Monday, 2 January 2017

Rolling Stones: Non-Album Songs Part One: 1963-1969

  



 Non-Album Recordings #1: 1963
The very earliest Stones professional recordings came in March 1963 when manager Andrew Loog Oldham booked the band into IBC Studios for what was effectively a spruced up audition session for Decca. The Stones sound understandably tentative and unusually polite, quite unlike the hell-raisers of future years, and their material is not yet any different to the careful and identical cover versions of black American 1950s classics recorded by so many other white English 60s boys. To date these precious recordings have only been made available briefly as part of the whacking deluxe five-disc version of 2012 compilation 'Grrrrrrr!' and 'Grrrrrr!' indeed as for collectors this is a fascinating historical insight, the equivalent of Shakespeare's first nursery rhyme, Beethoven's first song and The Spice Girls' first offensive kung-fu kick at a tramp. Interestingly the choices are more R and B than rock and roll, suggesting that Brian was nominally in charge of the material. The first song taped that day was a rather precious version of Bo's [  ] 'Diddley Daddy', a repetitive track that was a far inferior sequel to the better known 'Bo Diddley', the singer's debut single. Mick sings softly, surrounded by gushy harmonies from Brian and Keith and the sound of all three adding 'dum dum dum dah diddy' like a cuter Manfredd Mann is a sound to behold (actually no wonder these recordings have been locked up for so long). The main instrument here is actually 'Stu's piano, closely followed by Brian's harmonica, with the guitars barely featuring and Charlie's rum pattern basic going on demented. It's not up to future classics, but the band warm up nicely as the song gets going and already have a definite telepathy going on with each other. Find it on: the five disc version of 'Grrrrr!' (2012)

[  ] 'Road Runner' has Mick boasting 'I bet you can't keep up with me!' But actually I bet you probably could - the Stones unconvincingly slow Bo Diddley's 1960 hit single right down and if there's any song that demands to be played fast it's this one. The lack of 'beep! beep!'s is also inexcusable. Bill's gulping busy bass is fantastic though, as is Mick's slyly subversive vocal and it's probably still better than either of the sides recorded for the band's debut single, with more Stones menace than the more straightforward Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon covers ('If you're fast you ain't gonna last!' chuckles Mick knowingly on the fade, the first time on record he sounds like 'him').Find it on: the five disc version of 'Grrrrr!' (2012)

Alas [  ] 'Bright Lights, Big City' is an even slower take on Jimmy Reed's much-covered classic and someone really, really should have asked Mick what the hell he was doing with his accent (it's a posh boy's idea of a New Orleans accent, from someone whose patently never been in his life). Still, there's a nice swing to this one mainly thanks to Stu, who twinkles away with more piano fills than even Nicky Hopkins and is easily the musical star of this first session. Find it on: the five disc version of 'Grrrrr!' (2012)

[  ] 'Honey, What's Wrong?' is such an obscure song for the Stones to sing that they didn't even get the name right - it was released as 'Baby, What's Wrong?' by Jimmy Reed. Mick gets to play around with double-tracking for the first time and sounds like an express train on the harmonica (assuming it's him not Brian - it sounds like Jagger's more rock, less blues playing and Brian's got his hands full with a spiky rhythm guitar part), but it's a sudden spurt of Chuck Berry from Keith on an all-too brief solo that sounds like the Stones for the first time. Find it on: the five disc version of 'Grrrrr!' (2012)

The band also cover Willie Dixon's [  ] 'I Want To Be Loved' for the first time - it's the only song they'll re-record later. Slightly messier and noisier than the B-side of their debut single, Mick sings better and clearer, but Charlie of all people completely messes up the drum part (it's pretty much the only bad part he'll play for the rest of the book!) Find it on: the five disc version of 'Grrrrr!' (2012)

The Rolling Stones' released career starts with a song that both does and doesn't set the tone of what's to come. Chuck Berry's [1] 'Come On' is in many ways the obvious choice - a rock and roll song that's also very close to the band's beloved R and B, with a great guitar riff you can tell was love at first hearing for Keith. All the band are well served in fact: Brian's gruff harmony vocal and harmonica (in the days when he was slightly more experienced than Mick), Bill's busy 50s walking bass (the only thing here left intact from Chuck's original) and an unusual drum part from Charlie that's quite different from anything he'll play again - heavy handed and cymbal-heavy. Mick, of course, is just great and makes the song his within seconds. However thematically this isn't at all like the Stones we'll come to know and love. It's a 'loser' song, the narrator realising how badly his world has fallen apart since his girl walked out on him and Mick playing the victim across the song, with no twist or revenge in the ending. In many ways this is the naturally upbeat Chuck's most depressing song, with the car - the model of everything it is to be a free teenager - now a financial burden, with the narrator wishing that 'someone would come along and wreck it' so he can claim on the insurance money and maybe have enough money to feed himself soon. Only the urgency of the song, Mick spitting 'come ons!' out at top speed, sounds like the Stones as we'll come to know them. Only released by Chuck as recently as 1961, as one of his last singles before his prison sentence for 'transporting a fourteen year old across state lines for sexual purposes' which he was madly appealing, it's at one with Berry's early 60s tracks where the glitz and glamour have rubbed off and there's a desperation and sadness even behind the things that once made the world seemed bright. The Stones largely miss the more adult point, though, and treat this song as more teenage angst which is, perhaps, why for all their hard work this un-beloved first single - which the band all but disown and kick off the few compilations they have a say in - is so comparatively obscure compared to, say, 'Love Me Do' or 'I Can't Explain'. It's not bad either, though, especially musically where the band nail the song's pathetic urgency without it sounding like pure moaning. The Stones chicken out of even the slightly risqué lyric of the original though, substituting 'stupid guy' for 'stupid jerk' in an attempt to get airplay (this politeness won't last). It's probably their bravest Chuck Berry choice out of the dozens or so they'll do across these early years and certainly not their worst. The session sounds remarkably confident for such newbies too on only their second trip inside a studio in May 1963 with so few experienced people around them - manager Andrew Loog Oldham is still living down the moment when he had to confess to the engineer that he didn't know what a 'mix' was or why they needed it. Find it on: quite a few Stones compilations - try 'The London Years' (1989) for starters.

The B-side [2] 'I Want To Be Loved' isn't quite what we know from the later Stones either. Yes it's an R and B song and yes it's a Willie Dixon cover not all that far removed from 'Little Red Rooster' but it's strangely patterned this one, with a harmonica break rather than a guitar solo and a cutesy chorus that brings out a most unusual American accent from Mick sounding oddly like Chris Farlowe. Most Stones love songs are sexy, but this first overt love song is anything but sexy - it's messy, playful, childish, even bouncy thanks to an eccentric Keith Moon-style drum lick that's even less natural to Charlie Watts than the A-side. Mick completely misses the suggestive of the lyrics ('The church of your hand so moves me!') - the later Jagger would have been all over the double entendres and singing with sarcasm - here Mick sings about as 'straight' as he ever will. For all that, though, it's another overlooked song with Keith already nailing the simple Chuck Berry groove and Brian already an absolute master of the harmonica. The only song recorded at both the IBC March and Decca May 1963 sessions, the song hasn't really changed that much between dates, though it's probably fair to say the band sound a lot more confident and tighter on the finished recording. Find it on: 'The London Years' (1989)

Intended as the band's second single, Allen Touissant's [4] 'Fortune Teller' (he wrote under the pseudonym Naomi Neville in this period, for reasons best known to himself and his publishers) is an out and out AAA classic. We've already written about The Hollies and The Who's cover versions and included this funniest of early 1960s songs in our 'top five pre-Beatles rock and roll classics' column. A tale of a boy who gets told that he's going to fall in love, he's irate enough when nothing happens to go back the next day - and realise he was in love with the fortune teller all along (with the Chuck Berryish twist that 'now I get my fortune told for free!') The Hollies make a lot of this punchline gag on their third album 'The Hollies', while The Who draw our attention to it after a fiery lengthy solo during the rock and roll onslaught that is 'Live At Leeds'. The Stones version, though, barely noticed the joke and sings the last verse in the same throwaway style as the rest of their song. One thing you can say for the Stones cover though - they're the only ones not to censor the original lyric (the ungrammatical 'I'm passion for the girls I know' - The Hollies change this to 'friendly with', while goodness knows what The Who sing, it's buried under so much feedback and drum-twirling). Though not entirely un-rescueable (Mick sounds more natural singing Americanisms than Allan Clarke or Roger Daltry), the band show their inexperience here with a backing track that stutters rather than soars and sticks to the same rigid lines even though there's so much room for playing around on this track. The spooky echo-drenched 'ah-awwww's from Mick are also very distracting - what's wrong with just having Brian adding more of his fine harmony vocal instead? Realising that what they'd come up with was too lifeless for a single, the band toyed around with making it an EP track before realising they didn't even like that much and left in the vaults. Decca's American branch, London Records, then dug out the song in 1966 when they realised they were a couple of songs short for a full live LP, remixed the track to stick the entire band in the right channel and added some fake screaming in the left channel. The effect is oddly believable actually - this sounds like a band who can't hear each other kind of bumbling along and hoping for the best, the case with so many a live recording. The original version, sans screaming, was finally released in 1972. Find it on: the 'original' fake-live recording can be heard on 'Got LIVE! If You Want It' (1967) and the unadorned version on 'More Hot Rocks' (1972)

That whole thing about the Beatles and the Stones being huge rivals was hookum. The two groups were big friends mainly because they were so different, appearing on each other's songs through to 1967, with Lennon's invitation to the Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968 a belated 'thankyou' for the Beatles plugging the Stones to Dick Rowe, the man who signed the band to Decca. After all, while the Beatles felt the rivalry of faintly similar Northern acts like The Searchers and The Hollies all too keenly, the Stones were another species - Southerners inspired not by good old rock and roll but R and B and blues. If you ever wanted to know how different the pair of band's approaches were to each other then you only need to hear the two versions of [5]'I Wanna Be Your Man' played back to back. The Beatles wrote it, didn't like it and gave it to Ringo to sing as a sort of novelty primal howl, with only a few notes so it wouldn't stretch the drummer too much. After the relative failure of 'Come On' and this being the days before Jagger-Richards were a songwriting team to rival Lennon-McCartney, the Stones happened to ask a guesting Beatles if they knew of any songs that would do for a second single. The pair brought out this song that they'd nearly finished writing and impressed Jagger with how they finished it off there and then within minutes (he's always seen songwriting as something done 'properly', taking painful hours with a great deal of concentration - this will be one of the things that makes he and Keith try writing themselves). Pauk's later cheeky comment ('Well, we weren't going to give them anything good were we?!') has rather coloured how fans on both sides have treated this song. To give them credit, though, John and Paul may have recognised how close this swampy blues was to the Stones' natural style of 1963 (given their penchant for 'writing' songs with certain singers in mind - more to avoid songwriter's block than anything else - John and Paul may always have had the Stones half-in-mind when writing it anyway). While the Beatles' version is one of Ringo's better songs, Mick suits the song much more, adding an uncomfortable sneer Ringo's gormless charm can't pull off. The star of the record though is Bill Wyman, whose loud and thundering bass - recorded with full distortion - adds much power and aggression (McCartney's bass line for The Beatles recording is one of his few disappointments, simple and slow). Keith tries to join with an eccentric fuzz guitar part but really he's just copying what's already there. The result is a heavy song much more in keeping with the Stones' fire and passion than 'Come On' and a song that - with the Beatles connection - they might have been anticipating doing better than a comparatively lowly #12 in the UK charts (well behind rivals like The Searchers and The Hollies for now). Find it on: Most Stones compilations - 'The London Singles Collection (1989) is a good place to start.

Amazingly the band still aren't the Stones we know and love, even on their first self-written 'song', a sleepy near-instrumental bearing a variation on their name. [6] 'Stoned' is a lazy 12 bar blues played by Keith while Stu on piano and Brian on harmonica vamp behind and Mick randomly throws in the odd lyric like 'stoned' and 'out of my mind' and 'well...my ass!' In one sense it's impressive to hear a band so up on drug parlance by 1963 - on another slightly worrying as the Stones haven't even got into amphetamines yet never mind the heavy drugs of later and are probably just lazily copying the drug parlance they've picked up from blues records without quite understanding it. The hook, meanwhile is just Booker T Jones and the MGs' 'Green Onion's played on more conventional rock instruments without the organ and taken a lick or two slower. Though filler and not the sort of thing you want to listen to out of choice too many times, there is a certain sprightliness about the playing that's the best the band have come up with so far, the ticking deadline after so many more 'serious songs had used up precious session time and which left them just half an hour to record this track, sharpening up their skills no end. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)


   Non-Album Recordings #2: 1964

[20] 'Not Fade Away', while well received by fans, always seemed something of a backwards step as the band's third single. A noisy and decidedly short cover of a Buddy Holly song that was always about finesse and careful grooving, all the band can think to add is a snappy opening acoustic guitar riff and some puffing Brian Jones harmonica. Mick sounds unsure how to play the song, whether to sing the song straight as intended or with the sneer of old, coming out with a performance caught somewhere between the two. The song really doesn't the Bo Diddley beat the band have given it, even though that tends to be how just about every band since has arranged it having learnt the song from the Rollers' version. The song is snappy in this version, certainly, with the extra maraccas and tambourine percussion adding a certain weight, while Keith's blistering Chuck Berry grooves try to inject some drama into proceedings. But it's all too short to get a foothold: though equally short the Holly version seems much longer because it hints at what 'isn't there'; the Stones' version just kind of sits there until, ironically, it fades away just as it's getting interesting.  The Stones, surely, should have added the 'Bo Diddley' beat to Holly's superior composition 'Well...It's Alright', a song that's ever so nearly in the Stones arena already. The result is a rare miss which at 1:47 barely seems worth putting the single on the record player for. The flipside was Mick and Keith's own 'Little By Little' which had already appeared on their debut LP. Find it on: most Stones compilations

Bobby Womack's [21] 'It's All Over Now' is a much better choice of single, a yearning ballad about love and loss turned into a hit single thanks to a catchy Brian Jones electric part (which for once gives him more to do than Keith) and a stomping backbeat. Mick's vocal is his best on record yet, raw and dangerous and seductive, relishing the revenge he gets over his jilted lover ('Tables turning, now it's her turn to cry'), while the middle eight gives him a great chance to show off his dancing moves on any TV performance. A fine band performance (with Brian on the ball on the harmonies too) makes for one of the better early period Stones singles. Listen out too for the sheer amount of echo on this track - until every Stones recording pretty much has been crisp and dry. It seems likely that they'd had another chat with The Beatles and asked about their distinctive sound over at EMI (much clearer than theirs at murky Decca) and learnt about the art of 'double-flanging', the Goon Show-style nickname given to the process of recording the vocal through a revolving speaker, which gives the vocals especially a reedier effect than being recorded 'straight'. Find it on:most Stones compilations.

B-side [22] 'Good Time, Bad Times' is an early Jagger/Richards original. Whilst highly derivative, the pair have already grasped the mechanism of how the 'blues' work - they don't go too OTT and go for laidback depression rather than steaming rage (the point at which most people go wrong writing their own blues material). Mick sings, Brian puffs convincingly behind him, while only Keith accompanies him with an authentic sounding guitar part. The lyric is more interesting than it's often given credit for at least, with Mississippi Mick reflecting that he's had more than his share of both good and hard times but these times are the worst 'since I lost you'. Charlie Watts pounds the drums as if knocking on a locked door, never moving from his bass drums, while the track is sparse and spare. The result won't win any writing awards or anything but the Stones get closer to the spirit than most white middle-class boys and if the blues giants weren't nervous about being shown up a pair of songwriters on their very first years of wriing songs, then they should have been. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

Released as the flipside to the American-only single 'Time Is On My Side', [23] 'Congratulations' is another early original that perhaps should have been given away to another band. It's not that the song is bad and lyrically the slightly dour sarcasm suits Mick's bitter wit as he congratulates a girl on stringing him along even though he clearly means nothing of the sort. The 'congrat-u-lat-ions-a-hah' riff sounds almost as treacly poppy as the wretched Cliff Richard Eurovision entry of later years, however, and the backing is very un-Stones: a slow pop self-pitying waddle, with everything drenched in echo and a tune that's almost non-existent (the words almost certainly came first I'd have said). In a sign of a changing hierarchy within the band that's co-writer Keith taking what must surely be his first recorded harmony vocal in the place where Brian would normally be, though the pair's vocals are for now so similar few fans probably noticed. This is, not entirely coincidentally, along with the A side one of the first Stones recordings that bears not even a slight trace of the band's R and B roots. There's a change in the air and I'm not sure whether the Stones deserve a straight 'congratulations' for it or a sarcastic one. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

[24] 'Little Red Rooster' is to this day the only blues cover to ever get to number one in the charts in the UK. It must surely be one of the most unusual songs to make the top spot too - unlike some Stones blues re-recordings this one is as authentic as they can get it, complete with slow tempo, slide guitar and mournful harmonica. Willie Dixon's  song is a good fit actually, giving Charlie a slowish tempo he thrives on, Keith and Bill get lots of empty space to 'fill' and Mick has an opportunity to show off a slower variation on his normal swagger. However this is Brian's time to shine, turning in a slide guitar part his hero Elmore James would have been proud of, sleepy but fiery all at the same time. The farmyard setting gives Mick lots of chances at innuendo and he'll later have a field day comparing himself to a 'cock-rel' in this song. The zenith of the Stones' original creation - to promote black R and B songs to the white masses - things will either improve or go downhill from here depending how you think of the Stones (certainly for Brian they were never quite the same again once the Jagger/Richards songwriting team turned the band more into rock). Strangely forgotten today in the band's canon (it's not on '40 Licks' for instance and hasn't been played lice since the 1970s) it was huge news at the time - the band's first number one and proof that the band didn't have to 'adapt' their material to sell records; their fans bought this one in higher numbers than all their earlier poppier songs. Alas, despite the presence of a rooster, this is a false dawn and from here-on in The Stones will only do 'blues' on the odd album track when they need material in a hurry; they'll never again treat the genre with the care they show here. The B-side was the Jagger/Richards original 'Off The Hook', reviewed as part of the band's second album. Find it on: most Stones compilations, though bizarrely not '40 Licks' (don't get me started, there's a whole rant on this fact later..)

Also recorded round about here, in September 1964, is [  ] 'Surprise Surprise' - no, not Cilla Black's theme tune but another Stones original that will have a surprise, surprisingly long life amongst 60s collectors. It's a kind of anti-'She Loves You', with the narrator wanting to know the name of a third person whose been spreading gossip and rumours. The band clearly don' like it that much, with Jagger putting on more of a whine than a vocal and Charlie very heavy-handed, as if only by playing loud and drowning out the singer will this song make any sense. Lyrically, too, it's a boyfriend's vengeful sneer as his girl realises she misses him and asks him to come back, only he's moved on, enjoying her unhappiness with typical Stones cruelty. However there's also something slightly intoxicating about this track, which tries so hard to sound cool and detached but which can't resist rubbing it in, the band getting more and more carried away and picking up more and more speed by the end. Picked by the American market to pad out their latest butchered monstrosity 'The Rolling Stones Now!' it appeared nearly a year later, while British fans had to wait until 'The London Singles Collection' in 1989 (where it sounds deeply out of place on the third disc nestling between 'No Expectations' and 'Honky Tonk Women' (it was the B-side of post-Stones cash-in single 'Street Fighting Man' in 1971 and didn't exactly fit that single either). Fellow Decca artist Lulu got to hear about the song somehow though and loved, turning in the vocal Mick should have been singing here, dripping with irony and full of world-wearyness incredible for a girl then just fifteen. The B-side of her 1965 single 'Satisfied' (one of many flop sequels to 'Shout!') lots of R and B fans fell in love with it and assumed it was a long lost blues classic, with a handful more cover versions appearing across the decade. You can find the Stones version on either 'The Rolling Stsones Nows'(1965) or 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

In 1975, with the Stones long gone from Decca, the label released a load of unfinished recordings without permission, many of them demos intended for other artists. [25] 'Don't Lie To Me!' is the exception, actually, so Stones-like no other band could ever have released it, with a snarling sarcastic vocal and a full-on rock and roll riff. You wouldn't guess that it's a cover song, by Tampa Red, rather than a Jagger-Richards original, so close does it fit their natural style. Partly because the band have spent so much of 1964 playing with styles, this is hands-down the best rocker they recorded that year with some terrific boogie woogie vamping from Stu, monster drumming from Charlie and a classic stinging Keith Richards guitar part. It's all great fun, with only Mick's slightly slurred vocal off the mark although there's nothing an overdub couldn't have fixed. Why this song was never released was a mystery - it's better than most of the second and third albums while being equally simple. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

Most Rolling Stones songs just stick in your mind. [26] 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind' is one of them - perhaps the most adventurous song the band recorded across 1964. It starts off as a Phil Spector production, big and epic and heavy on the echo, with pianos slowed down to sound like choirs and percussion sped up to sound like, well, sped up percussion. Mick's lead and Keith's harmony part are the early stirrings of their mick-tacking of country music, however. Lyrically, though, it's too good to just be sarcasm and sounds like an early hippie song: 'Why is there such hate in their minds?' asks Mick with feeling, wondering too why he 'always thinks about the first bird I had'. The song was given away to and clearly written for their 1964 support act, the duo Dick and Dee Dee who used to specialise in doom-laden ballads like this one. The Stones give no hint of this being a mere demo though - this is a properly developed and by 1964 standards deeply complex arrangement and another of the 'Metamorphosis' classics clearly deserving of release (at least in Britain - American Decca nixed this song and one other, so the first time most States fans heard this song was when the Metamorphosis CD was released in the 1990s). Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

Astonishingly Metamorphosis features three classics in a row - better than some 'real' Stones albums - with the moody orchestral piece [27] 'Each and Every Day Of The Year' another terrific and under-rated song. Written for the obscure band Thee, who were unlucky not to launch a career with this, their only single, it's impressively different to the Stones' usual style though there are some similarities with 'As Tears Go By'. This is far superior though, being less grotesquely cute and with a gorgeously claustrophobic chugging guitar part and sleepy orchestral sweep that really does sound like Mick being haunted by versions of how great a relationship was for the rest of his sorry life. With a rhetorical cry of whether he regrets the fact it ended, Mick peals 'yes I do!' like he's trying to take the vows in church belatedly, while his vocal shows what a gifted vocalists he is on the rare times he sings 'straight' with no sarcasm or bitterness, his soaring vocal playing the part well. Decca should have sneaked this one onto an American band album too as it deserves to be far better known. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

For the sake of completeness, the Jagger/Richards original [  ] 'Heart Of Stone' was first recorded in demo form for other artists to record. Complete with a slower tempo, country pedal steel guitar and a backing choir, Mick and Keith seem to have had The Righteous Brothers in mind, though nobody except the band ever seems to have actually covered the song until as late as the 1980s (when The Mekkons recorded a super-fast version). That's young Jimmy Page playing the guitar as Keith didn't bother making the session - chances are only Mick appears out of the Stones line-up. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

Skipping a few 'Metamorphosis' songs (see our 1965 section), [29] 'Walkin' Thru The Sleepy City' was written for another opening act with close links to the Stones, The Mighty Avengers and also, bizarrely, covered by Liverpudlian comedian Jimmy Tarbuck though both releases flopped. One of the weaker outtakes, it sounds as if it was written on the spot under protest rather than out of inspiration and is the sort of track that thinks rhyming 'city' with 'pretty' is a reason to feel smug with itself. This time Mick is prowling a town at night, enjoying the speed and noise while other people keep warm inside and in fact this is a rare Jagger lyric that's not really about a girl (though several do pass by). Before that gets too much like a compliment, though, this is also the one and only Jagger chorus that simply runs 'la la la'. Once again, though, there's something to be said for the big Phil Spectorish production which really suits Mick's voice and session drummer Clem Cattini does a good impression of Charlie's laidback drumrolls. Goodness knows what those door-chimes/xylophones/slowed down church bells are doing on there, though: was Jagger's narrator idly passing by a fire engine-ice cream truck hybrid?! Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

Suspiciously similar to The Beatles' 'Baby's In Black' though oddly recorded at more or less the same time (suggesting neither side was influencing the other), [30] 'We're Wastin' Time' is a county song in waltz time that sounds more like Keith's baby than Mick's. Richards had already developed a love for the genre and grasps it's hidden sadness already, while his partner is simply writing the sort of pop/rock lyrics he always writes with no alteration for the new environment. The result is another of the weaker of the 'Metamorphosis' tracks, with Jagger trapped in a landscape that's alien to him while Jimmy Page's guitar croaks like a frog and a melody that sounds a little too close to 'Congratulations'. The pair may have had a country singer in mind for this song, but oddly enough only Jimmy Tarbuck, again recorded it. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

The single best bass sound the Stones ever captured was surely the opening of [31] 'Try A Little Harder', another off-cut released on 'Metamorphosis'. Freed from the usual murk of Decca's echo, Bill sounds fabulous which begs the question was he like this all the time and it was the studios who usually blocked his talents? The song when it arrives is no less interesting, Jagger and Richards having learnt just how to nail a pop chorus and Beatley chord changes with their natural heavier growlier sound. Yes the chorus is supremely irritating and Keith and Brian sound downright uncomfortable on the falsetto harmonies, but Mick's absolutely nailed the sharp lyrics where he puts down his girl for not doing enough and a loveless marriage being her fault in the sort of way a callous vet puts down a dog. Together with the backing, it's enough to make this the scariest Stones song of 1964 and the track is impressively far ahead of its debut album rivals to make you wonder why on earth this track never made it out on record. Ironically, the Stones have just learnt the art of sounding cool by not sounding like they're trying at all, something that will stand them in good stead. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

There hasn't yet been a catch-all collection for the Rolling Stones' BBC sessions. A shame because, while the Stones generally provided less 'exclusive' songs than rivals like The Beatles and The Hollies, the shambolic nature of live recording adds a whole new layer of danger to their sound. A case in point can be made in the only exclusive-to-BBC song [  ] Cops and Robbers' , a Kent Harris song from 1956 no doubt known to the band thanks to Bo Diddley's energetic cover five years later. It's very period Stones, with a lazy harmonica part from Brian over a strutting riff and Mick putting on his best American Bo Diddley impression. A bit too wordy to be a Stones classic, it still packs a whallop in the chorus and is eerily prescient of what will happen in a few years' time, the police convinced the narrator is up to something simply because he's a musician and looks degenerate. A nice surprise for those who had enough money to buy the full 'Grrrr!' set. Find it on: the five CD version of 'Grrrrr!' (2012)

   Non-Album Recordings #3: 1965

Discussion about how the Stones were going to follow-up 'Little Red Rooster' was rife. Another blues song? Another pop song? Another R and B song? Instead the band surprised many with [59] 'The Last Time' - not exactly pop, not exactly rock, not exactly R and B and ever so nearly the blues, the first A side ever written by the Jagger-Richards team. 'The Last Time' was, in fact, the first time - of many and if this song had 'failed' in the charts chances are this book would be shorter by a good 300-400 pages. However it worked and worked well, the Stones combining all the tricks they've learnt over the past year and coming up with a sad but catchy song about a narrator whose desperate to leave his girl. However he tells us so many times that this is 'the last time' that the hidden 'message' of the song is that it clearly isn't the last time - however much the narrator may moan and vent steam, he's too in love to actually leave. Keith comes up with a fine guitar lick, caught somewhere between blues and pop, Mick always comes alive when he has a proper 'character' to portray and Bill and Charlie nail this song's unusual swing and emphasis on rhythm over sound and words. In a sign of the times only Brian is under-used, limited to a repetitive acoustic guitar part and a harmony part now very much subservient to Mick's rather than a 'second' vocal. Find it on: every Rolling Stones compilation since the year dot.

However for my money B-side [60] 'Play With Fire' - also by Mick and Keef - is even more special. A slow burning ballad that threatens with quietly smouldering anger rather than passionate rage, it's good practice for the ten or so similar songs to this one on fifth LP 'Between The Buttons'. Uniquely for the period, the girl actually has one up on Mick's narrator, 'getting her kicks in Knightsbridge, not in Stepney any more', leaving Mick to seethe 'you better watch your step girl - or start living with your mother'. Played by just Mick, Keith and Brian (on a keyboard part that might well be a first use of harpsichord two full years before 'Lady Jane') 'Play With Fire' successfully conveys the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere the song needs, the melody only looking up from its dark mumblings for the pained ascending chords of 'don't play with me - 'cause you're playing with fire!' One of the greatest of all Stones B-side, with the band's twin composers on something of a roll. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

[61] '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' is the big one that the rest of this book has been building up to. Their worst fears of being laughed out of town unrealised, Mick and Keith are now big names as songwriters and have the confidence to do anything. At first that anything meant an Otis Redding style soul song, the idea coming to Keith late one night in a hotel room (legend has it that he played the riff over and over onto a reel-to-reel machine he took with him on tour and then fell asleep, the rest of the three-hour spool being taken up with the sound of Keith heavily snoring; sadly if true the tape has never come to light). Mick then stuck a soul-ish lyric to the heavy riff, a protest piece about the stupidity of the modern world (which was particularly hitting the Stones now that they'd 'broken' America and been struck by the amount of advertising going on, so different to home in Britain). Mick's chorus has become an anthem for disaffected youths everywhere, an ungrammatical cry that things have to be better than this - some jerk telling us that we're inferior because our shirts aren't white and 'he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me!' The band duly recorded this song merely as a demo, intending to replace Keith's loud and eccentric fuzz guitar part with the horns at a later date. Decca, though, were in a hurry and released the song as it was - much to the band's horror who felt that their sparse, empty song might be the one to end their career. Instead 'Satisfaction' took on a life of its own, making the band famous in a way they had never been before, and becoming their signature of the 1960s in the same way that 'It's Only Rock and Roll' will be in the 1970s. It was a good decision, with horns unable to convey anything like the power of the Stones' stinging tones, although Otis Redding - tickled by the idea the song was written for him - recorded his own furious up-tempo version on his ** classic 1965 album 'Otis Blue'. This started a rumour that has never quite gone away - that a poverty stricken Otis wrote the song and gave the credits away for quick money. That's clearly rubbish - the Stones have written so many similar songs to this one in the years since - but it shows just how unexpected this song was in 1965, from a songwriting team that had written only half a dozen songs up to this point and only one previous hit single. Even today 'Satisfaction' still purrs along, a reminder that the 1960s wasn't quite the golden age of memory or portrayal, a delicious rant that we can't get enough of even today. Find it on: If you don't already own this song then how the heck did you ever get to take a chance on this book?!

B-side [62] 'The Spider and The Fly' is pretty darn good too and doesn't get the respect it deserves. An early tale of extra-marital that beats The Beatles' more celebrated 'Norwegian Wood' by a matter of months, this is a 'Graduate' style tale of an elder cougar of a woman preying on Jagger's surprisingly convincing innocent lead. She was 'common, flirty, she looked about thirty' - a comment changed when the band revived the song in concert in the 1990s to 'nifty, thrifty - and she looked about sixty!' We never find out what goes on but we don't need to: her inviting call of 'my my my' says it all and Jagger is well and truly lost in her 'web'. However it sounds like this incident was at least vaguely based on truth with a mention of 'when you've done your show go to bed'. Some clever Chuck Berry-style wordplay tells us a lot in a short space of time ('Set up, fed up, low down, go round, down to the bar at the place I'm at') and there's a neat twist where after his education Jagger is the one on the prowl. A nicely bluesy 'Little Red Rooster' feel proves that the Stones hadn't yet forgotten their roots entirely and Jagger adds in another nice harmonica performance (he really was one of the greatest players of the instrument between 1964 and 1966, when for some reasons the Stones largely drop it from their arrangements). All in all one of the band's better B-sides. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

Needing a song like 'Satisfaction' in a hurry, Keith tried to write another aggressive guitar riff and Mick wrote another aimless rant. Neither quite gelled in [63] 'Get Off My Cloud' which is one of the band's lesser singles of the 1960s, turned into another classic anyway thanks to a spot-on messy performance chiefly memorable for Charlie's distinctive drumming (Keith's original idea, like 'Satisfaction', was to perform it slow before it was felt better to have a rocker as a single). The general gist of the song is 'Hey! Leave me alone!' which isn't quite as universal or poetic as 'I can't get no satisfaction', but Mick does still leave a few poetic touches in the song. The lyric starts with him on the 99th room of an apartment block, staring out the window and 'imagining the world has stopped' (a lot of period songs do this, probably an early result of drugs widening perception of other people's thoughts and opinions: The Hollies' 'Look Through Any Window' is a good example). Mick sounds oddly happy about the idea, having been 'sick and tired and fed up' of people bothering him, perhaps a reference to the relentless press scrutiny the band have been put under. Alas, though, much like Satisfaction a valid reference point is buried under surreal lyrics about a protestor dressed up as a human fly entering a bet to win a 'detergent pack' to pay for his laundry, empty pointless phone calls that wake him up in the middle of the night and - most hypocritical of all - a party downstairs that never ends (as if Mick wasn't right in the middle of it!) It's easy to remember Mick, ordered to write a song to Keith's aggressive side swipe riffs at the guitar tumbling out of a sleepless night and grumpily writing down the first things that occur to him, whether they make sense or not. This is also, though, Mick's first 'drug' lyric - he's up high in more ways than just his apartment block, working at a higher perception on a 'cloud' mere earthlings could not understand and his lyrics will get a lot more weird across the next year. It's safe to say we mere mortals still prefer the more earthly 'Satisfaction' though, by and large. Find it on: every decent Stones compilation - and a few that aren't.

The B-side [64] 'The Singer Not The Song' feels like a slight step backwards too, back to the 'demos for other people' songs of 1964 only not quite as good. Keith's close harmony and the country influence suggests the song may have been his baby, inspired by his growing love for The Everly Brothers and other country crooners and he turns in a fine guitar solo (possibly playing both guitar parts for the first time as neither sound like Brian's work). Lyrically it's rather a sweet piece by period Stones standards, the narrator unsure why a new relationship is working out so well given how badly his old ones always turned out and figuring that it's not so much one particular thing he's done but a whole demeanour that's changed. It's all a little bit flat though, without the Stones' usual ability to excite or add drama and Mick's growled flatter vocal is a worrying sound of things to come on later Stones country covers. The American market, unsure how this song would go down in the country South, switched it for 'I'm Free'. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

After so many high adrenaline singles [65] 'As Tears Go By' comes as a bit of a shock. Inspired, arrangement wise at least, by The Beatles' 'Yesterday', with a similar acoustic 'n' string quartet feel and an air of detached guilt, it lives up to Andrew Loog Oldham's demands from his pair of budding songwriters to write something he thought would sell: 'A song with brick walls all around it, high windows - and no sex!' The band deliver with what might be termed the first of the 'soft Stones' songs of which we'll have a few from this point on, with Mick writing a sensitive lyric that's open to multiple interpretations. Seeing children playing and 'doing things I used to do' from a captive window, he sits and cries for everything he's lost - an impressively feminine re-action given the times and the band's reputation. Has Mick simply sad about growing old and losing his free time/imagination? Has he got married against his will? Is he physically unable to walk outside to join in? Is he perhaps remembering a period of being ill and shut indoors, unable to play with his friends? Given just enough meaning to work, and a natural fit for one of Keith's prettier tunes, it's easy to see why this song was a success, even if the string quartet is surely a step into civility too far, rubbing off the song's rough edges in a way that didn't seem to matter with 'yesterday'. A natural to be handed over to Mick's new girlfriend Marianne Faithful, it actually suits Mick better - even on her debut Marianne is just too subversive to sing the song 'straight' whereas if ever a performance proved Mick's acting ability it's this one! Released as a single only in the States (in the UK it was the B-side of '19th Nervous Breakdown' - now there's a pairing!), it sold a lot more copies than anyone was expecting and started a side career for the Stones as balladeers that last to this day. In case you were wondering, the flipside was 'Gotta Get Away', already released on 'Out Of Our Heads'. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

[66] 'I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys' is more Phil Spector-ish demo fun with a bunch of session musicians backing Mick on his and Keith's most clichéd song yet.  Perhaps an early sign of his growing impatience with Chrissie Shrimpton, this song finds Mick cruelly telling his girl he's stayed out all night because he has fun with his mates - he doesn't have fun with her anymore. Keith's simple chord changes sound like the singer musically throwing his hands up and saying 'I'm not going to play games with you here - I'm being honest', but sadly they don't go anywhere you're not expecting. The Stones couldn't get many buyers for this simple song - and certainly weren't going to do it themselves - with some acts, curiously, saying it smacked of homosexuality (that's not really what the song's saying at all). An obscure band named The Toggery 5 finally got round to recording it - and probably wish they hadn't when the song promptly flopped. A bit of an oddity in the Stones songbook, although the cruel streak will be developed much across 1966 and 1967. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)


Recorded at the British 'Out Of Our Heads' sessions but only released on the American edition, the Jaggers-Richards original [  ] 'One More Try' is a typical song of the period. A revved up blues with a Chuck Berry beat, Mick gets increasingly panicked and desperate as he tells his girl not to panic. Yelling at his girl to 'Sit down, shut up, don't cry!' probably isn't the best way of making her stop worrying to be honest, with the narrator's own worries bristling under the surface. There's a nice bluesy harmonica part from Brian in the solo that really makes the song but otherwise this is Stones by numbers and a song probably left behind to be honest, running out of ideas long before the two minutes are up. Find it on: the American edition of 'Out Of Our Heads' and the compilation 'Stone Age' (1971)

[  ] My Girl, meanwhile, is such an obvious choice of cover song you rather with Mick hadn't done it. Written by Smokey Robinson but probably learnt from Mick's beloved Otis Redding, this version doesn't exactly bring sunshine on a cloudy day so much as a feeling that The Stones are just going through the motions across mid 1965, in trouble before 'Satisfaction' comes along. Keith does a good job with a difficult guitar part but everyone else sounds very uncomfortable, including Mick whose spent so long since he last had to sound sincere on a song he'd forgotten how to do it. Syrupy strings and a choir add to the crime of a song that would have made a laughing stock had it been released at the time. Thankfully, perhaps, Decca held it back for a 1967 compilation instead, although you have to question why this song was used when so many other better outtakes were held back for 'Metamorphosis'. Find it on: 'Flowers' (1967)

Rather better is the original [  ] 'Ride On Baby' taped during the very  earliest sessions for 'Aftermath'. An early stab at 'Fingerprint File', Mick wants to know about a mysterious girl so he investigates and discovers his prim and proper new girlfriend has a 'dirty mind' and 'I don't like the places you been'. It's hard in retrospect not to see this as an early song about Marianne Faithful and her prim upbringing exterior and fun 60s chick interior - a major impact on the 'Between The Buttons' album - which might perhaps be why the song got left in the vaults for being a little too 'revealing' (after 'As Tears Go By' the affair would have been easier to guess). However Mick's final sting is rather cruel if so: 'You might now look 30 but soon you'll look 65!' (24 at the time, look whose talking!) Keith's guitar stings suggest the wild animal inside, while an early Brian Jones marimba part pokes fun at the girl's polite side. The song is slightly let down by a lacklustre chorus though and a hideous fade that tries to go for a sped-up double time, but only Charlie seems to have got the memo while everyone else forgets and the result is an awful mess. Oddly enough Bill Wyman will go on to write a song named 'Ride On Baby' too in 1982 though it's quite different to this one - he probably couldn't even remember making this one which isn't exactly a common recording. Find it on: 'Flowers' (1967)

I quite like final 1965 outtake [  ] 'Sittin' On A Fence' too, though you could say it's 'cause I've got no sense. This is a very silly song after all, clearly modelled musically on the folkier tones of The Beatles' 'Help!' and the sudden arrival of The Byrds, except the Stones don't quite understand the genre as well as their rivals. Mick admits that since a child he's been 'very hard to please' and thinks his friends are stupid, allowing girls to do 'sick things' to them and 'getting married because there's nothing else to do'. Normally 'sittin' on a fence' is seen as a weak thing to do and showing a lack of making your mind up, but not Mick - he's openly aggressive about the fact that his lack of marriage is a choice and that he'd hate to get tied down to one girl just because society tells him to. The irony is that it's everyone else who takes the easy route by marrying the first girl/boy who comes along, with Mick warning that further on down the line 'the day will come when you get old and sick of life'. Though framed as a confessional, with references to school and childhood, this is clearly a playful song too delivered with the same throwaway tongue-in-cheekness as the band's period B-sides. It's a rather charming song, though, even so, and certainly more deserving of release than 'Long Long While' or 'The Singer Not The Song' Find it on: 'Flowers' (1967)

   Non-Album Recordings #4: 1966

My personal favourite of the Stones singles (except perhaps for the even more obscure 'We Love You'), [82] '19th Nervous Breakdown' is either tragedy or comedy, depending on how you take the Stones' greatest ever use of their trademark irony. Jagger sings a long list of complaints in the third person, some genuinely troublesome ('Your mother, who neglected you, owes a million dollars tax'), some odd  ('Your father's still perfecting ways of making ceiling wax').That's before the chorus which makes it clear that the breakdown is personal, Jagger screaming 'here it comes!' with increasing venom. This song is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it flies in the face of every other Stones up to this point by depicting Jagger as the victim of society - not the one commenting on or thumbing his nose at it. Secondly, it's the band's best ever use of their music and words saying the same thing, Keith's frenzied riff full of fury and adrenalin, seconds away from running out of sparks and collapsing altogether (Jagger and Richards are a great mutual songwriting talent in this period, Mick picking up nicely on all the many meanings inherent in Keith's furious melody). Listen out for the clever way Jagger yells 'you better stop!' and the Stones come to a natural full stop, taking off again on the line 'you better look around'.  Thirdly, along with 'Mother's Little Helper' it's one of the greatest examples of the Stones commenting on an entire generation and getting behind the gloss of the 1960s bright happy lifestyle. While there's a few clever lines about meeting a girl at 'dismal, dark affairs' like the same old boring discotheques, most of this song focuses on the 'parenting' generation'. Of all the bands of the 1960s the Stones were the band 'parents' feared most - even though arguably other groups like The Who were much more violent and The Kinks unruly and unprofessional on stage (a legacy of Andrew Loog Oldham's over-worked publicity department). Jagger lets fly here: the problems with 'the kids' isn't their fault at all - it's the lax parenting style that meant they were 'treated kind never brought up right', spoilt with toys but neglected by love (the children who grew up in the 1940s, as so many of these AAA musicians were, are unique in the sense that their the first children since the First World War to be brought up on bomb sites, with - as a (very) general rule - missing relatives killed in the war and a mindset of 'I'll leave them - they'll be fine' or possibly 'what does it matter if they hurt themselves? A bomb will kill us all any minute!') The other great thing about this song is that any pair of writers would have made this about 'a' nervous breakdown but Jagger cleverly makes this his '19th', implying a whole long history of them. One of the band's better backing tracks, an early example of the twin guitarists art of 'weaving' (both lead and rhythm guitars having a 'conversation' rather than doubling or playing against each other) makes for one of the 1960s classic singles and one that deserves to be better known after reaching #1 in the UK and #2 in the US charts in a packed Easter pop single period. Find it on: every decent Rolling Stones compilation.

Mick and Keith's B-side [83] 'Sad Day' is a little more ordinary but still better than a lot of 1960s B-sides of the era. A lovely melody rises hopefully through the chords to the point where Jagger's voice almost breaks into his famous 'Emotional Rescue' style falsetto, but a maddening chorus then sighs 'it's a sad day, a bad day'. Like the middle eight of 'I'm Free' this song once again shows the Stones as being heavily influenced by the 'Beatles For Sale' album with a 'story' similar to 'No Reply'. Jagger remembers a 'bad dream in my head' about a girl dumping him and, remembering a slight argument the night before, worriedly, calls her up. She's not in (or so she says) getting her friend to say 'she's not in' but he soon finds out that she is. Jagger then finds her 'Dear John' letter propped up by his milk bottles, leaving Jagger to ruefully declare 'there's only one thing I don't understand in this world that I can't understand - that's a girl'. Once again Jagger sounds like the victim here - quite different to his writing style across 1964 and 1965, although it's Keith who steals the show with one of his prettiest early period melodies and some nice guitar-work. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

[84] 'Paint It, Black' is a second superb single from the Stones in a row. The first signs of the Stones succumbing to psychedelia, it features a Brian Jones sitar part that's only the second use of the instrument in Western music and a spectacular throbbing fuzz guitar part that gnaws away at the central guitar riff throughout the song like a dog with a bone. That's a fitting background for another a suffocating Mick Jagger lyric, one of his best, about being so disappointed  y rejection that he imagines every colour in his life as 'black'. A haunting image during a year that was filled with so much colour (the news that colour TV would be in Britain as well as America soon in 1967 was a big talking point of the year even if most people couldn't afford one into the 1970s), The Stones typically go against the grain and imagine an overtly  psychedelic song in true monochrome. Another terrific Stones performance is the icing on the cake: everyone plays superbly out of this one: Bill's bass swoops sound like angry sobbing, Charlie's chaotic relentless drumming gives the drummer a chance to show off some new skills aside from R and B and best of all Brian's mastery of the sitar (a notoriously hard instrument to learn) and his sensitive-but-gruff harmony part put him right back centre-stage of the Stones sound again, where he should always have been. The result is another of the greatest singles of the 1960s and a sign that the Rolling Stones are on a roll in 1966. One other talking point of the song was the 'comma' in the title - assumed by many to be an 'ironic' comment on African-American servitude ('Blacks can only ever be painters'), it turns out that it was simply a mistake made by Decca's labelling unit. Find it on: every decent Stones compilation.

While American fans got 'Stupid Girl' from 'Aftermath' as their 'Paint It' flipside, British fans got the distinctly lacklustre [85] 'Long Long While'. Mick tries to make things up after an argument, claiming that it's taken him a long to realize 'I was wrong, girl and you were right'. However before you get too impressed, it sounds from the sly way Mick sings and the gospel-spoofing organ part as if he's making things up just to sleep with his ex again and the suddenly aggressive middle eight ('Still you have those happy eyes!') that points out that he probably hasn't changed his ways too much. Another strong band performance that plays cat and mouse with the listener throughout brightens up something of a dud song. Find it on: 'The London Singles Compilation' (1989)

[86] 'Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?' is often overlooked in the Stones singles canon. Certainly it's a less immediate or polished song and recording than either of the two glorious predecessors and gets overshadowed by the double A-side that came immediately afterwards. However 'Shadow' is a grower - it's the song I tend to look forward to on Stones compilations nowadays after years of skipping it, both for it's outrageous lyrics and it's outrageous murky sound (which push even Decca's usually murky sound to its limits). Even The Stones themselves laugh at their psychedelic years nowadays, perhaps under the assumption that 1967 was all about peace and love and flowers. It wasn't: some of the most frightening records in my collection date from that period, scary soundtracks of feedback and an atmosphere of grim menace, as drugs awoke scary memories at the same time as making everyone placid (just have a listen to Pink Floyd's debut 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn' sometime!) The Stones fit nicely into psychedelia when they're attempting a nastier-sounding sort of song and thanks to bass-heavy layers of Wyman at his loudest, horns, fuzz guitar and added noise all muddled together 'Shadows' is scarier than most. The lyrics again have a parent fixation (this single's biggest talking point was the band dressed in drag as 'mothers' for the single sleeve - Brian and Keith look quite sweet, while Charlie just looks scary), with the narrator asking the listener if they've seen their 'mother' lurking in the shadows. 'I'm glad I opened your eyes' Jagger modestly says, before pleading for 'sympathy'. The chorus moves onto a love song, Mick at his most playful pleading 'tell me a story about how you adore me' before the song gets lost in the shadows again. The result is While played live at the time briefly (as heard on 'Got Live If You Want It' where the band sound pretty good, in between the ridiculous decision to slow the record down to re-create the opening 'effects'), the Stones forgot about this song pretty quickly, skipping it for their '40 Licks' compilation and never performing it since. That's a shame because it's rather a good song, one of the band's better songs of the period, although it's not a natural A-side and inevitably peaked at a relatively lowly #5 in the UK charts after a run of #1s.  .Suddenly the Stones' hold on the singles chart was looking the most nervous it had since 1963. Find it on: almost every Stones compilation, though goodness knows why it's missing from '40 Licks' in favour of another chance to suffer 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll'.

[87] 'Who's Driving Your Plane? marks something of a backwards step. The B-side to 'Shadows', it's a similarly murky recording but with a sound that takes the band briefly back to their R and B roots. Ian Stewart's tinkling ivories mark his first appearance on either side of a Stones single on a song right down his street (and Brian's, who strangely doesn't seem to be here). Mick barks out the lyrics which are a return to both the band's 'parent' fixation and  the nastier side of Mick's personality ('It was your father who dreamed you, your mother who framed you to be so useless and shy'). Mick just doesn't understand his girlfriend at all - she sulks and hides away, then complains that his friends 'take no notice of you' (with a possible gag about the Small Faces inserted here: 'If you're in with the faces and their get-away places...'). Presumably this is an early song lambasting poor Chrissie Shrimpton, who is the first of Mick's girlfriends to be tossed aside (lots of the forthcoming 'Between The Buttons' album is about their fragmenting relationship). It's fun to hear the Stones returning to their signature sound for the last time in a good while, but this song is also a reminder of how out of keeping with the times that signature sound had become: there are better Stones B-sides around. Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

Zooming through to the sessions for 'Between The Buttons' held at the end of the year, [88] 'If You Let Me' is a folky song that has more in common musically with the second side of 'Aftermath' though it shares that later album's clever mix of styles or contradictions. It is, however, a lot more inventive than, say, 'Miss Amanda Jones' with a nice stop-start melody by Keith that brilliantly matches the cat-and-mouse game played by Mick's pair of lovers, possible a groupie, in the lyrics. A couple have just met for the first time and Mick had a nice time thankyou very much but doesn't want to take it any further - the poor girl, however, is besotted by him. 'You're younger than I thought!' sneers a lascivious Mick before adding that it will never work because 'I'm too tall and you're too short'. Really he's just making excuses to get the hell out of there as fast as he can. And yet there's something else at work in this song: every verse is followed by a dreamy musical interlude and a 'dit diddy dee' harmony section that by Stones standards is romantic and sweet. Every verse finds the relationship has gone on a bit further, despite Mick's protests, until by the end he's bidding her 'goodnight - though you can guess...' hinting that the next stage is the bed scene. Is Mick being dominated by a girl he has no interest and is powerless against? or is he leading her on, pretending not to be interested because that only makes her all the more keen on him? A clever and most overlooked song with a nicely mellow performance that's well played by a band well out their usual comfort zones. One of the better Stones outtakes. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)


   Non-Album Recordings #5: 1967

Slightly overshadowed by fellow 'A' side 'Ruby Tuesday', [110] 'Let's Spend The Night Together' is the more straightforward and 'earthy' of the two. Completely at odds with the psychedelic year of 1967, it's a funky revved up R and B track with Beach Boys-influenced harmonies in the middle and a boogie woogie piano lick that won't be in fashion until 1968. Many Stones songs are about sex but few are quite as open about it as this one - the band even famously had to change the lyrics to 'Let's Spend Some Time Together' when they appeared on Ed Sullivan to promote it. Mick sounds oddly shy asking for it in the first verse, before getting lustful in the second ('I feel so strong I just can't disguise...') and promising 'fun foolin' around' before offering a mix of 'smiling and guiding' in verse three and promising to 'satisfy your every need' by the end. Keith's guitar, Brian's piano and especially Charlie' drums keeps the song urgent and daring, always trying to go a stage further while Mick tries to hang back, staying cool as if worried about scaring of a wild animal if he moves too fast. Most hippie songs ignore sex for some mystical form of abstract love - trust the Stones to buck the trend with their earthiest song since 'Get Off My Cloud'. Find it on: Most Stones compilations

In 2012 Crosby, Stills and Nash teamed up with Johnny Cash producer Rick Rubin with the aim of making a 'covers' album featuring lots of harmony-led songs from the 1960s and 1970s that suited their gorgeous three-part harmonies. The band split - again - reportedly because of an argument over what the lyrics to Rubin's nominated choice of [111] 'Ruby Tuesday' meant - or if indeed they meant anything at all. 'Tuesday' is a funny track: intended merely as the B-side of 'Night Together', fans loved it so much and radio stations were so inundated with requests that the record was 'flipped' partway through release to become a 'double 'A' side'. Fans still adore it now, requesting it at gigs and complaining if compilation albums don't have it, but the Stones themselves have always been slightly unsure about this song (as a B-side they weren't expecting it to have quite this much scrutiny!) Ruby Tuesday is a girl who wants to be 'free' ('It's the only way to be!') and wants to break away 'from a life where nothing's gained and nothing's lost'. Then again, the whole reason for the narrator's fascination is that Ruby Tuesday won't stand still - no one can 'pin a name on you' and that fascinates him. Presumably Mick had his new girlfriend Marianne Faithful in mind when he wrote this song (looking and sounding like a posh public school girl, behaving like a real rock chick), but that isn't 'quite' right either: 'Ruby Tuesday' is a haze of hidden meaning, allegory and nonsense all mingling together in a lyric that actually makes little sense. However the surrounding is so pretty - Brian working over-time on flute and cello on one of Keith's prettiest melodies (though note the fact that it's Richards now doing the harmonies, not Jones). The end result sounds beautiful, but like Ruby herself while she's easy to love she'd hard to get to know. Find it on: almost everything that has Mick Jagger's face on it.

We'll get this out the way first: [112] 'We Love You' sold very badly, the band now ignore it completely (it was never played live and doesn't appear on '40 Licks') and few fans seem to know it (and the ones that do prefer B-side 'Dandelion'). But that's the conventional look at one of the most striking Rolling Stones songs and one of my all time top AAA singles of them all. Many fans think this song is the band going 'soft' but it so isn't: the title comes with a menacing sneer, the backing will haunt you far longer than any horror film. What's more this is a terribly brave song to make. Mick and Keith had ever so nearly gone to prison on souped-up drugs charges (before the News Of The World, of all institutions, wrote a damning editorial about the state of British justice that shamed the courts into setting them free) and at the time it was feared that 'We Love You' might be the last Stones single for a while. Half a 'thank you' to faithful fans and half a 'fuck you' to the establishment, it's a scary rollercoaster ride that starts with clinking chains and the slamming of doors before the mother of all piano riffs hits a fantastic restless Bill Wyman bass part. The lyrics claim 'we don't care if you let me love you' in false angelic voices (complete with a guesting Lennon and McCartney, in thanks to Mick and Keith appearing on this song's recent alter ego single 'All You Need Is Love'), but they clearly do care: this is the sound of s frightened animal backed into a corner, each note extended past natural breathing point to the point of pain. Just listen to that middle eight: 'We don't care if you hound we and lock the doors around we, locked in in our minds 'case we love you! You will never win we, you're uniforms don't fit we,  you're dead if the place we set in 'cause we love you!' Depending on the listener this is either a heartfelt tribute or complete send-up of the 'establishment' that's put the Stones away. Throughout the song Brian Jones' pounds away on a mellotron set to 'scary' which pummels away at the song left right and centre in tandem with Charlie Watts' heaviest drummings before his single greatest performance on a Stones song on the instrumental break near the end. Given the way technology was set up at the time Brian had to play his part with a 'delay' to hit the right note: out of it, as he surely was this late on in his life, he nails the part perfectly, with a truly stunning improvised part that sounds like the narrator suddenly unleashed out of his prison and ranting and raging at the world. It's electrifying, especially the way the rest of the Stones fall into place behind him and let him take the lead for once. The result is remarkable, a fitting pause in the Stones' discography (though thankfully not the full stop that was feared) and one of the single greatest Stones moments of them all. One of the world's first music videos was sent out to accompany the song and got the band into even more trouble, depicting just Mick, Keith and Marianne Faithful in a 're-enactment' of the Oscar Wilde 'obscenity' trial where he was basically put away for being homosexual; with the law banning homosexual acts finally dropped in Britain mere weeks before this single release the sentiment is clear: the Stones are guilty only of an anachronistic law, soon to be overturned, which in decades to come will make the courts look very very stupid.  Given what the Stones were facing this move was incredibly brave and show the band at the height of their powers, a thorn firmly in the side of the establishment. Find it on: Not enough Stones compilations to be frank. 'The London Singles Collection' (1989) is your best bet.

The B-side, [113] 'Dandelion', is a fluffier but much more immediate song than the A-side. Finding the Stones at the peak of their psychedelic period, this song sports a delicious melody, some beautiful Stones harmonies (with Brian back in the vocals again) and a feel-good factor that comes across despite the fact that even for the Stones this vocal is terribly harsh. The song started off life as a Keith song titled 'Something Borrowed, Something Blue' before Mick hijacked the lyric (presumably haranguing poor Chrissie Shrimpton again). Jagger's narrator has had enough of her girl and the way she's hanging around, refusing to go - he wants her to 'blow away' like a Dandelion (an irritating but cute weed common to Britain - this song perplexed quite a few of the Stones' foreign fanbase). Using the old nursery rhyme (that you can 'tell the time' by how many' puffs it takes to blow out a 'full' dandelion), Mick tries a 'one o'clock two o'clock...' chorus and later a 'tinker tailor...' chorus borrowed from another nursery rhyme before concluding that he doesn't care what time it is: he wants his girl gone now! Like much of the 'Between The Buttons' album, though, 'Dandelion' couldn't sound prettier or more summery and many fans 'missed' the message buried at the end of this song (that 'girls and boys' everywhere can bring out their dandelions to play - and that way the narrator's witch of a girlfriend will be banished forever). Some delightfully eccentric Charlie Watts drumming (no one seem to have told him this is a 'op' not a 'rock' song!) adds to the charm. Like 'We Love You' the song actually opens with a fragment of the track from the other side - in this case some ghostly piano; in the A-side's case some ghostly a capella harmonies. Many fans also assume that Keith wrote the song for his daughter, born around the same time and christened 'dandelion', much to her horror as she grew up (the family refer to her by her chosen name 'Angie' - another Stones song title). Actually it was the other way around - Keith was so taken with this pretty little song that he named his daughter after the composition! Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

[  ] 'Title 5' is an instrumental first recorded here before being revived during the sessions for 'Exile' and given a few overdubs but still never got any lyrics. At a mere 107 seconds it barely seems worth digging the tape box out for but has a nice laidback groove and is a welcome chance to hear Keith, Bill and Charlie recording without the others on a nice riff that sounds more like something The Animals would do than The Stones, with a longer gap between each riffs. Ultimately, though, it's nothing special and it's an odd one to revive for the deluxe re-issue of an album that it was never under serious consideration for inclusion on anyway. Find it on: the deluxe edition of 'Exile On Main Street' (2012)


   Non-Album Recordings #6: 1968

The Stones may have felt right at home in the 'scarier' side of psychedelia, but they also took to 1968's general return to earthy rock with relief. [124] 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' is the simplest Stones song for a good two years and sounds like a natural follow-up to 'Get Off My Cloud'. Keith's latest variation of the 'Satisfaction' lyric is a strong one, dripping with menace and barely concealed violence. Seizing on this, Mick comes up with one of his snarkiest lyrics, a fictional autobiography about bring brought up 'by a washed up bearded hag' and 'schooled with a strap right across my back' and later 'a spike right through my head'. Apparently he was writing about how fed up he was by the stagnating hippie movement and wanted to write something earthy and violent to shock music back to a more 'rootsy' base. Actually the song had a much softer genesis - Mick was over at Keith's house trying to write when he asked what that funny noise outside was; Keith replied he'd got a new gardener 'Jumpin' Jack Dyer'. The chorus tries to calm things down and go all peace-and-love ('But it's alright now - in fact it's a gas'), but that feeling of revenge and bitterness never quite goes away. Like the jumping jack of the title, this song is a tightly coiled spring waiting for pounce, although the expected release never quite happens, the song instead fading away over swirly organ solo rather than a Keith Richards snarl. Still, the song is a strong one that rightly restored the Stones back to their rightful place near the top of the charts, especially the tight band performance on which Keith (who also plays bass) is particularly on form. Bill claims to have been doubly upset to have been booted off the record because that's 'his' riff, played on piano during a band session before Keith jumped on it - needless to say the bassist doesn't get a credit for his contribution. If your Stones compilation doesn't contain this track then take it back to the shops and get a refund - now, quick, before they shut!

B-side [125] 'Child Of The Moon' is another of my all-time favourite Stones songs, a hangover from my all time favourite Stones year of 1967. A gorgeous farewell to psychedelia, this is a sleepy ballad turned into a rocker thanks to some heavy-handed drumming and dressed in lots of lovely shades of organ and mellotron. Mick's lyric is deeply unusual in that it's a genuine love song with no twists or turns throughout (and he didn't write many of those!) His bride is a Cancerian (at long last! Them pesky Pisceans get all the good songs - my star sign doesn't get any apart from this one!), a 'moon child' whose deeply in touchy with nature and whose mood changes when the moon does. Jagger urges her to 'rub her rainy eyes' so that her can delight in her 'wide-awake smile'. Throughout the song the Stones' single best use of harmonies wraps the song in a warmth unusual for the Stones, with a delicate lyric touching on nature and the weather that somehow sounds perfectly in keeping with their usual 'tougher' sound. The Stones could do 'pretty' as well as any other band when they wanted to - this song is perhaps the best example of that. As far as I know no one has ever found out who the song was 'written' for (and unlike some Jagger lyrics this one sounds 'real', not imaginary). Most fans assume Marianne Faithful again, but she's actually a Cancerian's polar opposite (an earth-bound Capricorn). Keith's missus (and Brian's ex) Anita Pallenburg is another earthly Arian. None of the band members were Cancerians either (Mick is a Leo, Keith a Sagittarius, Brian a Piscean, Bill a Scorpion and Charlie a Geminian if you're wondering). The opening garbled speech might be a clue - a shouting voice drummed into submission by Charlie's drums - and many have speculated that it's a speech by Dr Martin Luther King Jnr (big in the news across 1967 and assassinated the following year). Only he's not a Cancerian either but an Aquarian. I give up! Find it on: 'The London Singles Collection' (1989)

An oddly clunky song from the 'Beggar's Banquet' sessions, [126] 'Family' starts off with the same eerie pounding as the future 'Sister Morphine' before Mick starts putting on his spoof 'Dear Doctor' voice and the track changes again into a noisy piano-led rocker with shades of 'Let's Spend The Night Together'. Another put-down of a girl, though a more erudite one than the 'Aftermath' era songs, it paints the odd picture of a man getting a heart transplant ('He lost his life in an accident before finding a heart in the man next door') unaware that while he's inside his girl is cavorting like a prostitute and about to break it all over again. It's odd to hear Mick taking a parental point of view (is this his parody of The Beatles' less earthy 'She's Leaving Home'?) but he sings in such a sullen, sarcastic way you're never quite sure whose side he's taking - or whether, like 'Sympathy For The Devil', he's simply relishing in the chaos. As for the mother, she's back on pills and 'living dangerously', close to throwing herself down a well but too pathetic to end it all and there's a brother whose cut-up about the fact he's been learning guitar for days and still can't play 'like E G Jim' (Hendrix or Page?) or 'write like St Augustine'. It's a damning portrait of family life in 1968, with all sides fucked up beyond hope and disintegration inevitable. You wonder what inspired it: the early lines sound like Chrissie Shrimpton ex-communicated by her strict family after cavorting with Jagger, while Jagger may have had his own younger brother Chris in mind for the ending, himself aiming for a pop career. The song ends unsettlingly with the sense that it's always been like this but only in the 1960s have the cracks grown enough to talk about it, Jagger's fascinating lyric concluding 'They've been in orbit now a thousand years and need a thousand more to climb out'. Unfortunately Keith hasn't raised his game to match and sounds as if he's had trouble fitting music to what his partner may well have written as a poem first, with none of his three sections quite living up to the words and none of them joining together. Lacking the intimacy and casual brilliance of the finished 'Beggar's Banquet' tracks this is a noble but failed experiment, albeit one that still deserves recognition for one of the most compelling lyrics Jagger ever wrote. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

Recorded twice as a Mick Jagger solo single (albeit with Stones backing as normal) [127] 'Memo From Turner' was finally released as the signature song of the 1970 film 'Performance' which starred Mick as Turner, an eccentric former rock star who'd lost the plot and slowly falls for Keith's missus Anita Pallenburg (Richards was due a cameo scene but had it cut in favour of more scenes of the star making love to his girlfriend, much to his chagrin; their friendship is never quite the same again afterwards). Credited to Jagger-Richards but almost certainly Mick's song alone, it's an unusual cowboy Western style type song with shades of Bob Dylan in the verses more spoken than sung. Mick tries to place the bloke whose just walked into his room from somewhere and tries to offer sage wisdom including a couplet that sounds as if it may have inspired the 'Let It Bleed' album: 'Be wary of these my gentle friends of all the skins you breed, they have a tasty habit - they eat the hands that bleed!' Given a straight-up reading by the Rolling Stones in November 1968 it sounds much like the 'Beggar's sessions, albeit with Ry Cooder playing some fine slide guitar in place of a fading Brian (and possibly Jim Capaldi in place of Charlie - that really doesn't sound like Watts' normal style). It's a minor lost gem, with Mick on good form and sounding good with Cooder as his excellent foil (how did he lose out on the Stones second guitarist job not once but twice?) but is a little rambling by Stones standards. The Stones take was actually the second go - the first from earlier in the year with Keith on guitar still hasn't been released officially yet, while the version heard in the film is a third go from nearer the 1970 release date with Mick singing to a session musician backing. Slightly faster, with more percussion but the same slide guitar part, it's near enough the same to make the difference. Find the Stones take on 'Metamorphosis' (1975) and Mick's solo version on 'The Very Best Of Mick Jagger' (2007)

   Non-Album Recordings #7: 1969

Confession time: I've never liked [130b] 'Honky Tonk Women', one of the Stones' most eternally popular tracks or understood what the hell it was about. Starting life as a muted country singalong (released as 'Country Honk' on 'Let It Bleed') somebody somewhere spotted it's potential and made the Stones re-record it with their usual Chuck Berry style riffing. Unfortunately the song never quite shrugs off its beginnings as a bar-room brawl best suited to the country style: Mick's awful American accent, the ugly unbalanced rhythm and the silliest Stones chorus of them all ('Honky tonk women! Gimme the honky tonk blues!') all betray the fact that this song should never have been done this way. The Stones had done well to avoid the pits of bad-boy behaviour down the years but they blow them all for this badly focussed, rambling song about a gin-soaked bar and the prostitutes who haunt it, with only two verses to sketch in the most basic of stories whose best line comes at the end: 'I blew my nose - and she blew my mind!' Not so very long ago 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' and 'We Love You' were pushing the boundaries of what was possible in the pop single, but 'Honky Tonk Women' is just a lazy singalong, memorable only for the impressive duelling of guitars between Keith and Mick Taylor, who clearly hasn't been told that the band aren't playing this 'country' on the re-make. Find it on: every Stones compilation - honestly, I spend great swathes of my life skipping this song so I don't have to hear it again!

[137] 'I Don't Know Why' always used to bother me too. A gorgeous Stevie Wonder song (one of his best), the song needs a light and delicate touch, a warmth and cosyness the Stones don't provide here. For years I assumed the band had simply missed the point of the song - but then I read that this was the song the band were recording (with new boy Mick Taylor on only about his third recording as a Stone) when the telephone call came through that Brian Jones had died, drowned in his own swimming pool. A shocked Stones debating going home but after an hour sat around staring in horror at the phone (witnesses record a shaken Jagger shouting 'it goes on!' at the top of his voice) decided to carry on and that they wanted to do something 'normal'. That explains why this song is so icy cold, Jagger singing a simple love song (one of the sweetest the band will ever do) as if he's first asleep and then as if he's interrogating his girl and Richards wheeling off an icy-cold guitar-part that sounds like him in emotional shut-down mode. Only a golden Mick Taylor solo cuts through the murk, delivering a solo that on other occasions would be highly celebrated but here sounds rather out of place. The result is one of the Stones' strangest covers, a recording rightfully left in the vaults for another day (until Decca released it without the band' permission in the mid 1970s), but one where the emotion and shock of the occasion comes over only too well. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

[138] 'Jiving Sister Fanny' is a fun but rather brainless rocker that was never finished to the band's level of perfection. Mick's vocal is clearly a 'warm-up' one that he was going to replace later with a fresher more accurate one and chances are some of the lyrics would have gone too ('Jiving Sister Fanny got the brains of a dinosaur!') However, the riff is a strong one that grooves away nicely and gives the band lots of room to improvise - especially Mick Taylor who soars away with a majestic solo that he has problems getting back in the box by the time Mick needs to fit in another verse (listen to the singer struggling to drown him out several times!) Once again the Stones turn in another excellent band performance, giving even this rough throwaway just the right amount of spirit and bonhomie. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

Bill Wyman's second ever published song [139] 'Downtown Suzie' is more 'normal' than his first, though it still betrays the eccentric humour of his future solo albums. Mick gets to sing the tale of a hangover, an 'Alka-seltzer head' with the 'Monday morning blues' and wondering what a girl he's just met named Lucy has just done to him. It's more like The Snmall Faces than The Stones: a music hall joke with earthy rock tones to compensate for the 'weeeel weeel weeeel' chorus that Mick positively growls. A sudden switch to groove-laden partying goes down more Stones territory before the song ends up returning to the opening groove and finds Mick 'feeling like the Sunday Times' whatever that means. There is no mention throughout of the Suzie of the title and Lucy is a confusing character all round: she leads the narrator on before kicking him and giving him a 'tennis [shoe's] worth of aching bones', possibly in flashback given the state the narrator starts the song in. A bit too, well, bonkers for the Stones you can see why this one never slipped out but there's certainly no doubting the gusto with which Mick sings the vocal, relishing the chance to sing something so different, or with which the entire band join in on the 'party' scenes at the end. Poor Bill definitely deserves a career writing Stones B-sides at least but alas this will be his final song attempted by the band. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

A far more straightforward Stones style rocker, [140] 'I'm Goin' Down' dates from the early 'Let It Bleed' period when Mick Taylor wasn't yet a full time member. That's Stephen Stills guesting on the second guitar and he adds a tough metallic crunch to the song (possibly that's him too on the salsa-ish congas part, so similar to the sound and feel of his first two solo albums). The guitars-bass-drums backing is working well, pirouetting with typical Stones aplomb, while the horn overdubs are fantastic. Only Mick's vocal is too obviously a guide one, featuring him muttering about nothing much while waiting for inspiration to strike ('When you die it's nothing but bye bye' is about as coherent as he gets). Though not exactly un-missable in its present state, the song was too good not to return to and in fact features a better groove than all but the famous songs from the curiously unlikeable collection 'Let It Bleed'. Find it on: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)

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


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