my URL into your web browser I'm assuming you are asking me. 'Neighbors' is the same as goddamn 'Let Me Go'. If you like 'Neighbors' and trash ER as being retread crap you're fucked in the brain. I like both of them so eat it.

But wait...why don't I rate this album lower, then? Because I like all the Rolling Stones albums since 1973, all at least a little bit, and some (like ER) quite a bit. I just wish they'd mixed up the 'hard' and 'soft' bits rather than allowing the second half of the record to drag on like a DMV lady's fat ass. There's nothing at all wrong with songs like 'Tops' or 'No Use In Crying' individually (in fact, they're pretty great), but taken all together and I feel like I'm about ready to fall into a Richard-ian nod. Yawn. Press *Random* and enjoy a much better Stones record, I say.

Hey, did you know that's Mick on the cover there? I always thought it was Sheena Easton or some shit. Man he's one girly looking dude.

Capn's Final Word: Something's Rotten in Stinkville when an album with this many good songs on it sucks the way it does. Or how a thrown-together patchwork compilation like this works better than a lot of their records. I fucking hate this great record.

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Still Life - Rolling Stones Records 1982
 

The beginning of a string of albums I get very little enjoyment out of.  A live album from the massively awful '81 tour wherein Mick is no longer the Stones lead singer, but their lead goddamn cheerleader. And they blast through all their songs very fast so we don't notice how they don't solo too good anymore. I guess I could think of worse things to do, like playing slower and drawing out the pain. And they play their classics in the same style as their new songs so 'Let's Spend The Night Together' and 'Under My Thumb' retain none of their original vibe.

No, no, I got it. They DO have their original vibe, but not the one you think. This is Got Live remade for the 80's. See, back in the 60's they played everything scathingly fast because they had like 30 minutes on stage and then the chicks would come up and destroy everything and everyone in a big splash of piss and vomit...and the songs lost every bit of their feel in the process. Now in the 80's its all about looks instead of sound again (as in, 'my that huge ugly pastel stage sure catches my eye all the way back here 300 yards away in the back row of the fucking Veterans Stadium' and 'is that guy doing jumping jacks up there Mick Jagger or just some idiot trying to get the beer guy's attention?') so they fall into the same trap, but now they're not playing their great ol' huge mid 60's hits, their mostly playing their just-okay (in comparison) late 70's hits.

I can say that hearing a whole complete 2 disc bootleg concert (with better sound than this, believe it or not) is a better experience because here it seems like they're trying to make each song a cum-shot, if you get my drift. As a result, each one is just another Ramones-esque blast through the chords, exCEPT for the cover of '20 Flight Rock', which sounds like a weird Led Zeppelin live boogie cover, but it rules. And besides the singing, 'Going to a Go Go' is fun, too. 'Time Is On My Side' is godawful, 'Satisfaction' is dull...geez. I'm gonna stop now. Three paragraphs is way too long for a half-assed cash-in live record.

Capn's Final Word: Okay, you twist my arm. It's the Rolling Stones live, but not the ones I like too much.

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Undercover - Rolling Stones Records 1983

Trying something new can be sheer poison for the Rolling Stones, as we now know after listening to this album that tries very hard to be strange and fresh and dark, but ends up coming across like they're quickly running out of gas. Adding a bunch of Duran Duran-esque pop bass, synth noises, heavy guitars, and fake-sounding drums, gentlemen, usually just fucks everything up. When the songs aren't much, they may actually help out somewhat. Like on 'Undercover of the Night'...is there a song in there? I don't really hear one, but I can go along with the groove if I don't think too hard. This isn't Emo Res 'Don't think too hard or you'll miss the fun' advice, this is Undercover 'don't think too hard because it sucks if you do' advice.

Addressing the 'darkness' and 'edginess' they tried to wipe on this record, the last few Stones records were a bit short on concept, I'll give you. After such oppressive masters as Aftermath and Let it Bleed, and even the silly voodoo feel of Goat's Head (maybe that album's better than a B grade. Maybe I should go and upgrade it. Everyone's telling me I should....Nope. It fucking blows. 'Silver Train', 'Dancing With Mr. D', 'Can You Hear the Music'....all of them....ready? SUCK!!!) something like Some Girls or Tattoo You doesn't sound exactly gothic, you know. But attempting to recapture some old fashioned devilish feeling by simply grafting on some lyrics about political assasination, S&M, and horror-movie murder is fit for the dunce cap.

And its not like the music is really changing anyone's mind here. I mean, I smelled musical stagnation as far back as ER, Tattoo You's new songs (besides 'Start' of course) being not much better, and here the process is not arrested. Now, now...again I'm not going to say that any of these songs suck, at least not in comparison with what else was around in that strange year of 1983, and I can even say that each one has at least a little something to love. Something down there in the machinery making it seem like you should keep listening. 'Wanna Hold You's hook, some cool dub noises in 'Feel On Baby', the synth on 'Undercover', the twanking disco guitar and bass and Mick's awful American accent on 'Too Much Blood'...but this is all too far from good. I hazard to say that it would be impossible to play any of these songs on an acoustic guitar because there are no melodies. Considering that Keith was better at making melodies when he was fucked up beyond belief in 1974, I'm all for fixing him up to a morphine drip again. Come on, old boy, give us a vein. That's a good lad. You'll be cranking out another 'Luxury' before you know it.

Capn's Final Word: In free fall, and they haven't bottomed out yet. Not worthless, but not worthy either. Your sister can make more convincing music. When I'm fucking her! HahahahaAHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

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Dirty Work - Rolling Stones Records 1986
 

Silly ol' Robert Christgau gave this album an A when it came out, claiming it was closer to the ol' Stones than anything since the Nixon administration. You silly fuck. If the old Stones did nothing other than 'Sing This All Together', it would still be higher than this pile of snare hits and guitar rubble. Did you know Jimmy Page plays a bunch on this record? Yeah, he sucked real bad in 1986, too. And that Ron co-writes a song? The suck strikes again!

Problem 1: The production is mid 80's plastic. The boys aren't playing very convincingly anyway, but emphasizing the plastic snare drum all the time is torture. Digital reverb is NOT a musical instrument.

Problem 2: Mick would rather be doing his shitty solo career than this any day, and is really phoning it in.

Problem 3: Charlie is on smack. God, why? I feel like crying. Seriously.

Problem 4: Keith is pissed off, but adds absolutely nothing to make it better. I have trouble even hearing the motherfucker.

Problem 5: Mid-tempo 'anger', expressed in a bunch of yelling, is fit for the opening act that gets booed off stage in a hail of beer bottles.

Problem 6: No one has cared about the Rolling Stones doing social consciousness since 1968. Stop now.

Problem 7: They almost broke up over this pile. At least blow apart over something good.

Problem 8: Stu died around this time, and never got to see his Stones slowly pick themselves up off the scrap heap in the 90's. He probably thought they were going to suck like this forever.

I just barely like 'Too Rude'...it sounds like something off the ass-side of Sandinista! I give that one track a B-.

Capn's Final Word: Gawd, no.

 

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Steel Wheels - Rolling Stones Records 1989

Reason for existing? To tell us that Everything Is Fine. Don't Worry. I hate this one less than Undercover or Dirty Work, but that's not saying I like it, is it? It's definitely more 'Stones-like' I guess, in the most superficial rock-writer way possible (The Stones are Back! Better than anything since Exile!), meaning that there aren't that many synths on here and the production is 1989 'rock the arena' rather than 1986 'rock the Yuppie condo'. But its still bad and dispassionate and about as well written as a public bathroom stall proposition. And about as rock 'n' roll as a mutual fund.

I blame both Mick and Keith for missing a decent opportunity to make a better album than this one. Mick because he sings like shit, all blaring and loud all the time. And Keith because even after doing such a great job on his solo album and X-Pensive Winos Tour, he feels happy to hang back unheard again. Take control, fucker! Play that guitar LOUD, not just boredly strumming it on every damned track! And the effort level? This album was obviously tossed off as quickly as possible to get out on the road again and prove that the Stones Have Still Got It and make millions of dollars off $100 seats. This release was simply done as an excuse to tour, something the Stones have done more than once before (the Made in the Shade compilation in '75, Tattoo You in '81)

Oh, man. This album isn't really bad, it's just simply so not good it feels that way. It's super boring, for one thing. If I hear one more over-glossy, mid tempo, melodically retarded groove I think I'm going to spew up something putrid. Taken individually, maybe you might say 'Well, this isn't bad.' but taken all together it's like when you start a conversation with a stranger on a long airplane trip, and then quickly you begin to realize you really hate the man next to you and never would choose to talk to him under other circumstances, but since you're stuck in your 27 inches of coach class for the next 4 hours you may as well resign yourself to the fact that you're going to hear all you ever didn't want to hear about life insurance whether you like it or not. And he's not taking any hints to shut up, either. He's well intentioned, and trying to be friendly, but is still clueless as to his power of annoyance. At least you're not sitting next to the abusive drunk Dirty Work, who's busy farting and yelling obscenities at all the flight attendants. And is that a match I see him lighting? Be happy you're merely going to be bored.

Forget your peaceful nap. You're in Steel Wheels hands for 52 minutes, now.

Capn's Final Word:  Probably as quickly filed in the back of your record collection as Dirty Work was. But it doesn't suck in quite the out-loud way as that one. More like a hushed, leisurely slurping.

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Flashpoint - Rolling Stones Records 1990
 

The newfangled Stones are nothing if not professional. This live one is really the mirror opposite of Still Life, wherein you'll find the band playing each song as cleanly, faithfully, and sterile-ly as possible. This is the Stones with their fangs pulled out, and while it's nice to hear them play 'Ruby Tuesday' and 'Paint It Black' like they do, I really miss the old days when they said 'fuck it' and just let 'er rip all over the bitch. I mean I can hear that Mick Jagger's hair is short, right there under the laser light. At least he's singing again, for the first time in as far as I can remember. He sounds good, I guess, but very disengaged.

Songs? Conspicuously avoiding the more 'difficult' moments of their history, they embrace their feel-good pop songs like 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' and 'Factory Girl' (wtf?) rather than doing, say, 'Midnight Rambler' or 'Monkey Man', which they'd pull out really fucking nicely on their 1999 tour. Clapton shows up on 'Little Red Rooster', the best song on here, but he's content to pull his basic Clapton (trademark 1980). And those Steel Wheel songs are still boring. Ronnie's attempts at soloing are still funny.

Oh wait, wait...I haven't talked about Ronnie's live solo stylings yet. The man apparently learned to solo listening to a bunch of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor live tapes all chopped up into inch long pieces and then taped together in random order and fed into a reel-to-reel. They start and stop arbitrarily, contain bits that one may identify as being 'tense' or 'wailing' but almost never in the order that would make sense. When copying someone else's solo, he can be fine, but left to his own devices he can be a real mess. It's the most entertaining part of this CD, actually.

A shout out to piano player Chuck Leavell, formerly of the mid-70's Allman Brothers Band. He plays damn fine and damn near flawlessly on here. As he will on both of the next tours. Fine job, Chuck. You're definitely the best Stones pianist behind Stu and Nicky Hopkins. Welcome on board.

Oh and there's two new songs on here, 'Highwire' and 'Sex Drive', which sound like just slightly harder Stealer's Wheel tunes. Bo-ring.

Capn's Final Word: Ahem. Where are your balls, gentlemen? You're just old, you're not pussies. Think less about hitting right notes and more about making it rock.

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Voodoo Lounge - Virgin 1994

Now this is back on the right track. The best record since Tattoo and that ain't no jive. It only took them 4 tries and 5 years since the preceding studio album, but they finally came up with what can actually be considered to be their best possible effort. It cops shamelessly from earlier records, but who cares at this point? Not when the album actually begins with a flourish for once, three good tracks, bang, bang, bang. I remember being totally jazzed to hear 'Love Is Strong' for the first time on the radio...I was like 'now THIS is a goddamn comeback'. Then my girlfriend dumped me later that months for an industrial music fan and I liked it even more. I love the new trademarks: soulful background singing, Mick doing things with his voice, the thumping bass (courtesy of new man Darryl Jones, probably the best guy possible to replace Bill, who just wants to be old nowadays), and the wailing harmonica. This being more Keith's record than Mick's by far, it's full of heavy riffing such as I haven't heard since blah blah blah...and I'm a happy camper. So 'You Got Me Rocking' is sorta dumb lyrically, it does get me rocking. Keith can do those off-beat accent rips all day and you won't find ME complaining.

And I LIKE 'The Worst', which is so off-hand as to sound like Willie Nelson country or something. Of course, all Keith songs are off-hand, but those drunken vocal harmonies and sick melodies get me every single time. I think it's equal to 'You Got the Silver' so shoot my ass in the face. And if you're going to sound like a Mick Jagger solo track, at least you can sound like 'Out Of Tears', which is one of the few new-era Rolling Stones ballads I harbor no ill-will towards. Like I harbor ill will towards that asshole with the sides and top of his head shaved leaving nothing but three foot long bangs. Asshole.

And I DON'T LIKE the 'Lady Jane'-ish whiner 'New Faces' or the sick quirky pounding 'Moon Is Up' or the dippy 'Sweethearts Together' or most of the end of the record...they're either pushing their genre experiments too hard or they're making bunches of filler. But they ARE trying (though its sometimes hard to identify), and you may find you like some (but I can guarantee not all) of this stuff, probably different tracks than the ones I like, even. I don't say much of this is bad (or any of it, really) it's just that I don't like it. I didn't like 'Lady Jane' either, but it doesn't mean it sucks. Undercover sucked in its weirdness. Goat's Head sucked in its fakeness. Steel Wheels sucked in its dullness. My ex-girlfriend sucks for being such a slutty lying bitch. This commits none of those crimes.

Listen, these boys are old and have been around for such a long goddamn period of time it must be a total bitch to write this many new songs. Could you be absolutely sure you're not rewriting something from 10 or 20 years back unless you're doing some odd new genre experiment? And to fill up a 60 minute CD?...it used to be hard enough in the mid 70's to do a mere 40 minutes. Of course the grand days of yore are a distant memory. The all right days of Tattoo are, too. As are the days when my ex-girlfriend wasn't a fucking brainwashed pseudo-wiccan dishonest psycho whore. This is now their best effort and I feel okay with that. They still kick ass live. Or at least started to again on this tour.

Capn's Final Word: Right. Better than it should be. I just wish they'd have cut down a bit on the stupid dippy stuff on side 2.

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Stripped - Virgin 1995
 

A very pleasant, enjoyable, and just plain useless live record for the vast majority of us. Being not from a tour, really, but from a bunch of club and live-unplugged sessions, this stuff is great if for some reason you haven't heard the originals. But if you have you're going to find yourself bored fast. So, they can play the 60's stuff that well even this far removed from the people that they were at that time (grubby snot-nosed assholes) they're professional musicians, for godssake! If they woke up one day and somehow figured out they could no longer play 'Love in Vain' they'd have to turn in their guitars to the authorities, right? Well, they can still play it, and really good, too. And Keith's background vocals are great and I'm glad they're back. And I'm glad they remember how good a song 'The Spider and The Fly' was. And is. And 'Slipping Away' is saved from the Steel Wheels scrap heap on this record. And a few of the other song choices are interesting ('Dead Flowers').

Now if Keith had ripped into a bunch of Peter Tosh covers and Mick did some old-ass country blues maybe I'd get a little excited. Don't think they didn't consider it. Or maybe do Voodoo Lounge unplugged in its entirety. I'd buy that.

As for the stuff that's rare and new live-wise, 'Like A Rolling Stone' is, umm...useless! Again, it's fine and professional and just sloppy enough to be interesting, but what does it add to the original? Not a damned thing, except for a removed verse or two. Actually I think 'I'm Free' gathers that 60's vibe about 10 million times better than 'LARS'. And while Love You Live's El Mocambo stuff had the distinction of being rough and hard to handle, these club songs just prove that, again, the Stones can still play their old songs well. Buy a ticket to a live show and have the time of your life, don't try to get some sort of contact high off this stuff.

Capn's Final Word: Umm... may I ask, Why? Again, good and all, but why? For what reason?

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GJ     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Clubs are the real places for their kind of music, not the alienating stadiums.

 


Bridges to Babylon - Virgin 1997

Mick grasps control again and makes the band take some electronica pills, and you know what? It isn't awful at all. It at least avoids the mistakes that could have made it another Undercover, god forbid. Kinda deadly serious, though...I mean the thing barely cracks a smile. Thee Olde Dark Vibe, finally returning? Could be! But probably its just that the price for Preparation H went up and our boys are a bit miffed. Some of it kicks mighty hard, like 'Flick of the Switch' f'r instance, which sprays the vinegar like something off Some Girls but with its teeth gritted all tight. But something itches at the back of my brain telling me that in a few more years this will be seen on an equal level with those awfully dated garbage 80's records, but we're just too close to see that now. Ohhh, I think maybe that's taking it a little harsh. Calm down and think rationally.

For the songs that make me whistle like a schoolgirl in the loo, 'Anybody Seen My Baby' is melodic and catchy, kd lang ripoff and sampled drums or no. And I like 'Already Over Me' too...those heartbreak ballads just keep getting better as these dudes get older. When those drums come in, ooh. I know that feeling. Is that the old Stones magic or is it just me halluskinatin' again? Nah...they stopped making that stuff decades ago. It's just professionalism.

Keith's reggae 'You Don't Have To Mean It' is just loopy enough to make me smile even though it's 5 in the morning and I really should be asleep but I drank fucking 3 cups of coffee at midnight so tomorrow is totally shot. And something as actually exciting as 'Out Of Control' (honestly exciting! Hear that chorus explode! Wow!) doesn't come along every day, you know. Songs like that Manic Street Preachers dogshit comes along every day. And you know what? 'Control' kicks all sorts of ass live. Shit, 'Saint of Me' is fucking cool, too even though it uses the same sort of 'explode into the chorus' trick as 'Out Of Control'...we can't always be original now can we? It has a real live hook, only slightly wussy sounding. And what a great idea to put those backup singers voices soaring over the bridge part. Has someone been listening to Exile lately? I guess so, since Mick rips the line about the angel crying straight from 'Shine A Light'. I guess we can't always keep from blatantly plagarizing ourselves,now can we?

But those electronica experiments CAN suck, and slag like 'Gunface' and 'Might As Well Get Juiced' should have been parked at the nearest cutting room floor, not placed like frigging signal beacons on this album. And the whole thing fails to rock with any of the conviction of Voodoo, generic stuff like 'Too Tight' is 2 degrees removed from the likes of Steel Wheels. And though I like Keith's final two songs (why two? They sound exactly fucking alike, don't they?) but that's just because after reviewing this many Rolling Stones albums I can no longer see straight.

People can bash this album for being too trendy or too poppy or whatever, but again I feel happy enough that they managed to squeeze out as much good stuff as they did. A surprisingly large amount of it. And you know what? Moving that many musical bowels at 60 years old is a real trick. They're also sounding like they mean it....something they haven't done for a REALLY long time. I mean, they're actually approaching real soulfullness on stuff like 'Thief In the Night', and they rarely did that even in their best times.

Capn's Final Word: No classic, but again one entertaining listen. Less rocking but also less scattershot than Voodoo Lounge, and again I'm seeing real originality.

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No Security - Virgin 1998
 

Right, so The Groaning Bones are still one fine fucking concert attraction. They play better on this live album than any since Love You Live, and Mick actually sings better since he's not snorting cock and sucking coke quite so much as he was back in the bad ol' 1975's. And gosh, is that an original track listing I smell? 'Memory Motel', 'Sister Morphine', 'Live With Me', 'Waiting On A Friend' and MORE! Ha Haaaa! Human squeak toy Dave Matthews sings on 'Memory' okay and old guy I've never heard about other than on old San Francisco concert posters Taj Mahal really screws up 'Corrina'. And there's a bunch of B2B songs on here that sound better live, especially Juice Newton's 'Queen of Hearts'.

A fun time to be had.

Capn's Final Word: Its ANOTHER GODDAMN LIVE ALBUM. But it's good.

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Live Licks - EMI 2004
 

Here we go again with your Keith Richards and your ho-ho vocals and your big blammo pyrotechnics and your handful o' 'did they really play this live?!?' rarities and your 'Brown Sugar'. The Rolling Stones have put out so many goddamn live albums now that it's now impossible to view a new one as anything but yet another data point on their collective medical/financial chart - that yes, they toured again last year for another bazillion people in another several dozen sports arenas, and yes, they raked in yet more untold millions of clams from those people, and no, no more of them died or got liver spots on their vocal cords or anything in the past few years, and yes, they can still play as well as they did in 1975, and no, they didn't play all that well in 1975, and yes, it's still impressive they sound as good as they do as octogenarians, and no, Mick Jagger's hair color is not a normal human shade, and yes, those backup singers have gotten to be louder than the band. The 40 Licks tour wasn't even in support of a new studio album (but at least it was an anniversary tour, unlike the 1998 No Security tour, which used a live album for an excuse, fer chrissakes! By the way, it's now been seven years and counting since Bridges to Babylon came out...who knew then that it would be a Bridge to Oblivion, anyway?), but they did use the occasion to skip playing too many bathroom-breakers in a vain attempt to hype the new studio record no one cares about, and instead toss in a few more rarities that I would've gotten all dewy about back in the mid-Nineties when I was a Stones-worshipping wussbag. The first disc, though, is useful for no one who has more than one live album by these guys since Love You Live, as it seems to exist for no reason other than to list, one at a time (and with the exception of 'Angie'), the songs that the Rolling Stones play at every concert they have ever played anywhere. Yes, 'Street Fighting Man' is still a great song, as is 'Gimme Shelter' and 'Happy' and 'Honky Tonk Women', and if you’ve never heard a live version of these songs (or never gotten the second mortgage needed to buy a Stones concert ticket anymore), these'll probably be pretty impressive. But to someone who can name at least two other places where you can hear live versions of most of these songs, this is near useless business. I guess if we're splitting hairs here, they play a few of these human jukebox tracks slightly closer to the studio originals than other versions I've heard recently ('Gimme Shelter' regains a bit of its menace from bad vocal mix hell), but come on. I hate to say it about my still-favorite band, but this first disc is a heard-it-before yawnfest suited only to grey-haired fools who once owned Through the Past Darkly and want to relive the days before they drove a Buick Assmaster and voted the straight Fascist ticket and ignorant kids who want a taste of how 'real' the Stones are but don't have the guts to buy Get Yer Ya Ya's Out.

Disc II is where the fun comes in since I haven't heard many of these songs live outside of bootlegs of concerts from around the time of the release of their studio counterparts, and most of those tours sucked complete and utter rectum anyway. 1981 tour? No thanks! I'll take the 'Neighbors' from this one, thank you most kindly, and pay my respects to Keith Richards for jacking up his guitar volume. Same goes for 'Beast of Burden' which finally replaces the criminally overplayed 'Miss You' in the Stones' setlist. Keith proves once again that he's the only member of the band to produce lasting material sincethe disco years with his still-fun reggae 'You Don't Have to Mean It', which is the only inclusion which was released after Tattoo You. Other rare greats include a rushed 'Monkey Man' (the 'heavenly' instrumental break is cut obscenely short), which is far inferior to its flawless studio counterpart off Let It Bleed, an obscenely extended ten-minute 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking', which kicks ass in the rocking part and rocks like ass in the kicking part, a brilliantly smooth 'Rocks Off' which is more broken-in and comfortable than the old '72 tour versions, and 'Worried About You'! What the motherfuck? A near-tuneless electric piano ballad recorded in, like, 1973 and tossed onto the ass-end of Tattoo You in 1981 resurrected in 2003 to be played in front of an audience of clueless sheep who get antsy during anything more oddball than 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' ? Dude, what is this, Phish? I'd say that's pure balls, ladies and sheep-herders, to include weird shit like that that maybe 10% of the audience has ever heard in their life. I still like it, sure (Tattoo really is a pretty great record, after all), but not nearly as much as, say, 'Memory Motel' from the 90's tours. There's also a crapload of obscure (and not-so-obscure, for I distinctly remember the Blues Brothers doing 'Everybody Wants Somebody To Love' right before doing something funny while wearing fedoras and Ray Ban Wayfarers) 60's soul covers that I would name the original singers of if I had a clue who they were, but I'm too busy shirking from my job all day writing reviews to look 'em up.

Capn's Final Word: I'm still holding out for my version of 'Fight', but I guess if you must you could do much worse than this (i.e. Still Life, which may as well be called Comatose).

 


A Bigger Bang - EMI 2005
 

It's been just a brisk 8 years, but the Rolling Stones have deigned to provide us with another studio album upon which to base a soul-destroying stadium tour, and these occasions are usually marked by folks better-paid than myself to trundle out the dusty old saw about whatever the new product is being 'the best album since Tattoo You'. It might be lazy, and it sure is a dull way to write criticism, but you know what? They're right, for the most part. This kind of thing has been going on since 1989, for at that point, Steel Wheels really did sound better than Undercover or Dirty Work, and Voodoo Lounge improved greatly on Wheels. There's no way in heckola Bridges to Babylon was better than Voodoo Lounge, but all those Dust Brothers drum samples had clouded all those Nee Yawk writer's minds who said the trend had continued. I heard a revisionist take on this platitude by a writer in Rolling Stone who, banking on the fact that no one remembers how awful these albums really were, compared Bigger Bang to the likes of Emotional Rescue (long a critical whipping boy, but still a coked-up, wart-covered minor favorite of mine) and Dirty Work (simply wart-covered and rotten...a true work of dirt). Now, that's what I call journalistic license. I say the only fair comparisons for Bigger Bang are against Bridges and Voodoo, since they are, outside of a few techno trappings on Bridges, the same fucking album. It's a fairly decent one, to be sure, but the days of the Stones spending half a year doing a complete 180 on their sound (as from Satanic Majesties to Beggar's Banquet or Exile on Main St. to Goat's Head Soup) have been replaced by the Stones spending almost a decade rewriting the same 15 or so songs they put out last time. Hell, they're old as crap...what do you really expect from them? At least they're writing new material at all. On the other hand, it's just pretty sad, from the point of view of an old Stones stalwart like myself, that Paul frigging McCartney, all by his lonesome, puts out three times as much new studio product as the Stones does, and it's all just as reliably fair-to-middling. The fact that Mick keeps half of his songs for his solo albums (and Keith's excellent solo career has been stalled for almost 15 years) can't help, but come on...is this process that hard?

Eight years can't pass in the lives of dudes this old without some major shit going down in the meantime, and this holds true for the Stones as well. Since Bridges happened, Ronnie finally dried out in rehab (knowing the Stones track record on sobriety, though, who knows how well that took), Charlie got and beat cancer, Mick got knighted (huh?), and Keith's facial skin began to take on the look of that of a giant tortoise, thus guaranteeing at least 50-75 more years of Riff-hard on our hands. But none of this seems to have phased the band any...they still sound great when laying down on the back of the beat on some groove, especially ol' Charlie, who has his best performance since, erm...Tattoo You.

Still, the songs've gotta be there to justify saying more than the tired 'well, they're damn close to 70 years old, and they can Still Rock!' platitudes, and it just ain't happenin'. I'm sitting here listening to a bunch of Tattoo You session outtakes from the late 70's that I downloaded off the geek wire, and after hearing Bang about 4 or 5 times today, anyone who thinks the new one comes within a billion miles of the classic Tattoo has got crotch rot of the brains. Tattoo was the Stones performing effortless, raw, and immediately memorable hard rock that sounded like it sprang fully grown from their Fender tweeds. . Bang is a total formula piece, absolutely copped from Keith and Mick's most convenient bag of tricks, the same ones they've been so quick to whip out since God knows how many years ago, but somehow the spark's been diminished and everything sounds rote. Instead of challenging themselves to come up with more challenging arrangements or riffs, everything is based on 'the sound'. You know the one. Strike major chord (Keith can do it by putting down no more than one barred finger, due to his open-G tuned guitar, leaving all those other fingers open to hold a half-smoked Marlboro, or maybe counting the millions of clams he's gonna net from this particular show). Put down two fingers to make that weird Keithian chord inversion. Strike again, three or four times. Release fingers. Repeat. A surprising amount of mileage has been gotten from this very sound, but Bigger Bang is by far the album where the old gimmick sounds the most worn-out. Listen, Ron and Keith, when just jamming together in some room somewhere, have an almost Jedi-worthy mental connection between themselves, and have almost a century of knowledge to put to bear. I'm sure Keith can mumble 'Gary U.S. Bonds' and the two can seamlessly shift into something in that style, before moving on to the Impressions or Freddie King, but none of that comes out on this album. It's just the same sort of generic Stones riffs, the ones that need more than just verse-chorus-verse to make them work. What happened to the nifty tempo changes on a track like 1997's 'Out of Control'? What about a crescendo or two somewhere? What about playing fast again, eh? A song like 'It Won't Take Long' isn't gonna last in anyone's memory longer than it takes them to buzz through it in between 'Miss You' and 'The Last Time' (meaning, the time it takes to locate the pisser, wait in line, and use it while at Worldwide Conglomerate Field in Sprawlton, USA). The places where they mix it up aren't quite as interesting as they have been on the last few albums, either - the funk tune 'Rain Fell Down' recalls the mannequin production quality of Dirty Work, and the Chicago holler blues 'Back of My Hand' is good, but lacks that bit of extra cayenne that made their best ones move like they had rabid hellhounds on their tails, and that instrumental section is just a bore.

Mick's voice ain't none too good, either, but he's been in decline ever since he stopped doing coke twenty years ago. He pushes his twang far too much, bending notes that probably ought to just be sung straight. Plus, there's several instances where his vocals are (intentionally?) overdriven, most obviously on the leadoff single 'Rough Justice', which ends up just sounding like a crashing blare. Plus, what ever happened to Mick having to earn his place in the mix? You couldn't hear half of what he was saying from 1967 to 1976, and everyone thought it was boner. How bout turning the motherfucker down again? 'Biggest Mistake' could've been a near classic if Mick hadn't been mixed so goddamn high, but instead it's turned into some sort of vanity tune for the guy.  The Stones oughta be about a maelstrom of clashing, tumbling guitars, a solid, resilient beat, and Mick hollering way down in there about 'sixes and sevens and nayynns' and 'cream and su-gah' and all other manner of ephemera, not this over-clear (or ever-so-crispily distorted) vocal style that's goin' on here. Keith's tunes sound just the same as 'The Worst' did back in 1994, meaning rough and full of weird, slightly disorientating rhythms probably educated by all those obscure old Ska and dub records he's always listening to. Some folks find Keith's recent efforts to be too rough to be worthy, but for me, they're always highlights. 'This Place is Empty' and the light, bizarre funk 'Infamy' have some of the most distinct melodies and attitudes on the entire record.

So A Bigger Bang isn't a suckfest, exactly, but it is mighty disappointing. Mick shouldn't be given the opportunity to speak literally about politics ever again, because 'Sweet Neo-Con' is probably the best sort of agit-prop Bush could hope for - a godawfully warty funk tune marred by lyrics that sound more like a crackpot's bile-spewing blog entry than the vague, apocalyptic voice that once drove the last fucking nail in the Sixties, the voice that could have caused Bush the Junior some real harm. In the form of diving karmic smite. Like some nice painful facial lesions, or maybe a particularly ravenous hookworm infection. Keith gives this one his lamest treatment as well, making me wonder if he was actually sabotaging Sir Elizabethlicker's painfully obvious hypocrisy.

I'm also sort shocked at how much like the long, lost, unloved Undercover a lot of this record sounds. The loud funk beat, the flashy guitars, the gross, buzzy vocals - if 'Look What The Cat Dragged In' wouldn't fit neatly next to 'Too Much Blood' or 'She Was Hot', I'm Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia's illegitimate love child. I wonder why they decided, more than twenty years after the fact, that an Eighties sound was the way they needed to lean here.  It ain't as slick as Steel Wheels, mind you, but lots of this album has that flavor, and I'm not sure you'd like the flavor of New Coke, fruit roll-ups, and cocaine as much as they think you will.

Okay, so I'll say about a third of this album is pretty great ('Drivin' Too Fast', 'Laugh, I Nearly Died', 'Oh No Not You Again', the two Keith tunes) lots of it is fair and forgettable, and only 'Sweet Neo-Con' is one I really, really wish hadn't come through my door. For guys this fucking old, that's great. But for guys with this much experience and this great a track record, I'm afraid I'm still disappointed. Maybe in another eight years...

Capn's Final Word: Not as good as Tattoo You. Not as good as The Best Albums Since Tattoo You. But still beat the Thurgood Marshall out of Dirty Work and Steel Wheels.


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