Monday, 19 December 2016

The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" (1966)


Copy of Copy of AAA 1) Beach Boys by Alan Pattinson











The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" (1966)

Wouldn't It Be Nice?/You Still Believe In Me/That's Not Me/Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shadow)/I'm Waiting For The Day/Let's Go Away For A While//Sloop John B/God Only Knows/I Know There's An Answer/Here Today/I Just Wasn't Made For These Times/Pet Sounds/Caroline, No


"It's time to get Bingo and Max The Singing Dog really wailing!"

I have a confession to make, dear readers. Despite being as big a Beach Boy fan as any of you, I've never actually liked 'Pet Sounds' that much. *Pause* Well, we seem to be OK there so far, I expected the roof to fall in or some raging fans to attack me or something. Let's try a little bit more: Indeed, that album put me off for years because if the wretched 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' was meant to be the best the band could muster then they didn't sound like a band I wanted to collect.*Intermission* Well there's a surprise - I mean even people who hate The Beach Boys have been saying such OTT things about this album I thought the world would evaporate or we'd all become transformed into animals in the San Diego Zoo for daring to say something different. Let's try a little bit more: The best things about Beach Boys albums are generally the harmonies - and there aren't many on this record, which is generally a Brian Wilson solo record. The other best thing are the melodies and that's only partly true of this record where so many nice ideas just get swamped. Brian Wilson's genius for combining odd instruments together is heard a lot across this album, but more often it's used in a sickly lush and overly romantic way that ends up sounding annoyingly soft and artificial, like a bad 1940s movie rather than a great mid-1960s record. *Suspension* Hmm I'm warming up now, let's throw a few more things in there: Plus the one thing that everybody says is so great about this album is that it tells a whole 'story' of love from joyous beginning to sad ending - but The Beach Boys had already done that better on 'Today', plus 'Pet Sounds' includes everything in a 'jumbled' order so you can't really trace the story properly (in my view the tracks should run 1, 3, 4, 8, 5, 10, 9, 2, 11, 13) and what the hell do the two instrumentals and 'Sloop John B' mean in that context or are we meant to expect a romance in a sail-ship? *Hiatus*: I'm really getting into the groove now: 'Pet Sounds' is a case of the Emperor's new clothes - we keep being told by everyone how great it is and yet it's nothing more than a poor repeat of what's gone before it in reference to 'Today' and a far worse version of 'Smile' to come.

Alright, that's a little unfair and I know it's unfair. There are some amazing moments on 'Pet Sounds' to be found scattered throughout the record and I know it. The album is also home to one of all the all-time Beach Boys classics in 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times', a song that's impressively (and suitably) ahead of its times and 'God Only Knows' and the lesser known 'Don't Talk' are both gorgeous sighing romantic ballads any album would be proud to include. More than enough big names in the music business (Paul McCartney among them) have called this their favourite album and they know far more than I ever will. The moments when The Beach Boys do sing all together is glorious and few people used an orchestra like Brian when he was using it well. This is a record that sounds unlike any other ever made - honest, open, nakedly emotional - and that alone earns it several bonus points. The album's true hero too is all too often ignored though: it's not any of the Beach Boys (not even Brian!) but lyricist Tony Asher who despite having never written a song in his life (his trade was writing slogans for advertisements) has the rare ability to put the in-expressible into words. The lyrics throughout this album are phenomenal and already give this album more stars than most but, here's the thing (to my ears at least) the words don't belong with these songs or the production and Tony Asher might have been better off with a musician who wasn't quite so...cloying, while Brian was always better off with a writer who could think rather than feel.

The disconnect between the two is just too much for me as yet another heart-tugging violin dripping with artificial sentimentality arrives in view to 'tell' us how to feel and yet another performance ends up sounding way too sophisticated and grand for the very lonely, simple, vulnerable song hiding inside it. Orchestras have to be treated with care in rock and roll and here, as with the equally regarded Moody Blues album 'Days Of Future Passed' (which is also far worse than its reputation suggests), it's used badly. This record doesn't rock. This record doesn't even roll. Instead it sits there in a bath of its own tears, relegating the bits that could make it both rock and roll (the harmonies, the guitar and the drums) as a sideshow. The orchestra makes it too false to tug at my heart strings, much as I might admire parts of it and love this album when I read it rather than hear it. I would happily listen to every other Beach Boys album on repeat for hours (well, maybe not 'Still Crusin' or 'LA Light' but, you know, most of them) and yet I struggle to make it to the end of 'Pet Sounds' in one sitting because I'm just not moved by it or have any true emotional connection to it. My rather grouchy review this week is not because I hate 'Pet Sounds' (if nobody knew about it and it remained 'that weird album from 1966 that didn't sell' I'd be defending it - that's the nature of my 'job'), but because I'm tired of watching everybody call this their 'favourite album from the 1960s' simply through peer pressure when it's not even close to being the best Beach Boys album of the 1960s (even if I can't have 'Smile' I'd take 'All Summer Long' 'Today' 'Wild Honey' 'Friends' and '20/20' over this one). So many people only own this album and don't bother with the rest and still call themselves Beach Boys fans when they're missing out on so much brilliance that really does pull at the heart strings and take you to a place that's moving and gorgeous and wonderful. 'Pet Sounds' just sits there, banging two coke cans together and calling it art.

I'll explain what I mean because most of you probably disagree judging by the endless round of 'Classic albums' dedicated to this one LP: the way I see it the main issue for a Beach Boys fan is this. Brian is an intellectual instinctive writer. Goodness knows there's a lot of emotion running through The Beach Boys' catalogue, but by and large it's secondary to the thought process and Brian's musical curiosity: What instrument goes here with what? What are kids today really thinking? How am I going to fit enough space in the middle of this song to fit the whole band into it? Brian's head (at least for most of the 1960s) is the ultimate problem-solver as, Gemini Horse that he is, he works out a problem and solves it before most people have even realised there is one yet through hard work, observation and thought. Most Beach Boys albums are like this and they're spectacular: even when Brian is poorly his charm and innocence as he describes his thought processes (rather than his feelings) on his 'househusband' songs are what makes those works so special. However Brian is, by and large, unsure of emotions and tends to either use outside writers or feel worried about revealing so much of himself on his own songs. He feels out of sorts when his cousin Mike and his dad Murry start getting angry, by his own admission he struggled to express his emotion to his teenage sweetheart Marilyn and can only really translate his feelings through the language of someone else via the medium of music. In short, emotions are things other people understand and know how to deal with - for Brian, a lot of the time, they're a source of confusion and sorrow. Every other collaborator Brian every worked with, from Gary Usher and Roger Christian through to Van Dyke Parks and even his own cousin Mike, knew how to tap into Brian's character and use emotion as one part of an overall essence in a song that's primarily about chicks, cars or - in Van Dyke's case - the disintegration of society as America tries to come to terms with her heritage displacing native settlers. 
Feelings are there, but they're part of the mix, lost in the stereo, usually there thanks to other people (though Brian, as a singer, does emote as well and believably as anyone). 'Pet Sounds' puts feelings right up front and centre - and Brian's unsure what to make of feelings (even if many of the songs were written after chats with Tony Asher about hopes and fears) so he slathers them with an orchestra because that's how feelings sound to him (mushy and overpowering, right?) and crosses his fingers (or at least, that's what it sounds like to me). People have assumed that 'Pet Sounds' is the 'real' Brian, but I'm not convinced it is: 'Smile' is the real Brian, full of disconnected loops of thoughts and puns and segmented ideas that somehow roll into one moving whole that wouldn't sound anything on paper if any other writer was to join the dots (Indeed that's why no one else ever joined the dots of 'Smile' - only Brian could evermake that album). By contrast all of 'Pet Sounds' is already there on paper if you read the lyric sheet - too often the album itself comes over as slightly inferior window dressing. Or maybe it's just me: you see my feelings don't come in neat piles, with an orchestra attached and a piccolo solo. They sound more like a Who concept album on high volume, messy swirling and chaotic and difficult as that is I would hate to lice in the intellectualised world of 'Pet Sounds' my whole life. 'Pet Sounds' is by contrast a cosy world where the only people who really get hurt are the isolated, alienated protagonist on 'Times' and the mournful cry at the end of 'Caroline, No'. Maybe it's my problem - but I can't write reviews from anyone else's point of view, so I'm left with the feeling that too much of 'Pet Sounds' is underwhelming and all but the very best of that doesn't actually move me at all the way Brian and co usually can. If I was there in 1966 I'd actually agree with Mike Love not to mess with the formula - not because The Beach Boys should have stayed the same doing what they always did (they clearly couldn't be doing that and wearing striped shirts in 1966 and they were always about improving themselves, long before The Beatles turned up to give them competition) but because this sounds like just a 'wrong' path to me. And it's not the audience who couldn't keep up, it's the band.

In the past Beach Boys records have used instrumentation as colour and extra complexity to impress fans and peers alike so they go 'ooh, this sounds good!' 'Today' is the perfect example of how to use an orchestra in rock and roll - it stays in the background until sweeping the characters up in string-laden warm arms or sobbing alongside them right at the point when it's supposed to, when the narrators of [106] 'Kiss Me Baby' realise that their petty fight is really small fry compared to the huge overwhelming feeling in their hearts and when Dennis Wilson, of all people, reveals that behind his stud muffin exterior lies a romantic crooner looking for the perfect soulmate [108] 'In The Back Of My Mind'. The orchestra is hidden, subconscious and slightly dangerous, because it's not thinking, it's being. You always feel as if the still-teenagers-no-honest Beach Boys are doing their best to run away from the very adult lushness and responsibility kicking and screaming at their door but that it will catch up with them in the end. On 'Pet Sounds' there's no break from the orchestra, which makes it feel rather like an uncomfortable job interview for being an adult: do you have what it takes to cope with a world this crazy? Well, no. No, I don't. That's why I'm listening to a band who till now have been all about surf and turf (well, turf covered in girls and cars anyway). Though rock and roll instruments - the sound of teenagers, even on an album half a century old - do play across this album, they're subservient to the 'adult' instruments: a ukulele part here, a tambourine there, a flute or piccolo solo everywhere. The orchestra dictates everything and like many orchestras when allowed off the leash it seeps everywhere, with messy emotion getting in the way of all the fun and hugeness relegating the humble things the band are trying to say to a tiny corner in the bottom of the audio screen. These are, at heart, tiny songs about feeling small, lonely, misunderstood and wondering whether you're going to stay with your girlfriend for the rest of your life and grow old together or whether something's going to go wrong because you've already rowed three times this week and you're not even married yet (The Beach Boys had already done this theme far better on  'When I Grow Up To Be A Man' incidentally). They're hopes, dreams and fears - they're meant to sound small and under-nourished and a little powerless. But the use of so much orchestra, so many session musicians and so much flipping Phil Spector-style echo (which Brian never did truly learn how to use, though he admired it greatly) everything sounds massive when it should just sound small. This album would be beautiful if remixed one day to sound just that, small and humble, the way the songs feel like they ought to be. Instead it feels grandiose and large and unwieldy. No wonder this album took so many years to be celebrated as a 'classic': the whole sound is off-putting (at least to me) and it takes a whole before the true greatness of the record shines through.

Tony Asher is responsible for a majority of that greatness. His ability to understand the insecurities of every teenager and early twenty-something and to make these songs sound remarkably un-patronising once you're past that age should have made him one of the single most respected lyricists of his age. It's a tragedy that the only musical gig he could get after the 'failure' of this album was writing songs for The Partridge Family TV Show (I kid you not). As has been said before many times there's a whole story across this album and he captures every plot point brilliantly (even if they're in the wrong order). There's the impatient youngster of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?', the young idealist of 'That's Not Me', the loved-up romantic of 'Don't Talk', the blissful how-did-I-ever-live-without-you? of 'God Only Knows', the first fight of 'I'm Waiting For The Day', the angry 'Here Today', the suddenly grown adult of 'I Know There's An Answer', the all-gone-wrong-can't-believe-you're-still-with-me narrator of 'You Still Believe Me', the misunderstood where-did-everybody-go? recluse of 'I Wasn't Made For These Times' and ultimately the parting of 'Caroline No' when innocence is long gone. I can see why so many people love this album because everyone's gone through at least one of these stages and most of us have been through them all, multiple times. Goodness knows where the sleepy holiday of 'Let's Go Away For A While', the James Bond themed title track and the sea-sick 'Sloop John  B' fit in though. And yet the genius of 'Pet Sounds' is that it all 'reads' real enough for us to think that no one has ever been through them before and the narrator is talking only to us. 'Pet Sounds' is an album that's had it's heart broken so many times and yet it's still split between the usual Beach Boys dichotomy of hope and depression that represents a realist's view of romance and yet also why the high points of living are still important enough to go through the low points for. The album title even implies that it's all part of our animal instinct, some primal desire that makes us fall in and out of love that human beings just can't help (although in reality the title was Mike Love's indignation at being forced to make yet another take and complaining that his cousin 'must have the ears of a dog' because it sounded ok to him two hours ago and he wants to go home!) Tony nobly said once that he was just the 'messenger' for Brian's music, but that's unfair - no other collaborator got Brian to open up quite so readily about his feelings and though history has recorded this album as being pure Brian, I'm willing to bet that there's actually more of Tony Asher on here. Had 'Pet Sounds' been a book of poetry it would have been first class.

Thematically the theme of this record is loss and illusion, specifically about the moment when partners try to mix their different lives together in a marriage (did we mention Brian had been married a year when he started this album? The timing being almost exactly coinciding with his breakdown, which was as much about the marriage as the workload). On most of the tracks the narrator is either waiting for his first love to be old enough to marry or pining over her when his second love doesn't work out and every track comes with twinges of melancholy about the fact that things didn't happen the way he always dreamed of growing up. 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' is as much about 'gee I wish my illusions were real' as 'I wish I was older'. 'Don't Talk' has Brian still living inside his head and imagining the perfect love - the 'words we both could say' aren't needed, both because the feelings are strong enough on their own and perhaps (unspoken) because the moment the couple find out they have different visions of the future their illusion is shattered. 'Caroline, No' is the moment when it all goes wrong - when Brian realises that asking someone to stay the same as they were on their wedding day is not practical or possible or remotely fair, inspired by Marilyn's hairdresser messing up her usual hairdo and cutting it short to cover up the mess - Brian didn't like it and wanted her to stay the same forever! However on the other side of the coin both 'God Only Knows' and 'You Still Believe Me' show that love isn't doomed to failure or a fleeting illusion - that belief, trust and support can be the making of someone and offer stability in a world that's full of confusion. It's certainly a journey this album, which is why the passing train at the end of the record (while Brian's own dogs Banana and Louie, who sound very like our own Bingo and Max but less drunk, bark their heads off at it) is so apt: life is fleeting and though we can bark at change and 'progress' all we like, there's nothing we can do about it. No wonder this album only became such big news later: you weren't meant to say things like this or think about growing older in the 1960s; only The Kinks were doing anything similar and 'Village Green Preservation Society' won't be here for another two years yet. People are wrong if they think that 'Pet Sounds' is all about love though as many of the best tracks don't mention it all. 'That's Not Me' and 'I Know There's An Answer' are about growing up and thinking for yourself, even if it ends in the foggy isolationism of 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times'. If ever there was an instruction manual for coping with the obstacles of life then it would read like 'Pet Sounds', which is a warm arm around the shoulder and a comforting 'been there, done that, gone to the zoo and got the T-shirt' bit of recognition from authors to listener. If it had stayed like this then I could so see why 'Pet Sounds' is as loved as it is: few albums are as brave or as open about how tough life really is or how many things you have to learn rather than be taught. Truly 'Pet Sounds' is a phenomenal work in the psychological sense even if it isn't always musically.
The Emperor's New Clothes and cold shoulder I have with this album isn't with the songs at all but the way they're put onto record. I bought the pricey 'Pet Sounds Sessions' box set when it came out in the hope of discovering more about why people loved this album so much - and I admit the vocal-only mixes are superb and came close to changing my mind with all the extraneous noise removed. 

But I still can't get past the backing. Heard on their own these tracks are just lots of ideas being thrown together and Brian's usual ability to make music out of the most unusual combinations deserts him. The band are clearly thirty takes past their best on almost all the finished versions, however disciplined they are and I'd much prefer The Beach Boys themselves to have made this raw and honest record, however sloppy. The rhythm on this album is hopeless - that's what comes of having the drums drowned out by multiple percussionists and that banged can of coke of doom (on the start of 'Caroline, No' if you were wondering). There are too many 'false' moments that get in the way of the music's true heart as Brian compensates for not being able to 'feel' by 'overthinking' (to be fair, I do the same a lot) by using too much emotion even when it's obviously false: there's a sax solo on 'Caroline, No' that's so insincere it just causes the emotional interest in the song to plummet, while I haven't listen to the butchered false grins of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' in years the sheer artificiality hurts my ears so much the first time and the 'I wanna cry' break on 'You Believe In Me' is the most intellectual sob in the history of music, even hitting all the notes in the scale bang on in order instead of letting fly with real feeling. In case you're wondering what I mean, have a listen to the flop single [132] 'The Little Girl I Once Knew' written by Brian alone and released between the far sillier [131] 'Barbara Ann' and [144] 'Sloop John B'. As a song it's virtually the same as 'Caroline, No' though not as heartfelt  or intelligent. But it gets me everytime in a way little on this album does: the innocence of the vocals, the sudden jerky full stops that interrupt the flow and the carnival atmosphere played on just rock and roll instruments: it sounds like a teenager trying not to grow up. 'Pet Sounds', though written to largely the same demographic, is an adult pretending to be a teen.

Though 'Pet Sounds' is an emotional album at the core, the performances really aren't - they're inhibited and afraid to let go, which is unusual for rock and roll and especially for 1960s Beach Boys. Even the harmonica - one of the greatest and most soulful instruments in rock and roll - is used to sound like the most obvious soundtrack-to-a-silent-movie-punchline rather than delivering the blues. Ironically the one instrument that's perfectly cast across the whole of the album is the other-worldly theremin of 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times' - because, unusual as the sound is, that's exactly what the narrator is feeling, isolated and misunderstood; by contrast I can guarantee that most teenagers don't yearn to marry their girlfriends in future adult life to the sound of a xylophone as they do on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' The famous line is that, as a producer, Brian was teaching classical musicians 'to play like rock musicians' but that's not true - instead he taught rock musicians to be classical musicians and that's what my ears can't handle. 'Pet Sounds' reads like an emotional investment, but it comes over like an opportunity to show off. Even Brian's knack for writing gorgeous melodies has largely deserted him, with only the pure beauty of 'God Only Knows' and the throbbing intimacy of 'Don't Talk' up to his highest standard. Everything else is a saxophone solo or an extra take away from greatness and all the excitement and energy has left the room. Even The Beach Boys themselves, usually enough of a source of energy by themselves, only get into these songs sporadically - Mike's gutsy vocal on 'That's Not Me' is impressive considering his mixed feelings about these sessions while Carl is so perfectly cast on the shy but triumphant 'God Only Knows' you wonder why it took so long to cast him (Brian was all set to sing the song at first and reportedly all the band were 'auditioned' for it) and Brian's own adult sigh is lovely on the original of 'Caroline, No' (pointlessly speeded up on the suggestion of dad Murry to make Brian sound 'younger' - that's so not the point of the song at all!) That's it though, in terms of band appearances, with even Brian sounding less than his normal stellar self. The rest of the time they've been told to sing this section so many times they've forgotten what this album means.

Some listeners - probably you - actually like that sort of  thing, in which case fine; you don't need me to tell you what you can or can't like and you can dismiss this review as grumpy witterings from someone whose lost the plot or never heard what you hear. That's fine: I'll content myself with loving 'LA Light Album' in a way that no others fans seem to get or going to my grave telling you why 'Trans' is Neil Young's greatest LP not his worst, honest. Maybe you've discovered something buried in this album I haven't found yet and that's ok: if I ever find it I'll be sure to update this review and tell you. But for me music has to be real or there's no point making it: I love lush and beautiful as much as the next reviewer but that only works when the songs have to be done that way; when the narrator's so head over heels he can't think straight (as per 'Don't Talk') - trying to make an impatient teenager or someone determined to make their own way in the world calls for The Beach Boys as rockstars, not classicists. Strange as it may sound I'm not alone either: I've, rather nervously, asked a few of my fellow reviewer friends their opinion on this album and a few of them have reviewed it before me and I think all of them agree with me, if not always for the same reasons. 'Pet Sounds' is an album that the average casual music fan likes a lot. But if you're enough of a mad passionate record collector to not only buy up most of The Beach Boys albums but also buy this book/read this article online then statistically it seems you're more likely to feel a bit left out when it comes to this album which seems to be for 'other' people who can't hear the beauty in the more raw and ragged songs and can see past the spit and polish. Interestingly, responses seem to be the other way round for this record's sort-of sequel 'Smile' (a much more intellectual and therefore suitably grandiose album that feels a lot more 'real' despite coming from the head rather than the heart): if you're a true blue record collector you love it; if you're a casual music fan you'll wonder why it had to be cobbled together from so many different itty bits and why it sounds so odd. There is, of course, no right or wrong answer to any of this (and I do know a couple of people who love both - and some people who hate everything The Beach Boys ever made, poor souls), but I've noticed this 'Sounds v Smile' gene come into play lots of times and its fascinating to watch and ponder about for hours and hours (I would get out more honest but I'm, uhh, 'waiting for the day').

In all my haste to explain why the likes of 'Sloop John B' doesn't rock my boat, I haven't really explained about how this album came about and why. Brian was so inspired by The Beatles' 'Rubber Soul' that he set out to write an album that would match it with 'absolutely no filler'. That doesn't seem quite true of either LP ('Rubber Soul' included the 'Help!' outtake 'Wait' because the band couldn't think of anything better and I'm not that convinced by Ringo co-write 'What Goes On' either'; similarly the very definition of 'filler' on Beach Boys albums are instrumentals and though more technically proficient this album's two instrumentals are just as much filler as [26] 'Stoked' and [46] 'Boogie Woodie'; outtake 'Trombone Dixie' sounds better than either to my ears) however it got Brian thinking, which was all that mattered. Brian was, by this point, around a year after his plane-orientated 'nervous breakdown' that saw him quit the touring band and concentrate on making music in the studio (his 'replacement' Bruce Johnston joins the studio band here too and makes his second real appearance on the coda of 'God Only Knows', which is about as important an introduction as you can get in any band's catalogue). Brian knew that he wanted to make the next Beach Boys album a shade deeper, after 'filler' albums 'Summer Nights' and especially 'Party' (an album made in three days to make up for the many months Brian had gone overboard making this one how he wanted it), but he knew his cousin probably couldn't help him (to be fair once he got going Mike Love was as adult and emotional a writer as anyone, but not back in 1966 when he was writing lyrics in a hurry before going out looking for girls he wasn't). Brian kept an eye out for a lyricist, while tinkering with three instrumentals (the two made the album and 'Trombone Dixie') and the new single 'Sloop John B'.

Always curious to meet other musicians his age and used to staying behind working when most sensible people were in bed, Brian met Tony Asher one morning overseeing the recording of some new jingles and invited him in to have a listen to his playbacks for the day. Though Tony wrote the music for the jingles really (the words weren't up to much), Brian was struck by his intelligence and thoughtfulness and discovered they had a mutual pal in Loren Schwartz (one of many Wilson party hangers-on in this period). Brian asked Tony if he fancied writing songs deeper than usual Beach Boys hits - no big deal, if they didn't work out, they could bin them! At first Brian considered writing an album of autobiography and started with a song known as 'In My Childhood' (a backing track was recording in readyness before the lyric was changed - which is why there's a bicycle horn at the end of the 'second' version 'You Still Believe In Me!') However Brian felt the song didn't quite work and probably feared Mike Love's ridicule ('Whose gonna be interested in your life story, huh?!') Which is where the decision to make this an 'everyman' album came in. Both Asher and Wilson were recently married and big thinkers, arguably over-thinkers, and both admitted to the other their worries about whether they'd made the right decision, whether they'd fallen for the right girl and whether they would always be happy the way they wanted to be. Slowly these conversations drifted, as they so often did with Brian, into piano 'feels' while Tony tried to feed in bits of their mutual conversations into words (I don't know about you but I'd love to hear the songwriting demos one day if they still exist - a hesitant, faltering, primitive version of 'Pet Sounds' seems like just the way to hear it without the orchestra and complexity!) Selling these songs to the other Beach Boys was more of a struggle though. Contrast to general opinion Mike Love didn't tell his cousin to get lost or refuse to sing on the album (aside from 'Hang On To Your Ego', which he refused to sing on as a 'drugs' lyric - it got changed to 'I Know There's An Answer') and actually gave Brian more praise that he probably had in his life up until that point (while Dennis and Carl, particularly, adored it), but Mike did explain his worry that their teenage audience wouldn't 'dig' it and there was general murmurings that perhaps this record should be a solo work. For a while it was, with a 'test' single of 'Caroline No' (with the vocals-less 'Let's Go Away For A While' on the back) released under Brian's name. When this flopped Capitol and the rest of the band insisted: this was beach Boys or nothing (even so, only 'Smile' and 'Beach Boys Love You' feature quite so many Brian Wilson lead vocals; Mike was reportedly hurt that he wasn't asked to sing more, while Dennis and Al barely featured at all except for the odd background vocal).

Actually it was very nearly nothing. Capitol weren't that keen on the album either and predicted an early death, with-holding most of their usual promotional money and insisting on an album cover at the zoo to appeal to younger fans (which didn't help sales either - they all saw the goats and said 'are you kidding me?!') and releasing a 'greatest hits' set mere weeks after 'Pet Sounds' came out to kill off sales. Capitol pushed for the title too, named after Mike's suggestion, even though Brian and Tony didn't like it - actually it's rather fitting if you take it as either a subversive play on man being a typical primordial beast with animalist urges but also the intelligence to be confused by what he feels and hears; the fact that it's also a (probably unintended) pun on 'heavy petting, music-to-make-out-to' which is what this album is all about under the air of respectability on the surface, also makes it highly apt. Carl's spot-on comment of the time: 'Well, you sure couldn't call it 'Shut Down Volume Three!' American fans were confused and were starting to drop The Beach Boys a little bit anyway (though next release 'Good Vibrations' won most of them over again) and most of the world followed suit, except in Britain where Bruce Johnston stopped off on a solo publicity tour, leant copies to every pirate radio station he could find and The Beatles came out in favour of it (with help from press officer Derek Taylor who plugged it to all his friends too). As a result the album did quite well in the UK, but lousy elsewhere and became a bit of a cult album amongst fans - not that respected, not that revered, but never openly hated either. It was 'Good Vibrations' that had people dancing and with jaws stuck open with astonishment; by contrast 'Pet Sounds' was only ever cool because it was Paul McCartney's favourite album and he was sport enough to say so even at the time. Even an after-the-fact coupling of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' and 'God Only Knows' did relatively poorly the first time round, peaking at a US high of #8 (the same as overlooked 1965 single  'Dance Dance Dance' for comparison's sake and far below made-in-a-minute 'Barbara Ann').

So when did this album start appearing at the top of '1000001 classic albums you must hear before you die even though you'll die earlier by going bankrupt collecting all these obscure records and going without food and heating to pay for them and finding out most of them simply appeal to the lowest common denominator anyway' lists? In 1979 and the peak of the new wave movement, oddly enough. Rolling Stone Magazine were doing one of their usual end-of-an-era polls and ran a typical column on people's best albums, with each of the reviewers given space to plug their favourites. Dave Marsh went to town on the album (the 1972 re-issue was reviewed quite positively in the same magazine, even if it was called 'dated'), people suddenly sat up and listened, looked out the album for themselves and slowly the album edged it's way towards to the top of the listings. There was a point in the 1990s when every rock documentary made some mention of 'Pet Sounds' and people fell over themselves to call it their 'favourite' ev-uh record and thus the cult became the mainstream and Brian proved that he really wasn't made for his times after all, but for about thirty years or so hence.

Is 'Pet Sounds' really that good though? Really? I mean it's clearly too good and made with too much love and attention to wallow in the back of people's record racks un-played for all those years and the UK record sales are closer to what this album deserves than the US sales, but the best album of all time? (Give or take usual suspects 'Sgt Peppers' 'Revolver' 'Astral Weeks' 'Dark Side Of The Moon' or 'OK Computer' depending which poll you're using). Hardly. The mood that comes across is so often entirely different to the mood you're meant to be feeling, with music and especially production going in such a different direction to the lyrics that's it more confusing than anything else. There are some tracks, such as 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' and the two instrumentals which are just irritating, like a hyperactive toddler grasping at your sleeve and wanting you to feel what they're feeling, without the joy or beauty they're obviously intended to have and which The Beach Boys usually provide in the 1960s. Even the greatest moments, like the two true superlative compositions 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times' and 'God Only Knows', somehow feel as if they should be something more - or less, being too pretty by half. A bit more rock, a few more rough edges and a chance to hear The Beach Boys harmonies front and centre instead of being drowned out by a tuba would have helped this record's standing in my eyes (and ears) no end. And yet there is undeniably something compelling about 'Pet Sounds' even to me: the songs' sharp directness, the utopian longing for something that everyone in this album knows can never be fulfilled ut which doesn't stop them looking for it in vain anyway and the bittersweet nature of being a teenager with so much of your life to come ahead of you, good and bad. So, yes, there is in short, a lot to love in this album. I can see why it appeals to so many. I can see why Brian worked so hard on making his vision come true. And I can see why such an unusual sounding album had to wait so long before getting the respect it deserved (and then some, on top). I know now, but I had to find it by myself rather than simply take it for granted from my peers. I still prefer 'Smile' though.  

Most of the time I love my 'job'. Instead of keeping all this stuff in my head where these thoughts are always playing, I get to bore other people with it by putting things on paper. On occasion though I have a real issue with something one of my 'pet' bands release - normally that's ok because everyone else is confused by them too (what was Neil Young thinking on 'Greendale' or The Rolling Stones on 'Black and Blue'?) but every so often I come across a song that I hate which everyone else seems to live. I'm afraid 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' is one of my real bogey tracks. This is where the 'falseness' I've been describing really comes into play the most and it's utterly depressing because the old-look Beach Boys would have handled it so well. The opening surf guitar lick is an obvious nod to the past, but the band of 1964 or 1965 would never have allowed it to have been played so badly or drenched in such Spector-echoey repetitiveness. And then there's the drums: they don't whallop, just thump, as if Hal Blaine has just woken up out of a deep sleep. The Beach Boys harmonies are all over the place and drowned out by the sea of piano, accordions, basses and percussion. Brian's lead vocal is his most shrill and unpleasant until the 'Dr Landy' years in 1980s (when any old vocal will do if it gets Brian's therapist a paycheck). Even the attempt to go all symphonic falls flat because, unlike the gorgeous opening to 'California Girls', this isn't an opening or a peek into what the essence  of the song really is behind the mask but a whole load of noise that's running out of control and is simply too big. There is a great song in here, touching on the old Beach Boys themes of love and fear and impatience, as the narrator longs to grow older so he can be an adult, get married and be 'happy' even though you can tell from the restless energy and the unusual minor key switch near the end of the verse (dispelled by the yell of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' dream every time) that he already knows that growing up doesn't work that way. Tony Asher's lyric is as spot on as teenage worry gets, but Brian's melody doesn't suit this song: it's full of wide sweeping languid notes that don't match this song's impatience and restless energy but have been sped up to sound like it anyway. Almost all Beach Boys songs are crafted with love and care, but this one hasn't been in terms of composition and in terms of arrangement has been over-crafted to the point where all the joy has been sucked out of everything. And joy is meant to be the whole point of this song which is crying out to be fleet of foot but instead sounds as if it has the world on its shoulders. Wouldn't it be nice if this song was, you know, as nice as everyone says it was?

'You Still Believe Me' somehow manages to become the best mix of melody and lyric on the album, even though the melody and backing track were recorded around a completely different song and despite the fact that this was the first piece Brian and Tony ever wrote together. Originally the song was 'In My Childhood' and came complete with bicycle bells o the fade (which, unusually, were left in the final mix down of the song where they make for an odd yet atmospheric coda). You can hear a lot of The Beatles' 'In My Life' in the melody - and we know that 'Rubber Soul' (it's parent album) was Brian's starting point for this project. However, just as John Lennon started out trying to write a different song entirely and only wrote his lyric after a late night snooze in which all his abandoned ideas coalesced into something more universal, so 'Believe' turns into a song that's less about Brian and more about the people he relies on in his life. Brian knew he wasn't perfect husband material - he worked hard in those days, had big parties with lots of his doping friends (whom his wife hated) and already considered himself a little bit odd after a childhood spent with poor hearing and abusive parenting. Though everyone always calls 'Pet Sounds' an album of honesty, this is the really honest moment in which he speak-sings to Marilyn that 'I'm very aware you've been patient with me' and that he tries to do his best, he really does, 'but somehow I fail myself'. In the single best arrangement touch on the album Brian hums along to a plucked piano (that took forever to get right according to the outtakes!) like a bank of angels and then sings solo, fragile and alone, until a stunning Beach Boys chorus enters on the 'still believe in me' chorus line. Brian's not as alone as he thinks he is and the result is terrific. However even here the arrangement is so big it's cloying: this should be a simple and vulnerable little song and instead it's covered in a fog of harpsichords, oboes and bicycle bells. Plus Brian's very musical howl of pain (followed by Mike's echo) is everything that's 'wrong' with this album - this should be so real it hurts and instead everything has been tidied and sorted into a musical scale. Brian should have believed in the capacity of his real feelings to move other people instead, but that said there's no denying the beauty of Tony Asher's lyric which is sensitive without being cloying.

'That's Not Me' is the closest thing to a rocker on the album. It's an extension of the lonely fragile narrator we've already heard in a few Brian Wilson songs by now ('Don't Worry Baby' 'In My Room') who feels out of place in world too matcho and dog-eat-dog for him. It's also about finding your place in the world and realising that you've bitten off more than you can chew - the narrator is homesick and over-ambitious, realising that he's only trying to please his 'girl' and the world's too big a place for him. However interestingly Brian hands this lyric over to Mike to sing and it actually works really well - Love mastered double-tracking quicker than the rest of the band and he attacks this song with the same bravado as on this album's polar opposite 'I Get Around', hinting that it's all 'bluff'. Even the rhythm recalls 'I Get Around', so it's a shame that yet again the band overcook what should have been a relatively straightforward simple song and plaster it with echoey surf guitars, bass rumbles, a Hammond organ that's at least ten years out of date and a complicated tambourine part that's just distracting. For all that though this song works well too, with a magical moment in the middle when Brian takes over for a line 'Pete Townshend in The Who' style on the line 'you needed my love and I know that I left at the wrong time' and later 'I'm glad that we went now we're that much more sure that we're ready', like a Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder ('When you wish upon a surfer girl' remember) telling what he 'really thinks'. Plus a second magical moment when this staccato, aggressive, punchy song finally lets go on the long held notes on the word 'dreaaaaaaaam', as if this is the one thing to hold on to that isn't falling apart. Again, remix this song with half the instruments missing and I'm a huge fan but the finished product? Bah - it's lost all the emotion again! Given that all the band were actually involved in playing this one (with Brian on bass) new boy Bruce was nominated to 'direct' the session from the control room floor!

Thankfully emotion comes into play nicely on the stunning 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)', the one pure romantic nugget on this album that deserves the lush arrangement Brian gives it here (in fact the song is even prettier without the lyric and just the strings and is the highlight of the 'Pet Sounds Session' set). Two Brians, using slightly dodgy double-tracking, asks his girl simply to lean back on his shoulder and enjoy the moment. Depending on how you read this song this is either two lovers so telepathic they don't need voices to communicate with or Brian's narrator is so lost in the fog of what might be in their future lives to come that he doesn't want to find out what she's 'really' like and ruin the moment - for as long as she stays silent he can dream that they're a perfect match. Either way this lyric is so simple it's profound and one of the best on the album, nicely matching this song's long drawn out sobs. The moment when a swooning Brian urges his girl to listen to his heartbeat as if it's the most profound thing in the world is beautiful and builds up to what should be a terrific climax - and yet the song's biggest problem is that we don't get a percussive heartbeat at all, but a full lush arrival of the strings which overpower the song completely. How much better would it have been if Hal Blaine's drums had slowly burst into life right on cue? Brian's a touch shrill too and really should have re-done both vocals over again (indeed I'm amazed he didn't given his perfectionist tendencies on so much of the rest of the record). That's the performance though - as a song this is faultless. Listen, listen, listen! The track released under the name 'Unreleased Background Vocals' on most CD re-issues of the album is actual Brian's multiple vocal demo for this song so the session musicians could hear the 'feel' he wanted.

Tony didn't write the lyric for 'I'm Waiting For The Day' - this song was a last minute addition written to a Mike Love lyric to try and calm the singer down a bit (and a re-write of a song copyrighted as long ago as February 1964!) In a way you can tell - Mike tries hard to write in the album 'style' and very nearly gets away with it, but you can kind of tell that this song's tale of jealousy, split and reunion isn't as autobiography as some of the others on the album. Brian sings it in a very odd manner too, as if he's trying to hide his emotions even though this song is arguably as emotive as any on the record, as if keeping his distance (oddly enough I've thought that for years but only now discovered that Brian agrees with me and says it's the one vocal on the album he didn't like. I doubt we agree on much else on this album, though!) Once more the orchestra gets firmly in the way, with a Mantovani-style arrangement that tries to be lush and romantic, even when the lyric is actually quite realistic and brutal by this album's standards, about the narrator and his lover working out whether they can forgive the other for straying or not. By contrast just listen to how much punchier the song is after the false ending when a bunch of 'dooby doo aaaahs' and a real live rock band (well, organ drums and bass anyway) start playing and Brian actually starts having fun on the vocals, perhaps reflecting what he's secretly thinking ('You didn't think I could sit around and let him take you!' he screams, in comparison to the slow keeping-it-together tone of the rest of the track). If only this bit had come earlier I'd really like this song, but this is not a track born for piccolos and flutes, it needs to be harder and angrier for the 'trick' of Brian 'pretending' to be a nice guy and covering up his real feelings to work.

Oh dear. Suddenly the orchestra gets a whole track to itself and 'Let's Go Away For A While' sounds to my ears like an attempt by Brian to match what his father was up to the jazz lounge album 'The Many Moods Of Murray Wilson'. The thing is though, Murray spent his life listening to these types of records - Brian's just an interested outsider, curious as to what bits fit together to make up those sounds but without any real instinctive feel for the genre. So instead we get 'The Beach Boys jazz party album' in miniature, complete with a surf guitar that doesn't fit at all and more raucous percussion. The 'idea' behind this song was that the lovers were 'stressed' and needed a vacation and dreamed of taking one together and just doing nothing - whether they actually go or not, at least they thought about it was the idea. It was also an in-joke, as early in the songwriting partnership Tony leant Brian an album by hip comedian John Brent titled 'How To Speak Hip' in which one of the lines was ';if everyone went away for a while then we'd have world peace!' That's a nice concept, but this instrumental only really says as much in the title not in the music, where this piece could really be about anything without any feelings of travel or relaxation (or maybe I've just been on the wrong sorts of holidays?!) The entire performance was recycled on Neil Young's film and soundtrack 'Journey Thru The Past' in 1972, weirdly. Oh and interestingly, despite Brian never mentioning any lyrics and indeed calling this his 'favourite instrumental' of all the ones on all The Beach Boys sessions, Capitol timesheets that came to light in 1995 proved that a session to add vocals to this track was booked during the last day - which became the day of mixing instead. No one knows what the lyrics would have sounded like!

Meanwhile, over on side two, the whole concept has gone to pot. Capitol insisted that latest single 'Sloop John B' be on the album even though it really shouldn't be here at all - or indeed part of The Beach Boys discography. A traditional song much covered by everybody, it's too obvious a choice for a band who were always trying to do something different with each single and another backward step to 'cover' songs to follow 'Barbara Ann' (even if Brian still got a credit for 'arranging' a traditional song). To be fair the arrangement is what - nearly - saves the song, as the band's harmonies criss-cross to exciting effect and Brian throws lots of extra in verse by verse to keep the song entertaining till near the end. But once again the song doesn't rock the way it should: this is a song that should have the band themselves for and aft, not port and starboard and this time an even simpler tale of homesickness on the high seas creaks under the weight of too many instruments, with the flat flutes particularly sour. Al Jardine was the one who recommended the song to Brian, having been trying to steer the band in a more folk-rock direction for a while and says he was shocked when he heard the backing track which wasn't at all what he expected (along with the two instrumentals 'Sloop John' was the first Beach Boys song to be recorded in this elaborate orchestral way). Al also expected, perhaps naively, to be the Beach Boy to sing it and the track would have suited his slightly sour voice more than the falsetto Brian gives the track here - actually the elder Wilson 'auditioned' most of the band to see whose vocal would work best before cheekily nominating himself for most of the song - I bet that went down well with Mike! Outakes on the 'Pet Sounds' set feature a rather moody vocal from Carl and Brian singing all the way through, even the verse Mike gets on the final product. The finished version sounds better, but in context of the sterling work The Beach Boys had been releasing on 45 rpm single across the past few years this track seems like a step backwards in any version, with the band drowning rather than swimming when it came to inspiration.

Thankfully 'God Only Knows' is there to take the pain away. 'God Only Knows' is always there to take the pain away. Underneath all the controversies (this was the first song to use the word 'God' in a lyric and in a few countries received a radio ban), underneath another largely superfluous and fussy arrangement, underneath an often audibly nervous Carl Wilson singing only his second lead on a Beach Boys song, lies perfection. Some say this is the loveliest suicide note ever written (in one sense it sounds as if the narrator isn't just imaging the worst, the worst has happened - 'the world could show nothing to me so what good would living do me?'); others that it's actually a goodbye' song (what other romantic love song starts off with the line 'I may not always love you'?); others still that this is a song more at face value and, like 'You Still Believe In Me' a song of gratitude for love and support. The warmest moment on 'Pet Sounds' by a country mile, it's the track that makes the rest of the album 'work' - without this expression of what true love means what would be the point about worrying over when love starts, when it ends or what we have to do with our lives to be in a position to have it at all? It's also the least cluttered of the orchestra songs here and therefore the most immediate - though even then Brian had to be urged to pare back his ideas for the tune (early versions features Brian's wife and sisters in law The Honeys and a full Beach Boy chorus plus 23 musicians and a noisy tag, the latter included on the 'Pet Sounds Sessions' set; the final version features 16 and just Brian and Bruce singing along with Carl. Sometimes the best things really do come in the smallest packages.

Perfect sequencing has this track at the heart of the album too where it belongs (even if it makes 'Sloop John B' sound even more flippant). Like those other great AAA love songs 'The Air That I Breathe' and 'Maybe I'm Amazed' (a McCartney song clearly influenced by his favourite ever song on his favourite ever album), this song manages to be simple yet profound and personal yet universal, as Brian again salutes Marilyn for standing by him no matter what. Thankfully, unlike 'You Still Believe In Me', the romance goes both ways, with Brian (via Carl) telling her that regarding their love 'you'll never need to doubt it - I'll make you so sure about it'. Though 'God' is only mentioned in passing and never specified (it's an expression, not a religious message) this song does have a certain spirituality to it and the feeling that something bigger than the couple is at work and guiding them. Brian's single best melody on the album is equally inspired, having so much fun exploring every nook and cranny of the chord structure he's given himself that it's a delight as the song balances being rooted and supportive but also footloose and fancy free. In short, 'God Only Knows' has everything and considering his nerves a not-yet-twenty-year-old Carl Wilson makes his brother proud on a song that could have been tailor made to his soft romantic tones. God only knows where this album, The Beach Boys career and music in general would be without it. One of the album highlights by a country mile.
While Brian struggled with some of the other arrangements on 'Pet Sounds', he was luckier with the songs which tended to fall into place quite naturally. All except 'I Know There's An Answer' which took a while to get right. One of the things Brian talked about with Tony was his growing interest in soft drugs - the sort of things every musician was taking in 1966, though in The Beach Boys Brian was on his own (he should have formed a club with Hollie Graham Nash!) The first draft for this lyric, named 'Hang On To Your Ego' and sung begrudgingly by an angry Mike Love (who hated all drugs), was pure drug taking chatter - the title came from the idea of holding on to yourself so you didn't 'drown' in LSD-fuelled thoughts of collective consciousness (which is kinda what happened to Syd Barrett and in many ways what happened to Brian a year later, fuelling undiagnosed schizophrenia according to his doctors: the original draft of this song ended with the lament '...But I know you're going to lose the fight' which seems poignant in retrospect). Though Tony wasn't a drug taker either he picked up on Brian's drug parlance well - too well for Mike who demanded a second go and feared not just poor sales but copycat drug overdoses from fans. Even though what people miss is that at its heart 'Ego' is an anti-drug song: Brian can see so much creativity but people go too far, 'they trip through the day and waste all their thoughts at night' while speaking to anyone on drugs he finds them 'defensive'. It's as if he got Tony to write this original lyric from his cousin or even his wife's point of view. The second lyric is superior anyway, fitting in less with the way Brian was living his life and more about this album's everyman figure, trying to fit in and discovering that growing up isn't what he thought it would be like. Brian keeps the complaints that people pretend to be nice 'but inside are so uptight' but moves on to talk about 'safety zones' and instead of hanging on to his ego the narrator 'knows' there's a right way of living but it's not the way his elders and peers tell him it is. Instead of being taught Brian has to 'learn' how to live life his way - which is in itself a pretty sneaky way of getting his comments on a drug lifestyle past the censor to those that 'know' anyway. Once again, though, the backing track lets the song down - this should be sharp-edged and punchy, liable to crack at any moment - and instead it's a sleepy lagoon of percussion that rub all the hard edges away and more strings, plucked this time. Only the harmonicas capture the ear and only then because they make such an odd sound, more like a croaking frog as they jump on this song and shake it to pieces en masse. I know there's a great song in here somewhere, but it's on the lyric sheet and in the combination of Mike's churlish scowl and Brian's adamant falsetto - not the backing.

'Here Today' is perhaps the weakest song here. No classic album should come with the rhyming couplet 'You know I hate to be a downer, but I'm the guy she left before you found her!' and the backing is even sillier than usual, with Carol Kaye's usual exquisite bass playing reduced to a wobble and far too much keyboard banging on all at the same time. It's kind of a psychedelic 'She Loves You' this song but with larger emotional stakes as the third party isn't the narrator's friend but his exes' new lover. Talking out loud about where all the hope and innocence of the first side went wrong, this should be the turning point on 'Pet Sounds', but instead it just comes over as just another anti-love song. The chorus about impermanence is sung in such a rigid way it misses the point completely - this is a song that should be always changing but the closest we get to that is the paranoid instrumental section in which for once on this album nothing much happens (it's based on a Bach fugue, apparently - Brian's in rock and roll, the world's greatest musical art form, he shouldn't be pitching his ideas so 'low'!) The 'twist' in this song is that the narrator clearly still things for the lover who spurned him and wronged him and he's deeply jealous at watching another man go through what he once went through, 'remembering things like they were'. But that isn't clear on this song - instead it's a loose thread left dangling that isn't really picked up on and is easily Tony's weakest lyric for the album (he admitted later that it was his one lyric for the album he 'couldn't identify with' and that Brian didn't like his original lyric, condensing it down to a much simpler idea). At least this short song is over with quickly though, here and gone so fast. 'Caroline, No' served the love-gone-wrong theme perfectly well on it's own - we don't need a second track making the same point so clumsily and we certainly don't need it at this stage in the album where it sounds so out of place. This is also the scene of perhaps the biggest engineering disaster on any Beach Boys record - no, not the famous coughing this time but a very noisy discussion between Bruce Johnstone and a teen magazine photographer that plays throughout the instrumental break - or at least it is on the original mono, it got taken out of the stereo mix (to be fair it's more interesting than what the organ's playing!)

'Pet Sounds' was once voted quite highly on a poll of 'albums guaranteed to make you cry'. Notwithstanding the fact that The Spice Girls is what makes me cry the most (in pain!), the one track on this album that gets to me every time without fail is 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times'. For once the lyric, melody and arrangement are all perfectly in alignment and saying the same thing: this is the sound of someone on their own, but trapped in a world that isn't taking any notice (just as Brian's double-tracked vocal sleepwalks his way through a mammoth every changing landscape of sounds that don't take any heed of what he's up to at all - listen to the backing track sometime, it comes across as an entirely different song). Lyrically too this is the bravest song on the album by some margin: all the love songs, though deeper than the usual Beach Boys teenage romances, are still identifiable but this song is something different. Brian (via Tony)'s narrator is alone, a pioneer, longing to find someone who cares as often, thinks as deeply and sees and hears as he does. Even though Brian was hugely popular ain 1966 and went to more parties than the Royal Family, he still cut a lonely figure by most accounts, always searching for the collaborator who knew what he was feeling and thinking (Van Dyke Parks was still the closest he came to finding his own mixture of thoughts and feels), with the rest of the band staying at the same point in their journey and the his new wife just wanting him home, not exploring the inside of his head and the outside world in equal measure. Brian's composure, held throughout the rest of this album, breaks on his single best 'Pet Sounds' vocal as at last he commits to the music and breaks your heart with the words 'sometimes I feel very sad'. The lyric is kind of prophetic too: in 1966 everything Brian had touched turned to gold (with the exception of forgotten singles 'Ten Little Indians' and 'The Little Girl I Once Knew' - even so The Beach Boys never spent longer outside the top five than three months up until the end of 1966) and yet here he complains that everything he puts together, sooner or later, falls apart. He gets the inspiration to 'change things around, to make the world a happier and more beautiful place - but all gets is puzzled looks from 'fair weather friends'. As if to prove the point, three Brians sing lead on this song as if there's no one else up to the job and the hard-to-hear lyric sung near the end ('Can't find anything to put my heart and soul into' and 'People don't wanna hear where I'm at!') is the perfect contrast, effectively the sound of Brian arguing with himself. Melodically too this lovely lilting song is the perfect vehicle for such a lyric: it's like a long sigh, stretching even Brian's powerful lungs almost to breaking point. The use of the theremin (months before the even more lauded solo on 'Good Vibrations') is also perfect: of course the solo should come from a pioneering sound that had never been heard before (except on Hammer Horror films) - it's other-worldly bleary-eyes is perfectly cast for the role and the instrument was never better used by anybody than here, a ghost in a world that works to a different sound. Of course, typically, this gorgeous song is the one on the album that most fans claim not to like - I guess as a reviewer too I just wasn't made for these times. Whatever anyone else says, it's a fantastic song and one of The Beach Boys' all-time best moments.

Unfortunately the 'Pet Sounds' title track is one of the worst. Originally titled 'Run James Run', Brian toyed with sending it into the producer of the James Bond franchise, but decided better of it - just as well because it would have been one of the weirdest, weakest Bond themes. What it sounds like is one of The Beach Boys' early surfing guitar instrumentals injected with LSD, only instead of Carl's excellent work we get session-man Jerry Cole who just isn't up to the job or loose enough over a typically dull 'Pet Sounds' backing of horns, strings and so much percussion it's hard to tell where the main beats of this track actually are. Brian says he wanted to make a film score the way Henry Mancini (who worked on the Bond themes) would sound if he worked with Phil Spector, but the end result is pure Beach Boys filler, with a boogie woogie riff that isn't that appealing played over a backing that sounds as if it couldn't care less. Easily the worst thing on the album, even 'Trombone Dixie' would have been preferable over this one - at least that had a proper tune! This is also the first of two consecutive songs to feature Hal Blaine hitting coca-cola cans for a percussive effect, but it's an effect that works much better on...

Lost love lament 'Caroline, No'. Brian was, as we've already seen, a nervy husband - unsure if he was marrying too young, or to the right girl and his insecurities only grew worse as his music and his drugs tool him further away from Marilyn. As it happens their love was strong enough to take not only these differences but Brian's future collapse too and the pair remain married right up until the 1990s. However Brian didn't know that then and back in 1966 feared that he could already see the cracks in their partnership. Matters came to a head when Marilyn's hairdresser made a mistake and cut her hair short and badly - the couple were obsessed with each other's hairdoes (Marilyn always says that's what first attracted her about Brian back when she was just another Beach Boys fan) and agreed to keep the same ones their whole life through. When the mistake happened Marilyn didn't think much of it (she wanted to grow it back anyway) but in his fragile state of mind it devastated Brian who saw it as a 'sign' that the woman he married wouldn't always stay the same person. 'Marilyn' became 'Caroline' to keep the song less personal, although it's still close enough to the original to make it clear how personal this song is with its lines of betrayal and bitterness. For the second time on the album Brian talks about crying and he sounds more like he means it this time - but the curse of 'Pet Sounds' rears its head again as the most artificial instrument (the saxophone) plays its most artificial solo in rock and roll history straight after this line. Only Brian's held caterwaul at the end (on a painful extended cry of 'nooooo!') sets the song right again, before the backing band sadly play out, coca-cola cans at the ready, as time ticks down to the inevitable. Brian was desperate for his wife to hear his hard work and kept 'Pet Sounds' from her until the album was mixed and finished and they stayed up all night listening to it over and over. Though she adored 'Don't Talk' and 'God Only Knows' (the two songs most obviously written for her) she cried through this track as she heard for probably the first time all the thoughts that had been running through Brian's head that he hadn't expressed to her directly. In a way 'Caroline, No' is a cruel way to end this record. Yes it makes sense that the arc of a relationship described on the record should end in failure, but this isn't a record that even began to tell its plot in order and it feels ugly this song, as if Pet Sounds' ultimate message is telling us not to bother because love will always fall apart in the end. Despite what we said earlier about 'God Only Knows; being the heart of the record, that song belongs here, even if 'Caroline, No' itself gets the perfect ending with Brian's own dogs barking at the bad 'vibrations' (seriously, that was what Brian was getting at - his mother Audree had been telling him about how dogs only bark at certain people they distrust and how they'd suddenly started doing it to someone she knew so he must have 'changed'; this is where 'Good Vibrations' comes from too) and a train rushing past, running on to a new destination to start the same journey all over again, though perhaps with less innocence than was heard on 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' Famously this song was sped up on the advice of father Murray who thought Brian sounded too old and this song too sad (this was said to be the only comment he made on an album Brian had been eager to play him). Not for the last time Wilson senior was wrong and Brian should have found the answer by himself - the original speed mix (included on the 'Sessions' box set) is so much more moving somehow, even if the pitch isn't that different and the two mixes only have a few seconds difference.

Overall, then, 'Pet Sounds' has some truly brilliant ideas and a couple of the best songs The Beach Boys ever released. However I have the same problem with it that I do whenever I hear some casual fan pronounce 'Sgt Peppers' as the best album The Beatles ever made and they dismiss all the other ones that are actually better. The truth is 'Pet Sounds' catches a general public mood like no other Beach Boys record. There are no references to surfers or cars and there's none of the charming but fan-only insights into the narrow world of Brian Wilson in bed which happens later. People assume too, I think, that just because something has an orchestra slapped on it then it must be 'art', but actually the orchestra is what gets in the way of this album and the thing that makes it truly dated and not as timeless as people call it (in the same way 'Sgt Peppers' is just that shade too summer of love to make much of an impact post 1967, though clearly at the time the album was the perfect mirror of the times). They say that anyone whose loved and lost can identify with 'Pet Sounds', but actually I feel far more emotional resonance with 'The Beach Boys Today' than I do with this record - there not every song worked but those that were meant to be emotional absolutely moved me in lyric, melody and form. Here there's always something working against this album, an over-laden arrangement or a clumsy couplet or a weak (by Beach Boys standard) melody that means 'Pet Sounds' is always pulled back to earth before it can soar (maybe that's why it's set in a zoo?) I don't hate this record by any means but I must confess I still don't understand it or see inside it the things that so many other people are said to see. For all of the talk of this record's ambitions it's still just a bunch of love songs and only really comes together when those love songs comes from the head not the 23-piece orchestra; equally for all the talk of elaborate complex arrangements Brian had done far better than this on past Beach Boys records - not just 'Today' but parts of 'All Summer Long' 'Summer Nights!!!' and 'Shut Down Volume Two' as well (horn drenched 'Our Car Club' is way more complex than anything here). In his haste to make this revealing Brian also sang way too much of this album himself - the record really comes alive when Mike and especially Carl get involved too and make this less of a personal record and more of a universal one. Frankly any record without much Beach Boys harmony presence is a bad record in my book, even one made with as much love and care as this one. This record isn't terrible by any means, but 'Pet Sounds' is a lot nearer to being the worst Beach Boys album than the best one in my book, without the band's usual lopsided charm, goofy humour, big hearted ballads or funky rock and roll songs to keep it upright. Most of you - maybe all of you - will probably disagree with me and hey, that's OK. Albums mean different things to different people - and though I still struggle to come to terms with the fact that fans don't always agree with my esoteric choices neither of us has to be 'right' and this isn't a competition. Whatever gets you through the night is alright, even if it's a 20 piece orchestra playing poor James Bond themes. But the one message that comes through from this album co clearly and strongly is that we should be thinking for ourselves and being true to what we believe or 'that's not me' - and 'Pet Sounds', I'm afraid, isn't me at al. Now 'Smile' on the other hand...



Other Beach Boys reviews from this site you might be interested in reading:





'Surfin' USA' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-beach-boys-surfin-usa-1963.html

'Surfer Girl' (1963) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-beach-boys-surfer-girl-1963.html

'Little Deuce Coupe' (1963) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.nl/2016/09/the-beach-boys-little-deuce-coupe-1963.html

'Shut Down Volume Two' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/the-beach-boys-shut-down-volume-two-1964.html

‘All Summer Long’ (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-beach-boys-all-summer-long-1964.html

'Beach Boys Christmas' (1964) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/xmas-bumper-issue-revised-beach-boys.html

'Today' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-beach-boys-today-1965.html

'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!!!!!!!) (1965)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/news-views-and-music-issue-65-beach.html

'Party!' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-beach-boys-party-1965.html

'Pet Sounds' (1966) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-beach-boys-pet-sounds-1966.html


'Surf's Up' (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-surfs-up-1971-album.html


’15 Big Ones’ (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-beach-boys-15-big-ones-1976.html

'Love You' (1977) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-beach-boys-love-you-1977.html

'Pacific Ocean Blue' (Dennis Wilson solo) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/news-views-and-music-issue-97-dennis.html

'Merry Xmas From The Beach Boys!' (Unreleased) (1977)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/news-views-and-music-issue-126-merry.html

'M.I.U Album' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-beach-boys-miu-album-1978.html

'L.A.Light Album' (1979)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-75-beach-boys-la-light-album.html

'Keeping The Summer Alive' (1980) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-beach-boys-keeping-summer-alive-1980.html

'The Beach Boys' (1985) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/the-beach-boys-1985.html

'Still Cruisin' (1989) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-beach-boys-still-cruisin-1989.html

'Summer In Paradise' (1992) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-beach-boys-summer-in-paradise-1992.html

'Smile' (Brian Wilson solo) (2004) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008_06_29_archive.html

'That Lucky Old Sun' (Brian Wilson solo) (2008)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/news-views-and-music-issue-55-brian.html

'Smile Sessions' (band outtakes)(2011)  
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/news-views-and-music-issue-142-beach.html

'That's Why God Made The Radio' (2012) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-beach-boys-thats-why-god-made-radio.html

The Best Unreleased Beach Boys Recordings  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-beach-boys-unreleased-songs-top.html

A Complete (ish) Guide To The Beach Boys' Surviving TV Clips http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beach-boys-complete-ish-guide-to.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One 1962-86 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease.html

Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part Two 1988-2014 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/beach-boys-sololivecompilationunrelease_25.html

Non-Album Songs Part One 1962-1969 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-one.html

Non-Album Songs Part Two 1970-2012 http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/beach-boys-non-album-songs-part-two.html

Essay: The Beach Boys and The American Dream https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/the-beach-boys-essay-american.html
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/the-beach-boys-five-landmark-concerts.html







The Rolling Stones: Surviving TV Clips and Music Videos 1963-2012









Ever since their first - sadly wiped - TV appearance on 'Lucky Stars' (where a very smartly dressed band mimed first single 'Come On') the Stones have been causing comments with their appearance as much as their music. In the hands of Andrew Loog Oldham TV became a weapon of publicity, used for controversy up and down the years, from the longest haircuts seen on TV back in the early 60s to not appearing smiling on the podium on 'Saturday Night At The London Palladium' (again, sadly lost) to Mick rolling his eyes every time Ed Sullivan makes him change the words to 'Let's Spend The Night Together'. Even by our standards this list is long, with fifty five years' worth of TV clips good, great and ghastly and the Stones are most definitely the winners when it comes to the amount of music videos they've made down the years (making it all the more strange that they're one of the few AAA bands who've never released a music videos DVD at the time of writing).

Sadly lots more than this have been wiped, with Bill Wyman's meticulous diaries and the spare time of many a Stones scholar spent compiling lists of everything the band ever played on - lists that run into the hundreds. This, sadly, isn't that list, on the grounds that there's no point getting excited over something that doesn't exist and we can't review something we've never seen. It is however as complete a guide as we can make it to every TV appearance that exists featuring two or more members of the band in the same studios at any one time. Most of the clips in this list concentrate on the music, with mimed or live appearances on British, American and European music shows, but occasionally there'll be a chat show in here if it's of particular interest or the odd special dedicated to a particular album or era. Please note that we haven't included 'rumoured' items, TV spots that only exist via their audio soundtrack, solo appearances, documentaries that repeat old footage, home taped footage recorded at concerts or the full length concert videos available on video or DVD (such as the 'Altamont' gig released as 'Gimme Shelter' 'The Rolling Stones Circus' or 'Tea In The Park', all of which have been reviewed by us elsewhere).

Sadly too the great majority of these clips are officially unavailable - the exceptions being the Ed Sullivan Show appearances available on the odd Ed Sullivan compilation or the odd promo that's sneaked its way onto some deluxe Stones album re-issue. We'll try and draw your attention to these where possible. Many of these clips regularly feature on 1960s music documentaries and round-ups though and feel like old friends despite never having made it onto anything with that dreaded 'tongue' logo stamped across it yet. If you haven't seen any of them then fear not - we can instead take you to our patent pending super-duper high falluting Youtube playlist, which can be seen in the box at the top of this page if you're a website reader or visit https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives if you're a book reader (have a scroll past our videos  featuring our singing dog mascots and scroll down till you find 'Playlist #23: Rolling Stones'). We'll try and keep the list as maintained as possible but do be warned that Youtube videos change round a lot - particularly so in the case of the Stones' late 1960s work - so if you can't find something keep looking; chances are someone will have re-posted it and if not we'll have to have a go ourselves (legalities permitting).

I'm sure you'll agree it's a lot better than that man who comes on TV telling you how white your shirts can be even though he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me - there are hours, perhaps even a day's worth of Satisfaction here, so let's spend 'some time' together now...


1.    Arthur Haynes Show ('I Wanna Be Your Man' UK TV February 1964)
Though the earliest surviving TV footage of the Stones is an actual truth more like their ninth or tenth, the quintet still look ridiculously young. Mick is bow-legged, Keith has a mad little dance quite unlike his laidback cool image of later years, a bored Bill is chewing while he plays and already Brian is the one least concerned with the cameras and instead staring hard at his bottleneck guitar. Jones slightly fluffs his bottleneck solo and Mick isn't quite on top of the words but even so this is a fine, fiery live performance from a band still pretty new to all this. The band turn in a 'full ending' of the song as well instead of the usual fade, concluding with a heavy whallop from Charlie's bass drum that coaxes the first smile from the drummer ever caught on camera - it's also not far from the last!

2. Top Of The Pops #1 ('Not Fade Away' March 1964)
Though never the shortest track in the Stones canon anyway, this third but earliest surviving TOTP performance barely seems to get going before it ends. The band mime this time, with Mick seen with his hands full of maracas and nearly taking out Brian's eye as he stands behind him miming the puffed harmonica. The band are still in shirts but sleeveless this time, as if losing their 'posh' image one layer at a time.

3. NME Pollwinner's Concert #1 'Not Fade Away' 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' 'I'm Alright' April 1964)
If you're a regular read of our lists then you'll know all about the NME Pollwinner's concerts that featured as many bands as would agree to appear at a rainy day in Wembley and who'd scored highly in that year's 'best acts' placings. The Stones are unusual in coming back two years in succession and for only playing one of their 'hits', though to be fair they only had about three to choose from anyway in this early period. Presented by Jimmy Saville back when he was a loveable eccentric weirdo instead of a predatory fiend, it's a real time warp to the days when poor equipment, breathless over-enthusiastic introductions, band members running on stage and setting up their own equipment and loud screams were the norm. There's a real fuzz bass humm to Keith's guitar that makes the whole gig sound deeply bass heavy and you can tell from Mick's shocked expression that he's not enjoying it. This is a good performance even so, with a rare chance to see Brian playing the harmonica 'for real' (not fadeaway...sorry, mimed, not mimed) and a cracking performance of 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' especially that features Mick shouting rather than singing the lyrics and doing the best of his many 'instrumental solo dances'. Goodness knows what the mums and dads of the teenyboppers made of the lyrics. 'Charlieboy' as Mick announces him gets a rare introduction to the song 'I'm Alright', a track the Stones never did in the studio. This is Keith's first co-lead ever captured on film and Brian is already looking daggers over being left out, over-doing his tambourine playing to put the camera back on him. All in all, a fine performance by one of Britain's best up and coming bands.

4. Hollywood Palace ('I Just Want To Make Love To You' US TV June 1964)
Dean Martin must have felt really threatened that rock and roll was going to reveal him and some of his pals as the talentless conmen they were - that's the only explanation for this infamous TV appearance where the singers throws in every insult he can think of. What's never mentioned is by contrast how professional the Stones are, not walking out or making rude remarks back but simply getting on their job of blowing Martin and his cronies off the stage with a performanc3 so authentic he sounds like a wannabe. 'Five singing boys from England who sold a lot of albiums - I've been rolled while stoned myself' is ok, but 'I can't hear what they're singing about' is a cheap jibe from someone whose accent was so poor he couldn't even pronounce the word 'albums'. Dino's closing remarks: 'Aren't they great? (face pull). They're challenging the Beatles to a hair pulling contest. You know what? I'd swear jackie Coogan [child star] and Skippy [The Bush Kangaroo] were in that group! You know all these singing groups today seem to have long hair? Naw, it's an optical illusion, they just have low foreheads and low eyebrows! Now don't go away - you wouldn't leave me with the Rolling Stones would you?!' The performance of the band's classic Willie Dixon B-side is more stilted than at the NME but still good.

5. The Mike Douglas Show ('Carol' 'Tell Me' 'Not Fade Away' 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' US TV June 1964)
A panel of middle aged judges discuss this new record 'England's Newest Hitmakers _ The Rolling Stones'. They don't seem best pleased, especially when the band starts playing, but then this longest appearance yet isn't one of the best. The band sound tinny, Brian's rhythm well down in the mix and Mick's vocal plastered with echo. This is notable, though, for being the first filmed performance of a Jagger-Richards song, the overlooked 'Tell Me', which oddly enough is the only song here mimed. The interview is particularly interesting, the first with the whole band. Charlie is so softly spoken Douglas can't hear his name. There are the usual jokes about 'starving barbers' and nonsensical questions about whether the band know The Beatles, but otherwise this is a kinder, more respectful interview and the host is keen for the band's biggest fans in the front row to meet their heroes. Most of the band are shy and respectful, but check out Bill at the side eyeing them all out. 'What do you when that usually happens chaps, do you shake hands?' says Douglas to Brian of all people. 'Well, you know...' he splutters through a cheeky grin. 'It depends on their temperament!' rescues Jagger. Interestingly Mick is the first to claim the band is equally loved by the girls, before Brian gets in an early reference to Jagger's asexuality with the line 'I think Mick's a lot more popular with the men!' 'He's putting you on!' grins Mick, before Douglas adds nervously 'He doesn't do a thing for me - I'll tell you that, hahahahaha!' Mick cheekily adds 'You don't do much for me either, love!' 'You'd better sing - before we all get arrested!' quips Douglas back. One of the funniest Stones moments.

6. Ed Sullivan Show #1 ('Time Is On My Side' US TV June 1964)
In the wake of the Beatles' breakthrough appearance in February the show's production team tried to hire as many British acts as they could, actually taking on the Stones at The Beatles' suggestion. The Rollers, though, never enjoyed quite the same level of support - Ed Sullivan was said to be openly critical of their look and music behind camera, although he's more professional than Dean Martin ever was. Perhaps sensing they're on shaky ground the Stones perform their first TV ballad and it's a nice performance with Keith particularly prominent on some nice harmonies. Uniquely, Bill sings harmonies too or appears to - chances are they set up the microphone for him instead of Brian who looks most fed up glowering at the back, so he's probably making a joke here adding some very loud 'time time time!'s at the end. Mick is terrific on the spoken word patter over the solo which runs far longer than the record.

7. Red Skelton Hour ('It's All Over Now' US TV September 1964)
Comedian Red Skelton is another regular on our lists who never gets the credit he deserves for taking chances on bands away from the more mainstream variety programmes who had the power and money to hire everybody. Mick seems to have developed a nervous tic for this performance, strutting his head like a 'little red rooster' throughout this mimed show, although it's important for quite a different reason - he's learnt the art of staring down a camera, meeting the viewer's gaze with a dispassionate stare. This will become an art form in years to come. Charlie, meanwhile, has his eyes shut and looks even more bored than usual.

8. Quoi De Neuf? ('Carol' 'Around and Around' French TV November  1964)
The Stones took off so quickly in America that they largely bypassed the usual AAA trail of appearances on French, Holland, German or Belgium TV channels. This is the exception, a quaint French pop channel that doesn't seem to know what's hit it by allowing a whole theatre of screaming Stones fans in. Alas I've only seen the slightly scruffy 'Around and Around' livened by a cracking Keef guitar solo but all the books list 'Carol' being performed at this show too - unusual that only Chuck Berry covers should be played at this pointy in the band's career. Mick's got a lot better at the 'drying my hands' dance, too - no wonder the girls are shrieking!

9. Shindig! #1 ('Heart Of Stone' US TV January 1965)
We're into 1965 now and the Stones' notoriety has gone before them. 'You either love them or you hate them - but they've sold so many records a lot of you love them' is the Shindig opening as the Stones sing their B-side about a stone. It's an unusual choice, mimed once again, with Mick looking a little ill and puff-cheeked, while a bored Charlie appears to be checking out the front row. In a sign of things to come, Keith walks over to sing in harmony with Mick during the last chorus, even though he has a mike of his own (and the band are miming in any case!)

10. Big Beat '65 ('Little Red Rooster' Australian TV February 1965)
This single never gets the credit it deserves (come on! It's the only blues song ever to make #1 in a chart!) It wasn't often performed either, making this period plug on Australian TV all the more interesting. There are some weird things going on backstage though, with lion roars and a psychedelic-if-monochrome set to stand in front of. The flashing lights and close up make Mick looked like a scared little boy at first, although he wins the crowd back by rolling his eyes when the sound effects come in again. You wouldn't know the rest of the band was there at all for the most part! Note that Mick is now playing the harmonica, not Brian.

11. Top Of The Pops #2 ('The Last Time' March 1965)
In truth the Stones were barely away from the TOTP studios from the first episode to the end of the 1960s, but there was such a heavy cull of all TOTP studios that their next surviving performance isn't till here. This is the clip you see every TOTP/Stones/1960s at the BBC compilation, the one where Mick barely bothers to mime and Brian spends his time staring at something way up at the ceiling, later pointing it out to Keith. The band look tired and fed up, adding poignancy to the lyrics about this being 'the last time' - how typical for them, as they were probably on fire on the other lost performances!

12. NME Pollwinner's Concert #2 1965 ('Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' 'Pain In My Heart' 'Around and Around' 'The Last Time' UK TV April 1965)
The Stones didn't score quite as highly in the 1964 NME poll (outperformed by The Hollies, Kinks and Animals among others) and were demoted from their opening spot but actually put in a much longer performance. The band don't have any sound gremlins this time and turn in one of the tighter performances of the night. Mick is on great form on 'Pain In My Heart' which he sings more earnestly than the record and on cheeky form in between song patter ('Bow to the Queen' is his quip while the band are turning up - the Queen, of course, would never be seen at something as low-brow as a magazine award; he's probably referring to the 'London Palladium' fiasco). Mick has a whole football stadium to point out as he sings 'I need you you you' for once although 'Everybody Needs Somebody' is cut ridiculously short as per the 'Got LIVE' If You Want It' EP.

13. Ed Sullivan Show #2 ('Little Red Rooster' 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' 'The Last Time' US TV May 1965)
Against his better judgement, Ed had the Stones back again for a rather muted performance. Mick uncharacteristically struggles to work out what to do with his hands as he sings and struggles to work out when the guitarists are finished and letting him back into the song on 'Rooster', while he sounds half asleep on the limpest 'Somebody To Love' you'll ever hear. Only on 'The Last Time' do the band finally inject a bit of life, surrounded by a typically weird Sullivan set that looks like bird cages and chandeliers draped with jewellery.

14. Shindig! #2 ('Satisfaction' US TV May 1965)
Returning to Shindig, the Stones premiere what will one day be their anthem, although this is far from a satisfying 'Satisfaction' with a heavily echoed vocal and a horribly out of tune sounding guitar part. The cameraman seems to have a breakdown during the song too, pulsing in and out to the song's hypnotic beat. Despite being a rare outside live performance the crowd sound half dead.

15. Shivaree ('Down The Road Apiece' 'Little Red Rooster' US TV May 1965)
The now sadly forgotten 'Shivaree' was in its day at least as popular as 'Shindig' and was generally a safer, happier environment for the musicians. Though mimed once again (except for Mick's vocal), the band are on good form for two key pieces, Mick again using his favoured trick of out-staring the camera. Finally, after some non-committal performances, the Stones look as if they're having fun.

16. Shindig! #3 ('Let The Good Times Roll' 'Mercy Mercy' US TV August 1965)
More Shindigging, this time to plug the imminent release of third album 'Out Of Our Heads'. This seems likely to be the Stones' only performances of two of their last covers songs and they sound rather good with a rare live performance for a change. A laidback 'Good Times' sounds especially good, even if Mick seems to have fleas or a new shirt on given the amount of scratching he does across the song. 'Mercy Mercy' is louder and rawer but is also pretty good, with the first filmed use of Jagger's falsetto. I'll leave it up to you and your hearing whether that's a good thing or not.

17. Top Of The Pops #3 ('Get Off My Cloud' November 1965)
Hey! You! Don't wipe this TOTP performance! Somehow, for some reason, the energetic performance of 'Cloud' survived the TOTP cull where performances for 'Satisfaction' and co did not. Mick performs largely alone, dancing like an acrobat in the spotlight, while Keith tries hard not to get the giggles.

18. Hullabaloo ('Satisfaction'? 'Get Off My Cloud' US TV November 1965)
An, umm, interesting set design (are those balloons or lightbulbs set in the stage?) can't distract from a rare performance of 'Cloud' - possibly 'Satisfaction' too if some guide books are to be believed. 'Hullaballoo' was the sugar rush American show of the 1960s, less staid than Ed Sullivan and Shindig and the Stones fit it's anarchic vibe much better. Usually the interviews had to be seen to be believed, but alas if the Stones were talked to that bit seems to have been cut from all copies I've seen. By now Jagger's hair has been growing for months and is at its shaggiest.

19. Top Of The Pops #4 ('19th Nervous Breakdown' UK TV February 1966)
Very occasionally old clips thought lost for decades turn up - sometimes in the strangest places. Actually this 1966 TOTP performance wasn't technically 'lost' - it just wasn't listed as part of part of the documentary-drama 'Woman: Coming To Terms', where a housewife tries to feel young by walking into a record store and 'watching' those hip young things the Stones. The use of a song about a 'breakdown' must have been deliberate, although the forthcoming 'Mother's Little Helper' would have been an even better choice (were the Stones in fact inspired to write it after seeing the drama? The dates would tie in quite nicely). Broadcast for only the second time in a 'Stones at the BBC' compilation on BBC4 in 2015 (delayed from the year before - it was due to be broadcast the weekend Mick's girlfriend L'wren Scott committed suicide), it's short but great with an energetic Mick doing his 'monkey dance' in front of the TOTP's favoured 1966 set: big round lights (you might know the Beatles miming 'Paperback Writer' in front of the same backdrop in the same period).

20. Ed Sullivan Show #3 ('Satisfaction' 'As Tears Go By' 'Paint It, Black' 'Lady Jane' US TV February 1966)
The longest Stones performance yet marks their return to Ed Sullivan and the first time you can see the band in colour. To celebrate Mick is wearing a bright red shirt and has been given so many layers of make up you start wondering if the period rumours about his bisexuality are true (though chances are a makeup girl just wanted to spend longer staring into his eyes). Performing live once more, the Stones play slightly too fast and breathlessly across the four song show, with a weary sounding 'As Tears Go By' played by Mick and Keith alone sitting on stools the highlight. Brian gets to mime a sitar part, sitting cross-legged on the floor, for the premiere of 'Paint It, Black', though the cameraman is clearly confused and gets a close-up of Keith's guitar for the opening instead! Brian's the star actually, for pretty much the last time, playing dulcimer on 'Lady Jane' too which coaxes a quite lovely vocal out of Mick, squatting on the side of Charlie's drum podium.

21. Bandstand Special ('Get Off My Cloud' 'Play With Fire' Australian TV February 1966)
 Meanwhile, down under, it's back to black-and-white TV and a mimed recording - a quite horrifically mangled tape recording at that. This is a fun performance for all that, though, a jumpy Jagger dancing around in white with every beat of the drums while Keith gets a rare grin out of Bill by sharing the same microphone with him. It's nice to see one of the band's greatest B-sides 'Play With Fire' get a rare airing too with Mick looking downright scary as he stands stock-still this time to scare the camera down. Charlie gets to bang a tambourine rather than play his usual full kit - and doesn't look terribly happy about it.

22. Ready Steady Go! (Live!) #3 ('Under My Thumb' 'I Am Waiting' 'Paint It Black' 'I Got You Babe' 'Oh Baby' 'That's How Strong My Love Is' 'Satisfaction' UK TV May 1966)
A whole half hour Stones show celebrates their return to England and offers chances to hear songs the band don't usually play along with two of their most recent singles (oddly no 'Get Off My Cloud' though). The band preview two songs from 'Aftermath' with the delightful 'I Am Waiting' sounding particularly strong  and dive back to the past with a hypnotic 'Oh Baby' and an earnest 'That's How Strong My Love Is'. However it's the other three songs that shine the brightest: 'Paint It Black' is a brave and thrilling try at condensing a tricky single into a workable live arrangement with most of the band playing unusual instruments (Charlie even has a flute!) A storming 'Satisfaction' runs over the credits and simply refuses to end, with a near six minute performance bring Mick to new heights of passion as he screams himself hoarse on the 'no no nos' over Charlie's relentless beat. Despite all that, though, this show is most remembered for the comedy moment when the whole band (plus Stu) got involved in a 'sketch' with host Kathy McGowan as they all mime to 'I Got You Babe'. Mick and Kathy quickly get out of sequence so he's miming to Cher and combing his hair while she gets Sonny, while Keith oompahs down a tuba and Bill and Charlie look deeply uncomfortable providing a 'ring' and 'flowers'. It's a hilarious 'tribute' and proof that the Stones were good at laughing at themselves despite their scowling image. Both this track and 'Satisfaction' appeared on the hard to find 'Ready Steady Go!' VHS in the early 1990s - Dave Clark (of the Dave Clark Five) bought up the rights to the entire show and hasn't as yet released them on DVD.

23. Ed Sullivan Show #4 ('Let's Spend 'Some Time' Together' 'Ruby Tuesday' US TV January 1967)
The last Ed Sullivan appearance was the most talked about. censors baulked at the idea of Mick spending 'the night' with a girl so forced him to change the lyrics to 'some time'. The Stones are in rebellious mood throughout and turn in what seems like a deliberately sloppy appearance, with Mick knowingly rolling his eyes and winking to camera every time he has to sing the new lines. This time it's Keith whose got the fidgets and won't stand still and he's far louder than normal on the backing vocals too. Brian poses on the piano stool, though it's not clear if he's actually playing or whether this all from tape. A rare performance of 'Ruby Tuesday' is less talked about but far better, tighter and with some lovely harmonies you can just about hear over some mad screaming (unusual by 1967 standards when fans had grown up that little bit). Bill mimes the double bass part, while Brian plays a recorder still perched on his piano stool.

24. Top Of The Pops #5 ('Let's Spend The Night Together' UK TV January 1967)
Another much repeated and mimed clip which somehow survived the TOTP destruction policy, Mick wears what's clearly a brightly coloured jacket but as this is back to being in black and white again it doesn't necessarily come over that well. He's in a very energetic mood again - the camera can barely keep up!

25. She's A Rainbow (Music Video 1967)
The first in a long, long run of Stones music videos seems to have been shot specifically for the American market - Brits never did get this unusually poppy song as a single. They probably didn't have much to do with this collage though, which bounces from black and white stage footage to some random colour shots of the band backstage drinking and the usual shots of pretty models. No rainbows are present and nor is any summer of love vibe on the band's most psychedelic single. A slightly recut version, featuring modern shots of the band, was re-released to promote '40 Licks' in 2002.

26. We Love You (Music Video 1967)
This however is one of the greatest clips of them all. Unable to promote their latest single because three members of the band looked likely to be going to prison, instead the band shot a fantastic promo spoofing the entire justice system with the same 'thankyou/fuck you' message as one of the band's most brilliant songs. Only Mick, Keith and Marianne Faithful appear in a video that comments on the farcical and backward justice system, parodying the court case against Oscar Wilde and his boyfriend (as played by Marianne, with Keith as the judge). Few people in the 1960s would have raised eyebrows at the antics of fifty years earlier - and the Stones rightly predict that people wouldn't at their antics fifty years on too. The video is also intercut with footage of the band apparently at work on this song, including a very poorly looking Brian who still comes round enough to mime part of the glorious mellotron solo, his last moment of genius on a Stones record. A real milestone in the history of music films, this quickly followed 'Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane' in the art of making clips 'about' the songs rather than featuring the band members merely miming. It's still chilling today, as it gives fans what might have been their last lingering shots of Mick and Keith before an almost certain ten year sentence.

27. 2000 Light Years From Home (Music Video 1967)
Little seen but fabulous, this promo for the 'Satanic Majesties' LP is every bit as colourful and weird as the music it accompanies. Lots of block colours are used turning into faces on this eerie song started in a prison cell. Mick, never afraid of dressing up, also appears with what looks like a wigwam on his head for half the video and the 'war paint' that will soon be recycled for 'jack Flash', although by comparison the rest of the band look vaguely sensible. Well, apart from Brian who doesn't appear throughout (though someone with very Brian looking hands mimes the mellotron part).  It's so very colourful 2000 light years from home!

28. Jumpin' Jack Flash (Music Video 1968)
Talking of which, we're suddenly back into the earthy groove of 1968 with everyone this time taking advantage of the dressing up box and war paints. A devilish Mick looks brilliantly evil, though a sunglasses-clad Keith is less so, while goggle-wearing Brian doesn't seem to have a clue what's going on and Bill and Charlie look as bored as ever, just in funnier clothes. In a piece of tie-in marketing the single sleeve featured a still from this promo on the front - and a shot of the band in reverse on the back.

29. Child Of The Moon (Music Video 1968)
One last great gift from the psychedelic era was the gorgeous B-side, which is treated to a most surrealistic video (not helped by the poor quality most of the few copies banging around tend to be in). The band merely stare wordlessly into the camera, while a little boy runs round staring at them all and a zombified statue of a girl comes to life too. I'd never realised how 'Twilight' like this song was before. Yuk, that's really put me off the song now - next one please, quick!

30. The David Frost Show #1 ('Sympathy For The Devil' UK TV November 1968)
Though everyone likes to say 'The Beatles sneezed and then the Rolling Stones caught a cold', the Stones were generally closer than most to getting a head start on the fab four ('Jack Flash' for instance', was more responsible for setting the 1968 tone than 'Lady Madonna'). However its notable that so soon after the Beatles' comeback on David Frost' TV show the Stones do the same, with a nervy and rough-edged version of arguably the best song from 'Beggar's Banquet'. Mick looks more like a caveman than ever and the slowed down, scruffy nature of the performance actually suits this song about the devil waiting around every corner. Brian makes one of his last performances miming to a piano part he didn't even play, whole Keith makes his best rockstar posing on the solo - shame the camera lighting is so poor we can barely see it! Mick tries to take his clothes off a la the 'Stones Circus' a month later but doesn't have a devil tattoo this time. Presumably this clip was broadcast in colour, as per all the David Frost series of 1968 but I've only ever seen a monochrome clip suggesting this is an episode that was either handed back by a collector or taped privately by an engineer.


31. Street Fighting Man (Music Video 1968)
An unusual video for an unusual song, this one starts off with a heartbeat as a dapper Mick puts a flower in his buttonhole. Once the song starts playing he walks forward, backwards and around and around, while pulling a serious expression and making no effort to mime the song's words. It seems odd that the band should pull the 'low budget' thing at this point in their careers, though the lack of fellow band members might be to disguise Brian's increasingly desperate state of health.

32. The David Frost Show #2 ('Honky Tonk Woman' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' UK TV June 1969)
A returning performance has David Frost joking that the programme wanted a 'clean cut band and wanted to hire a group named 'The Crew Cuts', but found out they were all girls!' Well, it's funnier than anything Dean Martin came up with. 'Honky Tonk Woman' is described as 'their biggest hit in years'  and is the first chance to see the band with new boy Mick Taylor on guitar. Filmed a mere month before Brian's untimely death, it feels in retrospect as if there's rather a sombre air over the band as they turn in rather a slow performance of the song. Only Keith looks happy, forever throwing grins back to Bill about something, while poor Taylor is rather stuck out on his own at the far left. 'You Can't Get...''s premiere cuts out the orchestral opening entirely, though it keeps the brass for a lovely slow rendition that rather undoes Frost's introduction of the Stones as 'today's greatest rock and roll band' but never mind. Mick is on top sarcastic form here, outdoing even the 'Stones Circus' version of this song for knowing tongue-in-cheekness, while this time Keith points his guitar at Bill like a gun and even gets a rare grin from the bassist.

33. Ed Sullivan Show #5 ('Gimme Shelter' US TV November 1969)
The Stones' last performance is to promote the 'Let It Bleed' album and seen less than a month before 'Altamont' seems rather eerie, the band playing sombrely in shadow until Mick starts up his 'going down the gym' routine. This is one of the last mimed performances the band make and no reference is made to co-lead singer Merry Clayton, with no one miming her parts.

34. Top Of The Pops #6 ('Honky Tonk Woman' December 1969)
Another regular taped the week before 'Altamont' features a grinning band on top miming form and with a change around in the order - Keith is now camera-left, with Mick Taylor looking happier slotted in between Jagger and Wyman. Mick does his best strutting round in a cape, but this still sounds like the weakest Stones single of the 1960s with no particularly interesting place to go.

35. Pop Go The Sixties ('Gimme Shelter' UK TV December 1969)
A sudden sense of mourning for the decade just about to go took hold during the last month of the 1960s with several of the decade's biggest sellers invited back for a return performance of any song they wanted. You see it repeated quite often on the 'Yesterday' channel, while clips are often seen on other shows too. The Stones, unlike most bands, simply chose to sing one of their latest songs and turn in by far the darkest and saddest song of the night, Mick warning that death is 'just a shot away' on a fine solo performance that doesn't miss his co-singer at all. This is the first real chance, T In The Park gig aside, to see new boy Taylor actually play rather than mime and he sounds great with some virtuoso feels over Keith's choppy rhythm that beat even the record. Hey guys, a re-recording was just a take away!

36. Top Of The Pops #7 ('Brown Sugar' UK TV April 1971)
Another famous clip, this is the source of video of Jagger all dressed in pink and with a bright pink top hat, leaping around the TOTP stage set like his  strings are being pulled. Though the rest of the band mime, his vocal is live and is fabulous - easily better than the record which never sounded that hot. This much repeated clip probably has a lot to the song's surprisingly high popularity, actually.

37. Happy (Music Video 1972)
A promo to promote 'Exile On Main Street' this propels Keith into the lead role probably for the first time. Shot live on stage...somewhere (I can't find any mention where I'm afraid), Mick and Keith share a microphone on a lazy groove version of the song . A gap toothed Keith is very much adding to his image here, though it's Mick's struts and dances that still catch the eye.

38. Montreaux Rehearsals ('Shake Your Hips' 'Loving Cup' 1972)
An early concert from the days when the 'Exile' album was still being knocked into shape, this is a slow burning six minute groove version of both future classics. Both lose out from the blurry production of the album, the clarity showing up the mistakes that bit more, and the band seem distracted a little bit throughout.

39. The Dick Cavett Show (US TV November 1972)
Another of our TV clips regulars is Dick Cavett, the hippest and most with it American interviewer who had all the best guests, even though his redeeming feature was that unlike 99% of interviewers he played on being the least hip person in the room. This is one of the few Stones bits and pieces out officially, as part of the 'Dick Cavett: Rock Icons' DVD (minus Bill's bit, sadly). It's an unusual show for Cavett, though, with the Stones part made on location at Madison Square Gardens back in June. A weary band are caught backstage after the show when they're clearly worn out so it's not a classic meeting and Cavett is right when he says he regrets the fact Jagger isn't on with his other guest, chess champion Bobby Fischer, because they are closer to each other than people think. Worried about filling up time, Cavett spends most of the Stones segment interviewing the audience, which is interesting and often funny ('What would you ask Mick Jagger if you could?' 'I'd ask him what he was on!' 'Even though I'm past thirty I still like them and I think they can go till forty!') and briefly the backstage crew, who never usually get a chance to talk (cue the immortal line 'Who are you?...Oh, I think that must be a groupie!') He finally talks to a monosyllabic Mick though, who confesses to not sleeping well and his worry about ticket prices (he's pleased they're catching the 'ticket scalpers' too). This must surely be a unique interview in the sense that they spend more time chatting about Mick's economics degree than the music - and the only one in which Jagger is given a carrot to eat! Bill is chattier, relieved at the chance to speak and gives an erudite reflection on how the audiences have changed (the older ones keep coming and new young ones come too! 'Do you appeal to the middle aged ladies like Tom Jones?' 'I think Tom Jones gets excited by the middle aged ladies!') There are nice if frenetic performances of 'Brown Sugar' and 'Street Fighting Man' from Madison Square Gardens at the end too where Jagger gives his all despite the lack of sleep. Cavett quips that he wanted to ask Mick to 'do that one again but with more feeling'!

40. Angie (Music Video 1973)
With none of the 'Exile' singles quite clicking with the public, the Stones went to town promoting their next single 'Angie', with two separate promos. One is a straightforward life performance with a wasted looking Keith amongst the band members choosing to sit down for it, while both he and Mick Taylor have roses stuck in their guitar frets. They've done something to Jagger's hair to make him the spitting image of Helen Reddy too! Promo number two features a stood up band and Jagger in a sailor suit.

41. Dancing With Mr D (Music Video 1973)
Somebody must have been having a barbecue before the band filmed this mimed performanc because it's all very foggy! Jagger, resplendent in eyeliner, nail polish and golden hot pants, has never looked more like David Bowie and is on top 'jogging' form, while Mick Taylor is also beginning to look as wasted as his fellow musicians for the first time, grinning as he duets with Bill.

42. Silver Train (Music Video 1973)
Mick's in a sparkly blue jumpsuit for this rather tentative live performance, running what must be miles across a black stage until rushing back to sing harmonies into Keith's microphone. Check out Charlie's wry grin as Mick dances his bottom near the drum kit near three minutes in too, a mixture of disgust and elder brother concern! Otherwise it's about as straightforward as Stones promos ever get.

43. Old Grey Whistle Test #1 ('Silver Train' 'Dancing With Mr D' UK TV October 1973)
There's been a slight change in British music television by this period, with Top Of The Pops suddenly taken over by hot young glam stars and older stars like the Stones ending up on the slightly more serious 'Old Grey Whistle Test' (ie if your grandparents can whistle it you've got a hit!) Most bands tended to play a couple of songs at random but the Stones were still important enough to be given a full twenty minutes of the show. A repeat of the 'Silver Train' video starts things off before Bob Harris introduces an interview held in Munich with a smartly dressed and rather mod looking Mick. He talks about the European shows being smaller and with less people (twenty-five not counting the band) and the need to have a day off in between. One intriguing titbit is a half finished live album with Stevie Wonder that Decca rejected because it used too many of their old songs even though the band are on their own label by now. Mick is also asked about the fact that the band have never done solo albums - actually Bill was just about to start his and Mick isn't far away from his either, but he admits to not knowing how he's make it different to the Stones' albums. The quote of the interview: 'I think one ballad every four years is about right!' The show then closes with the repeated clip of 'Dancing With Mr D'.

44. Unknown (Holland TV 1973)
The Stones were really keen to plug the 'Goat's Head Soup' album weren't they?! Both Micks and Keith are caught in a hotel room, making apologies for the rest of the band. Keith says the interaction with an audience is 'vital' and that he'd prefer smaller clubs but needs to play where lots of people can see the band at once,  Mick J says five months touring is 'enough' given the time spent making a record and Mick T is fascinated why the interviewer wants to know what they all read. Not the most gripping interview ever and there seems to be a bit of a mis-translation going on that makes band and then interviewer defensive, but nice enough as a curio.

45. It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It!) (Music Video 1974)
Wanting to spruce up their latest promo, the entire band go for their most outrageous costumes yet (sailor suits!) and a crew member goes to town with the foam machine, nearly drowning poor Charlie because they 'forgot' he'd be sitting down to play the drums! Bill looks pretty scared stiff too. A pretty famous music video in the Stones lexicography, it's one heck of a lot more interesting than the song. This is also the only Stones video ever shot inside a giant tent. It's only soap 'n' bubbles but I kind of like it.

46. Ain't Too Proud To Beg (Music Video 1974)
Not many people remember this was a single, a Temptations cover released too long after the 'Rock and Roll' album to make the charts. The Stones are deep in their 'American' phase by now, performing against a New York skyline backdrop and with Mick looking ever more like the trendy Stateside scene of the time consisting mainly of eyeliner and hats. The best part of the video is both Micks hitting a 'bobbing' groove in synch during Keith's solo.

47. Till The Next Goodbye (Music Video 1974)
Mick Taylor's video is a rather apt choice, with Mick J playing an acoustic guitar part for the first time on video. Performed against a wind-blown backdrop tinted purple, it's a low budget but rather moving video for one of the band's better forgotten songs.

48. Fool To Cry (Music Video 1976)
Mick, dressed from the waist down as a clown, mimes the keyboard work on this one as the rest of the band sit around looking bored - all except Charlie, actually, who seems to be having some private joke at the start of this clip. Fairly standards stuff really - a bit like the song.

49. Hot Stuff (Music Video 1976)
Keith seems to be wearing a pair of curtains for his trousers, while Mick is in his 'ruff and scarves' stage. It's good to see him and Keith singing so much together, round the same mike, but then it's probably at least in part to cover up the fact that Ronnie Wood is now in the band, far right, but not in the band in the sense of how few camera shots he gets.

50. Hey Negrita (Music Video 1976)
I'm not sure I can describe this costume well enough, with Mick dressed up as a florid Mexican bandit complete with maracas and sci-fi sunglasses. Well, the band had to spruce things up somehow, I suppose. Elsewhere Charlie's had a crew cut (as seen on the 'Black and Blue' album sleeve) and Billy Preston plays a bigger role in the video than most of the band.

51. Crazy Mama (Music Video 1976)
Yet another 'Black and Blue' clip and at last the modern-day Stones seem to be falling into place, with Keith and Ronnie at the start of their double act. In other new, Charlie seems to be getting a bald spot.

52. Old Grey Whistle Test #2 (UK TV 1976)
Mick, Ronnie and Charlie natter to Bob Harris about the 'Love You Live' album and video they've just made and which will be out the next year. Mick declares himself an expert trouser and jacket changer, plugs the director 'Freddie the Frog' and admits that his first response to the live video they've just made that it was 'horrendous'. Mick is asked what can go wrong and jokingly glares at Ronnie when he discusses 'guitarists going out of tune'. Charlie gets one word, well murmur really the whole interview when Ronnie declares the El Macamba gig his 'favourite side' ('Hmmm').

53. Miss You (Music Video 1978)
Ooooooh! Ooooooh! Oo oo! Sadly a rather tame clip of a song that's anything but, with a live performance that's nothing like as strong as the record and Jagger filmed in what looks like a car park in the dark before joining the rest of the band in a big red box.

54. Respectable (Music Video 1978)
In keeping with the back to basics vibe of the 'Some Girls' album the Stones are playing in an overgrown shed. Mick's wearing a t-shirt with the 'tongue' logo on it - his favourite costume in years to come - and plays guitar with the others again. Bill and Charlie have never looked this bored ever.

55. Far Away Eyes (Music Video 1978)
The Stones' comedy radio parody is performed on what looks like a re-dressed version of the same set, changed so a check-shirted Jagger can get behind the honky-tonk piano and Ronnie can sit down to play slide guitar. Mick does a good job at keeping a serious face on - perhaps too good, considering that he loses all the tongue-in-cheekness of the original, the only reason for the song to exist quite bluntly. You can tell this is primarily a Jagger song: Mick is giving his all and then some - while the rest of the band aren't trying one iota.

56. Saturday Night Live ('Beast Of Burden' US TV October 1978)
A by this period rare TV appearance to celebrate the 40th episode of comedy show Saturday Night Live. 'Beast Of Burden' is a great performance, Mick starting off more 'straight' (in both meanings of the word) than he's been in years, before getting the words wrong and giggling on the second verse. The beret suits him though. Mind you so did the pink jacket and the clown trousers. Is there nothing this man can't wear? It's better than his voice, though, which even he admits was 'shot' after a week long launch party for the 'Some Girls' album. Keith was later involved with a typically unfunny comedy sketch which he didn't seem to register was taking place, leading host Lorraine Newman to quip at the end 'I've never worked with a corpse before!' This might be why the Stones hardly ever did TV post 1974 and why they'll do so little in the years to come.

57. Emotional Rescue (Music Video 1980)
Against the odds, something a bit different! A nervous Jagger waits backstage, handed an unappetising TV dinner by what can only be described as a New York doll, but not the band, before watching the Stones perform in the microwave! It's clever way of trying to explain away the bizarre thermal image cover for the 'Emotional rescue' album, which funnily enough also sounds like it was recorded on a microwave. Thankfully not all the video is like that and we see a more normal 'performance' from the band in a giant orange room. Look out for Bobby Keyes on sax making a rare appearance. Mick and Ronnie are having a whale of a time, but I don't think anyone else is!

58. She's So Cold (Music Video 1980)
For this one the band are in a shower for a rather literal take on a song about temperatures. Mick's a burning fire, a bleeding volcano, but the rest of the band are all so cold, with Keith in his beloved leopardskin jacket suddenly looking his age and a little bit more.

59. Where The Boys Go (Music Video 1980)
A much under-rated song, this one seems to be taking place on the thermal microwave again which isn't where I always pictured the boys all going I can tell you. It's all a bit distracting actually, flashing on and off and we don't get a single normal shot of the band across the video. Is this, in fact, just a re-hash of the last two videos put through a thermal filter?

60. Start Me Up (Music Video 1981)
Michael Lindsey Hogg, who'd started his career with the Stones on their 'Circus' special, is back in charge for the lead single from 'Tattoo You' and to date the band's last big hit. It's another simple 'performance' video, though there's an emphasis on getting the Stones front line in the same shot most of the time and all three are knee-deep in dry ice. Charlie gets the giggles watching all three out-perform each other, while Bill looks as if he's only just woken up.

61. Waiting On A Friend (Music Video 1981)
A sweet video and one of the best, particularly in the light of the big falling out Mick and Keith are about to have. Mick hangs around a street corner that looks suspiciously like Sesame Street to me, with those big wide New York doorways and step (actually it's the same house used on the cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti'). Lots of pretty girls walk past and Jagger has a quick walk around the city, but by the end, but only when he bumps into the others at a local bar does he look happy, greeted with smiles and cheers that don't look as forced as you might suppose. Bill and Charlie both giggle their heads off at the back as Keith and Ronnie join in the singalong. A real moment of rare camaraderie for the troubled 1980s period.

62. Hang Fire (Music Video 1981)
I've never much liked 'Hang Fire', which is a bunch of millionaires complaining about the unemployed at the start of Thatcher's reign. I don't like the promo much either, which is a boring mimed video against a backdrop of paintings, all taken from the 'Tattoo You' packaging.

63. Neighbours (Music Video 1981)
The cheek of it! Mick hangs out of a window complaining about the noise at a party downstairs, while behind him the Stones cook up a storm! Charlie gets the only bed, though he doesn't seem too happy about it. A weird promo, with the neighbours including a couple making love, a tai chi expert and a murderer putting body bits in a suitcase, though it's cleverly shot to combine the inside and out.

64. Worried About You (Music Video 1981)
Mick and his alarming falsetto perform this in front of an organ on top of which sits a large bottle of whiskey and an over-sized hat. He performs solo until some 90 seconds in when Keith finally deigns to walk over and join in, looking the most like a zombie he ever will. Ronnie mimes the solo, even though Wayne Perkins played it on the recording.

65. Going To A Go-Go! (Music Video 1982)
The best song from the 'Still Life' album which was a surprise hit when released as a single. Footage of a sweaty and tired band strutting their stuff live on stage is intercut with Mick walking up to a saloon door cowboy style and paying to see himself live. Well, as he tells himself, it doesn't matter if you come in drag just as long as you get there somehow.

66. Time Is On My Side (Music Video 1982)
Another live single taken from 'Still Life', this one is simpler and just a straight performance of the song. Thankfully they leave in the introduction where Mick jokes the band they recorded this one when they were 'real small' and the video is a real nostalgic Stones moment, with baby shots of the band from all eras (including a very sulky Brian!) and old newsreel footage of Stones riots.

67. Undercover Of The Night (Music Videos x 2 1983)
This one comes with lots of 'explicit!' warnings, but oddly it's not sex but violence on the Stones' most big budget video. Mick wrote the song as a tale of dodgy dealings in the Far East and he dresses up as a spy shadowing the rest of the band. In what must have been a welcome moment in World War III the rest of the band get to kidnap Mick and someone playing his wife while they watch the Stones on TV. Outside 'Spiv' Mick tries to save his other self and finds his 'girlfriend' badly injured. Taking her to safety he discovers Keith holding up a train and watches himself get shot on a bridge. A shootout takes place, as watched by several other people on different TVs until someone finally manages to turn the television off. I'm not sure I'd want every Stones promo to look this - or sound like this - but the video, like the song, is definitely trying harder than many tracks lately. A second version removes much of the violence - and fun - with more of the 'performance' instead of the kidnaps and shooting.

68. Too Much Blood (Music Video 1983)
Ever seen the 'Too Much Blood' promo? 'Orrible wasn't it? Band members running round with a fucking chainsaw...' Another banned violent video, though it's of a more comedy variety this time. The video opens with horror movie strings before a girl flicks through the channels of actual horror films and discovers the Stones are in one of their own. Mick tries to dance his way out of trouble on a graveyard set, which Keith particularly looks right at home in. Mick breaks into a spooky castle for the spoken word recitation before Keith breaks through the door with a chainsaw. Upset, the girl rushes to the bathroom and discovers the taps are running blood. Perhaps she's heard that rumour about Keith's attempts to get free using drug transfusions too? Keith is clearly fulfilling a long held ambition as he chases Mick round the set with a chainsaw! Actually there's probably not enough blood in this video, but good OTT fun all the same.

69. Live Aid 1985 ('Dancing In The Street' 'Slingshot' 'It's Only Rock and Roll'  'Bob Dylan Medley' 1985)
It speaks volumes that though three members of the Stones took part in Live Aid, they didn't play together. Keith and Ronnie are the stumbling, stoned and incredibly unrehearsed backing band to Bob Dylan and Mick is having a dance-off in the street with David Bowie. The video of both men dancing in glowing lycra is probably the one that ought to come with an explicit warning (they used it complete in an episode of cartoon series 'Family Guy' while the characters look on in shock, stunned that it ever happened). Few people remember that Mick also appeared in person, duetting with Tina Turner on her own very Stonesy song 'Slingshot' where he sings her off the stage ('I love the way you walk' 'Hey d'ya like that baby?!') and a hideous 'It's Only Rock and Roll' where she upstages him. To think, they took a rare CSNY reunion off the telly so they could screen this...Well, it was for charity, let's move on...

70. One Hit (To The Body) (Music Video 1986)
Another much under-valued song is given an inventive promo, with the band suddenly kung-fu masters performing against an animated kung-fu character on the wall behind them. In what's definitely becoming a theme of these videos, Mick and Keith get into a fight and I'm not entirely convinced it's acting. The band then switch to a giant 'skyscraper' set which gives Mick lots of room for running up and down. Mick's hair is at the longest it's been since 1969!

71. Harlem Shuffle (Music Video 1986)
Until the 'Steel Wheels' comeback, this is how it looked like the Stones might go out, with a retro tune. In keeping with the nostalgic mood, the cartoon opens with Mick doing the voices for a bizarre animated cartoon before the band appear in the same bright primal colours as the 'Dirty Work' sleeve, albeit in jackets this time. Seeing Mick 'scratch like a monkey' as he teaches us the dance steps is fun, once, but there's not a lot happening in this promo and the sudden switches back to the cartoon are confusing.

72. Mixed Emotions (Music Video 1989)
It's all smiles for the reunion singles, with the 'master tapes' for this song pointedly stacked in a jukebox alongside all their old classics (in what looks like Mick's handwriting no less). The band have really aged in the three years away, especially a now white-haired Charlie, but they seem happier together than they have in a long time and Jagger still can't stand still for any length of time. We also intercut to less flattering footage of Mick doing his gym routine, as if the video is intent on giving me mixed emotions too.

73. Rock and a Hard Place (Music Video 1989)
A sea of lyrics and electronics float on past and we barely catch glimpses of the band in concert behind them all, leaving this video between a rocking concert and a hard-to-read place. A bad idea, especially for older fans with eye strain.

74. Terrifying (Music Video 1989)
This is better, though a cracking 'groove' song deserved a more interesting video - this is just a straight performance where nothing really happens. We also spend more time looking at the newly hired backing singers than any of the band except Mick, which surely can't be right. Especially given that most are, umm, terrifying.

75. Almost Hear You Sigh (Music Video 1989)
The first video shot in black and white since 1969 rather suits the band who seem to have more mystery and fascination like this than in blaring colour, especially Keith's now very craggy face. Mick appears to be singing in a stately home, for reasons never explained, while Ronnie smokes Bill (in his last video) jokes and Charlie chokes, his short clipped hair making him look more like a boxer than ever.

76. Highwire (Music Video 1991)
One of the better modern day Stones songs, lyrically at least, released on the 'Flashpoint' live album even though it's a new studio tank. The band perform in a giant warehouse that's blown up bit by bit for explosions, which suits this song about mind-games and subversion in the Gulf War. Bill was around when the song was recorded but had left by the time the video was made.

77. Sex Drive (Music Video 1991)
The ultimate Stones sex drugs and rock and roll release, this is another 'Flashpoint' oddity that features Mick talking on a psychiatrist couch about his sex addiction. Cutaway shots of Charlie listening make it seem that the drummer's not too impressed, while the lyrics and concept are really just an excuse to show lots of scantily clad girls. Mick gets prescribed aspirin. I'd suggest a cold shower.

78. Love Is Strong (Music Video 1994)
An interesting promo, shot from the floor so that everyone in it seems really huge. The band are in black and white once again, as Mick narrates a tale of love, with the pay-off line that the couple haven't actually met yet and he's really a stalker. It would be very clever had Paul McCartney not beaten the band to it with the better video for the overlooked 'Pretty Little Head' single in 1986.

79. You Got Me Rocking (Music Video 1994)
A live recording, even though it's to promote a studio single, with an unusually overdressed Jagger walking round the audience down all the many stages the band had on their 'Voodoo Lounge' tours. Not much else to say really - the band are beginning to run out of ideas by now.


80. I Go Wild (Music Video 1994)
This promo seems to have been shot live the same day and is another slightly ordinary clip. I'd go wild, but actually after band members chasing each other with chainsaws and growing several hundred feet tall it's almost a relief.

81. Out Of Tears (Music Video 1994)
For my money the greatest Stones song since the 1960s, it was a real shame that this one didn't perform better as a single, but then it was the fourth taken from an album fans had already bought. The video shows a lot more care than the last two, with a silhouetted Mick left alone in his now empty house. Keith walks past outside in the rain, head down, with a guitar case while he's later seen playing dominoes alone in a cafe, but it's a young girl we're following as he runs away. Ronnie, meanwhile, plays the solo in the pouring rain. Goodness knows where Charlie is. The video features a slightly different mix of the song by the way, with louder strings. I don't like it, but then the take on the album is perfection.

82. Like A Rolling Stone (Music Video 1995)
The surprise hit single from 'Stripped', this self-referencing Bob Dylan cover features the 'Stripped' performance intercut with random footage of street beggars and millionaire parties. While the chorus 'how does it feel?' makes sense, the rest of the video doesn't quite work: this is about personal loss and envy of a past loved one, not really a class-conscious tale.

83. Stripped (TV Concert 1995)
The most interesting, if inconsistent, of all the Stones' live shows, this slightly barer recording (you can't really call it 'unplugged') was taped during the end of the lengthy 'Voodoo Lounge' tour and features a band who are enjoying the sort of telepathy bands can only manage after playing months together. Surprisingly this show has never really been since broadcast, hence the fact that it's not in our video/DVD category, and it works best when the band are at their most informal, chatting about arrangement and making mistakes. Otherwise, though, it's a better concert to listen to than to look at, being a little lifeless while the interview snippets in between tracks get a bit irritating over time, as does the fact that most of it is in black-and-white again.

84. Anybody Seen My Baby? (Music Video 1997)
Yes Mick, she's in the 'Sleazeball Lounge' with Ronnie Wood doing a far too convincing performance as a club emcee. Mick gets hot under the collar as a girl takes her clothes off while Keith just plays with his hat. This song didn't do as well as expected as the lead single from 'Bridges To Babylon', which most fans put down to a case of plagiarism with a KD Lang song the band hadn't spotted until Mick's children pointed it out, though a rather ugly and obvious promo probably didn't help much. Shame, the song deserves better. Keith also plays his guitar solo on a giant statue of a griffin by the way and no I don't remember that in the lyrics either.

85. Saint Of Me (Music Video 1997)
This was clearly the obvious single to release anyway, a gorgeous update on the Stones' 1960s bad boy image and 1970s gospel sound. Not that this promo helps much either, with Mick back down in a seedy part of a New York street and a hooded man stands on a stepladder in the middle of nowhere, symbolism that got lost on me. The rest of the band, meanwhile, turn up in a seedy bathroom while a pretty girl washes her feet.

86. Out Of Control (Music Video 1997)
This promo is the most 'out of control' since the band were in soap suds (hey, this stuff writes itself!), with computer generated switches between shots of the band and audience that leave bits of the other hanging in the screen during the segue. I thought at first it was my rural internet on the blink again, but no - apparently it's meant to be like that, though goodness knows why. Finally we get the 'release' two minutes in accompanied  by lots of lighting displays but even that feels a little under-sold.

87. Gimme Shelter (Music Video 1999)
A belated promo that came along late to the 'No Security' party, this is one of the better songs from the sixth Stones live album, though like many a Stones thing it's a lot better to listen to than watch with Keith a pale shadow of himself and Ronnie anxiously glancing over almost the whole song to check he's alright. Mick, of course, is off in the audience and walking further in five minutes than most people do in five days during the course of the song. Lisa Fischer is no Merry Clayton either, but then Mick always sounded better doing this song solo anyway. Ah well, the next clip is just a skip button away.

88. Don't Stop (Music Video 2002)
A most unusual, largely animated video for the '40 Licks' lead single. Three young dudes are taking a car journey to see the band perform in an old relic of a car that still takes eight track cartridges. They take the psychedelic scenic route though and talk in cartoon bubbles that make a Stones-referencing anorak like me very happy ('Hey the car's boring. Let's paint it, black!') Weirdly, the trio also get chased by giant pies when they try to steal one from a shop (I must have missed the single 'Let's have some pie together...') The theme seems to be that the Stones are still having an adventure and we can be part of it too, though the director misses a trick by not setting this on 'Route 66'.


89. A Bigger Bang? (Holland TV 2005)
Worried that a still Keith's stopped breathing, the interviewer asks the guitarist is he's alright. 'Sure baby!' he rasps, before she messes with his hair and he shoos her away. Keith says that he's only just heard that the audience are going to join them on stage but it sounds good to him. Keith tries to get round the fact that the title of 'A Bigger Bang' is also partly a drugs reference by suggesting he prefers explosions to implosions and adds the interesting titbit that the title was originally for the tour, not the album. Asked if he's worried about his safety, Keith asks them to take their best shot, then backtracks and hopes no one else gets hurt if they do ('and if they do then you'll really have a big bang because I'll come back and haunt you!') He also talks about answering questions from the fans on his website and what cool questions they are. He also scotches the rumour that he has a stylist, claiming he sneaks in when no one else is looking and nicks a bit from Mick's and Ronnie's costumes.

90. Rough Justice (Music Video 2005)
'One time you were my favourite chicken, now you've turned into a fox, once upon a time I was your little red rooster but now I'm just one of your cocks!' Any excuse to repeat one of the best couplets in the Stones canon really and it's more interesting than the promo anyway, which is just a rather shakey hand-camera version of the band performing in concert (though the studio track is heard over the top). Rough justice maybe, but this video will never break your heart.

91. Streets Of Love (Music Video x 2 2005)
Two videos of Mick's heartbreak as he bids goodbye to Jade, guiltily, staring into the camera for the first time in ages. There are actually two promos for this lovely little song, one mimed on a brightly lit stage, one mimed in a dingy club complete with audience noises. The first has more Mick on top form, but the second is better for the band as a whole.

92. Rain Fall Down (Music Video 2005)
We're back in the mean broken down streets of New York again for a video where Charlie's playing squashed in a bathroom, Keith's smoking on a run-down settee and Mick's staring out at the downpour outside. Somehow, though, the landlord has still bought one of those pricey 'stones tongue' pillow covers - no wonder he can't afford the maintenance bills!

93. Doom and Gloom (Music Video 2012)
Sorry to end with doom and gloom but we end this list with, erm, 'Doom and Gloom'. The first of the 'new' tracks from the 'Grrrr!' compilation, this is a zombie film starring navigator Amelia Earhart and you don't see many of them now do you?  It's the end of the world but still the Stones play on, mainly in black and white, while on the TV news the world gets blown up bit by bit. It sums up them up rather well actually, though Mick is sensibly dressed compared to most of this list and that doesn't seem right at all!


We're going to take a pause in our Stones coverage for the festive period but don't worry, we'll be back with more - a lot more - in the new year and you can have a gander at our annual review of the year next week!

Other Stones articles from this site you might be interested in reading:


'No 2' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-rolling-stones-no-2-1965.html
'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' (1974) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-rolling-stones-its-only-rock-and.html
'Black and Blue' (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/the-rolling-stones-black-and-blue-1976.html

'Some Girls' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/news-views-and-music-issue-30-rolling.html
'Emotional Rescue' (1980) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-rolling-stones-emotional-rescue-1980.html
'Undercover' (1983) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/rolling-stones-undercover-1983-album.html

'Steel Wheels' (1989)http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/news-views-and-music-issue-113-rolling.html
'Bridges To Babylon' (1998) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-rolling-stones-bridges-to-babylon.html

Rolling Stones: Unreleased Recordings http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/another-journey-through-past-darkly.html