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The Rolling Stones Song Reviews


England's Newest Hitmakers (1964)

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England's Newest Hitmakers

Not Fade Away A

I have a tendency to treat early R&B music like it's retarded. (I am privy to making dismissive statements like “Yeah, this is good for early R&B!”) I'm still not the biggest fan of the genre, but I'm slowly coming to realize that R&B deserves to be treated like everyone else. And who can ever deny the genre when a band like The Rolling Stones plays it? They had more attitude than pretty much anybody from the era! I mean, this won't do much to thrill today's audiences who are used to hearing demon-possessed metal-men howling in microphones, but this was pretty edgy stuff for the time! They use an acoustic guitar to play that riff, and it's much more furious than the Buddy Holly original. That harmonic wailing and chugging along gives the experience some extra grit. Mick Jagger's vocals are excellently energetic; he knew exactly how to sing right from the beginning! Plus, The Stones knew exactly what sort of song to cover. Who knew more about pop hooks than Buddy Holly?

Route 66 A+

It doesn't get much better than this. We've all heard plenty of versions of this blues song, but none of them sound as tight and rockin' as this one. (Of course, we're all going to have different opinions... but I prefer pop-rock interpretation over the bluesy originals. But that only goes to show that I don't appreciate the blues very much.) The melody is incredibly catchy and was perfectly suited for pop-rock. The guitar riff is fast-paced, a tad rough, and catchy, and the claps added to the beat were a nice touch. Jagger's vocals have an edge to them without feeling like he was over-singing it. In short, this song is so freaking cool that it can hardly contain itself.

I Just Want to Make Love to You A

These guitars sound so furious here that they made the work in the previous two tracks seem like child's play! Mick Jagger's even singing so loudly that it seems like he was close to maxing out the studio equipment! (Although that gravelly quality in his vocals were probably just the way they were singing.) It's really easy to get caught up in this utterly raucous performance.

Honest I Do B

The one thing that was not the Stones' forte were these slow bluesy songs. It's not that they were particularly bad at it... they just weren't as overtly great at it like they were at the fast-paced ones. Mick Jagger had powerful vocals on the previous three songs, but here it would have helped if they were more expressive. The instrumentals are quite good, and I like how loudly they mixed the drums and rhythm guitar into the mix! But frankly it's somewhat dull.

Now I've Got a Witness C+

This instrumental was a composition written by everyone in the band, but was attributed to a songwriter called “Nanker Phelge.” I read about the origins of that name, and it's not too interesting. Anyway, this composition is a very generic rhythm & blues instrumental with a boring organ riff at the center of its sound. This seems pretty cheap compared to the previous songs in the album... Though, I will say that the harmonica wailing throughout in the background is really nice, and there's a really *mean* Keith Richards guitar solo in the final half.

Little By Little A-

So, these track reviews are getting pretty hard to write. How many different ways can I say that this is another bold R&B cover? It's only the sixth track, and I've already used my 'these track reviews are getting pretty hard to write' routine. Man, I'm spent! ...Well, I will say that I love that bold drum beat, which immediately launches this sky-high above the tinny thwacks we'd sometimes get from other records in this era. Keith Richards turns in such a mean guitar solo in the middle... Oh, man!! And that wobbling harmonica ... very awesome. I'm not sure what else you want me to say.

I'm a King Bee A+

This is basically irrefutable proof that The Rolling Stones were awesome. It wouldn't have mattered what they did afterwards, this song proves that they're one of the coolest bands in existence. The attitude-ridden march of the drums and bass guitar provide something of a passive menace. Apart of the groove, is a neat sliding effect with one of their guitars, which gives it an unusual quality that sets it apart from the others. Icing on the cake is that incredibly high-pitched guitar solos that comes in briefly to mimic the sound bees make, apparently when it's stinging somebody. Very, very enjoyable.

Carol A

Oh yeah... Right from that opening guitar sequence, you can tell that this is a Chuck Berry cover. Sometimes, I admit, to not enjoying Chuck Berry covers, because they all sound so freaking cliché sometimes. But The Rolling Stones knew exactly how to do his music justice with sheer verve. Nothing can convince me that this wholly energetic treatment of this material is some of the most toe-tapping, enjoyable R&B tunes I ever heard...

Tell Me (You're Coming Back) B

Behold: The world's first Jagger/Richards composition to appear on an album! Well, they'll get better at it, luckily. The first and foremost thing everyone says about the song is that it's not derived from the blues. Rather, it's a slow, mournful, merseybeat ballad. I do like the mood, and think it showed early promise of the great songs these guys would eventually compose! On the downside, the melody isn't too memorable, and the chorus seems very cliché. It's also quite long. (Well four minutes was pretty much epic in the mid-'60s, and there was good reason for that.)

Can I Get a Witness C

Well, the similarity of this to “Now I've Got a Witness” is more than the song title. It's pretty obvious that song was based on this, which is a Marvin Gaye cover. But this is also relatively disappointing. It's not really that generic R&B riff that disappoints me, but it's that they're not giving this the same sort of verve that they did on most of the other songs. It's also very sloppy sounding. I'm wondering what prompted Mick Jagger to give this sort of strained, whiny vocal performance. Bluh!

You Can Make it if You Try C+

Here's a slow, bluesy ballad, and what I said about those not being the Stones' strong point in my review for “Honest I Do.” They would get better at it, but there's really very little emotion in this whole thing. Those yelps that Mick Jagger blurts out in this sound more like a dog barking than the emotional pleas I suppose he was going for. Hm.

Walking the Dog A-

At least they close the album with a catchy ditty! This sounds like it could have been something The Beatles would have covered in their early albums if they ever got around it. (Funny, I can imagine The Beatles' version as more energetic and somehow more sincere... I guess that goes to show what I think about The Beatles...) Anyway, there is an undeniably cool electric guitar solo in the middle of this. Perhaps it's a little too eager sounding, seemingly trying to out-pace the actual tempo of the song. But, I suppose dogs get like that when they want to go for a walk......


12 X 5 (1964)

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12 X 5

Around and Around A

You know there's nothing like the old time rock 'n' roll with the Rolling Stones. As cheesy as that statement was, I can do nothing but believe that with every fiber of my being. I don't know how many Chuck Berry covers I've heard, but they've been enough to know that so few people could so effortlessly rock like this. They're remarkably professional yet have the nerve to rock out completely. I won't even claim that they do anything particularly special with it. The simple Chuck Berry riffs chug along beautifully while the drum trots along surely, and a spirited piano does its thing. And yet, it's like magic.

Confessin' the Blues A

It's a slower paced blues song this time, and they prove that they can give it just as much verve as the faster paced ones. God, it's really hard to write about what makes these songs so interesting. It's the sort of thing that you'll just have to hear for yourself; I can never adequately describe it. How does this song make me feel? It makes me feel like I should be a Blues fan, that's what! These guys might have been goofy British-types in their early 20s, but on the basis of this blues, they seem a lot more world-worn than that.

Empty Heart B

Ha, well I guess we have to patient before they would start churning out classic originals, but I'd say this incredibly muddled and sloppy rocker isn't bad. Due to the “Nanker Phelge” songwriting credit, I've got to assume that this resulted from a jam session. Considering there is no song development at all, other than a sort of anarchic “everybody play what you want” feeling to the proceedings, my suspicions are verified. But the fact that such a song could still be enjoyable, for the most part, is kinda cool.

Time is on My Side A-

I think I used to like this song more than I do now (I once dubbed it the greatest song of the album). While I've apparently become a tad more lukewarm about it, I still like the song. One good thing about it is that it's an engaging ballad, written by Norman Meade, and their performance of it is as genuine as anything they ever do. One thing I wasn't aware of until now: There is a different and slightly better version of this that appears on all their greatest hits albums! That version has a much better guitar-work in it... but this version has also has excellent guitar-work.

Good Times, Bad Times C-

Oooooof. You'll really have to be patient for them to start writing good original songs. As a Jagger/Richards composition, this generic blues ditty would surely come in somewhere in the bottom twentieth. It progresses at such a lazy, stifled pace, which isn't helped by Charlie Watts horrendous drumming, which sounds more appropriate for a funeral march than for a blues ballad. Really, I can't imagine what the heck that guy was going for. But I will say that harmonica wailing throughout is relentlessly cool. I wish all terrible songs would have a harmonica like that in it.

It's All Over Now A

Yeah, thank god that previous track is over now, and they're rockin' like the complete bad-boys that they are! It's like they woke up from that depressed state, or something, and remembered that it's great to be alive. Yeah, and this is a cover, too, which should be no real surprise at this point. But it's a great song, originally by Bobby Womack, and they play it so well that I'm having trouble resisting doing a little dance.

2120 South Michigan Avenue B

See how patient I'm being? I'm gritting my teeth and grinning tightly. Um, this is another original composition that I'm sure resulted from a jam session. It's certainly more driven and and controlled than the previous compositions, and hearing the harmonica solo and that really mean guitar work is something that's surely worth hearing. But other than some nice instrumental work, very little else can be said of it. We don't even get to hear Mick Jagger sing on it, other than a brief bit where it sounds like he stubbed his toe about five feet away from the microphone.

Under the Boardwalk C

Wow... Um... The Rolling Stones had been making a good career for themselves by covering songs from the old masters and putting some of that ruffian, British charm to it. But this is lame. Listening to this, it sounds like their hearts weren't into it. Mick Jagger is singing like a pretty boy, and the instrumentalists could have been playing at the high school prom for all I can tell.

Congratulations B

Conglaturation !!! ... You have completed a good ballad. This is surely better done than the previous song based on the instrumentals alone. They're not out to dazzle us, but the sonic quality of the instrumentals are crisper and more alluring. I can hear those acoustic guitars very clearly and I adore that woody echo from the drum is wonderful.

Grown Up Wrong C

LOOK AT ME! I'M STILL BEING PATIENT!!!! ...................................ooooooooooooooooooo. What I'm saying is, if they're going to write 'original' compositions, why do they have to make them sound so clunky all the time? It's like they didn't even care about them. The production is nowhere near as good as the previous song, it has about zero drive to it thanks partly to Mr. Watt's clompy rhythm. The guitar riff sounds like a lamified version of “I'm a King Bee.” The melody is mostly just a single line of melody being repeated over and over. Blah, blah and blah.

If You Need Me C+

This is more solid than the previous track, in my opinion, but it's still far from matching the awesomeness that seemed to come so natural in some of these other tracks. But it's still very sloppy, and really lacking the verve that I know that they were capable of. Probably the worst mistake here was making this a duet. I don't know who that is singing with Mick, but he only adds to the general clutter. I know that they were still new to the business of making rock music, but they surely knew better than this.

Suzie Q A-

See, what did I tell you? The previous tracks might have been lame, but I knew all along that they could still get it together and create more awesome rock 'n' roll when they put their collective minds to it. This R&B cover is less than two minutes long, but it packs such a punch that I can gladly forget about the previous tunes. Keith is having such a great time playing those riffs... probably more fun than I'm having listening to them (which is a lot).


The Rolling Stones, Now! (1965)

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The Rolling Stones, Now!

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love B

This pop-rock song with a nice riff is a slightly weak opener for a Rolling Stones album, but it's an enjoyable listen just like everything these guys did in the early '60s was. Mick Jagger appears to be having quite a bit of fun singing this, opening this up with an introduction as though he was performing it live. But why are his vocals so much in the background, and why doesn't that person singing falsetto blend in better? At the same time, this roughness around the edges gives it an uncouth party-time quality, which has its own enduring characteristics. (...Um, it appears that Wikipedia answered my question. This was actually a demo that the record company mistakenly put on the record instead of the real version that appeared in the UK. Oh, the scalawags.)

Down Home Girl A

Yikes! These lyrics are hilarious, and this melody is insanely catchy. The instrumentation is most excellent, and strangely restrained for them. The steady, tangy rhythm is set-up by the drums, stabbing guitar and piano chords, and a well-mixed, thumpy bass-line makes it extra enjoyable for me. There's a bit of a harmonica solo in here, but I wonder where the guitar solo is? I guess old Keith (I assume) got to contribute to that groove with a few decorative, wobbly notes. Just a fun song.

You Can't Catch Me A

Wow, get a load of this rhythm! The quality of that incredibly rapid and tight chugga-chugga-chugga we hear going throughout completely deserves that A alone. Man! And get a load of those completely awesome clicking noises from Charlie Watts! Ooooooo! Keith comes in with a number of furious though restrained electric guitar solos, all of which ring of awesome. These guys are getting better at this stuff, and giving it their own personality, too.

Heart of Stone A-

See, didn't all that patience pay off in the end? This ballad is the very first Rolling Stones original that's up there with the quality of the songs they cover. Granted, it's very similar to the songs they cover meaning it's very derivative of early R&B and not nearly as vibrant and original as their later compositions. But who cares? It has a melody, and it has a neat Keith guitar solo. That's enough.

What a Shame B

It's not so much a shame, but this original fails to get the old blood running. I wouldn't want to call it “stale” or “stagnant” or anything, because the instrumental performances are masterful. It's *just* a decent mid-tempo rocker. It also sounds very derivative of the songs they were covering (but you really can't blame them for that at this point). The melody is OK, but nothing too memorable. But then again, it's still heads over heels better than the originals in the previous album. So, sweet progress is being made!

Mona (I Need You Baby) B+

This Bo Diddley cover has that famous pounding, repetitive and primitive sounding rhythm, and the Stones certainly seem like they're treating the source material well. It's sort of fun to listen to, but the melody isn't much to speak of, and I'm not wholly thrilled when I hear it playing. On the other hand, Keith's watery guitar wavering throughout was a really cool idea that adds something unique to the texture.

Down the Road Apiece A

It's not a Chuck Berry cover, but it definitely sounds like it was. It was written by a Vaudevillan composer in 1940, but obviously they did something to make it ROCK like it does. I see that Chuck Berry himself also covered it, so there is a connection. And what can I say about this song? It makes me want to get off my bottom and boogie all throughout the house! Of course, I don't, because the people here think I'm crazy as it is. There's nothing groundbreaking about this performance at all, but the production is crystal clear, and Keith can shred his guitar to old-time rock 'n' roll like nobody's business. Seriously, it's like he invented it or something. The piano in the background is utterly furious. This is freakishly good.

Off the Hook B

Another original that's nothing special, but it's decent at least. It's more interesting in the sense that it provides a good link between the terrible originals of the previous album and the excellent originals they'll start composing soon. This is a mostly forgettable R&B number with a childish-sounding chorus and a bland rhythm section. Blah.

Pain in My Heart B-

The one thing I like about this is that ultra-buzzy rhythm guitar plopping around throughout. That gives the song quite some body. But all in all, I've got to say this is a weaker number for them. While that plopping rhythm is interesting, they didn't do anything with it beyond that terribly sluggish pace. The melody isn't anything special, this being a normal R&B cover. It's not terrible, but it's just not inspired.

Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Going) B

One of the more underwhelming rock 'n' roll covers on this album, but that only means that it's pretty good! Mick Jagger delivers one of his more vibrant vocal performances, taking the spotlight over the other instrumentalists in this case. (Not that the other guys don't do a great job, but I don't hear anyone pulling any rabbits out of hats.)

Little Red Rooster A

One of these days, I'm going to go back and listen intensely to the original songs that the Stones were covering, this one in particular is very interesting. It's a slow bluesy song though with an atmosphere that makes me want to listen closely. The vocal melody isn't anything too revolutionary, but the sliding guitar licks from Brian Jones that compliment the vocals are really cool.

Surprise, Surprise A-

More proof that these guys were coming of age as far as songwriters go. This is a fabulously upbeat number with a catchy riff, catchy vocal melody, and enough of an edge to make it interesting. It's not terribly original, but that's not something that the Stones were terribly concerned with at the time. This is nothing more than a tight pop-rocker, but it's a good one.


Out of Our Heads (1965)

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Out of Our Heads

Mercy, Mercy A

There's something I've always liked about their rendition of this song over their rendition of other songs, and I'm not immediately able to pinpoint what it is. Is it that the guitar-tones are so clean and pure? Is it Charlie Watt's ultra-deep pounding on the drums? ...Yeah, maybe. That makes it sound as fresh today as it probably sounded in 1965. Nobody could treat these old rock 'n' roll songs quite like The Stones!

Hitch Hike A-

This is less appealing than the previous, but their cover of this Marvin Gaye song is excellent, of course. They picked a song with a nice melody, if a bit non-distinctive. I think we'll all admit that it seems like child's play compared to the originals that are in this album.

The Last Time A

Ah yes! Listen to this original! That ultra-clean riff is almost as awesome as it gets, and the melody is so hooky that it's close to being Beatlesesque. I know, it doesn't quite have the chemistry of a Beatles song, but that's OK. The Rolling Stones were a completely different group. More rustic and leathery! (Even in their young days.)

That's How Strong My Love Is B

Hey, after that catchy original, I'm feeling a little bit down that they're doing another cover! Ah, I guess my relative disappointment is proof that these guys have finally figured out how to write excellent tunes. Well, congratulations! Not that this is a terrible song at all—it's just nothin' special. Mick Jagger gives an energetic vocal performance, though, which helps make it more interesting to hear.

Good Times A-

You know, when I listen to this, I can swear that I hear a vibrating xylophone in the background. And yet, I get no evidence of that anywhere that I've tried looking it up. Anyway, that ringing sound in the background, whatever it is, gives this lightweight rocker such a nice, friendly vibe! We know that the Stones were well-known for their harder rocking songs, but let it be known that they've created excellent songs that you can sit back and soak up.

I'm Alright C

This is a Nanker Phelge composition, so you know it has to be good, right? ... Eerrrrr. What's more, this is a live track that comes with their screaming female fans completely intact. They play a very simple riff whilst Mick Jagger and another singer (who I can't identify) screams “I'm Alright” at the top of their lungs. Um, thanks for this.

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction A+

Oh, here's a song that nobody's ever heard before ... Oh wait, I'm thinking of something else. Yeah, I'm thinking of “Cowboys and Indians” by The Smoke. Nobody's heard that. Anyway, this riff is so classic that it ground itself in my brain and it'll stay there for all eternity! ... No, I'm serious, there's a permanent dent in my brain thanks to my experiences listening to this song. Do I even need to tell you about what this song sounds like? I doubt it, because it probably ground itself in your brain, too. Needless to say, this is a song for the ages... and the ages have treated it well, and if I have anything to say about it, the ages will continue to treat it well. Needless to say, it's the first of the many BIG Rolling Stones songs...

Cry to Me C+

Oh, for crap's sake! The problem with a song like “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” is that it makes all other songs seem lame in comparison. And the follow-up song to that one, a cover of a Bert Russell ditty, takes the brunt of it. Though to be honest, I probably wouldn't have liked it anyway. It's another one of those tracks that can be deemed “nothing special” with its boring melody and passable instrumentation. Mick Jagger, at least, gives another one of his cool performances in which he screams at the top of his lungs.

The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man B-

As far as the Nanker Phelge compositions have gone, this it one of the better ones. But that doesn't mean this is particularly great. Where “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” was a giant leap forward for the band in terms of songwriting, this derivative blues song is a bit of a step back. Nothing here in terms of originality, and their straitlaced instrumental performances don't make it anymore notable. Ah well. It's fine, though.

Play With Fire A-

Oh... About the Nanker Phelge compositions... This one's very good! In fact, considering how much it sounds like the Jagger/Richards stuff in Aftermath I wouldn't be too surprised if they were the principal forces behind this. It's a pretty ballad with a nice melody and featuring a *gasp* a harpsichord. That's right, a fruity instrument made it into a Rolling Stones song. And that brings me to another point... This ballad sounds like the stuff from Aftermath! So, they were making significant strives forward as a group! Very cool. Great song.

The Spider and the Fly A

Another great original! Seriously, I think I'm going to have to quit awarding such high ratings, but these guys' original compositions become more and more impressive... This is a very laid-back song with a nice, leisurely shuffle to it and some subtly catchy hooks in them. And even though it's laid-back, it has that bold confidence that only The Stones could ever do. Good stuff.

One More Try B

This is an original pop-rocker, and it provides a rather weak ending to the album, unfortunately. The instrumentation is nowhere near as edgy as most of these tracks. The vocal hook is very simple and it's catchy, but it's also too repetitive for my taste. Even the song production seemed a little bit off... It's rather muddy and murky. That's a shame, because it sounds like Charlie is playing a nice, clicky drum beat!


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

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December's Children (And Everybody's)

She Said Yeah A-

An R&B cover done with gusto. What else could you possibly want from the early Stones? And since this is the last of the early Stones albums in the discography, I'm going to enjoy it all I can! It's hard to deny that Jagger's boisterous vocal performance is wholly exciting, and he's backed-up with some exciting instrumentalists. It might be 'insubstantial' so to speak, but it's fun. There you go.

Talkin' About You B

This Chuck Berry cover is not nearly as boisterous and exciting as the previous track. In fact, it seems like they're restraining themselves in some way. But this might have been a more slower paced Berry composition. At least the melody is catchy and Keith comes in with a nice solo.

You Better Move On C+

This is a boring ballad cover that's along the lines of those boring ballads on 12X5. Sure, it's played nicely—this is The Rolling Stones, lest you forget. But they do seem like they're on autopilot here... just churning out a song because there was nothing better to do. Yeah, it still makes a nice listen, but we want more than that.

Look What You've Done B-

The only thing interesting about this VERY typical R&B number is Brian Jones' really weird harmonica wailing sewn throughout the track. He goes overboard with it for sure, but I can't say I've heard a harmonica sound this mentally disturbed before. Well, I guess Jones was a rather disturbed feller.

The Singer Not the Song C-

Considering original compositions were starting to be all the rage in new Rolling Stones albums, I think I speak for every pimply teenager from the '60s that I'm dismayed that it wasn't until the fifth track until they gave us an original composition in this album. ...And I've also got to express my alarm that this is a completely insubstantial number. In fact, I'm positive it's a really cheap rip-off of The Beatles' “If I Fell.” I know there's a really heated Beatles vs. Rolling Stones debate still going on out there... But this ain't a good argument for The Stones.

Route 66 (live) B-

This is another live selection thrown in a studio album for no reason other than to piss me off!!!! OK, I guess it doesn't actually piss me off. I'm sitting here very calmly. Just like that live part in Out of Our Heads, this was taken from the British EP Got Live if You Want It!, not to be confused with the American release that I will review a few days from now. I've got to tell you that this is a decent cover of this great blues song, but obviously comes nowhere close to the Stones' studio cover of it. I'm also not very keen on hearing hundreds of teenage girls scream over them.

Get Off Of My Cloud A+

.......ER WHA---???? Is it just me, or did the record company do a strange job programming this album? Or maybe they just put all the good songs at the end of the album just to reward people who feel like being patient. It builds character. Yeah, that's it. This is not only the first original composition on this album worthy of The Rolling Stones' legacy, but it's ONE OF THEIR BEST SONGS EVER!!! It's an understatement to say this is one of The Stones' most immortally catchy riffs (even though it's not nearly as loud as “Satisfaction” and it has a really fantastic vocal melody. ...Um, do I actually need to say anything about this?

I'm Free A

Ah yes, I think I heard this song on a television commercial somewhere... Well, it's another one of the great Rolling Stones songs, of course, although not quite as spectacular as the previous song. It's a happier, more laid-back composition as opposed to that angrier, edgier feel.

As Tears Go By A

Ah yes, here it is. One of The Stones' great ballads. Their balladry might have left something to be desired in previous albums, but here they show they had it in 'em all along! This is not just a passable ballad, but it's one for the ages. The Stones had originally composed this for Marianne Faithfull who recorded this in 1964 ... which means that they could have written songs like this a full year ago. Hmph! Maybe it was too much of a sissy's song for them in 1964 ... but I guess things were getting pretty sissyish by 1965! Anyway, this is a lovely, incredibly tuneful song. The strings brought in are layered a bit thick but they're lovely just the same.

Gotta Get Away B-

Also an original! But it doesn't have, as we scientists would call it, Stonesma. It doesn't have that Rolling Stones magic. This mid-tempo rocker is decent enough to listen to, and it's not an R&B derivative. The instrumentation is nice and solid, but nothing about it pops out at me.

Blue Turns to Grey B

This is a good song, but it also doesn't have the Stonesma. (Sorry... I won't use that term anymore. Some things in science are best left unspoken.) It's a mid-tempo rocker, and the hooks are more solid than the previous song. It has a nice pleasant pace, and it's very sweet. The guitars sound nice. ...Um. I like it. It's just an above average mid-60s song. Anybody could have recorded this.

I'm Moving On A-

This is the third track I've heard that was originally from the British EP Got Live if You Want It, and this is by far the best of them. Absolutely, this is the most energetic one of the three and it shows how powerful their stage performances could apparently get in the '60s. We can still hear the female screams, but they don't drown them out this time... rather they seem more like people screaming in the pits of hell than underwear-shedding teenage girls. Oh, the recording is very gritty, but that just goes perfectly with this excitingly driven rock 'n' roll cover. Wowsers!


Aftermath (1966)

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Aftermath

Paint it, Black A+

I was always confused about that comma, but according to the Wikipedia page, Keith Richards says it's not supposed to be there. Any-dang-way, this is one heck of a major masterpiece, as pretty much everybody in the world knows. But in case you've been living under a rock like I have from 1982-2001, then maybe you haven't heard this before! It begins with Brian Jones playing an ominous sitar riff... You probably could have guessed that he had spent some time hanging out with George Harrison. The sitar sticks with the song, which is very menacing and pounding. It gives it a very distinctly Eastern flavor that obviously wouldn't have been there without it. The vocal melody is pretty good, too, but the sitar and Watt's brilliantly thunderous drumming is everything to this song.

Stupid Girl A

Hey, that's pretty mean, Mick! But what an excellent *rock* song? It's nothing wholly unusual this time, it's just a riff-oriented rock song. But the melody is good, and the instrumentals are bold and wonderful. From the shaky organ in the background to another one of Watts' pounding drums. Mick Jagger's snarling singing fits the mean nature of the lyrics pretty well.

Lady Jane A+

This is so utterly captivating that I can sit through it and not want to move a muscle. Believe me, typing these words while it's playing is difficult to do! It's a gorgeously atmospheric song with a dulcimer as the main instrument. The melody is beautiful and Jagger's lead vocals are as sincere as they possibly could have been.

Under My Thumb A+

Geez, another pure classic for the ages. Since I'm apparently a Brian Jones fan, my favorite thing about this song is that marimba he uses to keep the groove going. But it's also undeniable that the relatively simple melody is extremely catchy. That fuzzy rhythm guitar going off in the background is another one of the brilliant things they did to the song... Yikes, this is good!

Doncha Bother Me A

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that The Rolling Stones were once a blues band! Oh... that wasn't in the distant past, either. Since pop-rock is my favorite genre, especially pop-rock with an artistic vein, this straight R&B song just ain't gonna register with me as well. But as far as bluesy stuff goes, Keith Richards deserves a guitar and a handshake for that impressive high-pitched riff he keeps on playing. And just in general, the song has excellent place, and that thick, leathery texture that they've always had in their best-of-times. So, yes, even this is brilliant.

Think B+

I've got to say, the best thing about this song is that buzzing guitar going off in the background, especially in that bridge. Other than that I can't say I'm wholly caught up in this. The power in the instrumentals doesn't greatly impress me. This is another throwback to their R&B days, after all. Watts' drumming doesn't have that arresting texture. Not a lot of atmosphere in this, either. ...But I'm just nitpicking. I like listening to this song. The melody is catchy!

Flight 505 A-

Ian Stewart's extended piano introduction might seem frivolous at first glance, but I can't deny that's just the coolest thing ever. He plays a usual R&B sequence, but the feathery textures makes it unique and appealing. Quickly, another R&B throwback pops up, but it's surely one of their betters ones with bolder instrumentation. That buzzing guitar pops up in a few pivotal times... Oh, why do I like that instrument so much?

High and Dry B

I was never a great huge fan of this one, but that harmonica chugging away is like a tiny fire that I can't stamp out. The melody is basically as derivative R&B as it gets, but Jagger's rendition has plenty of personality in it. I'm not sure why Watts was riding that whooshing hi-hat like that! But whatever. Meanwhile, Keith sits in a corner and plays some pretty mean acoustic guitar licks.

It's Not Easy A-

This is probably less distinctive than the previous track, but it's not nearly as detached and disorienting. This is also a bluesy tune, and it's not a bad one. The melody is OK, but nothing greatly memorable. What we care about in the end is all the attitude, which they are continuing to do like nobody's business! The instrumentals keep chugging along, and nobody's gonna stop them. The more you listen to this, the more you begin to appreciate how reluctant anyone in the band seemed to want to show off. That really subdued lead guitar there does a few amazing things, but you have to turn the volume a little higher to hear it.

I Am Waiting A

Oh, I almost forgot the Rolling Stones were once an art-rock band... not too long ago. This is a very nice little pop song with an excellent, Beatles-esque melody. The verses section is a little bit flat, but the chorus is more powerful and it really soars. There's someone playing a dulcimer on this, but I would have confused that for an ordinary acoustic guitar if I didn't read that on Wikipedia. Anyway, that instrument is pretty!

Going Home B+

I guess since the Rolling Stones were big rock stars, they could get away with something as crazy as putting an 11-minute rock jam at the end of their album! For 1966, that was an extremely unusual thing... I've never been a huge fan of rock jams, but this one's quite good. It's not like most rock jams... it's very laid-back and nobody really does anything to show off. Well, except for Mick Jagger who keeps on singing for some reason. But the groove is still nice to sit back and soak up. Good work.


Got Live If You Want It! (1966)

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Got Live If You Want It!

Under My Thumb B+

This is a great song no matter where you hear it, or how you hear it, but once you hear it in this live album, I think you're going to immediately notice that this isn't the ideal place to hear it. We have a murky audio quality to contend with, not to mention hundreds of shrieking females. They didn't bring a marimba with them on tour, apparently, so Keith takes up the riff with his guitar.

Get Off Of My Cloud A-

They also upped the tempo of this one, and it doesn't seem quite right... Maybe that comes from listening to the original so much! Anyway, I'm sure everyone in the audience was jumping up and down in their seats! Charlie Watts doesn't even try to re-figure out those complicated guitar patterns.

Lady Jane A-

Yeah, now they're singing their twee little ballad. Not exactly the best song to perform, because you can't play it loudly and drown out all the screaming! Of course, Mick's vocal performance isn't going to have near the amount of sincerity as he had in the original version. But they did a nice job with it considering the circumstances.

Not Fade Away A

Ah yes, this is the best sort of song to play live... even though it's a Buddy Holly cover and not one of their originals. (That wasn't a knock to Holly, by the way...). It's quick, it's gritty, and Brian Jones chugs away mightily with his harmonica. All the energy from the screaming crowd only goes into fuel the band's raucous performance. So there we go.

I've Been Loving You Too Long B-

Oh, I can't believe what I'm reading on Wikipedia... Apparently this Otis Redding was a cover, but the record company overdubbed screaming females into it. I guess they wanted to keep the live atmosphere going. But wait, didn't they put some live songs in their previous studio albums? I don't get it... This isn't such an excellent cover anyway, even though it's something we haven't heard them do on a studio album before. It's a slower-paced bluesy song, but I'm sort of bored with it.

Fortune Teller B

Geez, this is the same story as the previous track. This was an unused studio song that they decided to just throw on overdubbed screams over it. It's not a bad cover at all, but it's nothin' great I say. I really don't think the source material was the greatest to begin with, but the Stones don't really do anything special with it. You can sort of tell they're playing some nice, tight guitars, but you can't really hear it over the audience screaming. It's fairly straightforward. And why are they putting these fake live songs in here? FAKE!

The Last Time B+

Oh listen to them tease their audience, starting this out as though they were going to play “Satisfaction” but then switch over and play “The Last Time” at the last minute! The transition was very sloppy, too, I might add, but I guess everything on this album is pretty sloppy. That's the point! But anyway, I don't think I would have minded hearing this song, either, because it's very awesome.

19th Nervous Breakdown B

Ah here's a great Rolling Stones single that we can't hear on their regular studio discography. (I guess I'm going to have to review some compilations or something!) Certainly, the studio version is more exciting and crisp than this murky, sloppy live version, but it's hard to deny that The Stones don't have plenty of energy on the stage performing this. Still, give me the crisp version! The original gets an A, and this gets a B.

Time is On My Side A-

Actually, this isn't so bad. For whatever reason, I think the band sounds more fuller and refined here than they did on the other ballads, especially “Lady Jane.” Plus, it's a really good song, so I'm never going to want to give up an opportunity to hear it! You know, it's just one of those things!

I'm Alright A-

I remember a live version of this song also appeared in the middle of their studio album Out of My Heads. Naturally the live song fits in better in an actual live album. Hence the higher rating. I also think the band sounds more convincing at it this time. Its very simple riff is blisteringly played and Mick's scream-singing is making the audience go wild.

Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadow? A-

Hey, this song didn't come up yet in the Rolling Stones discography! We're not supposed to see this until Flowers! Er, I guess it was already released as a single at this point in the discography, so... there's why it's here. I really enjoyed this song on Flowers and it's similarly likable here. As usual, they seem to be playing it a little fast, but there's tons of energy. Always nice, I say.

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction B+

Ah, finally they give their audience real satisfaction by performing their hugest hit of all time. Yeah, it's a great song, of course! I suppose all the murky raucousness here could be something that the fans would relish. All I know is that I really miss hearing Keith's riff free of all that extraneous noise.


Between the Buttons (1967)

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Between the Buttons

Let's Spend the Night Together A+

This is one heck of a hard-driving piano-led pop song. It's strikingly mid-tempo, but it has a certain menacing quality to it that can only be attributed to that certain Rolling Stones magic. Oh! Listen to that melody! Doesn't that ring as a pure unforgettable classic to you? Mick Jagger's vocal performance is laden with pure conviction. Charlie Watts' drum beat is simple but determined. Doesn't everyone like this song? No??... Well everybody should like this song. The world would be a better place if everyone was a hopelessly dedicated Rolling Stones fanboy like me. For example, I'd get to hear songs like this blaring out of other people's car windows than that Kayne West baloney I'm hearing all the time. ...I don't actually know it's Kayne West, but he's probably responsible for it. Plus, the lyrical subject matter is pretty dirty! I like dirty music!!

Yesterday's Papers A+

This is another real crackerjack tune from the boys. It's not quite as bold and dedicated as the previous one. In fact, this one has a distinct fruity flavor to it (specifically those falsetto back-up vocals... yeah... fruity!) Oh, but The Rolling Stones can do fruitiness with as much conviction as they could do those R&B covers, so bring on the fruitiness! Plus, they seem like they're at the peak of their songwriting powers. This melody is probably one of the least distinguishable ones of the album, and yet it's excellent. Yeah. I like this. (Keith? ... Oh! I see you! He surfaces in the middle with a rather subdued solo...)

Ruby Tuesday A+

Looking back on my reviews of The Stones' early albums, I did complain endlessly that The Rolling Stones couldn't pen a ballad to save their lives... Yeah, the reason I complained like that was because I knew that every single one of their ballads in this period of their careers would be incredibly great. Not only is the melody nice, but there's a very light flute riling up some of that fruity magic that made these late-'60s pop albums always such a delight to listen to. (Yeah, and this is a great flute... I can't express that enough. Other bands from the '60s would use the flute in a cheesy way such that it's almost unbearable to today's normal audiences. But this flute has a more windy tone to it, and it picks up on some really unique, rhythmic patterns. Not to mention the notes the flutes play are a gorgeous contrast with the vocal melody. Oh look at me dedicating half of this track review to the flute. WELL, I LIKE FLUTES!!!)

Connection A-

Fairly straightforward this time, but it's not necessarily worse off for that. It's also why I'm only giving it an A- as opposed to the higher ratings of its earlier brethren. It's a very nice song; the melody is catchy and it's performed tightly. But it doesn't go out and do anything much more than that. Well, there's one exception. I'd say the star of this show has to be Charlie Watts' whose weirdly muted drumming gives it an interesting texture.

She Smiled Sweetly B

Not exactly the great shakes this time. It's one of the least intrinsically enjoyable songs from the album. The melody is formidable, but it's just that. The instrumentation prominently features thick chords from an organ and a plain piano. The guitars are nowhere to be found! Somehow, it doesn't seem to flow together all that well. ...It's a decent song, but not one of the ones you'll probably remember.

Cool, Calm & Collected A-

They're taking a distinctly Kinks vibe with this enjoyable music-hall number. I believe this is the first time they ever attempted such a song, and I've got to commend them on it. It just goes to show that they were willing to not only attempt but succeed at a multiple genre of styles. Sure, nobody does this sort of song better than The Kinks, but The Stones have created a pleasantly bouncy melody, playful instrumentation and a funny bit at the end where they play it as fast as they could.

All Sold Out A

Count this one as one of the “normal” rock songs. When I say that lately, I think that means we can hear Keith's guitar a little bit! It sounds very gruff and dark. Even louder is Charlie Watts' drumming, which is pounding away mercilessly! The vocal melody is catchy also, which is an important thing in pop music as always. The playful back-up vocals were put to especially good use here! The mixing sounds utterly pristine... It's such a nice, crispy song...

My Obsession B+

Not terrible, but it takes a little bit of work to completely get into this. The vocal melody doesn't work in a usual pop-rock; it seems more like a dramatic idea than a real melody. I'm also not a huge fan of how often everything stops and were just left with Charlie's drumming. It was OK once or twice, but it happens about a dozen times here. What I like about this song, ultimately, is that texture. The ultra-gruff rhythm guitar pounding away with a spirited piano surfacing in a few pivotal spots.

Who's Been Sleeping Here? A

Yummy! They're taking some sort of Dylan influence here with the sort of undisciplined sounding instrumentation with a Dylan-style harmonica, and Jagger's apparently trying to rough up that singing style. The melody isn't very Dylan-esque, though, but it has a sort of Dylan feel. It's a great song, too. Some really excellent melodic hooks in this one, and I must say, Jagger's Dylan impression is surprisingly powerful and sincere.

Complicated A-

Geez, this is another excellent song! I have to say, though, that drumming pattern starts out too much like that thing I was getting tired of in “My Obsession!” (Am I too obsessed?) They're giving Charlie quite a showcase! Well, his loud drumming usually sounds awesome, and it does here too. Ah, that doesn't matter. The melody of this song is OK, but not extremely distinctive. In fact, I have to work a little bit to get myself to truly like it, which I don't have to do with the other songs.

Miss Amanda Jones A

This is something of a roots rocker! Yeah, you could say that this is exactly like their early R&B-aimed songs in their previous albums, but this is has a definite different feel to it, and the melody is also a little nicer. That really gruff tone they play gives it a nice texture while Keith (I assume) delivers a few nice stabs here and there. All in all, this is one of the more enjoyable toe-tapping rockers!

Something Happened To Me Yesterday A

Oh man! They're bringing out the bowl of fruit again! TAKE A BITE! This is a funny, upbeat number with traces of Americana. The horns, the tooting tuba and the bubbly acoustic guitar are all here along with a playful vocal performance from Jagger. Occasionally, someone whistles cheerily, and Keith Richards burps a few lyrics in the background. Seriously! Keith would make a good cartoon bullfrog voice! And it all ends with Jagger delivering a silly monologue as though he were hopped up on cotton candy.


Flowers (1967)

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Flowers

Ruby Tuesday A+

Oh man! This song was in the last Rolling Stones album I reviewed! I should be ticked off that the record company decided to rip us all off and make rock 'n' roll fans purchase a song twice. But I sorta wish every album had a song like this on it, so I'm not ticked. Once again, I really love this vocal melody, and that really freaking sweet recorder tooting around. Yeah. The recorder is sweet. (The advantage of having to review these songs twice is I can get the instruments right this time!)

Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow? A

Another great song! We've also seen this previously in the Rolling Stones discography, but that was a relatively crappy live version in Got Live if You Want It. Well, I want this freakedly awesome studio version, thank you very much! It's a highly spirited song, like a Rolling Stones song is supposed to be, that's characterized by this energetic horn section. Plus, they go nuts with those ultra-fuzzy guitars like you wouldn't believe (for the mid-'60s). The melody is fairly simple, but it's still catchy and I like it.

Let's Spend the Night Together A+

HEY! I also reviewed this song before! Why are they ripping us off, this much? But just like with “Ruby Tuesday,” I wish every album on the universe would have this song on it. Can't you just imagine how better Nevermind would have been if “Let's Spend the Night Together” would have popped up right after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” instead of whatever godawful thing came after that. Seriously.

Lady Jane A+

OK, are they just going to keep on giving us songs that I already reviewed before? ...Well, at least they're only repeating songs that are freaking fabulous! This one was one of the finest songs on Aftermath, and it's also one of the finest songs on Flowers. Is it the most captivating ballad on the planet earth? I don't know. Let me put it this way: It's the most captivating ballad on the planet earth while I'm listening to it playing.

Out of Time A-

...Wait a minute? What are these foreign sounds entering my ear canal. Why, this song wasn't on Aftermath, Between the Buttons or previously covered in that live album! THIS IS COMPLELETLY NEW! (Unless, of course, you're British in which case you've heard this on your version of Aftermath.) I can't be too sure why they decided to cut this out of the American version, because it's kind of awesome. Brian Jones snuck into the recording studio again, playing a groove with a xylophone. I can't say his groove is quite as addicting as it was on “Under My Thumb,” but that's hardly a crime. So, it's not as good as “Under My Thumb!” I can say that about almost every other song on the planet! The melody sounds a little old-fashioned '50s this time, but I really like the chorus. For some reason, the band sounds a little bit disconnected from each other. I'm not sure why... Maybe it was that clonky drumming. Hm. I still like it though.

My Girl A

STOP IT WITH THESE MOTOWN COVERS!!!!!!!!!!! ... Er, on second thought, I kinda like this. On third thought, I like this a lot. Forget that “Under the Boardwalk” happened; this is excellent! The instrumentation, first of all, is fantastic. The band plays a gentle groove, suiting the source material well, and they bring in some terribly well-arranged strings, flutes, and other instruments that my ill-trained ears probably can't pick out. Mick Jagger gives a straight-ahead vocal rendition with nice overdubs in the chorus. Lurvely!

Backstreet Girl A

This is beautiful! Holy crapoley! It's a French-inspired, acoustic-led ballad that rings a bit of The Beatles' Rubber Soul except for the lyrics, which revolve around male's domination over women. ...Well, I don't care about the lyrics anyway! What I care about is that the melody is gorgeous, and I like Brian Jones' beautiful accordion that he provides in the background.

Please Go Home A-

This is pretty dang good for a Bo Diddley clone! Brian Jones plays some wild, wobbly guitar crunches while a bending theremin rings throughout. Some echoey vocals and what sounds like locust sounds some in toward the ends of the lines. The song itself might not be that interesting, but these instrumental touches make it much more interesting than it had any right to be.

Mother's Little Helper A

I've got to love that sitar-sounding instrument they play! According to good ole Wikipedia that was just a guitar they altered somehow, but it's still pretty freaking awesome how they came out with that unusual sound! The song itself is another one of those excellent heavily rockin' songs that The Stones could always come out with so solidly. The melody is very catchy of course, and there's a lot of energy to it. It's another pure Stones classic that has this classic rock fanboy drooling over!

Take it Or Leave It B+

It might not be the greatest Rolling Stones song on the planet, but I believe I'll take it, thank you very much! The pacing is a little too sluggish for my taste. Yeah, it's a mid-tempo song so it's supposed to be paced like this, but it still doesn't have much drive to it. The atmosphere isn't great, either. Hm. The melody sounds like they were going for another Beatles thing, but not quite having that spark. Still, it's an excellent song!

Ride On, Baby A

This is another awesome song! So many of these songs previously appeared on the British versions of previous albums or were singles, but this was recorded in 1965 and didn't appear on anything until this point. Who the heck would have thought the Rolling Stones would have been sitting on such excellent material? Man! If I wrote something this good, I would want to get it out into the world as quickly as possible, but I guess they had so much good stuff that they could afford to just keep them in that vault. They bring out the harpsichord and the xylophone again for this, and put them to pretty good use. The harpsichord has a rough quality to it that I like. Perhaps it's a bit overplayed, but I like it anyway. The melody is very catchy, too. This is a good old passionate sort of song.

Sittin' on the Fence A-

This was also recorded in 1965 and never saw the light of day until this album. Well, I can sort of understand why they didn't release this right away, because it's kinduva folky song. Not that the Rolling Stones shouldn't try out folk music, but they were far better at bigger and better things! The vocal melody is OK, but what I'm paying attention to the most is that awesome lead guitar that's piddling around throughout. It's definitely playing a more interesting melody than the one that Mick Jagger is singing!


Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)

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Their Satanic Majesties Request

Sing This All Together A

Goofy, silly, melodic, and delightful from beginning to end. This is The Rolling Stones not acting so much like The Rolling Stones, but they could pretty much do anything and it shows. The cluttery instrumentation featuring an array of jangly things, barely organized percussion rhythms, and an overly intrusive horn section. It's weird and wonderful. The singing is comedic in a sense, with all the boys joining in the chorus in sort of cartoonish voices. (Alright... I found out later that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were singing in the chorus ... the latter probably contributing to the cartoony sound of it.) I know how this album gets a lot of flack for poor production standards... but maybe that's what helped make this so weird!

Citadel A

This is another messy psychedelic song, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the crap out of this one as well. At this point in their songwriting careers, The Stones were coming up with melodies like nothing else. That heavy guitar riff is big and weird just as everything else on this album is. Extra points for that funny electric organ noodling around.

In Another Land A-

Bill Wyman's one and only composition on a Rolling Stones album is a more convincing Syd Barrett impersonation than Roger Waters could ever do! He has that weirdly catchy melody down perfectly. Bill also decided to sing his lead vocals through a fan, or something, which makes it even more “psychedelic.” The upbeat chorus is a little more Stonesish, but it's a great chorus that's full of spirit.

2000 Man B+

This is by far the most 'normal' composition so far in this album, and maybe that's why I'm not enjoying it as much! I also don't find the melody to be quite as memorable as the others. The interesting thing about this song, I guess, is that it starts and ends with a Kinks-style folk rocker, but the middle is a completely unrelated rocker chorus in the middle! It sounds like they just melded two unfinished songs together! ... The Beatles did that once and it worked brilliantly. The Stones could only make it work sort of.

Sing This All Together (See What Happens) A-

See what happens, indeed! This is The Stones' all-out attempt at a clutterly psychedelic sound collage! Well... I can't say I live and breathe for this type of thing, but I will say this is more exciting than “Revolution No. 9” and more fun to listen to than most of the stuff I remember from Frank Zappa albums. What makes this the superior song is they had the good sense to intersperse connected musical themes throughout... That really helps me enjoy such a thing! The instrumentals are very fun as well... The percussion evolves throughout. Even Mick Jagger's monkey screams and monk chants aren't as stupid-sounding as they ought to have been. It unravels a bit at the end with an oddly disconnected, final rendition of “Sing This All Together.”

She's a Rainbow A+

I know I'm probably being a jerk by saying this, but “She's a Rainbow” is my favorite Rolling Stones song. ...It's a piano pop song that's far removed from their classic signature sound, which is why I'm a jerk from saying that. But I can't help it. I love it! The melody is beautiful, and the lyrics are funny in that mock-psychedelic way. The instrumentation is colorful featuring predominantly a piano playing at its highest registers, accompanied with some sweet strings. They finally bring out the guitars for the exciting chorus. Quite good! That just goes to show how much I prefer sweeter pop music to hard-blues music... but I think everyone has known that about me for quite some time.

The Lantern B+

This isn't very psychedelic ... it's more of an Americana-style tune of The Band ... but it's decent composition all the same with a memorable melody and solid instrumentation. Somehow, though, I have a harder time getting caught up in this. Maybe it needed to have more drive to it, or more emotion in the proceedings. The looser instrumentation standards of this album didn't seem to suit this song that well. I also think that the central melody line repeated about three times too many by the end.

Gomper B

Not bad, but not great either. This is another psychedelic jam tune in the same vein as “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)” except it's not as fun nor as interesting. For the most part they wallow around in the same tone for a bit too long, and they don't do much in terms of introducing interesting themes throughout or constantly changing around the rhythms as much. Watts keeps the same rhythm going while Jones aimlessly noodles around with his recorder and Nicky Hopkins plays complicated patterns with his organ. This is very one-off sounding. But again, it's not bad.

2000 Light Years From Home A+

Come to think of it, I believe these guys were more influenced by Pink Floyd than The Beatles! This is the second Pink Floyd like composition from the album... and it's verrrrrry good I might add. The melody is so solid and memorable that it might as well be placed right alongside their finest songs ever written, and I really like listening to Brian Jones' noodly Mellotron throughout making the thing sound even more spacey. The drumbeat and catchy bassline throughout helps make it more accessible thank Pink Floyd, so maybe this is more up everyone's alley as far as cosmic-rock from the '60s goes.

On With the Show B

This cluttery '20s styled song is the most Beatles-like composition on the album! And listening to this, you wouldn't very much expect The Beatles to come up with anything this disheveled. The melody is OK, but it's not great. Mick sings the lyrics in a foofy British way through a megaphone. The unorganized instrumentation is fun, but this really lacks the underlying foundation that graced songs such as “Sing This All Together” and “2000 Light Years From Home.” Of course, it's still creative and I like listening to it!


Beggars Banquet (1968)

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Beggar's Banquet

Sympathy For the Devil A+

It's hard to even know what to write about this. Is there anybody in the world left who hasn't already formed an opinion of this song? ... I know I have! In case you don't know already, this song starts with a complicated, almost tribal use of bongo drums. A busy bass-line also helps provide some of its textures. Mick Jagger comes in with a passionate vocal performance, delivering interesting lyrics. Pretty soon, they start repeating “woo-ooo” over and over the background, which turned out to be the signature of this song! Three minutes into it, Keith Richards shows us why he's Keith Richards and delivers some incredibly amazing, stifled-sounding guitar licks. The most amazing thing about this song is it goes past six minutes and basically just repeats the same thing over and over... but it had such an amazing, flowing build-up and develops enough inertia that I never grow tired of it.

No Expectations A-

And they follow that up with a slow blues song. It's not a bad one, either. The melody is good but not the greatest, so I guess the star of this show is just listening to Jagger's voice, and Brian Jones' incredible acoustic sliding guitar. There's really quite a lot of desperation in that guitar, if you're into analyzing instrumental performances! The lyrics, about loneliness and desperation, are quite moving. Very good!

Dear Doctor A

I've used the phrase “I don't usually like country music, but I like this!” so often that I probably don't hate country music anymore. And indeed, I've only recently decided that the only country music I hate is that crap you'll find on the country radio. This old stuff is great. Mick Jagger sings like a ripe old country bumpkin, even talking with a funny falsetto voice part of the time. For the instrumentation, we get a laid-back conglomeration of acoustic guitars, piano and a sweet old harmonica.

Parachute Woman A-

This is sort of a murky old blues song! Of course, I'm still used to hearing The Stones do this sort of stuff in their olden days before that blessed event they decided to turn into a psychedelic band. But they seemed to have reemerged back into blues territory stronger than ever. The murky sound of the song was undoubtedly purposeful, helping make it sound wind-whipped, exactly how a song must sound. The good thing about The Stones going back to blues, obviously, is Keith Richards, who was doing a lot of practicing, evidently! His licks are wicked. The menacingly determined rhythm contains all the sexual energy depicted in the lyrics.

Jigsaw Puzzle A+

Inspired by Bob Dylan! It sounds very much like one of Dylan's rock 'n' roll hits, and it's just about as good. The lyrics are thoughtful, poetic and fun to listen to. The instrumentation also rings of Dylan, a determined array of sloppy lead instrumentals provide a complex, watery texture while the rhythms surely trudge along. Not original, I suppose, but they mastered this style without a doubt. The six-minute running length is hardly a problem---even though these sorts of songs are ultra-repetitive, they create a flow that mustn't be interrupted. This could have gone on for 20 more minutes, and I would have only mildly been pissed off.

Street Fighting Man A+

Still my favorite song of the album. That riff is so legendary that there are plenty of factoids and myths floating around on the Internet about it, and I don't know which of them is true. So, I'll I'm going to tell you about it is what I can tell from listening to it. It's a weird riff! It's tight and complex, but the sound is very murky. It has an incredibly gritty, raised sense of urgency about it, one that makes it just about the perfect song about a “street fighting man,” if there ever was one. Brian Jones reminds us that he's still in the band by bringing in a sitar for the chorus. An unnecessary but brilliant idea. It adds another murky sort of dimension to it, and has hardly the 'mindblowing' feel that it would have on a psychedelic outing. That running length of three minutes seems short! But I can just play it again very easily! This is a massive classic.

Prodigal Son A-

Back to doing a cover after all these albums filled to the brim with original material?? Oh... this is a different sort of cover. This is a cover because they wanted to do a cover, not because they had to. And anyway, didn't these guys used to the best rock 'n' roll covers band of all time, or something like that? Yeah! This is a leathery old blues song with Jagger somehow sounding like he was 50 years old and spent half his life sitting on a porch. The acoustic guitars are loud and busy. A harmonica can be barely heard in the background... Why wasn't that brought louder in the mix? ...Eh, I don't know...

Stray Cat Blues A

ENERGY! That's the key word of this song, and pretty much every Rolling Stones song that isn't a ballad. It's not even that fast-paced, but it's dribbling to the brim. It's not a very fast paced song, but they created a thick, rhythmic engine that could easily haul eight tons of coal (and those are long tons). It doesn't have a riff or anything as Rolling Stonesish as that... This is just pure, rustic rock 'n' roll that they could play to a slightly polite nightclub audience. The rhythm section is steady, while the lead guitars noodle around with class but don't forget to sound world-worn. The melody isn't great, but this is one instance when I don't really pay attention to the melody. The thick, noodly electric guitars are the star of this show.

Factory Girl A-

Bring me more of that country music! (See... I still feel uncomfortable enjoying a country song...) This is nothing but a simple country song, except they bring in some bongos and a mandolin, which I assume isn't too normal for a country song. Mick sings a predictable country-bumpkin melody in a good country-bumpkin sort of way. The fiddle plays some laid-back lines throughout. Quite good, quite good.

Salt of the Earth A-

A brilliant sort of anthemic song! They would do this a lot better in their next two studio albums, I think, but this is right up there with the classics. Keith sings the opening lead vocals, and he sounds like his lungs were deflating or something. ...Yeesh... But everything else about the song is good. The melody has big hooks. The instrumentation is quite good. I can get easily caught up in that big chorus at the end, although it doesn't quite pick up all the awesome power that it probably wanted to. ...But as I said, they would do this a lot better in subsequent albums.


Let it Bleed (1969)

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Let it Bleed

Gimme Shelter A+

Can you believe it that there are actually people-forms out there who don't consider The Rolling Stones a great band? Let me tell you right now, these people are either demented or trying to get laid. They create quite a tight and pleasant guitar groove here, with some good-time piano jangling along confidently, and Mick's lead vocals sound as keyed-up as they could possibly be! But he gets a little help from a gospel singer whose tremendous chops soar as much as it possibly could. That weirdly buzzy, echoey harmonica-sound that slices in the mix on occasion gives it some extra street-smarts. This is a massive classic.

Love in Vain A+

Country music? No problem. This is an old blues cover from 1937 that they, as I understand, countrified it. Well, it's heartfelt and absolutely gorgeous. They're as wholly convincing at doing these slow songs as they are with the upbeat riff rockers that they're more famous for. Keith comes out with some amazing sliding guitar licks, and that acoustic guitar playing its bluesy lines is as attitude-ridden as the slide guitar. The mandolin popping in for the instrumental interlude is as beautiful as the vocal melody, which is surprisingly fresh-sounding for an old blues song. This is the stuff of legend, my friends.

Country Honk A

My earliest memories of this album was putting it on for the first time in my car stereo in early 2002 while I was driving around on a crowded highway. There's a little sound effect here of a car honking, and I thought the guy next to me was actually honking at me, and so I gave him a peeved look! (He didn't see me, though.) This is more of a pure country song, and it's utterly splendid! Jagger finds a nice country-bumpkin twang in his vocals, and he's quite a lot of fun to listen to. But the real star of this show has to be that fiddle noodling around throughout. That's some glorious stuff!

Live With Me A

Have you been missing the pure rock 'n' rolla with not a trace of blues or country to spoil the mood? No prob, bob, they've got it right here. This song starts out with a plain and dancey bass riff. That there is Mick Taylor auditioning for the job! I think it's clear why he eventually got the job; that bass-line positively rules. The rest of the song rules, too, with Mick's smarmy rendition of the raunchy lyrics being just the ticket, and that saxophonist they import to groove around through most of this song was just the ticket. This is a perfect song to dance to, and so it's no surprise they play this in concert a lot.

Let it Bleed A+

This song is so classic that it dribbles the word “classic” with every single note. I mean, of all the Rolling Stones songs that exist on the planet, this is in the cream of the crop. I don't even know how to begin explaining why this song is such musical heaven. That fun acoustic guitar strums along without a care in the world, and that good-natured saloon-style piano plays around magnificently. Mick delivers an extremely catchy tune filled with all the sexual metaphors that he can think of, and couldn't possibly sound more awesome doing it. And then there's some really hilarious slide guitar noodling around minimally throughout. I can't forget Charlie Watt's drumming, who comes out with some subtly complicated fills! These instrumentals work beautifully together like clockwork, and yet they don't always play the same freaking pattern completely throughout! This is pretty much as good as it gets.

Midnight Rambler A+

Did I say that “Let it Bleed” was as good as it got? I change my mind. “Midnight Rambler” is as good as it gets! (Can you tell how much of a hopeless Rolling Stones fanboy I am?) This is another incredibly well-oiled machine, and this has as much bluesy *attitude* at it could possibly have. Mick comes in with a nice vocal melody, of course, while its rhythm chugs along like a steam powered locomotive. In the middle, the song resorts to a strange sort of jam session, as these guys slowly start rev up the tempo! But then, before they grow too complacent, the steam powered locomotive comes to a gradual stop, and Keith starts piddling around with his guitar very minimally, delivering just the right tones for the quiet moment. Mick eventually re-remembers the melody, and he helps lead the song from its quietness to it's big finale. Quite an interesting, and beautifully played song! These guys were clearly too awesome for their own good.

You Got the Silver A

Do you know how unflappably unstoppable these guys were? Even this song is great, and it's Keith Richards singing the lead vocals. I remember him sounding like complete crap the last time he attempted such a feat, but here he sounds like a man of the world. He's nothing like that flagrant fancy boy who usually sings these songs even though the might not have his range and enthusiasm. But he sounds more like a normal person who's singing the blues. It starts out very minimally with Keith's lead guitar being so bluesy that you can feel it. I also like how that strange, echoey guitar comes in at a few times! Eventually the organ pops up, slowly adding to the texture. Charlie Watts then felt left out, so he starts playing his drums to turn it into more of an upbeat rocker. This development is great! I mean, if you want to know how to write a straight blues song and keep it from growing boring, this is the way to do it.

Monkey Man A+

This straight rock ditty wasn't a big hit for The Stones as far as I'm aware, but that's only because this album hadn't any more room for big hits. Really, I don't see why every single one of these songs couldn't have dominated the tops of the charts at one time. (How many albums in the world do I say that about.) The piano that opens the song is brilliant. It's a little frightening. Then Keith comes in lightly with a guitar groove. Then Charlie, feeling a little left out again, comes in at the perfect time with his drums. Don't you just adore how well these songs are developed? I'm sorry if I'm coming off as a drooling fanboy, but I would be lying to you!!! Keith's riff is as catchy as any of his riffs (except, of course, it's more subdued than you'd probably expect). I even like that flashy way Mick is singing, practically barking at the end. If this isn't considered one of The Stones' ultimate classics, then it really should be.

You Can't Always Get What You Want A+

I'd say this epic track was the most recognizable song here, and that's for good reason, because it is just *that* awesome. It's also the sort of song that I'm sure everybody in the world has already made up their minds about and they hardly need *me* to express my opinion of it. And, besides, you probably already know what I'm about to say: I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. The use of the choir was a good touch, helping make it sound so epic that it slaps you in the face making you *know* why this song is always considered such a classic. Sure, the song would have worked awesomely without the children's choir, but that was icing on this cake. Keith comes in at the beginning with some thoughtful acoustic strumming and a French horn plays some oddly touching notes. Mick eventually starts singing strange lyrics with a pretty melody. Charlie Watts must've been out to lunch that afternoon, because a chap by the name of Jimmy Miller plays the complicated, exciting groove. Oh man... What else should I say about this song? I wrote a massive paragraph already. You love this song, too, don't you? It's nearly seven and a half minutes long, and it's great from beginning to end.


Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out (1970)

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Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out

Jumpin' Jack Flash A

It takes awhile to build up. There's some squeaky speaker noise, and about four or five announcers overdubbed onto each other announce THE ROLLING STONES onto a crowd of their screaming fans! Mick also apologizes a few times and asks everyone if they're ready. YEAH!!! I'M READY. Needless to say, that screaming sea of people before them is excited. Who wouldn't be excited? Particularly when they start to play this incredible song that they wrote! Thank goodness for us who are listening to this album at home, we don't hear the screaming crowd as soon as the song starts up. The sounds are as clear as can be, although perhaps we don't hear Mick's voice loudly enough. Anyway, this is a stark difference than their first live album, Got Live If You Want It. ...What a well-oiled machine that they are! Seriously, they got this rock 'n' roll stuff down so packed that they play this like a perfect piece of machinery. Nobody is out of turn. No 10-minute drum solos, no jams, no nothing! They play this most incredible riff with intense perfection. Mick is either off the drugs, or had already figured out how to sing well with them in his system. It sounds a little bit different than the original. Actually, I'd say it sounded more refined. I really don't prefer this to the original for that reason... But it is different and still amazing to hear these new textures they come up with. I also like the end where Mick talks about his “trousers.” Trousers is a very funny word, you know.

Carol A-

I think what surprises everyone about their Chuck Berry cover is how goshdurn slow they play it. It's even slower than the original version, which of course is a huge surprise since you'd expect The Stones to speed it up if anything. But that only goes to showcase their new locomotive abilities to their instrumental playing! I do wish that I could hear Mick sing a little more loudly, but I guess it's these almost hypnotically chugging rhythm guitars that we're supposed to be listening to!

Stray Cat Blues B+

I don't get quite the same high that I got from the original version. I have to try to force myself to like it, and that's not a good sign. At least at this point of my relationship with this album. (Who knows... I may revisit this in a few years and finally *get* what I'm supposed to be hearing in this.) The guitars are excellent, of course, the merits of which automatically deserves a B+. It's hard to explain what's so appealing about them. They're not particularly energetic; they're just beautiful.

Love in Vain A

It is once again Keith who is the star of this show, noodling along with this bluesy ballad the ways he knew best. And what can I tell you that hasn't been repeated by so many rock 'n' roll fans on this planet that you haven't already heard? I can't tell you a thing. This guy was a rock god. All you have to do is listen to his beautiful noodling all throughout this song. It's very mellow and contemplative, too... That's what a rock god ought to be able to do, you know. They shouldn't just be able to play scales very fast. You know what I mean, right?

Midnight Rambler A

This is another great live rendition of an already great song, but I can't shake the feeling that it's not even close to what the studio version was. But can I really blame them for not being able to reproduce the lightning they bottled in the recording studio? No freaking way! Besides, they still manage to bring in their well-oiled guitars in great form here, chugging away like nobody's business. They have a particularly good reason to do that here, since the original sounded so much like a steam train! It's for that reason, I'd say, this was the perfect choice as the centerpiece of the album.

Sympathy For the Devil A

Aw, we can hear a girl at the beginning of this pleading with The Stones to play “Paint it, Black,” but I guess their old '60s pop music era was too much of a bygone era! Eh, well, “Sympathy For the Devil” is probably a better song anyway! Me, being a sucker for unusual song arrangements do miss those bongo drums and those “ooo-ooo” calls. But, wow, Charlie Watts is certainly upping up the danceableness of the song through a more complicated drum rhythm. Bill Wyman on bass guitar, of course, plays a powerful riff, and Keith plays probably his flashiest guitar solo. Well... this song is always a blast, of course.

Live With Me B+

This wasn't the best song on Let it Bleed, but as I mentioned in that album review, this is a great song to dance to hence its suitability for the concert setting. I'm not sure why, but I'm not wholly loving the experience of listening to this. It seems like it should have been more powerful. Maybe it's just not mixed that well. Or, maybe it's just the fact that I'm not there in the audience watching them perform it. Yeah, that's probably it.

Little Queenie B

Here's another Chuck Berry cover that's very slow. Unfortunately, I don't get much of a high from this at all. I mean, I can sit through it appreciatively. The guitars, naturally, are the stars of the show and they chug along wonderfully. I don't have much to say about the guitars other than to say guitar fans won't be disappointed with some of their interesting twists on the Chuck Berry cliches they come up with. The piano playing slow Jerry-Lee-Lewis-isms is good, although it somehow doesn't seem to fit in such a slow rendition.

Honky Tonk Woman A

A wonderful rendition! It starts up so slowly that I'm almost bored with it, but it eventually picks up so much steam that it's almost a good 'party time' song by the end. It helps that several of the band members help Mick a bit with the singing... It's my sincere opinion that Rolling Stones concerts could do with more party time music! I mean, isn't that what rock 'n' roll was all about? One endless party?

Street Fighting Man A

This is a great Rolling Stones song, and as I mentioned in my original review, that riff was so masterful and complicated that there's absolutely no way that they could have repeated that on the stage setting. Rather, they seem to have gone more of a sloppy-rock route with this, which is probably the best thing they could have done. Naturally, that beautiful and catchy vocal melody is completely intact! And... Jeez, these guys could really work up a storm with those electric guitar solos. Yummmmm...


Sticky Fingers (1971)

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Sticky Fingers

Brown Sugar A+

This seedy, dirty song is a great masterpiece of rock 'n' roll, duerrrr. The lyrics, you'll probably note, is by far the dirtiest, most vile thing these guys have ever written about. Believe me, if your parents ever banned you from listening to The Rolling Stones, they were pretty much justified! They're very politically incorrect, too, so Tipper Gore fans might want to avert their ears. Anyway, this song without a doubt features one of The Stones mega-classic riffs. It's catchy and packs quite a wallop. And, what do you know, it's infectiously danceable, too!

Sway A

Gosh, here's another excellent song. This hard blues song is not particularly fun or danceable or anything, but it's massively catchy and there's some really fantastic guitar in it, particularly toward the end. That's Mick Taylor playing, not Keith. Once again, they prove they made a great decision to bring in Taylor. Mick Jagger delivers one of his more passionate vocal performances here; it's very gritty and captivating. Watts' drum fills are pretty interesting as well. Cool song!

Wild Horses A+

Sometimes general people forget that The Stones had the capacity to write gorgeous ballads, too! Not only is this one of the finest country ballads that they've ever written, but one of the finest ballads that anybody has ever written. There's no doubt about that. The melody is sweet and beautiful, and Jagger gives it one of his more heartfelt vocal performances. The lyrics are very sad, and they create an appropriately gloomy atmosphere in the instrumentation. The acoustic guitars were just the right texture, and some lovely slide guitar.

Can't You Hear Me Knocking A

Yikes! This is a seven minute jam-song, and it still rules. Jam-tunes aren't always my cuppa tea, but when they can rock out this hard, *then* they are. The first half features a very raunchy and growling lead performance from Jagger (with lyrics to match), and a terribly good hard-rock riff. The vocal melodies are catchy, and the guitar RULES. By about the three minute mark, it wanders away into that extended jam. It's a rather pleasant and laid-back jam, too, featuring a cool saxophone solo.

You Gotta Move A-

A good slow-paced blues song, but this in my opinion is why Sticky Fingers can not possibly be better than Let it Bleed. This is too much of a lull. After coming off the last song, I'm feeling rather lackadaisical toward this. It's an intentionally sloppy song, and Jagger sounds like some old guy sitting on a porch. It's a good song, and I like how it sounds, but I don't find it to be as captivating as “You Got the Silver.” I guess that's just a minor personal preference!

Bitch A+

Holy mother of Bob. I listen to this song and immediately think that nothing could be more awesome than this. I never understood the phrase “rock your socks off,” because I've listened to plenty of rock music in my day, and I can't claim there has one single moment when one has rocked so hard that it incited wind to come out of the ends of my toes hard enough to blow the socks off my feet. But I feel that I should remove my socks right now in tribute to listening to this song, because this is about as close a rock song ever gets to actually rocking my socks off. (I'm going to have to remember to listen to this song again this summer when my floor isn't so icy cold.) This is actually more or less a straightforward dance song. The guitars play a really tight and wicked riff that's as catchy as any riff these guys ever produce. Bringing in that swinging horn section mid way through helps make it even more fun to listen to. Icing on the cake, Mick is singing like a real badass here. BAD-ASS. I have an aversion to using profanity, but sometimes people deserve it.

I Got the Blues A-

Here's another reason where I continue to insist this album ain't as good as Let it Bleed. It's a slow blues song, as you might have guessed, and I just don't find it instantly captivating. I might be too spoiled here to appreciate them properly, but how could they have made a four minute song without a guitar solo that interests me? C'mon guitars: INTEREST ME!!! ...Ah, they're still good. They're more minimalist here, and I'll like 'em if I force myself. The noodly electric organ gives a pretty soulful solo in the middle, although ... I can't help shake the the feeling that it's a bit ... um ... forced? The real saving grace with this song is Jagger's truly passionate vocals. Man, this guy was on fire in that studio...

Sister Morphine A

A terribly spooky and depressing song about DRUGS! Drugs are bad, especially when you're addicted to morphine. I don't actually have firsthand knowledge of that, but I saw it on an episode of M*A*S*H, so... there you go. This song has a weirdly effective concept in those regards, pretty convincingly tracking thoughts that run through a drug addict's mind. That wobbly guitar stabbing throughout is really fantastically done. That detached piano that noodles around toward the end lends loads to creating a very druggy atmosphere.

Dead Flowers A

Have I ever told you that I have a natural aversion to country-western music? ... Well, I don't anymore. The Stones cured me of that. This country song is a beautiful one with a catchy melody, nice twangy guitar solos, slide guitar, pleasant lightweight piano in the background. The lyrics are very clever (and they're not about a dead dog, which I hear is what popular country-western songs are about these days). This is pleasant as all hell.

Moonlight Mile A

Another great Rolling Stones ballad. It's pretty severely trumped by “Wild Horses,” but pretty much any ballad is going to be trumped when placed next to that baby. This doesn't quite have the captivating melody nor atmosphere. But it's still pretty dang captivating and melodic! It's structured a little strangely, particularly at a point in the chorus where the harmonies seem weirdly Oriental. ...OK, according to Wikipedia an early incarnation of this was titled “Japanese Thing.” I guess those strings should have given it away, sounding right out of a movie soundtrack of some Japanese movie. So there you go! Great song!


Exile on Main St. (1972)

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Exile on Main St.

Rocks Off A

They begin the album with a powerful, upbeat rocker, which is the utter requirement for the start of a Rolling Stones album! It gets the album off on the right foot, and you can't deny it. Although I think it's fairly obvious these guys weren't even attempting to create something as solid and effective as any of their previous classics. This is a terribly sloppy song with rougher sounding instrumentals. The guitarists are just concerned about rocking out, and not so much challenging our brains with interesting textures or solos. The mixing is so rough that we almost can't even hear him (and he does this really strange whisper thing midway through). This all might be a disappointment considering how much I liked their old polished songs... But who cares? This is a rip-roaring song if there ever was one. The horn section keeps it upbeat and exciting! The only thing questionable about this is that weird bit in the middle where Mick starts sounding like someone's strangling him.

Rip This Joint A

Some good time rock 'n' roll! This is strongly reminiscent of The Stones' earlier days, except they sound cockier than ever. But who's better at sounding cocky than The Rolling Stones? Once again, the mix is so rough that we don't hear Jagger's lyrics so well... although that doesn't really matter, because he's singing it so boisterously that it's not likely we would have understood them anyway. It's funny how I can more readily make out those piano patterns over the guitar!

Shake Your Hips A-

This is a Slim Harpo cover, a riff that you might recognize from ZZ Top's “La Grange.” Naturally, this riff is classic, and they use it as sloppily as they possibly could! The concentration here is more on the guitars, and it's very fun to hear these guys have a sort of staring contest with each other while they were playing these geetars.

Casino Boogie B

This one doesn't really catch fire for me. It's not a bad song, but I think this is the ultimate proof that The Stones weren't quite at their best at this point. Their earlier songs were much more flammable than this. It's not a bad song of course, but the melody is only so-so, the attitude less convincing, and the overall atmosphere shrug-worthy.

Tumbling Dice A+

This is much more worthy of The Stones' reputation and in fact one of my all-time Rolling Stones favorites. The catchy riff catches fire within five seconds! The overall structure, again, is much more anarchic than the standards they presented us on Let it Bleed, but that doesn't mean this song can't be completely awesome! That's all I needs to say 'bout deez.

Sweet Virginia A

Once again, The Stones prove that they can definitely give country western music the treatment it deserves. This is nothing more than a good-time old country western song. It's nothing particularly unique, and the melody is pretty generic, but it's played solidly and it's fun to hear... particularly by the end when all the band members join in for a chorus of sorts! Whoever is playing that saxophone is pretty much my hero.

Torn and Frayed A

Another country-western song that proves that The Stones were pretty great at the genre. (I should reiterate that I have an intense hatred for what people call mainstream country-western music... So, I guess you can take my thoughts on the Stones' treatment of the genre with a grain of salt. In fact, you'd be pretty well advised to take everything I say with a grain of salt! I'm craaaaaaaaaaaazy!) Very sloppy? No matter. It has a pretty melody, and it's great fun to listen to. Need nuthin' more tuh say...

Sweet Black Angel B+

Good, but not great. It comes off as a neutral ballad... Something perhaps meant to fill up space, but it's not terribly memorable or moving. The melody is OK, but it doesn't stick out at me, and it's very repetitive. The acoustic guitar textures are done well, though, with the more delicate percussion rhythms.

Loving Cup B

They're back to rock 'n' roll, but this isn't as sssssssassssssssy as some of these other songs. It doesn't have that extra kick to it, and the melody is strictly so-so. The instrumentals don't provide anything spectacular, either, and Mick's singing is run-of-the-mill. The horns are cool, though, particularly that repetitive thing they pick up at the end.

Happy A-

The riff is pretty good, but I do wish they would have worked on developing this some more. For the most part, this is only a good-time old riff-rock song that repeats a little bit until a fade-out. Granted, if I'm going to listen to anyone do this type of song, then it should be The Rolling Stones 'cos nobody does it better!

Turd on the Run A-

I've often wondered if this was some sort of pun of “Band on the Run,” but I guess this song predates that one. Any-dang-way, this is an entertaining, fast-paced blues rocker. It's very rough and raunchy. Maybe it could have kicked up a mightier storm with a heavier rhythm section, but the atmosphere provided by the messy guitars and wailing harmonica is engaging enough.

Ventilator Blues A+

Brilliantly done. Another terrific blues-rocker that The Stones should look upon with pride. The riff is catchy and wonderfully played with the unstructured guitars and pianos giving us a nice texture... I almost wish I could make out Mick's vocals more clearly, but that's just an afterthought, I guess.

I Just Want to See His Face B-

Unfortunately not every idea they had was a particularly interesting one. I guess this is what ultimately separates Exile on Main St. from The White Album! This song consists mainly of a subdued and rather uninvolved groove and Mick babbling on about whatever. The texture is pretty good I guess, but they really should have come up with a good riff or something... hmm...

Let it Loose B+

Disappointing, since I assume this was meant as a “Wild Horses”-like ballad. It has a decent melody, and it picks up quite a lot of steam by the end, but in the end it could have been more memorable. I haven't been complaining as much about this as I did in my original review of this, but I'll bring up again that the mixing isn't done that well here... This seems more muddled than it ought to be. Once again, Mick's vocals are completely obscured... and those female back-up singers are having problems. They sound squeaky and silly at times...

All Down the Line A-

Indeed, I think it's fair to say that The Stones were at their best with ROCK 'N' ROLL at this point, since that sort of music benefits from sloppy production and more anarchic arrangements. Mick's singing with a lot of gruff as though he's on top of the world (or at least he thinks he's on top of the world). This song is a good old time!

Stop Breaking Down A

And the Stones were at their ultimate HEIGHTS when they write these convincingly gruff and rowdy R&B riffs. That's another one of their strongest points here, and they can make this song ROCK your grandma. Really, this is something your grandma is going to want to rock out to!

Shine a Light A

A really fantastic gospel number with a terribly rollicking conclusion and a memorable melody. I also think that Mick's voice sounds pretty decently over the instrumentals for once! The gospel backing choir sounds terrific and they come at just the right spots. The piano is terribly good, and I gotta dig Mick Taylor's guitar solo work. This is pure awesomeness.

Soul Survivor A-

This is a messy and fun way to close the album, which I guess is appropriate since that's how this entire thing sounded. It's not terribly memorable although it has a pretty good riff. There's certain aspects of the melody that I like, and Mick gives an appropriately rough vocal performance. Well done...


Goats Head Soup (1973)

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Goats Head Soup

Dancing With Mr. D A-

Dancing with Mr. DeYoung? (Oh no, reviewing solo-Styx albums have scarred me for life.) I know that this song is supposed to be a major piece of crap that tarnished the Stones' once-unbreakable public image, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't having terrible fun listening to it. Sure, it's the weakest opener of a Stones album since... um... Rolling Stones Now I guess, but remember that The Rolling Stones can still be very much listenable and fun writing and recording substandard material. The riff, for a start, is fun and catchy, and Mick Jagger's vocal performance full of funny intonations is weirdly engaging. It has a good beat that you can dance to, and I can actually remember it quite well if I haven't listened to this album in awhile. This is a good song, and I don't think that should be a controversial opinion!!! (OK, I must be feeling cocky like The Rolling Stones if I think that I'm actually capable of doing something controversial.)

100 Years Ago A+

100 years ago, Mick Jagger was born! ...... OK, that wasn't funny. And it's not true. ...Well it will be true eventually, but not for a few more years. ...Hey, I really like this song. It definitely holds its own if you put it alongside anything on Sticky Fingers. The melody is catchy and engaging, and the instrumentation is certainly as solid and well-done as The Rolling Stones were always able to do things. The funky lead guitar is rip-roaring and fun to hear. I guess I might nit-pick about that sudden transition into a country-western ditty mid-way through... but I also sort of like it, and the song gets really fun as it gradually veers in funk-jam territory in its final minute. This is ultimate proof that Goats Head Soup isn't as terrible as people sometimes say it is.

Coming Down Again B

An altogether decent ballad, I think, but it isn't without its problems. In general I think they did the ballads in Goats Head Soup better than they did them in Exile in Main St. and that's partly because these songs are produced a whole lot better. I also think the melodies are slightly better, although this one's way too simplistic for its own good. I will also say that it seems to be missing a little bit of umph in the vocal department; these guys seemed awfully tired singing this. The wah-wah guitar tones are cool, but they also could have been given a hearty dose of shock therapy. For my final and by far most damning complaint: there wasn't a compelling reason to extend this for SIX minutes considering they just repeat the same old melody again and again. Although they save it slightly in the final third with a weird, echoey sax duet.

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) A-

This song is a lot of doo doo! ... Actually, it's a pretty enjoyable funk-rocker. The lead guitarist does those rubbery, wah-wah textures very convincingly, and they bring in an appropriately funky horn section mid-way through to hopefully help us get our booties wiggling. Needless to say, this isn't as challenging or as well-written as the stuff from their classic albums, but I think this is still well-done and terribly fun to listen to.

Angie A+

Probably the most famous song on here, and it also happens to be one of The Stones' finest ballads, which says a lot since they are also responsible for “Wild Horses.” The melody is as sweet and catchy as it could possibly, and the acoustic guitars and the tender piano was just the ticket. Mick Jagger forgets, for one blessed moment, that he was too high on drugs to function properly, and he actually turns in a rather sweet vocal performance. This is a beautiful song! The bittersweet lyrics also help make this a terribly engaging experience.

Silver Train A-

Since you're immediately supposed to recall “Midnight Rambler” when you hear this song (or maybe that's just me), this song can really seem damagingly weak in comparison. But for the life of me, I find this bar-rocker a terribly fun experience. It's missing things like a great melody and general inventiveness, but they find their rock 'n' roll groove with this and play it with all their hearts. The guitars sound great, and so does the piano. And, icing on the cake, are the occasional harmonica toots that sounds like a train whistling! ...OK, the harmonica is simpler than it was on “Midnight Rambler,” but so what?

Hide Your Love C+

Yikes, this is back to Exile in Main St.'s level of production where the instrumentals very unfortunately overwhelm Mick Jagger's singing voice. Unfortunately, the instrumentals aren't playing anything particularly interesting to warrant such treatment. This is a very standard R&B song, and the instrumentals sound very clunky. This is definitely not worthy of The Stones' good reputation. This is weak, weak, weak.

Winter A

Another great old Rolling Stones ballad for the ages! It's not as good as Angie, but it's definitely its worthy little sister. Once again, these guys prove to be masters of melodic hooks, giving us a vocal melody that's very sweet and memorable. The lead guitaring (god, I can't tell who that is playing, I'm sorry) is terrific and melodic. Who can honestly tell me this Rolling Stones album ain't up-to-snuff?

Can You Hear the Music? B+

This has been said to have been a sort of voodoo, mystical album, I guess, because they did the recording in Jamaica. I didn't really get that distinct impression from the music in this album until now, this weirdly atmospheric song featuring mystical jangly things, flutes fluttering around, and good times with a the typical guitars and rhythms. It's not a bad song, but I can't say it's completely up to the Stones' high standards. The chorus is OK and I have fun with the atmosphere, but it seems like I should have been able to get more caught up in it.

Star Star A

They revisit Chuck Berry with those distinct Berryisms that open this song, and that progresses to a very fun bit of boogie-woogie. The lyrics are highly profane, though, being one of the dirtiest songs they've released so far. And it's not even hilarious in a politically incorrect sense as “Brown Sugar” ... Oh well. It's a good song, anyway. It's catchy, and you can dance to it. That's all I've ever really wanted, you know.


It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (1974)

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It's Only Rock 'n' Roll

If You Can't Rock Me B+

I'd imagine this big riff-centered song was done in direct response to all the fans who expressed their displeasure over the way Goats Head Soup started. This is without a doubt a riff-rock song that The Rolling Stones were complete masters at, and it's quite a good one too. The riff is OK, though not nearly as intrinsically memorable as the great riffs of their past. The song as a whole makes a pretty good listen, though it somehow seems way too stiff-necked for its own good. I can't help shake the notion that they were just going through the motions with this one.

Ain't Too Proud to Beg B+

I'm pretty sure I remember this song from a commercial somewhere... It's also a Temptations cover, and this song has a pretty dang potent hook at its core! The instrumentation is a bit unfortunate here. They don't seem to be playing very well together, particularly that drum rhythm that makes it sound canned and tinny and that guitar solo seems weirdly tossed off. ...Yeesh, rest assured, these guys are still really fun to listen to, but I don't remember them sounding so out-of-it like this.

It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It) A

Without a doubt, this is a definite Rolling Stones and it's one of their signature tunes. They might not have been as universally great as they were in the recent past, but they could still pull out a new stadium concert standard if they wanted to. Keith Richards, the master of the riff, pulls out another memorable one here, and the guitar crunches throughout sound excellent, and the lead guitar noodling around in the foreground is yet another reminder that these guys are immortal gods! Overall, this is a very accurate and unpretentious song title!

Till the Next Goodbye A-

Oh wow, they're still writing excellent ballads! OK, it's not as good as “Wild Horses” or even “Winter,” but it's a good one with a sweet melody and nicely done instrumentation. Though I will say that this band still doesn't seem to be trying as hard... I have the feeling that someone would have thought to up the melancholic atmosphere and bring in some sweet slide guitar firmly in the background if this were released in the Let it Be days. It could have been better, but ya know, I can say that about a lot of things! It's a good ballad. That's it.

Time Waits For No One A-

This seems like it wasn't a stone's throw away from being a great Rolling Stones jam-oriented song, but it just came short. This laid-back mid-tempo song has an interesting riff delivered by a rather twinkly sounding guitar and a thoroughly immersing atmosphere with its very pleasingly presented combination of pianos, acoustic guitars and electric guitars. Jagger sings a very appealing melody at the beginning of this, and there's an electric guitar noodle at the end of this that's very pretty to sit back and soak up. It's a very, very nice song, so what's the problem? Well, it's – er – *too* nice. Jam-oriented songs, particularly songs like that from the Stones—should slap me across the face from time to time. I can almost forget I'm even listening to “Time Waits For No One,” treating it almost as elevator music. Very skilled elevator music that gives off fresh vibes, mind you.

Luxury C+

Oh no... what the heck is this thing here suppoztah be? It's, what I believe, is a combination between classic Stones riff-rock and reggae. It's cute I guess. It's weird to hear these guys put on their Jamaica accents playing a very simple song with extremely dark guitars. I can't say I've heard a song like this before. ...But weird originality is one thing, and actually creating a song I might like to listen to is a completely different thing! Give them credit for an OK hooky melody and the weird idea, and let's get this freaking track review over with!

Dance Little Sister B

This is much closer to the classic Rolling Stones sound, and it's definitely fun. They come up with a simple, crunchy and catchy riff and a drum beat that you can tap your foot to. The central vocal melody is OK if generic, and Jagger can still pick up a bit of a storm with his growling vocal performances. ...But why am I having so much trouble getting into this song? Why don't I love this song? ... Oh man, are The Rolling Stones getting boring?

If You Really Want to Be My Friend B+

This is another one of those songs that sounds like it could almost be great, but it really missed the boat somehow. They're trying to recreate one of those masterful anthems that they done so well multiple times only a few years earlier, and they came pretty close. The central hook is good, the instrumentals are solid, and Jagger's lead vocals are engaging... So, what's the problem? It just doesn't capture me. It seems to develop very sluggishly, and I almost forget that it exists. C'mon, guys, your songs used to punch me in the gut!!!!

Short and Curlies C

Yeesh... This sounds like a Rolling Stones tribute band! It a riff-rocker done in the general style of The Rolling Stones, but it's lacking a catchy melody, compelling riff, and it just sounds clunky. It's a very lazy-sounding song that has no drive to it whatsoever. Booo... Luckily they didn't drag this carcass past the three-minute mark.

Fingerprint File A

“Short and Curlies” might have been a desecration of my ear canals, but The Stones completely redeem themselves from that little transgression with this tasty funk-jam! The atmosphere they create with those brilliantly tight funk guitars is something that deserves to be cranked up to the highest level you have on your speakers, and Jagger's terrifically spirited vocal performance is very fun and engaging! The riff is up there with their finest classics, and the way the song trails off in the end in jam-territory is done so expertly that I might go so far as to say that this is almost as good as “Midnight Rambler.” The guitars are terrific, the melodic hooks are terrific, and I love listening to it!


Metamorphosis (1975)

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Metamorphosis

Out of Time B

Here is “Out of Time” with a heavy string backing and a female background chorus. Obviously, The Stones took a few listens to this and realized that this was too sappy, and they could do something better with it. You'll find the completed project on Flowers, which in itself wasn't a great song, but it's quite a bit better than this. Of course you can't blame The Stones for even cutting a version like this. I could fathom why they thought this would be a good idea. They were going for a lush Motown sound, a sound that could have been great if they achieved it, but the elements just didn't seem to be in place.

Don't Lie to Me C+

This is an extremely generic R&B cover... Once again, it's pretty obvious why The Stones never intended for this to be released... It's just no stinkin' good! And when I say that, I mean that it's technically pretty good, but it's much tamer than a Rolling Stones song ought to be. There's no cajones in it, or anything!

Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind C

I'm sorry... I was able to handle the cheesy Motown wannabe, and the totally generic R&B thing, but this is just godawful. I guess you might call this a combination between country-music and dreary funeral music. It's so slow and dreary. The melody isn't very interesting, and Jagger's vocal performance sounds very depressing. For a song that wasn't supposed to be published, I guess this is OK. Needless to say, if I wrote something like this, I would have been very proud of myself! I suppose this is a good song if you take into account that this probably led to their great country ballads... Um... I'm going to stop listening to this now.

Each and Every Day of the Year B

This is another song in which it's pretty obvious why The Stones decided to not release it. It's terribly boring. It might have made a pretty good Scott Walker song, seeing that it has that ultra-dramatic Jacques Brel thing going. Whoever is playing the horn is doing a terribly good job of it, even though it's playing mostly cliches. ...I think, all in all, this song had a decent potential of turning into a classic. They just needed to tweak the melody a little more.

Heart of Stone B

This alternate version of “Heart of Stone” isn't anywhere near as weird as the alternate version of “Out of Time.” This one just has some back-up singers and a rather bizarre and misfired electric guitar solo in the middle. According to Wikipedia, this is a guitarist named Jimmy Page. Yeah, you can tell that guy will go nowhere! (And someone's playing a rather out-of-place steel guitar in the background.) Once again, you're not particularly missing out if you've never heard this (unless you're some sort of Stones fanatic!!!).

I'd Much Rather Be With the Boys C+

Just a mediocre pop song. It was credited with Andrew Loog Oldham and Keith Richards which might explain why this mostly sucks. I've never heard this song before, but I've heard this melody plenty of times, and Jagger's vocal performance is appropriately bored. The clapping rhythm, is really weird... Although that's probably the best thing about this.

(Walking' Thru the) Sleeping City C

Geez... This is another one of those boring pop songs with dull melodies and weirdly overblown instrumentation. (And I'm pretty sure I enjoy overblown instrumentation more than most people who are Rolling Stones fans.) The rhythm section consists of all sorts of annoying clicks, and whoever plays that glockenspiel is having way too much fun. That ultra-high piano is rather disgusting, too. If they were actually going to release this on an album or as a B-side or something, Jagger surely would have re-did his vocal performance... he gets off key in a pretty bad way toward the beginning.

We're Wastin' Time B

Insubstantial, sure, but I'd say this country-flavored waltz makes quite a nice listen. The melody, while hardly anything you'll find yourself humming under your breath, is nice, and I also like the guitar-heavy instrumentation from those acoustic guitars giving the main texture, and the slide guitars doing nice things in the background. They could have cleaned it up a bit, and it would have gone well on Flowers, I'd say. It's a little too cluttered, though... the back-up singers were unnecessary, and maybe the rhythm section could have been brought out a bit from the background.

Try a Little Harder A-

Pretty good as far as these early rock 'n' roll style songs have been going. Don't expect anything great in the melody department, or even with the instrumentals on this one. The instrumentation is good this time with a jangly rhythm and catchy, woody bass-line. The female back-up singers sound like they were hit too much with reverb, but they still sound fine. The swinging horn section also helps this one gain momentum. It's a good two minute song!

I Don't Know Why A

Yikes! You can tell right away that this song was recorded four years after the previous stuff... It was recorded in 1969, according to Wikipedia, on the same night that Brian Jones died. The main difference between this and the previous material is just by the awesome way the guitars sound; they actually have some quality to them. Jagger also had suddenly matured as a lead singer ... geez, I've never quite noticed how much he'd improved over the years until now. This is a great song, too, a Stevie Wonder cover. If it's Stevie Wonder, then it's basic scientific fact that it has to be good.

If You Let Me A-

This one reportedly came out of the Aftermath sessions, and considering how much of a powerhouse that album was, you've got to expect that this song resulting from those sessions has got to be a minor treasure. They deliver such a nice acoustic guitar texture with that twangy rhythm guitar playing a nice, simple pattern. I'd say it doesn't quite have the overall energy that a Rolling Stones song ought to, and that's my major complaint against it. It's a very pleasant song, though, and one that a Rolling Stones fan would do good to hear.

Jiving Sister Fanny A

This is right out of the Let it Bleed-era, so you know it's got to be good! Of course the reason it didn't actually make it on that album is because basically everything else on the album was better. But this is a rock 'n' roll song with quite a lot of punch to it. Keith Richards gives us quite a powerful guitar performance in here that's a little too heavy in the mix, but that's OK.

Downtown Suzie B

Bill Wyman wrote a song!!! ...Um... I know how much it must have sucked to be dominated by the Glimmer Twins in terms of the songwriting of the band, but he obviously didn't quite have their melodic spark. That said, this is much weirder than most Rolling Stones songs of the 1969 era. This starts off as a slow and clouded blues with these weird background calls of “Yuuuh, yuuuuh, yuuuuuuuuuuuuh!” It sounds more Frank Zappa than it does the Rolling Stones. The rhythm section consists of bongo drums that are a little too loud in the mix. Although I can't really blame them for that, since this song wasn't supposed to have been released.

Family A-

Awesome! Now here's a song that I like, and it fully qualifies as a major gem that the Klein-man uncovered for the benefit of his pocketbooks and the music listening world all at once. I'm assuming the only reason they didn't include this on Beggars Banquet is that it just didn't stylistically fit. In fact, I'd imagine it would have been a more comfortable fit on Her Satanic Majesties Request considering its somewhat watery instrumental structure and Jagger's trippy vocal performance. So what a better place to include it on this archival release? It's a captivating song from beginning to end. The melody is interesting, and the instrumentals are terrifically played. It's certainly not a good roots-rocker, but it's a good song!

Memo From Turner A

They recorded this song on November 17, 1968, when I was negative-14 years old! And what a song they recorded, too! From what I can tell, this is hardly the ordinary Stones riff-rocker. That riff is stiff and bouncy, but it's catchy and manages packs a major punch in spite of that! The lead guitar-work interwoven throughout it probably the most interesting thing about this... I don't know much about how to technically describe the guitar; I just like listening to it noodle around there in the background.

I'm Going Down A

What the......... LISTEN TO THAT RIFF? ISN'T THAT AWESOME??!!! Mick Taylor wrote that riff, according to Wikipedia, which is surprising because I always thought that Keith Richards was the only one capable of writing catchy, powerful ones like this. This is the only song of this album taken out of the Sticky Fingers sessions, and it really, really, really could have gone on the album. I mean, it wouldn't have been able to go as-is. Jagger's vocals are basically inaudible and that bongo drum shouldn't be on the foreground like that. But wow! This is an excellent Rolling Stones song that you should hear!! It'll get your booty moving in no time!


Black and Blue (1976)

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Black and Blue

Hot Stuff A

The Rolling Stones were traversing into disco dance territory with this entirely groove-based song that's designed to do nothing other than get you to bust some moves out there on the dance floor. It's not the most groundbreaking song that The Rolling Stones ever did, it's not the most compositionally interesting, and it's not even their most danceable... But I like it. For a start, the groove they create is very tight, catchy, and fun. Mick Jagger is being completely goofy with his vocal performance, screaming, growling and whispering nonsensical lyrics. ...This is fun. Nothing else.

Hand of Fate A-

Awesome. This is a riff-based song that could very well have appeared on Exile. I think The Stones have written more infectious vocal melodies in the past, but me complaining about this song's melody only goes to show how much these guys have spoiled me! Ah... Well, I guess they could have stood not to repeat it so much, since it loses its power at the end. The riff is quite excellent, of course, and there's some very captivating guitar noodles in here as well, proving that they were still guitar gods even though Mick Taylor had left...

Cherry Oh Baby B

The Stones certainly have hinted at reggae in earlier albums, but this is where they finally go into it full-blast! They come up with a mid-tempo reggae groove that just repeats the whole time, and Jagger adopts a bit of a tropical intonation on his voice! I think these guys did this song well enough considering that reggae usually doesn't interest me. (It repeats too much and I find it boring... I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel!!) ...Of course, it doesn't help that I know Police songs by heart, who of course, created a much more exciting brand of reggae suited for my rock 'n' roll ears.

Memory Motel B+

Another beautiful Stones ballad. I don't know how these guys are able to pull off so many of these excellent ballads, but here's another well-written and tuneful one. My main complaint about it is that it's more than seven minutes long, and it doesn't accomplish anything a three-minute song couldn't have. It doesn't even wander off into a lengthy jam or anything! With that said, I don't get very bored through this. I can get lost in it well enough to not particularly notice the time pass. Jagger's vocals are of course very cocky at this point, but he's always fun to listen to, putting quite a growl to his voice at times.

Hey Negrita B+

The word on The Street (my new pet name for Wikipedia) is that Ronnie Wood wrote the riff, and the Glimmer Twins fashioned it into the song as you hear it today. Just like “Hot Stuff,” this song consists only of the groove, and they don't bother developing it much. I mean, there's a tiny section in there where they bring in a secondary groove, but it's not as strong as the primary groove so you only want them to just end that and revert back. They do pretty quickly. Even though I'm not usually terribly impressed with songs that are just a groove, I'm at least enjoying this one. Mick Jagger's cocky vocal improvisations are hilarious, and there's some pretty good jamming 'lectric guitar at the end. I'd say this would have had to have been a more wholly captivating experience to deserve an A-rating, but I'm still having fun with it.

Melody A

This is a nicely done lounge-jazz song! I get the feeling that they were being a little tongue-in-cheek with this, but that doesn't mean that this can't be a first-class lounge-jazz song that would make Sade proud... that is, if she existed yet. (OK, I realize that she was probably around somewhere in the world in 1976. I guess musicians don't just materialize out of thin air the year they become famous, even though I assume that sometimes!) It's a great song all around with a strong vocal hook, and some really nice, loose piano from Billy Preston. The vocals sound very hopped-up, often wandering into somewhat bizarre scat-singing, but I never get the feeling that they were just being too ridiculous. This isn't very Stones-ish, but half of this album wasn't very Stones-ish. This is a good song!

Fool to Cry A

Geez, these guys had ballads oozing out of them! It starts out a little goofy with those falsetto vocals and the lite-pop electric-piano groove is right out of an Earth, Wind & Fire album... They have pretty decent falsetto vocals for the material, but they weren't taking themselves very seriously! (Hey, don't I always say that musicians who take themselves too seriously tend to become a major bore?) Toward the end, the song turns into something more Stones-ish when Charlie Watts' crunchier drum thwack makes itself known, and the fuzzier guitars replace those bubbly things from earlier in the song. ...Oh, I guess that also means this is just about the only song in Black and Blue that doesn't sound completely the same from beginning to end. And, best of all, this song has a really catchy and sweet melody.

Crazy Mama A

And they close the album with something that's decidedly more Stones-ish than pretty much anything else here. And, nope, they definitely don't sound like they've grown tired of doing the same old thing! They created another fun, mid-tempo riff that they perform solidly without over-performing. The lead guitar soloing is fantastic, of course; they impress me, but they never overdo it. They even bring in a few really weirdly textured guitar scales in here... I wouldn't even be able to begin to guess how they accomplished that effect; I just know that I like it! The main melody is catchy also... While it's not quite as *infectious* as these guys have been in the past, it's definitely a treat to hear. Last but not least to mention is Jagger's lead vocals, which are as growling and passionate as ever. Yup. It might have been 1976, but these guys were definitely not ready to die soon.


Love You Live (1977)

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Love You Live

Intro: Excerpt From “Fanfare For the Common Man”

It's hard to score this track. This is all the pre-show noises of the crowd cheering, and someone's pounding away at the drums like mad. We're all getting worked up to finally hear THE STONESSSSSSS!!!!! Here they come, to a fanfare! What a better entrance for The Stones than to such a fanfare?

Honky Tonk Woman B+

And they start it off on a good note with this time-tested old classic! They sing it a little differently from the original... I miss that more soaring performance in the studio version instead of this performance where Jagger doesn't seem to be trying very hard. Of course, I'm not alone in that assessment! The guitars sound good, but they're not nearly as precise sounding as they were on Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out. They're fun enough, I guess.

If You Can't Rock Me / Get Off of My Cloud B-

Yeah, everybody who complains about Mick Jagger's sloppy vocals have a lot of ammo. Jagger just shouts out the lyrics instead of really trying to give the sort of vocal performance he was capable of in the studio. ...Of course he was probably bouncing up and down like mad on the stage! ...This was a bit of a goofy idea, melding together two songs like this, and it worked fine, I guess. This isn't terribly exciting though, particularly “Get Off of My Cloud,” which should have been much more exhilarating to hear.

Happy A-

Hells yeah! Here's the first song of the album I'm very pleased to hear them perform this well! This version has a crap load of energy, and these guitarists just play the living daylights out of it. Keith takes on lead vocals for this one (I think), and he was a much steadier singer than Jagger!... Although certainly not a better singer. Keeping it utterly danceable is of course the rhythm section. The bass of course, and Charlie Watts' ever-steady drum beat.

Hot Stuff A-

Yeah, I'm not sure why they started out this live album sounding like relative crap, but they really got their act together now. This is of course, that disco song from Black and Blue, and it's extremely fun hearing them play the crap out of this one, too! As is the usual feeling of this album, it's a very loose rendition, and these guys were more concerned with enjoying themselves up there than being wizards as they were in Ya-Ya's. I can't really blame them for that, because I'm enjoying the crap out of this, too. The groove is catchy, the beat is danceable, and the guitar jams are cool.

Star Star A

I really like Jagger's performance this time, taking on a tremendously energetic growl instead of his half-singing like he was in earlier songs. Of course, this song has a crapload of energy, too, and Keith coming up with some inventive Chuck-Berry-like riffs is about as invigorating as these things ever get. This is nothing if it isn't pure, toe-tapping fun! This is a great song, too, of course.

Tumbling Dice B+

They take the tone down a notch, because the previous two songs were so fast that they were going to get too worn out if they kept on going like that! (Oh, but The Stones getting worn out? NEVER!!) This is a great song from Exile of course, but this is a less-than-exhilarating rendition of it this time. The instrumentals are very loose, and Jagger seems to be having a bit of difficulty singing into that microphone! And when he does, it's basically unintelligible! Oh, but the guitars are crunchy and good of course.

Fingerprint File A-

One thing I will say for The Stones is they definitely know what songs of their recent back catalogue to pick out. I mean, “Hot Stuff,” “Star Star,” “Tumbling Dice,” and “Fingerprint” file each constituted my favorite songs from their previous albums... Geez, if I was in the audience there, I would have been in seventh heaven... Anyway, they give a pretty good rendition of this, but I'm really disappointed that Jagger just put this echo effect on his voice instead of trying to perform that incredible “it get's me dooow-wooow-woowww...” from the original. Ah well. Otherwise, Jagger gives one of his better vocal performances here, and of course all these funk guitars are terrific. Great, danceable fun!

You Gotta Move B+

They slow things down to do a rendition of that slow blues song from Sticky Fingers. This isn't going to be as intrinsically fun as the previous songs, and to be honest I was never too hot on this song to begin with. Several of the band members join in to take on the lead vocals, and they sound pretty good together. It's a little like a bunch of half-drunk pals in the pub put their arms over the others' shoulders and join in a chorus. The bluesy guitars show us a few nice bluesy licks. Quite good, and it stays together pretty well, although not I'm always going to prefer the dancey stuff to this!

You Can't Always Get What You Want A-

Mick Jagger is definitely singing in that microphone, but I swear he's unintelligible much of the time. Is that just the over-exuberant way he's singing or did he forget the lyrics? I don't know... It probably doesn't matter either. What matters is that they're playing this great old song from their best album ever, and I always appreciate the chance to hear it! Jagger's weird gurgly singing is about as fun as it gets, and there are some really cool bluesy guitar licks in here! Well, toward the middle the song starts to veer in jam territory and I'm not sure I really appreciate those ultra-rapid guitar notes in there that don't seem to be serving any purpose... Then Mick invites a little bit of audience participation, talking to the audience also in unintelligible gurgles. ...That's kinda humorous, actually...

Mannish Boy A

Alright, this is the official beginning of the second half of the album, and according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, this was recorded in a nightclub. The next few tracks are similarly well-established blues songs where The Stones wanted to get back to their roots a little bit! Well, Mick Jagger at least sounded much more engaged singing this POWERFUL blues song. Those blues licks from the band are heart-pounding and terrific to hear. This riff is obviously one of the most overused of the genre, but when these guys do it this well, I could listen to it forever. Brilliant stuff, this.

Crackin' Up B

This is also an old rock 'n' roll song... and one that I don't happen to be familiar with. The way these guys play it I would have thought it was a tropical song... Is it my imagination, or does Mick put one of his Jamaican accents on for this? Well, this ain't a bad cover... It doesn't sound nearly as together as the previous song did, and I don't find it to be much of an interesting composition anyway. The end is pretty humorous... Mick starts talking about “stroking” people, and then he introduces the band, saying stuff like “Charlie Watts looks sort of maybe” and “Bill Wyman just wants to take photographs of girls' legs.” ...All very cordial of him!

Little Red Rooster A+

They get down with it once again for this very intimate blues ditty, which they were no stranger to (they performed it previously in Now!). Jagger re-remembers how to give a terribly engaging blues vocal performance, and these guitarists and the organist noodle around together in perfect harmony. Holy cow, isn't it a great thing when these guys actually band together and actually try to give it their best shot for once? ... I guess that was the benefit of performing this in a small nightclub!! This track here is a great example of why these guys were guitar gods... Yeah, and that includes Ronnie Wood without a doubt.

Around and Around B+

Ah, this is another nice oldie, although it's not as uncommonly great as the previous track was. They also performed this in their olden days, and it surfaced on their album 12X5. It's a very good rendition, but doesn't seem to get my heart pounding or anything cool like that... Of course, it's great fun to hear, but this seems pretty ordinary for The Stones' talent.

It's Only Rock 'n' Roll B+

OK, now it's back to their originals, and back to the big stadium! And what would a Rolling Stones live album be without this song! (Well it would be Ya-Yas, because this song didn't exist yet!) This isn't one of the more exhilarating performances here. The drum doesn't seem to pound enough at times, and the guitarists don't seem to do anything particularly special. Jagger's vocal performance is among his saner on this album, although he gets ridiculously playful by the end!

Brown Sugar A-

Ah yes, what have I been telling you? These guys definitely know what songs to play. “Brown Sugar” is another fantastic one to hear them do live, and it's going to be fun to hear no matter how sloppy they sound. Jagger's vocals have been reduced mostly to unintelligible growls once again as he is probably hopping up and down on the stage like a mad-boy. The guitars are crunchy and wonderful, of course. They get a little bit crowd-pleasing at times, but that's OK. This is a very crowd-pleasing group! It's definitely a good song to dance to.

Jumpin' Jack Flash A-

It goes without saying that this is one of the greatest Rolling Stones songs of all time, and there's no way you can properly live your life without listening to the studio version of the song at least once a week. Just like everything else in this live album, it's a terrific amount of fun with the guitars just going all over the place. Jagger's vocals are so out-of-it that I'm sure if someone was to take a phonetic transcript of them, they wouldn't even be close. Ah well, the original lyrics didn't make much sense either!

Sympathy For the Devil A

Oh yeah!!!!!! They close the album with a rousing rendition of another one of their songs that qualifies as one of their best EVER, and everything about it is just fun. Of course, it's not as technically precise as they might have done it in their early '70s live shows, but they do the jammy/sloppy stuff better than your mom could. They drag this onto nearly eight minutes and I'm transfixed on it from beginning to end.


Some Girls (1978)

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Some Girls

Miss You A

Step aside, Brothers Gibb; The Rolling Stones have gone DISCO!!! Yup, in case you're not in the know, The Rolling Stones have thrown all their rock 'n' roll dignity away and wrote a disco song specifically intended for the dance floor. (I described one of their earlier songs, “Miss You,” as disco... It definitely could be danced to on the disco floor, but that was probably more on the funk side of things.) Sure, you could accuse The Rolling Stones at selling out and succumbing to the times, but I don't know why you would want to do such a thing since this disco song is freaking catchy. The riff they come up with is utterly infectious! The vocal melody is pretty good, and Jagger's lead performance is pretty funny. He's giving disco music a serious go, but he's also having a lot of fun with it... particularly those moments when he shifts into these goofy falsetto bits...

When the Whip Comes Down A

First disco, and now punk? Yup, The Rolling Stones were evidently very interested in regaining that widespread popularity that had been steadily declining ever since Exile on Main St. ...Once again, you might blame The Rolling Stones for sacrificing their identity for popularity, but there's no point because they do a very good job with this. Of course, The Stones are a lot more professional than most punk bands, and Jagger doesn't sound like he's frothing at the mouth when he's singing this. But this song has a quick and engaging beat, great guitars, and a catchy melody.

Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) B+

...There's nothing particularly late '70s-ish about this mid-tempo song, although I will note that Bill Wyman's bass is very high in the mix, which was perhaps a new-wave thing. (Great! Keep the bass up there! I like hearing crispy bass!!) There's nothing greatly special about this song other than the fact that it has a good melody and some particularly inspired guitars, which are playing a busy texture that somehow never gets the feeling of being too cluttered. The melody is good though probably could have stood to be catchier.

Some Girls B

This mid-tempo song is as “punk” as The Modern Lovers, although a lot of people would contend that the garage group helped spawn that movement. ...Well, once again, The Stones prove themselves to be way too professional to actually do anything that would resemble true-blue punk or garage, but considering that rubbery guitar tone they come up with is so tasty that I could eat it, I want them to just keep on doing what they're doing! My main complaint about this is the melody ain't that great... although that chorus seems to unexpectedly sparkle. ...I guess I should also bring up the dirty lyrics here. They're pretty consistently dirty throughout all these tracks, but this is one instance where Mick Jagger's vocals are abnormally clear intelligible! ...Well, they're pretty amusing!

Lies A

Somehow I wouldn't be surprised if this song invented The Knack. The only thing that's missing here is for everyone in the band to yell “Wooooooooooooooooooooo!” at the end of every stanza. ...Of course, The Knack could never even hope of creating something as tough and spirited as this song. The Stones were simply too unmatchable, and they're really in top form with this one. Jagger turns in a fantastically crazed and growling performance, singing about a cheating girlfriend. The riff is extremely infectious, and the beat is as tight and poppy as any of those new-fangled bands were in 1978.

Far Away Eyes A-

This is generic country-western music, but these lyrics are hilarious. Jagger, adopting an outrageous and stereotypical southern accent. I could try to sum up his monologue, but it would probably be more effective (not to mention easier) than to copy-and-paste a sample of it from a lyrics Web site. (“I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield / Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station / And the preacher said, "You know you always have the Lord by your side" / And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran / Twenty red lights in his honor / Thank you Jesus, thank you lord.”) It's all very mocking of the Southern way of life, which is interesting because the actual *song* is something that a lot of rednecks would probably love to pieces. Their slide guitars are extremely sweet and I'm sure most country-western stars would die to have those on one of their songs! Also, this chorus is very catchy.

Respectable A

Enough of that country-western hullabaloo! Let's get back to punk, since punk is cool. The Stones come up with yet another catchy song with a riveting pace and another spirited Jagger performance. As usual, The Stones don't let the sloppy conventions of ordinary punk music to interfere with the fact that these guitarists have a lot of technical brilliance. In fact, I find the guitar solos in this to be a little bit reminiscent of Chuck Berry! This is yet another brilliantly fun and tight song that makes Some Girls such a classic.

Before They Make Me Run B-

Oh no, that's Keef singing lead vocals here. He's sounding whinier than usual here. But that's not why I'm merely giving this song a 'B.' It's just not that good of a song. The melody is a bit weaker than usual, and I don't find anything bracing about their instrumentals or this pacing. This makes an altogether decent listen, but it's forgettable.

Beast of Burden A+

A weird coincidence, I went grocery shopping this morning and I heard this song come up in the store. And I said: Hey! I'm going to write a review of this song pretty soon! ... I would have told that to the check-out lady, but she seemed like she was annoyed at being at work as it was... Gosh, what a nice ballad, though! It's easily one of their better ballads... perhaps their best one since “Angie.” It is as sweet, memorable and charming as ballads ever get. The groove they come up with is more laid-back this time, but it's as tight as ever. Jagger's vocal performance is even great here, as he charmingly adopts falsetto vocals through some of this.

Shattered A

This one's definitely got the “new-wave” vibe about it, since I can easily imagine Debbie Harry and her playful vocals coming in and taking over the lead vocals! ... But I'm glad that she doesn't 'cos I'm so worked up about hearing all that engaging nonsense that Jagger has been coming up with! Once again, these guys are coming up with very infectious grooves... which is essential for this song in particular since Jagger isn't really “singing” so much. Anyway, this is very fun, and these guys were obviously having the time of their lives playing this...


Emotional Rescue (1980)

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Emotional Rescue

Dance (Pt. 1) B+

I believe I expressed in one of my earlier reviews that I have a strict policy that if a song inspires me to get up and wiggle my bottom to the beat, it automatically deserves to be considered a good song. And that's exactly what this it—a good song. It's obviously a clone of “Miss You” from the previous album, and it's not nearly as infectious as that one. This is missing that good riff and Jagger's inventive vocal performance. But I like this chorus, and I definitely like the solid and driving rhythm. Hey! You would be surprised at how difficult generating a rhythm as solid and fun as this one is for some bands!

Summer Romance B

Ah, more of The Stones' attempts to get approval from the punk crowd! ...Er, why did they think they needed approval from those guys? They were NUTS! Anyway, they seem to be deliberately trying to sound like the Sex Pistols here, and they're doing an OK job of it. Mick Jagger tries to sound loud and crazy with his lead vocals there, but didn't come off as mad enough! C'mon, man! Let's get some snarrrrrrrl going! I'm also disappointed that this isn't a very memorable song. The Stones were typically good for that. As I'm typing this, the song had finished playing a minute ago, and I forgot how it went.

Send it to Me C+

It was 1980 and bands like UB40, Madness and The Police were already going full-force with all this white reggae stuff! Well, The Stones had been putting elements of reggae in their music since the mid-'70s, so it seemed only natural for The Stones to try it out... But this is really bland. It's well-played of course and the guitars are tight, but they didn't seem to bother writing a hooky melody for this one. I not only remember it a minute after it's through playing, but I'm bored with it as it's playing. ...The lyrics are pretty funny, though.

Let Me Go B+

This country-rock song is certainly closer to what The Stones are most famous for doing, and it's definitely nice to hear them returning back to their old ways for once! The melody certainly has its moments, but it also seems like it should have been stronger. The mixing seems pretty terrible for this one... The vocals are buried way too deeply in there, and the rhythm guitar is too loud. And Charlie Watts probably could have done without playing that shaker the whole time.

Indian Girl C

...Oof. Even the “Wild Horses”-like ballad isn't that captivating. Usually, if The Stones wanted to write another “Wild Horses,” it would typically still be good even if it still didn't quite measure up. But I don't know what to say here. It has a really boring melody, Jagger's vocals are weird as he seems to be muting his voice for no good reason and he seems to take his mouth away from the microphone at times. The guitars don't mix at all with the “Fernando”-like synthesizers going on the background. It all sounds very messy and confusing. There have been worse ballads of course, but this is pretty embarrassing by The Stones' standards.

Where the Boys Go B+

This is another one of their Sex-Pistol punk take-offs, and it's certainly a lot of fun. These guys get the punk energy going as sloppily and furiously as they could possibly muster, but somehow it just seems too much like they were way too old to do that convincingly! This is a notable change-up from the punk take-offs where they were playing their guitars professionally... this sloppy thing is much closer to an authentic punk song.

Down in the Hole A-

Ah yes, the blues. Reading my original review of this album, I think it's safe to say that I appreciate the genre a lot more than I used to! Anyway, The Stones certainly have better examples of the blues in their discography, but you can't deny that this thing is as engaging as heck. The guitarists deliver these good old bluesy licks just as well as they used to, and there's an authentic old harmonica wailing off in the background! Mick Jagger gives his most engaging and passionate vocal performance of the whole disc here, and it's really nice to have heard him return to us! Good song!

Emotional Rescue A

Mick Jagger had tried singing falsetto before, but I don't think he ever really sang falsetto through this much of the song before. Well, Jagger is pretty funny in this... He sounds like he's joking, but that manages to rub off a lot of charm on this one. (I wouldn't be surprised if Flight of the Conchords based their whole career on this song. You should listen to this song if you know who that group is.) About halfway through, he gets tired of it and starts singing normally. ...And in the very end, he starts to talk the lyrics! This is certainly by far one of the catchiest and most enjoyable songs of this album... This is a mid-tempo, borderline funk song with a catchy bass-line, a catchy bass-line, and a groove that seems to get slightly more intense as it goes along. Very fun!

She's So Cold A

Man! Why are they putting all the cool songs at the end of this album? Really... this would have been a much stronger opener than “Dance (Pt. 1).” This is a similarly danceable song, except they actually come up with a very catchy riff, and Jagger's vocal performance is as energetic, inventive and engaging as ever. It's not particularly dazzling as a composition since it's only a groove that gets repeated forever, but it's a great groove that'll inspire you to strut your stuff on the dance floor. Definitely.

All About You B+

Keef takes the lead vocals on this one, and ... dude. I know the guy has his defenders as a lead singer, but ... hm ... I don't care much for it. Jagger is a much more entertaining singer when he's high... Keith only sounds like he's going to pass out. ...Maybe that's what he was trying for? I guess it sort of fits with the lyric matter as well as the generally disheveled vibe these exceedingly sloppy instrumentals are giving off. The guitars sound looser than normal, and there's even this bedroom soul saxophone blaring off all throughout. The melody is actually pretty good, and the chorus is solid. It's much better than “Indian Girl,” and that's definitely a good thing.


Tattoo You (1981)

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Tattoo You

Start Me Up A+

This will forever be known to me as the song from all those computer commercials in the mid-'90s! But it really says something that this song was catchy enough for me to still remember it from a 15-year-old commercial. Of course, this riff is legendary, and among the finest riffs these guys ever wrote easily. ...What else do I need to say about this? You have heard it before, right? Mick Jagger says it was originally conceived as a reggae. I'm trying to picture that... No, I must not be imaginative enough.

Hang Fire A

The Stones had recorded this when they cut Some Girls... And they actually left it off? If I recorded such a great song, I would've put it on the first album that I could have! I wonder what else must've been in their vaults? Well, thank goodness that they pulled this one out, because Stones fans all around the world probably loved this. This melody is greatly catchy, particularly their high-pitched melody that comes up every once in awhile! Jagger's lead vocals are growling and fun, and I even like that severely hacked at guitar solo in here.

Slave A

This is a terrific jam song that dates to the Black and Blue sessions. Again, it's really hard to believe they had such great material sitting there in the vaults! And, here's something I didn't know before. Jeff Beck plays lead guitar on this, and he was actually in the competition to replace Mick Taylor on lead guitar! ... Man! Jeff Beck? ... Beck is probably a better guitarist than Ronnie Wood, but I'm guessing they didn't pick 'em, because he would've taken away too much of the spotlight! Ronnie Wood knew his place, man. Anyway, Beck is great, and so is this song.

Little T&A A-

T&A? ... I wonder what that stands for? Telephones and agriculture? Tupperware and arsonists? ... I can't think of it. Anyway, this is a very catchy pop song that was originally meant for Emotional Rescue. I would understand why they would have left those previous songs off Some Girls and Black and Blue because those were great albums... But, seriously, how could they have left this tasty sucker off Emotional Rescue? It would have easily been one of that album's highlights! Keith Richards takes over the lead vocals for this one, and he manages to muster up quite a good-time old drunk-and-off-his-rocker vibe going. My only complaint about this song is just that this melody repeats a bit too much.

Black Limousine A

The hard blues song is of course The Stones' greatest specialty, and they continue to prove that they are the masters at it. Again, I have to wonder about these guys... They originally developed this for Some Girls, but then decided to save it for Emotional Rescue. Then they left it off that album, I presume, for that album's hard-blues number “Down in the Hole.” I really liked that song, but it has nothing on this one. This song has that old-time musk about it, a sensation that any good blues-rock song is going to have. Jagger's singing just as well and powerfully as he possibly could for the blues. The melody is catchy without seeming to be overly generic, and listening to these crunchy guitars and that wailing harmonica is about as good as it gets.

Neighbors A-

I was about to say that this song sounded much more '80s than the rest of this. That rather loud and clean drum thwopping around is sort of the giveaway. According to the knowledge of mankind (Wikipedia), this is one of the few songs that wasn't an outtake from an earlier album, so I guess it is a legitimate '80s song! But this is still a pretty good song with a right riff and a catchy melody. Jagger's certainly singing well on it, sounding like a great rock singer should... all loud and boisterous and stuff...

Worried About You A-

Wow, another excellent Rolling Stones ballad! Oh, it's not my favorite ballad of all time, but it's tuneful and I certainly love listening to it. My main complaint against it is that I don't find it to be very memorable. Jagger's singing in that funny falsetto voice that he'd been messing around with for the past few years... Of course the dude ain't the best falsetto singer, but in his defense it doesn't sound like he was trying to be. Jagger does sound better, though, when he starts huffing and growling the lyrics! Wayne Perkins, one of the guitarist candidates from Black and Blue, gives a very good, ripping performance in that interlude. Yes, sir! The Stones had a lot of good guitarists vying to be in the band!

Tops A

This is the oldest song of the lot, dating back to 1972 from Goats Head Soup back when Mick Taylor was still in the band. ...And!! Wow!!!! This is certainly strong enough to have been on Exile on Main St., and it's a mystery why something this strong didn't even appear on Goats Head Soup. But anyway, at least we finally get to hear it! It's a terrific, of course. The melody is catchy and captivating. Jagger's doing more of that falsetto stuff, and he sounds like he's in good form. The guitars of course are hard and riveting. Man...

Heaven A

Listening to this weird, trippy song I would have guessed that this was another outtake from Goats Head Soup, but nope! This is a new recording! They get a very quiet and understated groove for this one, and Jagger sings in a sweet voice through some sort of echo chamber. Even though these guys just sound like they're playing around with effects, they do manage to get quite a sweet vibe going! The atmosphere is oddly captivating and really fun to listen to. Those guitars noodling around are dreamy and rich ... Wow, did they just write a convincing song about heaven?

No Use in Crying B

A good ballad, but ... hm. It's boring to me. According to good old Wikipedia, this was meant for Emotional Rescue, and it really shows. Mind you, this is STILL the Rolling Stones, and their songs pretty much get 'Bs' by default. They come up with a pretty good hook for this one, although it's the sort of hook that the more it gets repeated it loses much of its power. I like their guitar-work and that mid-tempo drum pounding by the ever-faithful Charlie Watts, but I have a much harder time forcing myself to get into this groove. Sorry... but this song is “good.” That's only a put-down in the sense that all the other songs on this album are “great.”

Waiting On a Friend A+

Holy crap!!! They had this sitting in their vaults for so long! This was from the Goats Head Soup vaults, but they were reportedly performing this as early as 1970. ...Well, you know that a Stones song that dates from 1970 has to be great, right? Those albums were so solid that it's no wonder they had ballads like this just floating around. I'm pretty sure this utterly sweet ballad would have been considered a pretty well-known if it was released back then... But you can also consider it a good reward for fans who were still paying attention to The Stones in the early '80s. The melody is extremely hooky. The instrumentation is sweet, soft and rhythmic. Very beautiful and almost tropical. I love that dreamy saxophone solo in there by Sonny Rollins. ...This is a great classic. You should hear it if you haven't. This is one of those songs that's so warm that it's impossible to not love.


Still Life (1982)

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Still Life

Intro: Take a Train

Alright! A thirty-second little bit o' jazz and then the announcer guy says “The Roooooooooollllllllling Stooooooooooones!!!!!” And the crowd goes wild.

Under My Thumb A-

I know how this live album isn't well-liked by everyone, but I think this version of “Under My Thumb” is still better than the one on Got Live If You Want It. I mean, at least I can hear these guys! I must also say that it sounds like Mick Jagger is singing into the microphone and isn't doing all these weird frilly things like he was doing all throughout Love You Live. The guitars are definitely playing the song. The original riff is still intact and they're not doing overly flashy things for the extended jam session at the end. All in all, this is a very solid rendition of one of my favorite Stones songs! There's nothing to complain about!!

Let's Spend the Night Together B+

Another song from their pop period! Awesome!! ...Oh, but Jagger is starting to do those weird overly cocky things again... And I hate to say it, but Keith Richards' back-up vocals seem to drag it down. It's those little things that keeps this rendition of this Stones classic from being 100 percent enjoyable. But I can't forget that this is still a good rendition of an excellent song, and I'm still enjoying it!

Shattered B+

One of the Stones' recent songs, it's certainly not a better song compared to the previous two! But it's still a good song, and those rip-roaring guitars crunching around like a punk band are certainly very exciting! I suppose this song could have had more sheer energy in it, but I say these guys do a good job considering they're middle-aged. (Man... they still do a good job going into their 70s.)

Twenty Flight Rock A-

My Internet is being a real bitch right now, so I can't look up where this song is from, but this is a tremendously good rendition of what sounds like an old '50s rockabilly song. Jagger gives a very good Elvis impression and the instrumentalists very tightly playing those guitars reminds us strongly of all they did for early rock 'n' roll. It's very gritty and exciting.

Going to a Go-Go A

Wow! Here's another old-school rock 'n' roll song that these guys completely nail! If only they would play their own songs like this! Charlie Watts' drumming takes a pounding a commanding lead over this, and Jagger's vocal chops are in top form. (Well at least in as top-form as they could possibly be.) The ultra-crunchy guitars are playing a very tight and catchy riff all throughout... Man, these guys sound great right now.

Let Me Go B

This country-gone-punk song was one of the more memorable moments in Emotional Rescue, although it hardly qualifies as a Rolling Stones classic. Well, at least it's a tuneful song, and it has The Stones' guitars! ...While Jagger's generally sounded pretty darn good on this live album, I have to complain that he's singing a bit too far away from the microphone. Luckily the beat is as solid as ever thanks to the faithfulness of Charlie Watts, and the guitars sound good too. It's a lot of fun, but I know that it could have been even more fun.

Time is On My Side B+

Awesome. The Stones were really giving anyone in the audience who principally liked their old stuff a real treat that night! They were going waaaaaaay back for this one! This is a pretty solid rendition of the song, as you would expect, although nothing more.

Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) B+

This is such a pleasant and tuneful song that they give a very straightforward rendition of! It's not very energetic, but it's also not too sleepy. It's probably of relatively the same quality that the original was, although I'm not sure about those loud drum snaps that come in occasionally. ...Eh, am I nitpicking? There's a nice guitar solo in here at least, as well as a saxophone solo.

Start Me Up A-

The main reason I'm docking this so many notches from the 'A+' of the original is because it doesn't quite have the same energy level. Jagger's singing OK, but he seems a little tired here, and the guitars playing that famous riff don't seem to capture my attention like the original did. Nevertheless, this remains a good rendition of a great arena song if slightly underwhelming.

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction B-

Yeah!!!! The crowd goes wild when they hear them play this riff for the first time... So would I! They're speeding it up quite a bit faster than the original, which isn't unusual, but Mick Jagger's vocal performance is verrrrrrrry weird here. He doesn't sing on key most of the time, and he's singing in this weird, wobbly tone the whole time. Man. Maybe they were tired playing this song a billion trillion times! All in all I'm still enjoying it for what it is, but this should have been more exciting.

Outro: The Star Spangled Banner

Exit music! The Star Spagnled Banner! Just like Jimi Hendrix used to play! ... And someone keeps firing off a rifle. Shooting the audience? Well, that's not very nice!


Undercover (1983)

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Tattoo You

Undercover Of the Night B+

This isn't a very substantial sort of song... If I was to make an 8-CD compilation of the great Rolling Stones songs, I doubt there would be room for this... But it's a very fun sort of Euro club-dance song with a snappy electronic beat and an appropriately goofy lead performance from Jagger. (I'm not sure I care for that synthesizer that fades in and out, though... It just rubs me the wrong way.) It's missing quite a lot compared to their disco excursion from Some Girls, but it's still fun.

She Was Hot A-

This is a nice boogie-woogie-type song with some good crunchy guitar and a pretty dang catchy hook. But despite all this technical goodness, I'm still wondering where the hell all that good Rolling Stones magic went! It's hard to describe it... Do you know how songs just seem to leap out of the speakers at you and puts you in the middle of some freaky '60s cartoon? (What? That doesn't happen to you?) This song doesn't do that to me. It's a snappy song and it's good to dance to, but it doesn't have that otherworldly quality about it. It's like The Stones were just going through the motions, or something. Good song, but it's a very weak A-.

Tie You Up (The Pain of Love) B-

Yeah... You don't even have to have a particularly perverted mind to figure it out. This song is about what you think it's about! Even Jebediah the Amish kid knows! ...... Lyrics aside, this isn't a terrible '80s dance song as far as those sorts of songs go. They come up with a marginally catchy groove. I just wish it was more infectious or something. This is pretty weak for The Stones. Jagger's singing is so muffled by the instrumentation that you can't understand these disgusting lyrics without reading them! (OK... read them... I dares you... They made Tipper Gore brain break.)

Wanna Hold You C+

I've normally been a proponent of the idea that Mick Jagger is about 1000 times better as a lead singer than Keith Richards, but Mick has been so freaking spaced out throughout this whole disc that Jagger and Richards are pretty much equal now. ...But it almost doesn't matter, because I really don't care much for this song. It's a spiritual descendant of “Little T&A” from Tattoo You in that it consists only of one short hook that gets repeated forever and ever. The difference is that this hook isn't very good, and the production is a lot murkier. ...God, the production is something I should have mentioned in the other songs. The production is smell-city.

Feel On Baby C+

God... If you want ultimate proof that this album represents the utter nadir of The Rolling Stones, you needn't look much further than this confused mess. I mean, it's not *bad*, but you get the feeling that these guys were starting to completely lose it. It's based on a reggae groove, but the instrumentation layered onto it, such as a whining harmonica and strange synth-drums, make this into a really bizarre concoction. Sometimes The Stones' bizarre creations work wonders, but this song seems like it's about three minutes too long, and never gets out of this dreadful lull that it puts you in. ...Yeesh!

Too Much Blood B+

Yeah, while they were going to write cheapish '80s pop songs, they'd might as well just go all out and be utterly unapologizing at it. It sounds like Charlie Watts was briefly replaced with a scab drum machine for this one, and the funk guitars and horns do exactly what you think they should do. Jagger's vocals are pretty funny in this one... he occasionally stops singing and screaming to deliver a rap, which he supposedly made up on the spot. Very silly and enjoyable.

Pretty Beat Up B-

Not so much *bad* this time as it is utterly dull. Based on another simple dance groove and a marginally likable hook, but it fails to make an impression on me. I mean, if I was in the dancing mood, I would want to dance to it I suppose, but not even like “Dance, Pt. 1” made me want to dance. I like that squeaky saxophone solo, though!

Too Tough A-

Hey, this is more like it! When all else fails, bring back the riff-rockers! That would be my motto, anyway, if I was the Rolling Stones. Alright, the riff is pretty much the same thing as “Jumpin' Jack Flash,” but who cares? It's the Rolling Stones performing a memorable rock 'n' roll song! The production still seems a bit icky, though. It seems like this song ought to have sounded crisper and rawer... Not too sure why they had to make this sound so cluttery.

All the Way Down C

Awww... Here's another very confused sounding song, and that's a shame because the guitars sound like they're playing something that might have made a pretty tight and crisp song otherwise. Spoiled once again by the production, and, more importantly, Mick Jagger's weird singing... It's like he was trying to half rap with it... Bluh. It doesn't work. And making it all worse is inserting in these awkward spaced-out bits right where they are the most confusing. I was already scratching my head over the singing performance, but this is just freaky.

It Must Be Hell B-

You got that right, brother. This is another song that's OK, but it just doesn't catch fire. It's really disheartening to hear something like this since even Mick Jagger's belches seemed to catch fire only five years previous to this. But this riff rocker is just a big old clunky nothing. The glam riff doesn't have any power to it, and Jagger's ultra-layered vocals seem strange and, once again, cluttered. “Clutter” seems to have been a general problem with this whole album! Whoever thought that was a good idea deserves a good kick in the pants!


Dirty Work (1986)

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Dirty Work

One Hit (To the Body) B+

I will say one thing: This song definitely sounds a lot cleaner than most of the stuff that appeared on Undercover. On the other hand, this song also sounds awfully stale. It's over-processed in an '80s way, and it's really lacking much of that Rolling Stones grit that they were well-loved for. So, they're starting to sound a little less like The Rolling Stones and more like Huey Lewis and the News. Except, of course, The Stones could write still write memorable riffs, and this is quite a nice one. I particularly adore that very powerful and awesome little lick he comes up with at the beginning of this! Mick Jagger's vocal performance seems like he's overdoing it. I guess the story behind Mick Jagger and this album was that he very nearly quit, but showed up at the last second to record these vocals! ...

Fight B-

Not bad... Once again, this song does seem too generic and stale for The Rolling Stones, and I'm guessing that's the reason Mick is singing like a total brute on it. (I mean... I wouldn't be surprised if he was growling unintelligibly all throughout this just to get up Keith's gander.) I can live with the overblown vocals, though. The main difference between this song and the previous one is that this riff isn't very interesting at all. It's your ordinary bar-rock.

Harlem Shuffle A

Now here's something good! This is a mightily solid cover of an old R&B song. The ultra-processed '80s production and drum beat are still here, to be sure, but I don't mind them so much when they're actually playing an interesting groove! Tom Waits and Bobby Womack can be heard singing in the background, I assume contributing that sort of neat party-chorus. Nicely done!

Hold Back C-

Mick Jagger completely destroys another one of Keith's songs, although truth be told, it wasn't much of a song to begin with. The riff isn't any better than any ordinary bar-rock band of the day, and it doesn't manage to capture even an ounce of excitement. While I don't blame Jagger for destroying a song that wasn't so hot to begin with, that didn't mean he had to act like a total idiot. It's really hard to listen to him growl and scream through this.

Too Rude B+

Ah, I'm not surprised I hated this minimalist reggae song when I originally reviewed this album, since I never cared for reggae. And I still don't, to be honest. But now, I think this is a mildly cool song. The echoey drum machine isn't such a great sound for The Rolling Stones, but it's an interesting sort of minimal touch that doesn't completely fail like you think it would. The bass guitar plays a nifty groove, and the lead vocals (by Keith... and Ronnie?) are quite nice. So there you go. Not a bad song, if I do say so.

Winning Ugly C-

Not so much *bad* as it is just BORING. Mick at least spares us from one of his idiotic vocal performances for the first half of the song. He completely loses it by the end, but it was pretty smooth sailing until that point! The main problem with this song is that it sucks! The riff is as boring as it gets, even more boring than I would expect a Huey Lewis & The News song to sound like. And it just repeats and repeats and repeats. I get the idea that half the reason Mick was singing like a total idiot was to try to develop it a little bit!

Back to Zero C-

The most unabashedly '80s song of the album so far, and it really doesn't suit them. I wouldn't mind the ultra-thwoppy drums and the synthesizers if they would JUST WRITE A SONG THAT'S ACTUALLY INTERESTING. The riff never takes off, and they come up with some of the weirdest fills imaginable for that drum machine! This sounds like they were trying to be cool like Michael Jackson, except this is lame. I will say that Jagger's crazy vocal performance makes this just slightly more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

Dirty Work B-

Acceptable this time, but I still don't find this to be much better than a Huey Lewis and the News song! (Sorry... I'm always picking on poor Huey Lewis. He had a pretty cool cameo in Back to the Future. That's definitely worth something.) Anyway, the general problem with this song is just that it's a sterile rocker and it doesn't have an interesting melody or riff to it or anything. Mick's vocals are being weird again, particular in that strange, muted sort of interlude they tack in here. But at least he's not as bad as he was on “Hold Back.” Count yer blessings, son.

Had it With You A

This is easily the most passionate and exciting moment of this album, because these lyrics were something that both Keith and Mick could agree on! Also, Mick's actually doing something constructive with his vocals, growling and going completely nuts of course, but he seems much more disciplined here and even seems pretty passionate. The other nice thing about this song is the ultra-tight boogie woogie groove they come up with. Mick even comes in with a pretty cool harmonica solo in here. So, there you go. This is a pretty good reason to own Dirty Work.

Sleep Tonight C

Keith takes the lead vocals again. I've recently been having interchanges with someone insistent that I'm greatly underrating Keith as a lead singer, but for the life of me I can't see where he's coming from. He has the vocals of a normal guy, I guess, which worked pretty dang well on some of his earlier performances, but here they seem pretty lifeless and boring. ...Of course, give me these vocals over Mick's incessant barking on these other songs! ...About this actual song, I'm going to complain once again that it's incredibly boring. It sounds like they were going after some gospel thing, but it's sloppy

Untitled

Ian Stewart was The Rolling Stones' longtime pianist, and he was even included in their official line-up at the very beginning of The Rolling Stones. He died in 1985, shortly after this album was finished, so they included this little snippet of him playing an old blues song as a sort of loving tribute. ...Some reviewers have called this the best moment of Dirty Work, and I don't even think they were being sarcastic!!!


Steel Wheels (1989)

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Steel Wheels

Sad Sad Sad B

This is highly energetic and polished song is certainly return-to-form for the band, but I hate to say that it doesn't really add a thing to The Rolling Stones legacy. It's more of a faceless bar-rocker from any old band of the era that hoped to be more like The Rolling Stones! The riff is OK, the melody is fine, and Jagger's vocals are properly rough and rowdy, but it's just not memorable to me. It's appealing and squeaky clean, but there's not enough grit to it. Come on—real men need their grits!

Mixed Emotions B

Alright. I think I can already tell how *all* these track reviews are going to go, so there's really no point in reading these. (Of course, I'm still going to write them, but that's only because I force myself to!) This album is full of very decent songs, but you could get music like this out of any well-polished retro rock act from the late '80s. So, there you go. Good, polished performances, decent hooks, Mick Jagger's singing like a rock star. All the elements are in place. But if there's Rolling Stones greatness in here, then I don't see it. More like Huey Lewis & The News greatness. They came to my college a few weeks ago. I didn't go to the concert, but I heard their echoes.

Terrifying B+

The best thing about this song by far is the bass groove, so props for Bill Wyman for that! That actually makes me the strong desire to tap my toes with it whereas the previous songs just made me want to sit back and say: “This sounds exactly like that movie I watched a few years ago called The Commitments!” My main complaint about this is that, once again, there's no real grit to this, and it also seems like it's about a minute too long.

Hold Onto Your Hat C

Mick Jagger still sings better than he did on Dirty Work, but his overly guttural chops here still seems so overblown that I fear his head was on the verge of exploding. The nice thing about this song is the guitars seem a lot grittier here. But that's greatly outweighed by the extremely banal song that they're playing. There's absolutely nothing catchy about this riff!!! It has a lot of raw energy, though, and I can sorta appreciate that.

Hearts For Sale B

I think the previous song ruined my good spirits, because I'm not enjoying this song at all! But taking a deep breath first, this song is pretty much the same thing as “Mixed Emotions.” In fact, they're so similar that it's nearly impossible to tell them apart; they're both marginally enjoyable and entirely forgettable mid-tempo rockers. I'm actually beginning to wonder if Huey Lewis & the News did this sort of thing better. (I mean, “I Want a New Drug” is pretty cool, right?)

Blinded By Love B-

Country muuuuuuuuuuuuuuusic........ Usually The Stones do great country music, but this excursion is so boring and forgettable that all it does is reminds me why I never listen to that music. (Although, seriously, give me this song over whatever happens to be playing on your local country station any day of the week! My mentally retarded Canadian roommate listens to country music all the time, so I know this to be true.) The instrumentation is quite good, although it still sounds pretty canned to me. Something more appropriate for a Billy Ray Cyrus album than a Rolling Stones one, I think.

Rock and a Hard Place B+

This song gets a B+ instead of a B just because I think Keef finally came up with a good riff! Apart from that, however, this song is another faceless hard-rock song from 1989 with arena drums, overly-polished instrumentation, and good rock star vocals from Jagger. It's one of the more infectious song of the album, probably; I'm more prone to tapping my foot with this one than even “Terrifying.” At the same time, I'm still fairly unimpressed with this.

Can't Be Seen B-

I'm not sure why, but most Keith Richards' songs from the '80s sound alike to me. They're usually quite toe-tapping and fun, though, so I guess that's a good thing. The main difference of this one is, of course, the uber-polishedness of the instrumentation! ...Although, I think the instrumentation did Keith an even bigger disservice than it did Jagger... Jagger could at least sing like a rock star. Keith's vocals sound weaker than ever amidst the gritless instrumentation standards of this album.

Almost Hear You Sigh B

Ho hum. Another mid-tempo song that sounds like pretty much everything else from the era. It has the big drums, an elevator music acoustic guitar performance, and a groove that's terribly bland. Jagger gives nice vocals as usual, but his vocal melody ain't that great. It's a nice song to sit back and listen to, but it's so over-polished that it has no face.

Continental Drift B

They're writing songs about geology! (It's a little-known fact that I do, indeed, hold a bachelor's degree in geology. So far, this has been the only good use I've had for it!) This is an eastern-tinged song, which I suppose was extremely passee for 1989. I like it alright, but it would have been better if they got rid of those '80s drums and made the atmosphere a little more engrossing! ... On the other hand, I enjoy listening to this song more than most Bollywood songs that I have ever sat through. (I wrote a paper on Bollywood once! It was fun!!)

Break the Spell B-

Even though I would classify this one as slightly grittier and seedier than the other songs, I get sick of this a little easier than the others. The riff is completely uninteresting to me, and there is woefully little drive in this. On the plus side, I do like listening to Jagger's guttural vocal performance. I actually thought that was Keith at first!

Slipping Away A

Ah, here's an actual Keith-led song that doesn't sound like the others! It's a very mellow and laid-back song with an incredibly sweet melody. Finally, the '80s didn't completely ruin this one, and I can actually completely enjoy the experience of listening to this. The instrumentation is slightly elevator-music-quality, but listening to these calming instruments play with one another is quite a pleasant experience. This album ends with a shocking high note!


Flashpoint (1991)

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Flashpoint

(Intro) Continental Drift

It's 30 seconds long. It's the intro!!! (Eh, nobody wanted to hear the full-length version of “Continental Drift!”)

Start Me Up A

Don't you think it's a little weird that Microsoft had this as a theme song even though it very prominently features the phrase “You make a grown man cry?” I guess that's the blue screen of death! (Hey, I'll give Microsoft a lot of credit; I haven't seen the blue screen at all since my Windows ME computer exploded.) Oh, and this is a really cool live version of this great Rolling Stones song. It's nothing that'll blow you away as a longtime Rolling Stones fan, but it's very enjoyable and energetic. There are some really nice improvised solos in here, and Mick's vocals are terrific. I think they finally got out of their '80s midlife crises and were ready again to actually start acting like the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world!

Sad, Sad, Sad B+

This sounds about a billion times better than it did on the original version. OK, maybe not *that* much better—the vocal melody and riff continues to be mostly uninteresting—but the guitar interplay in here is quite a lot better, I think. Very crowd pleasing, of course, but they actually have the stuff to please crowds! At first, I thought they sped up the pace, because this seemed to chug along a bit more. Well, they didn't. But somehow this version seems more heart-pumping. The best thing about it, though, is that it's much rawer and more organic. Charlie Watts, God bless him, apparently said NO to the stadium drums! Staying off the stadium drums is far more important than staying off drugs. Nancy Reagan be damned.

Miss You A-

Well, I don't think that The Stones quite had the inclination to jam the hell out of their songs like they used to, so dragging out this song to nearly six minutes long to include a lengthy Keef solo was probably unnecessary. But it's still a very good solo, and of course I could listen to them play this disco groove 10 minutes longer before starting to think I was getting tired of it. This is just a great piece of dance music. The groove is tight, and it's a lot of fun to listen to.

Rock and a Hard Place B+

If they had to perform stuff from Steel Wheels, then this would have been one of the one's I'd pick, because the riff is pretty dang cool. Just like “Sad Sad Sad,” I also think this is slightly improved from the Steel Wheels version, because it sounds rougher and more organic. At the same time, this looks pretty pale compared to the previous song. And the following one.

Ruby Tuesday B+

Do you remember that a long time ago it was the '60s? The Rolling Stones had a pop period! It's a little weird hearing this song done in a stadium setting... It just doesn't seem like the right place for such an intimate ballad. The piano and acoustic guitar seem like they're playing harder than they should be, and Watts' drums (contrary to my statement in “Sad Sad Sad”) sound to stadium-ish! Of course, this is still a great song, and I like hearing it. As you would expect.

You Can't Always Get What You Want A-

I like they even had someone on tour with them to play that french horn, or whatever the hell it is. I think Mick's starting to get a little bit too goofy and scattershot for his own good at the beginning (and he does a little audience participation thing). The guitars don't sound as utterly splendid as they probably could have... Keith's licks are fairly unremarkable. This was an epic song in its original album, and of course it's a little clunkier here, but it's still an epic song. AND I LIKE HEARING IT! OK... maybe that pop-gospel thing they do at the very end wasn't an altogether great idea...

Factory Girl A-

This was from one of The Stones' most celebrated albums, but it ain't exactly what people remember from it. Nonetheless, it's a classic, and it's nice to hear them pull this stuff out of their back catalog! (Mick even can't even seem to remember what album it came from!) The riffage here is nice and tight, and Jagger appears to be having the time of his life singing it. It's not a major song, I guess, but it's an extremely nice choice.

Can't Be Seen B-

Bah... This is one of the Keith Richards led songs from Steel Wheels, and I just don't care for it. It's a blandly written song, but at least it was played well enough to make it mostly an OK listen. Richards' singing voice is really raw and rough... Again, I don't think it's that great. It's not the most exciting song selection that they could have played, and they didn't add any new dimensions to it from the original or anything.

Little Red Rooster A

Ah, now this is a treat. It's very nice to see The Stones revisiting their deep, deep pasts as a bluesy band as they perform this cover from their ancient repertoire. Eric Clapton even came in to noodle around a bit with the band! I can't claim that his noodling is particularly splendid here. But it's still nice to hear him and Keef going at it. (Not that I'm able to tell which guitar lines are coming from which! I'm afraid I'm not nearly that savvy!)

Paint it, Black A

It's really fun hearing this old classic, too. Much more preferable than the stuff from the album they were touring, anyway! They create a pretty cool atmosphere with this one, bringing in someone or other to play some spooky chords on the keyboard. Charlie Watts' extremely pounding drum makes this an awfully foot-tapping experience. Mick is singing quite a bit lower than he usually does, and he sounds great! It's a bit theatric!

Sympathy For the Devil A-

When I saw the Stones in concert about 15 years after this, their version of “Sympathy For the Devil” was the highlight. I'll admit that a big reason for that was the elaborate multi-million dollar lights and props they were using! But also, hearing this song's busy-as-hell percussion is terribly fun to hear them live! (I can still remember exiting the stadium and listening to strangers call “ooo! ooo!” out to each other.) Well, this also happens to be one of the highlights of this live disc, too. It's just a tremendously enjoyable song to listen to, and these guys are still a well-oiled machine.

Brown Sugar A-

Yeah, these good oldies are not only what everyone in the audience wanted to hear, but they also make the live albums better! I don't think this version will give you any new dimension to it; they perform this simply as a sort of “party-time” song that was meant to make everybody in the audience go nuts dancing to it! And I'm sure they did!!!

Jumping Jack Flash A

Yup, they were definitely in party-time mode, pleasing the audience with their great old hits. “Jumping Jack Flash” is perhaps the party-most song they ever wrote! Again, I don't think they do anything particularly strange with it. It's a very straightforward rendition of it. But it's tremendously fun, with a great beat you can dance to. Keef and Ronnie do some nice guitarwork in here, and Mick's vocal performance is terribly bracing. Very nice!!!

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction A-

Man! Five songs in a row have been five of the most instantly recognizable songs of their back catalog! I'm in seventh heaven (whatever that is... sixth heaven would be quite alright with me... even second, probably, since that's the highest one where we are still allowed to listen to rock music...). Well, what can I say about The Rolling Stones performing one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs ever written? It's tremendously fun and energetic. Perhaps a little looser than it could have been, but that's only a minor complaint. I'm metaphorically off my buns right now, dancing up a storm.

Highwire B-

Hey! What are brand new studio tracks doing in here? ... Ah, well, I guess if Pat Benatar did it, then I guess The Rolling Stones had every right to! Well, this is a mightily solid song, but it unfortunately is about as bland and unremarkable as anything from Steel Wheels. The lyrics are interesting, I guess, trying to be a sort of anti-war anthem. Yeah, there was a war in the early '90s, and The Stones say NO to it!

Sex Drive C+

Yeah, we really shouldn't let women drive. ...No, wait, that came out wrong. We really shouldn't let The Rolling Stones come out with annoying songs like this. This is a well-performed but dull funk song where Jagger adapts a really annoying, sort of ultra-flashy tone to his vocals. The groove isn't infectious whatsoever, which is sort of the nail in its coffin as far as I'm concerned. I suppose it's danceable, if you're desperate, but there's just no life in this.


Voodoo Lounge (1994)

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Voodoo Lounge

Love is Strong A-

This mid-tempo song is hardly anything up there with their finest material, but the '90s incarnation of The Rolling Stones is alright with me. They did away with those horrid stadium drums and the gritless guitars that plagued Steel Wheels, and brought those instruments back to their proper, rawer level. Mick Jagger gives a surprisingly sex-crazed vocals, something we haven't heard out of this guy for freaking ages. Of course, the main problem remains... They just didn't have it in them to create more monster hits like they used to. Sad to say, but that's not a major shocker. Even though this isn't something that you'd want to put it in a greatest hits compilation, it remains a pretty dang enjoyable song. Good harmonica, too!

You Got Me Rocking A

Nice. This is more like it. This is something that The Stones could very well have recorded in the early 1970s, and it might have been pretty notable. It has a really butt-kicking, awesome riff, a passionate performance from a riled-up Mick Jagger, and quite a nice guitar solo too. (Of course, Keef's soloing has seen better days than this, but whatever. It's still nice to hear that guy.) I'm sure this sounded great in their live shows! ...That's probably what they wrote this for.

Sparks Will Fly A

Wow, man, I'm really enjoying this new Rolling Stones album! (...OK, it's more than 15 years old as I'm writing it, but it was released in a year that actually I remember, which is pretty freaking new considering the typical album I review.) That rubbery riff they come up with is so solid that, again, it's on the lines of their classic days! This song has tons of energy, the guitar sounds awesome, and Jagger's lead singing is gruff and passionate. Very cool.

The Worst B+

Not the worst, but not the best either. While these guys were largely successfully recreating their hard-rock glory days, they still had a ways to go before they'd be able to recreate the level of ballads like they used to. Indeed, this ain't no “Wild Horses” or “Angie.” The melody is too forgettable. At the same time, this is a pretty pleasant song. Keith Richards gives a pretty nice vocal performance with those rough chops of his, and I like the slide guitar!

New Faces B

The ghost of Brian Jones must have appeared to them in the studio or something. When was the last time a Rolling Stones song had a harpsichord on it? 1967 or 1968, I can't remember that far back. This is such a cute song, too. Perhaps a little bit too cute, but whatever. The melody is nice. (Oh, and what's with the song title? Did Mick want to disband The Stones and reform Ronnie's old band?)

Moon is Up B

This has a little bit of trouble getting off the ground for me, although that pounding rhythm and the bass-line is pretty freaking cool. The guitar solo they put in the middle seemed like it was hastily conceived... Just a lot of sliding cat scratchings, it seems. The vocal melody could have stood to be more interesting.

Out of Tears B+

Ah, now here's a piano ballad that begins to recall their earlier strengths with that style. This has a mightily compelling and soaring chorus! It's not anywhere close to “Wild Horses” or anything... it seems a bit, I guess, plain. I might even call it Tori-Amos-ish, if I was feeling mean. But Jagger gives a very pleasant performance, and the hooks are solid enough for me to enjoy listening to it very much.

I Go Wild A-

Here is a good, solid rocker with a catchy melody. That's what The Stones have always done best, and so I continue to be smiling ear-to-ear that they've finally resumed writing songs like they used to in the early '70s. The riff is good even though it reminds me a little too much of Huey Lewis & The News! Jagger's lead vocals are awesome and attitude-ridden. It wants to be nothing else than something great to tap your foot to. (My only complaint is that descent into stadium rock in the final third... It's nice that it's *cocky*, but it didn't really add anything.)

Brand New Car A

I love this tight, mid-tempo rocker! It has such a cool funk-riff, which I guess recalls Black and Blue, awesomely enough. The guitar texture they bring us is particularly great with all sorts of great, tight sounds... It's been quite awhile since they seemed to take such great care in a song! It makes a great, toe-tapping listen, too!

Sweethearts Together B

This romance ballad is so retro that it sounds right out of 1958! Man... if only the recording quality wasn't so crystal clear, this could have been right out of December's Children! ...Oh, I think that they could have made the melody richer; this seems to be way too common for The Rolling Stones. But I like the accordion, anyway! (I think it would be cool if I learned to play the accordion one day. Never mind that I'm too klutzy to play an instrument very well. If I ever win the lottery, I'm going to buy an accordion... You can mark my words.)

Suck on the Jugular B-

Man... Is this some sort of vampire anthem or something? ... That would have been cool. What we have instead is this ultra-polished funk-pop thing. Very modern. Very '90s. Interestingly, 15 years later, this is by far the album's most dated song. Leave this sort of crap to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Blinded By Rainbows B

Surely one of the better ballads on this album. I'm sort of wondering why they thought they needed to have so many ballads... The Rolling Stones should concentrate on ROCK 'N' ROLL, MAN!!!! ... Seriously, this is a nice song. Again, the melody is a bit plain and common. Not nearly as juicy as their old ballads used to be. Ah... Why am I repeating myself?

Baby Break it Down B+

Wow... They definitely found a nice riff for this one. That thing is mean and wild! Weirdly enough, what's missing here is the spirit. It's at such a clunky, slow pace that it doesn't even seem to want to catch fire. That's such a shame, because there was too much potential here for them to have just thrown something like this away. (C'mon, guys! Up that pace, and play the crap out of your guitars! LIKE THE OLD DAYS!!!)

Thru and Thru C

Alright, here's the example of how bad Keith Richards' lead vocals can get. The song starts up boringly as he sloppily wails over pretty much nothing. Charlie Watts' drumming is loud and thunderous, but his drumming just makes the song sound clunkier than it would have otherwise. Things get a little better in the last half when the drums are steadier, but it's all too little too late. Making it worse is a way-too-bloated six-minute running length.

Mean Disposition A-

Whew... the last half of this album has been pretty weak, so it's a good thing The Stones decided to end the album with a ROCKING bang! This is an old-school '50s rocker fully equipped with an R&B swagger, Chuck Berry guitar, Jerry Lee Lewis piano, and a smoky nightclub atmosphere. It's completely derivative, but The Stones weren't concerned with being too terribly “original” anymore, so that's not a problem. It's a lot of fun. That's what matters.


Stripped (1995)

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Stripped

Street Fighting Man A-

Have I ever told you that I love this song? ...Oh, I'm sure that I have... What a cool song!! It's not anywhere close to the original, of course, and you know it's going to lose a lot in an acoustic reworking. Although, to their credit, they do manage to make it ROCK even without the electric guitar, which is the best possible compliment I suppose I can give to it. Perhaps most importantly, these guys sound like they're having a lot of fun recording this. ...And when The Rolling Stones are having fun, you can bet that I'm having fun, too!

Like a Rolling Stone A

Wow! I guess they sang this song just 'cos of the name, but it's a really good version! It's little more than a completely straightforward version of it, but The Rolling Stones are mega rock-gods, so them doing anything straightforward-like is bound to be excellent, right? Mick Jagger even comes in with an excellent harmonica solo in here. ...This is just a very happy and spirited Dylan cover. You might enjoy it!

Not Fade Away A-

Wow! (OK, I probably shouldn't start two track reviews in a row with the same interjection.) Perhaps I'm getting all worked up over nothing, but this reinterpretation of this old '50s classic is quite good! That ultra-busy, shuffly rhythm gives us a very nice and tight texture. It's really weird, and not really something I'd completely expect for this song. Jagger's certainly in top form with some terribly engaging lead vocals.

Shine a Light B

Oh yeah, I remember this song! It's a good one! ...Um, but I think for this live album, they could have done it better. The beginning sounds a little too stripped, I guess, and Jagger's vocals seem rather strained as they try to be all flamboyant and stuff. Stop trying so hard, man! ...Unfortunately, this song also doesn't give me a cool rhythm or vibe like the previous three did. So, I can only leave this as a B.

The Spider and the Fly A

They really reached out of their deep and dark past for this one! This is a song that was credited to that quasi-talented fellow named “Nanker Phelge.” As it turns out, this is quite a surprise! Not only did they even dare to look back in their discography this far, but they give a mightily good reinterpretation of it. The bluesy riff is hard and confident, Jagger's lead vocals and harmonica are spirited, and (of course) the melody is swingin' and catchy. This one sounds like they recorded it in an intimate nightclub, and that helped it too.

I'm Free A-

Huh... Once again, they pulled this out of their deeeeeep and daaaaaaaark past. This is so obscure that I can actually claim to have forgotten that it existed. (I know there's a commercial somewhere that features this song.) The Rolling Stones had written this just as they were figuring out how to write songs, so it's not quite as amazing as their peak material. But this dippy little pop song is terribly pleasant and has a mightily catchy hook to it. Catchy enough to be featured in a commercial, methinks!

Wild Horses B+

Ohhhhhh! Here is a great Rolling Stones song! It's ... er ... wait a minute. Why am I not getting caught up in its vibe? ... Oh, man! This rendition doesn't give the original song justice! Not that it's a *terrible* rendition, or anything, but Jagger's lead vocals don't engage me much at all, and the instrumentation just seems to be doing the standard things. As a matter of fact, I get rather bored with this! BORED, I TELLS YAH! That is not a good thing.

Let it Bleed A

Awesome! This is, of course, one of the great Rolling Stones rock 'n' roll songs, and it's a total pleasure hearing it again. But the icing on the cake is that wonderful slide guitar solo in the middle of it! I don't know who is playing that, being it Keith of Ronnie, but it's a complete pleasure. There was some very appealing chemistry at work when these guys recorded this!

Dead Flowers A

Really cool. I usually don't like country-western tunes, but I like *this* country-western tune. Really, if everything out there sounded this good, then I'd be a fan of the genre! But of course, people like Toby Keith have go and suck all the life out of it. Blech... Back to The Stones. This is an interesting pick from Sticky Fingers, and they perform it mightily well. Of course, the band sounds extremely tight, and it's a terribly fun song.

Slipping Away B

Uh oh, this Keef-led ditty is from Steel Wheels! But the good news is that this is one of that album's few good songs. More good news, this song actually benefits wildly from the “stripped-down” instrumentation. If you're going to appreciate Keef's singing voice, it's going to be something in a raw and untamed state as a “stripped down” live presentation. ...I'm looking at my track review from Steel Wheels, and I suspect I overrated it, because this melody ain't so compelling to me anymore. I also think they dragged this on for two minutes longer than it needed to be... It just seems to have lost its steam at the end.

Angie B-

Like “Wild Horses,” this is one of the great Rolling Stones ballads, but it seems to be missing something terribly with this live version. Jagger's lead vocals, again, seem to try too hard instead of just flowing like they were supposed to. ...I really don't know why Jagger is vibrating his voice like that. ...Blech. The band doesn't really do it any favors sounding utterly loose and unrehearsed. ...C'mon, you guys usually sound tight!

Love in Vain B

I guess this was literally a rehearsal session. They start to play this... and just as Mick starts to sing those lyrics, the completely stop and chatter around a bit. ...I dunno. I'm not that interested in hearing them doing rehearsals to the point where I'm about to turn the volume up and figure out what they were saying to each other! I guess a true-blue Stones fan might, so more power to them I guess. This song starts out with just Jagger singing with a slow, bluesy acoustic guitar, but eventually a slide guitar, bass guitar, and the drums come in. ...It's all quite good, but a tad too slow moving for me. The electric guitar noodles are fine, but they're not electrifying enough to completely redeem this, and they get awfully cluttered by the end. It sounds like these guys are falling asleep.

Sweet Virginia B

Quite good this time, I think. This is one of their classic country-western tunes, and it has a terribly nice melody and a good vibe. My only complaint is that this sounds so dang polite. Particularly with lyrics like that, it seems like Mick should have given those lead vocals a little bit of VERVE, and the band isn't doing anything that Billy Ray Cyrus's band didn't also do for “Achy Breaky Heart.” ...And I really don't know what that bedroom soul saxophone is doing in here. It adds nothing and just makes it seem more cheesy.

Little Baby B-

Once again, it's nice that they pulled out an old blues song that I assume was in their original repertoire. They play it pretty nicely, although it still manages to sound an awful lot like they were falling asleep at the wheel. They were just playing a blues song as straight as it could get. ...Geez, I want at least a little bit of passion, you know? I'd even much prefer that Mick revert back to that ultra-cocky state he got into in the late '70s... This politeness is way too unsettling.


Bridges to Babylon (1997)

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Bridges to Babylon

Flip the Switch A

I think I just repeat what everybody else in the world says: It's really cool that The Rolling Stones were still able to rock out like this even though they were wrinkly old farts. (Of course they'd still be going strong more than a decade after this album, so they apparently considered themselves young sprats in 1997!) Not only does this song rock hard and has an incredibly driving and toe-tapping rhythm, but old Keef comes out of his coma and delivers a truly riveting riff. It's even quite a weird one for a Rolling Stones song, having the sound and feeling of some sort of Middle Eastern tune. Strange and awesome.

Anybody Seen My Baby? C+

The dingow aytcho baybe!!!!! (Couldn't resist!) ... OK, it's one thing when an old rock band aims to sound as riveting and youthful as they did 25 years ago, but it's a completely different thing when they try writing music aimed directly at younger listeners. I thought that The Stones had finally come to terms with the fact that the only people who are going to be interested in buying their albums are old fogies like themselves! But I guess they still had to try to give it one last go, eh? ...I suppose I shouldn't complain about this since they wrote disco and punk music in the late '70s to appeal to the young-types, so they were pretty well accustomed to updating their sound. I'm sure that the only reason I'm objecting to this is because I think pop music of the late '90s was pretty universally godawful. And having a rapper in here didn't help matters. (I mean... seriously. A rapper in a Rolling Stones song? Don't they know that rap stinks?) This overall melody is OK, but the chorus doesn't do much for me at all. It's all too smooth rock for me, and caters way too much to the mainstream. Not enough creativity in this.

Low Down A-

Yeah, here's the ultimate proof that The Stones were at their best when they were sounding like The Stones! They bring out a mightily tight and enjoyable riff for this one while Mick sings the lyrics most passionately! Perhaps they could have written a better melody or a catchier riff for it... But this is pretty good, anyway. That chorus is memorable and rather powerful. Though I guess the verses section could have been more lively. (That's the reason for a non-A rating.) Nonetheless, it's a lot of fun listening to the guitars throughout. They're sloppy but in a good way. Sure, they've played better, but it's nice that they're taking better care of their signature instrument, which is all I ever wanted!

Already Over Me B

This is a limp ballad, if you ask me. (And you did ask me, right??) The *form* of a nice ballad is certainly here. The band seems tight and altogether, and Mick is singing very well. It could have been pretty great, but this melody is dull and unmemorable. Though, give it its due credit for sounding nice and pleasant, as well as for a mightily fine Keith Richards (I presume) solo in the middle.

Gunface B+

Extra points for a riff that interests me as well as a successfully driving rhythm. I just think that they could have made this a little more memorable. This is all a tad blank. But I do adore the spirit of it. Mick's growl singing here proves just how good he is, and there's even a mightily interesting buzzy guitar solo in the middle. ...So, if this had more of a melody or something, there's no reason this wouldn't have been up there with the best they've ever done! (Of course, their classic songs all had great hooks in them...)

You Don't Have to Mean It B

It's still a little bit strange to me that these guys were big fans of reggae. I mean, how can the greatest rock 'n' roll band of the planet earth like such a dumb type of music? (...OK, I don't really think reggae is dumb. I just wanted to get a rise out of you! I put reggae more in the “lame” category!) ...Ah, these guys can do reggae if they want to, but I don't have to *like* it, do I? Again, if they came out with a more interesting hook, then this song would have been better. But, that said, I do like the overall sound of it. It's very laid-back, of course, and it also adds some diversity to this record!

Out of Control B+

Quite good, although it's missing what it needed to become the sort of song that you'd care to remember. They definitely got the mood right at the beginning of this... more of a subdued, atmosphere with a quasi-funky groove. And then they continue to do the nice thing and make the song explode a bit a cool chorus. Mick turns in a mightily cool harmonica solo in here... Man, do people give Mick his due credit for his harmonica abilities? I wish *I* could play the harmonica like that! ...All in all, this is a good song, but it could have done with a bit more drive to its pace and a more memorable melody.

Saint of Me B+

I like that subdued church organ that begins this sort of anti-gospel song. Just a gimmick, I guess, but it's a little something that sets this apart from the others. Jagger continues his recent tendency to turn in gritty and exciting vocal performances, and I definitely appreciate that along with the rest of the world. (And, of course, we all believe his proclamation that 'nobody will make a saint out of him!') This is quite a fun upbeat song! Some good, gritty guitar on it, too!

Might As Well Get Juiced A-

Funny how I almost instantly reject any attempt for The Stones to update their sound to the '90s. That's probably evident at how little I tend to care for '90s music compared to classic rock, and The Stones going in that direction seems completely unnecessary to me! But anyway, since this song exists, let's give it a shot! ...Really, it's not bad! Not the most inspired thing I ever laid my ears on. I like the drum-beat, and that thumpy bass. That bending, buzzy synthesizer that whooshes around occasionally was a pretty cool touch. It sounds like Mick's vocals were given some sort of post-production embellishment, and it actually sounds pretty good. So there you go. The Stones sound decent acting modern.

Always Suffering B-

Somehow I don't believe that these guys were suffering! I mean, these old guys seemed pretty dang healthy especially for all the drugs they put in their systems over the years! But I digress. Let's see... This is a ballad, but it's an awfully boring one. It's performed well and generally makes a nice listen, but I really prefer to listen to ballads with engaging melodies. Without that, it can't really penetrate into your soul! And that's what these are supposed to do, right?

Too Tight B

Yah, I like it best when The Rolling Stones just do hard rock. I mean, that's their specialty, right? Though as far as hard rock songs, this is fairly unremarkable. Again, their melody- and riff-writing has seen better days. The best thing about this song is the way it sounds. Jagger's singing with tons of spirit, and the guitars are rough. ...Just this thing has trouble inspiring me.

Thief in the Night B

The album's obligatory Keef-led song, and it's not too shabby. Just a little bit slow moving for my tastes. It never does anything after initially establishing its very low-key and sluggish pace. Keef does give a pretty nice vocal performance, though. And when I say “nice,” I mean he really just mutters. But this is the sort of song that's probably best when muttered.

How Can I Stop C+

Ehhhhhhhh. First of all, this is the first time in Rolling Stones history that Keef's vocals have led two songs in a row, and that is a problem. If I listen to too much of Keef, I start to get antsy and want to listen to good old Mick again! The second problem is that this is another extremely slow and murky song. The third problem is that this goes on for seven minutes and, like the previous song, never goes anywhere. Except for the end when a saxophone or whatever starts noodling around, and Charlie Watts floods his cymbals like some sort of loony patient. Bahhhh. That doesn't save it. This song wallows!


No Security (1998)

Read the full review:
No Security

Intro

Audience noises cheering with these big booming sounds! I'm gettin' excited, too!

You Got Me Rockin' A

Very cool! If they really had to pick a selection from Voodoo Lounge, then it's a good thing they picked this one, 'cos it RULES! Just as its title suggests, this is a rockin' affair where the guitars are crunchy, the pianist channels Jerry Lee Lewis, and Mick Jagger's vocals are as lively and spirited as ever. Lemme also congratulate Keef on an excellent guitar solo, too. It sort of channels Chuck Berry—it'd have to—but it has its own alluring, twisted qualities! All in all, this is a foot stompin' bit of fun!

Gimme Shelter A+

Ah, now this right here is the #1 reason you should get this live album. Of course it's a song that we've all heard a million times, but that quiet and creepy way they start this off immediately draws me in. And then I'm left listening to them play this amazingly tight groove. And then Keef's and Ronnie's guitar interplay is better than it has been for years. Just so well-oiled, interesting, and exciting. Holy crap, these guys are back!! I suppose that Mick didn't have to bark the lyrics like that, but that's just a minor beef. This is great treatment of this classic song! (Mick goofs around at the end... always a pleasure!)

Flip the Switch A

Again, if they really must perform stuff from their latest album, then they're definitely picking the right ones so far! As I said in the Bridges to Babylon review, this is one of the most interesting riffs that they've come up with in a long time, and it surprisingly sounds well at home coming after the previous song. Listening to this excellent lead guitar is something else, man! I think Keef has finally become immune to all the drugs he was taking!

Memory Motel B

This isn't one of their best ballads, but I like it! It's from Black and Blue, so I guess it's nice that they were pulling stuff out of that underloved album! Somebody named Dave Matthews comes along and does a guest vocal. I don't care about Dave Matthews, but whatever. If Matthews was the reason they seemed to drag it past its expiration date, then I say cut him!

Corinna B

This giant building from India does guest vocals on this one, and man! That guy can sing pretty well for a building! I don't recognize the song they're singing, though. It seems pretty good. It's got some bluesy swagger to it, and of course these guys were masters at the genre. ...I don't know, this isn't the world's most interesting thing to me, though, apart from the cool guitar noodles and Mick taking up some harmonica.

Saint of Me A-

Alright, now those two guest appearances are out of the way, we can go back to enjoying THE ROLLING STONES! ........... Wow, I remember this one from Bridges of Babylon, but I don't remember it rocking out quite like this! The original version seemed a bit reserved to me, but these guys let it run freely here. Again, the guitars are amazing... I'm listening to this with headphones right now, and it's quite a thing listening to Keith's guitar coming out in one side and then Ronnie's perfectly complimenting it out the other. All very subtly of course, and they're doing nothing but texture-based noodles. Very cool!!!!!! (I find it impressive that they were able to get the audience to sing the chorus... I would expect that on one of their classics songs, but it's a bit strange for them to do it on a new one!)

Waiting on a Friend A

Ah..... Now here's a song that is realllllly nice that they performed. It's a rather under-loved ballad that they had written in the early '70s, but didn't appear on one of their albums until Tattoo You. It has a terribly sweet melody, and Jagger sings it about as well as he probably did on the original. The saxophone solo they bring in mid-way through is pretty good, too, as far as saxophone solos go! It's not full of squeals, but it's also not as brainless as Kenny G.

Sister Morphine A-

This slow song from Sticky Fingers is of course a classic, although it seems to be missing that druggy atmosphere I liked about the original! (Ah, now I should just be happy that they're doing live songs that are comparable to their studio counterparts. That's all I ask.) Once again, these guitarists are in fine form again. I don't know what prompted them to get out of that coma—maybe it was finally reaching a mature old age—but I like it! Keep it up!!

Live With Me A-

Awesome! They brought this one back from Let it Bleed, the best album of all mankind! That was the perfect song for a concert, too, since it has such a fun and pounding rhythm, and a very cool riff. I can't say what exactly keeps me from an A score... maybe it needed more drive or something. But of course it does have drive! This is The Rolling Stones!

Respectable A

Awesome! They brought back this rollicking punk song from Some Girls! And one more, this band sounds as tight as ever, so listening to this is a freaking blast from beginning to end! Keith is there jamming some of his most exciting Chuck-Berry-isms, and Mick is also in good form singing that catchy melody without resorting to those weird mannerisms that he does sometimes. This rendition is more than respectable!

Thief in the Night B

Ah..... I guess the rule that Keith has to sing lead vocals on at least one song applies to live albums as well. ...This is pretty good though. It's a not-too-terribly-exciting pick from Bridges to Babylon. The melody isn't too interesting. But Keith sings it about as well as he could, and the guitars are still noodling along quite pleasantly.

The Last Time A-

Of all the songs on this album, this pick all the way back from Out of Our Heads is probably the coolest! I mean, they did this song A LONG TIME AGO! It ruled back then, and it rules now. Probably not the greatest rendition of this song that ever walked the face of the earth... I'm just more delighted that they thought so far back in their discography! Keith comes in with some nice solos. I sort of wish that Mick would have sang a little more on-key...

Out of Control A-

Somehow this manages to be a little more rollicking and joyous than the original version from Bridges to Babylon. Obviously, these guys were completely on fire!!! This doesn't stand too well next to some of their mega-classics melody-wise or riff-wise, but this has more energy than people in their '50s were designed to muster. Jagger's vocals are in top form, growling the vocals like some maniac. I even like that sax solo they bring in occasionally! It might not be the greatest Rolling Stones song of all time, but it's quite a good closer to this impressive live album.


Live Licks (2004)

Read the full review:
Live Licks

Brown Sugar A-

OK, right away, you can tell that these guys weren't in the same *top form* as they were in No Security. The band sounds looser, and Mick seems like he's losing his breath a bit. Not that he was getting terribly old, but I'd imagine that he was still hopping and waving his arms around. You try to sing coherent lead vocals while doing that! ...My, my, there was only one Mick Jagger in the world! Anyway, I needn't tell you that this is a great song, and they perform it well. This is The Rolling Stones. No doy.

Street Fighting Man A+

I also needn't say that this is a solid rendition of a great Rolling Stones song. I mean, if you expected anything less than a solid rendition, then you haven't been paying attention! They create quite a nice, dirty ruckus with this one. Of course, they're not trying to play it so much *tightly* as they are just trying to play it rudely, and they can do that just as well. The gruffy guitars flail around most pleasantly and a scaling piano even comes in for the fun. It sounds almost like they're playing for the last time.

Paint it, Black A+

Cool! They might not have had the sitar or whatever instrument Brian Jones had, but they have a guitar or something that sounds a lot like it. It creates quite an appealing texture! Of course, Charlie is still here with those incredibly pounding drums, and that's part of the reason this rendition is so spectacular to listen to. Again, the guitarists aren't always playing tightly, but they're playing well, picking up quite a grand ruckus. Jagger's lead vocals teeter on the fine line between spirited and goofy, and that's part of the fun of listening to him. ...The synth-strings someone plays in the background were a surprisingly nice, epic touch. Not bad!

You Can't Always Get What You Want B

Hey, it might have cost you $150 to go to this concert, but at least The Stones have spared no suspense bringing in a horn player for the introduction of this! Although I will say that Mick gets a little lazy here by not singing some of the lyrics, instead expecting the audience to sing it for him. To that, I say, whatever man! I paid $150 to hear you sing! I'm not gonna do your job! ....... OK, I like audience participation when I go to concerts. It's like they're talking to me or something. It's not so great in live albums, but it's not a deal-breaker for me. All in all, this is a good live rendition, although it's not as wholly wonderful as the three previous live songs. The guitar solo in the middle isn't that great. And, besides the audience participation stuff, Mick's doing these weird belch things that we heard him do in Love You Live. I'm also not sure I like them turning it into a TV evangelist gospel song at the end. ...Eh.

Start Me Up B+

You make a grown man cry!!! You hear that, Microsoft? The only reason The Stones are always performing this song is because they still can't believe that you wanted to use this song as your theme! ...While this is a good rendition of a great song, I don't think the uber-sloppiness of it turned out to create such a spirited experience as I got from “Street Fighting Man” and “Paint it, Black.” The guitar solos are a little less inspired, and again Mick's lead singing starts to get a bit cocky at times. Man! I thought he was past that stage!!

It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It) A

I like it too!!! And I like this song, because they get quite an exciting chugging groove going! And when it comes down to it, isn't that what a Rolling Stones concert was about? Them playing a chugging riff and the audience dancing along with it? Hells yeah! There's more of the audience participation stuff in this one, which I guess shows that this live album as a whole won't be as priceless as No Security, but that doesn't matter. This song is fun.

Angie A-

Cool. They do their ballads well on this live album. I remember they screwed one up royally on Flashpoint, which is why I'm always skeptical about this! Anyway, this is a great song, of course, and it's a real pleasure to hear them do. The band plays their acoustic guitars well, the piano is pleasantly tinkling, and Mick is alright until for some reason he stops singing in the middle of this.

Honky Tonk Woman B-

I'm not sure why they made this one more bouncy and bubbly than the original's more confident and rollicking version. Listening to this is still pretty cool, but I've got to say this new approach to the song is the first major gaffe in this live album. It just doesn't seem to have near the amount and drive to it that the original did. Having Sheryl Crow take over Mick's duties was a pretty bad idea, too. Does anybody care about Sheryl Crow? I didn't think so. WE JUST WANT MICK, THANK YOU!!!!!! The guitars are sloppy here as always, but they start to become a bit of a clunky burden.

Happy B

Call me insane, but this is by far the least well-known song on this 'greatest hits' first half. Was this even a hit? Sure, it's from Exile, one of the most celebrated albums of The Stones' discography, but I can't say I hear this very often. I guess they had to let Keith sing somewhere. And his weird, wheezy vocals sort of inaudibly flail about this. Argh... Whoever told Keith that he should take lead vocals on Rolling Stones songs should be smacked around for this performance specifically! All in all, though, this is a fun, swinging song so... whatever. I won't complain about it. Much.

Gimme Shelter A

It's performed a lot like it was on No Security, which begs the question: Why did they do it again? ...I don't know. Who cares? It doesn't quite generate that sort of intense atmosphere that I remember from No Security, but that doesn't exactly surprise me. But they do generate quite a fun, chugging rhythm again, which I always appreciate hearing out of them of course! Mick gives a rightfully spirited vocal performance even though he lets his voice get overtaken slightly by that female back-up singer.

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction A-

Ah, I always welcome another opportunity to hear them do this song again! I just don't find it as inspiring as it probably could have been. Although I can't blame them for not being terribly inspired with it since they've performed it a billion times by now. Ah well. At least Keith comes in with a nice solo, and of course, they get a good chugging groove going! Mick's lead vocals are so obscured that all I really hear most of the time are a bunch of grunts! Apart from that, I love it!

Neighbours B+

This must be the beginning of the second disc where they start performing songs that you rarely hear them do live. This little “rarity” from Tattoo You sounds like an ordinary boogie-woogie nightclub song, and they perform it quite well! Although it's far from one of their great songs for a good reason; it's quite generic. That said, we don't really care about that. Keith comes in with an exceptional '50s-oriented guitar solo, and of course the rhythm is 100 percent toe-tapping.

Monkey Man A-

Surely this song is more famous than “Happy.” ...Ah well, I'm gonna quit wondering about that. This is one of the great songs from their best album, Let it Bleed, and I'm absolutely thrilled to hear them doing this again. I mean, aren't you? The original was known for its absolutely impeccable and frightening atmosphere, and they weren't quite able to recreate that feeling in this remake. But whatever. It's a great Rolling Stones song with a chugging rhythm. What more could you ask for, then?

Rocks Off A-

Alright. This song is even more famous than “Happy,” and it's from the same album! ...It must've been the Keef thing. Anyway, do I need to repeat to you what my opinion of this song is? It's a good rendition of an excellent song. The Stones get quite an exciting chugging groove going! Does it get any better than that? Maybe it could have done with a great horn section, but they do great with it of course.

Can't You Hear Me Knocking B+

Wow! It's cool hearing them do this song again! It was originally a seven-minute jam tune, and they extend it to 10 minutes for this one. I suppose there wasn't a great reason to extend it for so long. Maybe they could have axed that lite-jazz bit in the middle of it. (And when I say “lite-jazz,” I mean it's still 100000000 times better than everything of Kenny G's career combined. I mean, there's a real saxophone noodling around!) This is a fun experience if a bit too rambly and pointless at times. Hm...... it seems that this song is never going to end........................................... I'm just going to keep on writing dots until it's over......................................................................................................... OK, I won't keep doing that. It'll just go and mess up the Internet. ...I'll just sit here and listen to it, I guess. YOU STILL ROCK ME, KEEF!!!

That's How Strong My Love Is B

A new track! Finally! Here's a song that I'm sure we all forgot existed. It came after “The Last Time” in Out of Our Heads. It was extremely derivative, but everything was back then. It's certainly fun hearing them do this song again. Of course, the instrumentation didn't stop being loose and undisciplined, but they still sound solid performing it. Mick's vocals are pretty good, although they get flakier than usual there in the middle. (Pssst... why are you whispering?)

The Nearness of You B-

This song is so obscure that I never heard it before! In fact, it's not even by The Rolling Stones! It a song from 1938 written by somebody named Hoagey Carmichael. That's making me hungry! ...And Keef does the lead vocals, which means you can expect a lot of wheeziness throughout this. (Seriously, wasn't there a Toy Story character inspired by Keith Richards?) I sort of like his vocals, though; They always sound better with the more understated songs. I don't think that piano should have sounded so twinkly and cheery, though, and that horn section is just a little too good. It seems a bit too much like Keef is messing up a perfectly decent karaoke song, then.

Beast of Burden B+

Yay! I remember this song from Some Girls. I heard it in the grocery store the other day, so I think it probably belonged on the first half of the album! But whatever. I don't care. I just like hearing this great old song! ....I do wish that Jagger would shape up and stop barking those lyrics. Again, I thought he was beyond that stage!! I also don't think that the band created quite the foot-stompin' rhythm that they might have. So. Em. In the end, this is good for reminding us how great that song was!

When the Whip Comes Down A

More yay! They brought back one of their punkish attempts from Some Girls. Everyone likes this song, don't they? Given that it was one of the punk songs, you can bet that this is going to be one of the rollicking moments of the album. The rhythm is exactly the sort of thing that'll make you want to tap your foot with it, and the guitars create quite a stir! This, my friends, is what life is all about. Well, this and cotton candy. And Joseph Cotten. And other things, too. But seriously, “When the Whip Comes Down” rules!

Rock Me, Baby A

The Stones do an excellent job covering B.B. King! Don't you remember in the mid '60s when these guys covered a lot of old blues songs? This is a retread of those days. And it's cool. Keith's bluesy riffs are as solid as ever, and Mick's lead vocals are fun and confident. The rhythm is rocky and swinging. 'Tain't half bad! It's a billion times better than that Taj Mahal song, anyway!

You Don't Have to Mean It B-

Yeah, Mick Jagger had been following that philosophy for years! And, why the hell are they covering this song? I mean, of all the songs from Bridges of Babylon that they could have covered, why did it have to be the reggae one? ...Ah, heck if I know. If I ever had any idea what The Rolling Stones were thinking, I'd probably have invented inflatable toilet paper by now and I'd be lazing around a beach in Hawaii listening to a Jimmy Buffett album right now. (Hey, don't you tread on my dreams!) Anyway. This OK. I guess. Keith is singing this. Hm. (You should go do an image search on Google for Jimmy Buffet's Somewhere Over China. That douche bag is standing on Africa!)

Worried About You B+

Not that I'm really a Jimmy Buffett fan so to speak. I'm just fascinated by cheeseburgers who are in paradise. I mean, how did it get there? And why am I stuck here in the Pacific Northwest? Why is a cheeseburger more deserving of paradise than I am? ...That's all I'm saying. ...And, wow, these guys pulled out quite a strange song from Tattoo You to cover here. It's a ballad that Mick had originally did with a falsetto vocal. ...But his falsetto voice turned into something more along the lines of one of the drag characters from Monty Python's Flying Circus. It's so ridiculous that I can't help but freaking laugh. But hey, you gotta give Jagger credit for being completely gung-ho about it. Never doubt his confidence for one micro-second.

Everybody Needs Someone To Love A

Oh! Oh! Oh! I remember this song! It's from Rolling Stones Now! And I'll be danged if this isn't significantly better than the studio version was. Give me that swinging horn section and bouncy rhythm for all the tea in Africa! Undoubtedly the coolest thing about it is one of the cowriters of the actual song, Solomon Burke, comes on stage and duets with Mick for a bit! .......I MEAN, HE ACTUALLY COWROTE THE SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And what a singer, too! He's all crazy and guttural and stuff! This sounds like the sort of gospel song they threatened to turn “You Can't Always Get What You Want” into at the end, except this is how it's done. And that crazed saxophone solo completely rules. You'll have to listen to it. ...All in all, this is quite a pleasant surprise!


A Bigger Bang (2005)

Read the full review:
A Bigger Bang

Rough Justice A

Oh yum! The Rolling Stones prove that they could still make exciting rock 'n' roll numbers. Although, this isn't too terribly original, even for The Rolling Stones. I've heard this riff before plenty of times. But these guys can still get quite a stompin' beat going, and as far as generic rock 'n' roll goes, this is about as solid as it gets! You know, they could just pull this sort of thing out effortlessly whenever they wanted to, and I'm quite glad that they were in that mood. Mick's vocal performance is surprisingly exciting!

Let Me Down Slow B+

Good, but not great. This one still rocks quite well, and the vocals and guitar sound fantastic, but the melody isn't something I'm too likely to remember after the song is done playing. There's something nice going on with the chorus, but again it seems like a lot of other choruses that you hear. ...But just like the previous song, this band sounds utterly tight and exciting playing this generic rock 'n' roll!

It Won't Take Long A-

They come up with a pretty neat riff for this one. It's really simple, though... more simple than these things usually are... But I sort of like it. Mick's vocal melody again ain't anything to write home about. But at least the beat is driving, and that obligatory electric guitar solo in the final third is interesting. Again, this is quite a fun listen!

Rain Fall Down A

This is a really cool song with a really catchy groove. It sounds rather modern R&B tune to my ears, but The Rolling Stones actually pull that off with flying colors here. That fast-paced guitar riff that Keith comes up with is pretty cool, and Mick's lead vocals once again, are quite clear and excited. It's nice to hear that the dude is trying hard at least!

Streets of Love B

It's pretty obvious that I'm better able to take their generic rockers over their generic ballads! But as far as generic ballads go, I can't say that this is too terrible. The sheer confidence that these 60-year-olds have performing this music shines out my speakers like some sort of death ray. They might be singing a boring melody, but somehow I can still become slightly entranced with it! It helps that the guitars sound gritty and excellent. Just the right tonessssssss.

Back of My Hand B+

The blues! These guys used to do this sort of mid-tempo blues song all the time! Old man Mick Jagger now sounds like he's a 60-year-old, which is just about right. Again, the guitars sound excellent, which helps me endure this excessively generic riff. Mick's harmonica soloing throughout isn't bad, either. All in all, this isn't too shabby!

She Saw Me Coming A-

I'm still waiting for these guys to lay on the bombs! This song has a little bit of a reggae/tropical vibe, but they keep the guitars rough and the drums crunchy, so this isn't quite as groan inducing as their previous reggae outings. ...But then again, I also start to wonder why all these songs start to sound the same. I mean...... All of these songs have the same sort of instruments on it! ...Ah, I'll complain about anything, I guess. This is a fitfully enjoyable song. So there.

Biggest Mistake A-

Quite good this time! This is a mid-tempo ballad, I think, but this one has a good enough melody that I can hum along pleasantly with it. Naturally, it's hardly original, and it won't ever slice into your soul like their massive classics were in that department. But there's something very sweet and slightly spooky about this. Maybe I just like its mood most of all?

This Place is Empty B

Oh no... the obligatory Keith Richards led piece. But this time, his vocals aren't bad sounding, and the gentle, low-key sort of song is more appropriate to his vocals, which sound more cracky than ever. The melody probably could have been better, which is why I had to mark the song down a bit. But it also makes a pretty nice listen altogether. Not bad at all.

Oh No, Not You Again A-

Hells yeah! There's nothing better than these harder rockin' songs. This isn't the world's most exciting or distinctive song, I suppose, but like everything else here, it's nothing but entertaining. And, of course, the fast paced songs are something that you can tap your foot with! (And you can sing along with the dirty lyrics if you want.)

Dangerous Beauty B

In this case, Mick's singing seems to be overdoing it. I know... he was singing all boisterously like this for the whole album, but somehow it seems like it would have been better if he would have toned it down and gave it some more style! Nonetheless, this mid-tempo song continues to be quite fun to listen to even if there isn't anything greatly memorable about it. Everything is in its right place, at least.

Laugh, I Nearly Died B-

This is one of the ballads. It's weaker than most of these other ones, just because it's kind of slow moving. I would have expected the chorus to have gotten out and soared a bit, but it doesn't really. It goes on for five minutes, and never really does anything. At least Mick's vocal performance is soulful. (I get the impression, again, that he is overdoing it, but that might just be because I'm thinking about it too hard. Ahhhh, give props to the old guy!)

Sweet Neo Con B+

A very political song, if you got that impression. This was done right at the height of the conservative power before everything seemed to shortly slip away from them. Anyway, I guess The Rolling Stones cutting a song like this is a pretty good indicator of a sector of “public sentiment.” ...I don't care about the lyrics, because I don't care what rock stars think about politics. What I care about is they brought back the loud drum beat, and some tight Keith Richards riffage. Mick comes out with a perfectly spiteful and growling vocal performance, and he even does some cool harmonica stuff! My only complaint is that this goes on for more than four and a half minutes and it has run out of steam by three minutes.

Look What the Cat Dragged In A-

I love this one! That bass-line and the drum rhythm are completely kick-ass, and the melody ain't too shabby either. Again, I sort of have the problem that this doesn't seem to machete its way into my heart like so many of the earlier Rolling Stones songs would (and it's not like I don't *want* them to, or anything)! Ah well, the riff is pretty good and tight. Everything about this song is well-done.

Driving Too Fast A-

Arrrgh! I want to repeat myself so much in these track reviews that it's driving me craaaaazy! Again, this is a lot of fun, but I wish it was more memorable. Everything about it is bold and fun. The melody is catchy, and Jagger's vocals are nice. The guitars are crunchy and splendid. Yup, it's like everything else on this album!

Infamy B-

A weak ending to a fairly weak album. This one in particular is based on a not-at-all-interesting groove, and it's sort of dead after only a few seconds of it. I will give some props to Keith Richards, though, who actually does the lead vocals without completely muttering everything in that drugged-up haze that he used to always be in. There's another bit of proof to my earlier proclamation that he had finally become immune to all those drugs!


Rarities 1971-2003 (2005)

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Rarities 1971-2003 (2005)

Fancy Man Blues A-

This is ordinary 12-bar blues ditty. But it's The Rolling Stones playing on it, of course, which makes it pretty worthwhile to hear! It was recorded in 1989, apparently, but it definitely has more roughness and rudeness than anything I remember from Steel Wheels. Keith gives a terrific, longing guitar solo. Mick is growling the vocals like a real bluesman! Oh what am I talking about? He was a real bluesman! He was just kinda lazy sometimes!

Tumbling Dice B

OK, this one was originally supposed to be on Stripped, which wasn't quite the cat's meow to begin with. But since this album is a hodgepodge of rarities, then I guess we can include this! It's a great song, of course, but the stripped instrumentation is pretty sloppy and uninspiring. The piano sounds like someone from my church is playing it, and the recording quality is murky.................... AND THEN for some weird reason, they suddenly switch to a more polished and electrified version of it, which plays for the remaining three minutes. ...Of course, it's a lot of fun to listen to, but I'm not sure I like the weird thing they decided to do with it.

Wild Horses B+

This one actually appeared on Stripped, which means that this isn't actually a rarity at all! ...And I already reviewed Stripped, so why do I have to write another track review? ...I'm just going to copy-and-paste what I said about it. Here you go: “Ohhhhhh! Here is a great Rolling Stones song! It's ... er ... wait a minute. Why am I not getting caught up in its vibe? ... Oh, man! This rendition doesn't give the original song justice! Not that it's a *terrible* rendition, or anything, but Jagger's lead vocals don't engage me much at all, and the instrumentation just seems to be doing the standard things. As a matter of fact, I get rather bored with this! BORED, I TELLS YAH! That is not a good thing.”

Beast of Burden B

Ah, this is more like it. This is a live-version of the great Rolling Stones song from Some Girls that originally surfaced as a B-side to “Going to a Go-Go” from Still Life. So, this is a legitimate rarity! ...And this is OK. If you haven't heard it before and you're a big Rolling Stones fan, you're probably not going to get a whole lot out of this. Remember this came out of the Still Life era, which was easily their weakest concert album. ...Oh, listen to Keef fumble over his guitar like that! Drugs are bad for you.

Anyway You Look At It B

This was the B-side to “Saint to Me” from Bridges to Babylon. I guess I'm grateful for this album now, since I would never have heard this song otherwise. Surprisingly, it's a halfway decent ballad. It's a little bit boring, but considering The Stones effectively stopped writing good ballads since the '70s, you've got to count this one as a mild success. The acoustic guitar gives us a sweet, subtle texture and that morose violin playing in the background lends it a bit of class. The melody is OK, but it's not too memorable, and it gets awfully repetitive by the end.

If I Was a Dancer (Dance Pt. 2) B

OK, I'll count this as a rarity, even though anybody who owned their 1981 Sucking in the Seventies already had a copy of this. ..........And this does end up answering my question about why the first one was titled 'Part 1' when there wasn't a 'Part 2' readily available. (I was too lazy to do any research, of course. I just waited until the question answered itself!) You just had to go searching for it! ..............Alright, now that I know that there's a “Part 2,” why does it sound exactly the same as “Part 1?” I mean, there are subtle difference. The vocals aren't quite as soaring there in the chorus. But the disco grooves are exactly the same and everything. What was the point? I guess it's just something to wiggle your butt to if the first one wasn't long enough for you.

Miss You B+

This must be the disco section of Rarities! This is apparently a “dance remix” of the original, as if the original wasn't danceable enough. The main difference is that they extended this to seven and a half minutes, which I suppose makes it better for nightclubs. ...But I don't go to nightclubs! I prefer the three minute version! ...That said, I can surely think of less desirable ways to spend seven and a half minutes listening to this infectious groove some more. Luckily, they don't add a stupid drum machine disco rhythm to it like so many other “dance remixes” I've had to bear through. That's good old Charlie Watts playing that ultra-clean drum kit! I don't really care much for that part when they strip everything down except the bass and Mick whispers the lyrics. Although that doesn't seem to sound nearly as awkward when other bands try to invent ways to keep a song going for this long.

Wish I'd Never Met You B-

Another bluesy B-side to a song from Steel Wheels. This doesn't strike me quite as strongly as “Fancy Man Blues” did, and that drum thwack is awfully LOUUUUUUDDDDDDD, confirming my theory that the late '80s was a bad idea for The Rolling Stones. Mick's vocals are mixed so lowly that I can barely hear him, and Keith had certainly seen better noodling days. The melody isn't too interesting. ...Just another ordinary 12-bar blues ditty, ya know. Take it or leave it. I find it a bit boring.

I Just Wanna Make Love To You A-

This is a live version of an old Willie Dixon song that they did in the Flashpoint era. ...Why are such a high percentage of these “rarities” come from the late '80s and onwards? That's pretty rotten, if you ask me. This was by far the least interesting era of their old career! ....Anyway, it's pretty cool hearing them do this song. If you remember, they covered this on their debut album! They play it quite a bit slower, too, which is pretty cool. Jagger gives an appropriately growling performance, and the band is tight and easy on the ears. ...So, I'll count this as a good little piece for the fans.

Mixed Emotions C

Arghhhh! Again, they're concentrating on The Rolling Stones' least interesting era. This is just an extended version of the underwhelming song from Steel Wheels. All this means is that I'll be underwhelmed for a longer period of time. Why would I want this? ...I don't even want to say anything about this. It's pure blandness. Everything they added to the original to extend it past six minutes was a terrible idea. It was like adding crap to crap. That's all I need to write.

Through the Lonely Nights A

FINALLY SOMETHING FROM THE MID '70S! I knew they had to have something from The Stones' peak era, or they wouldn't have been able to put 1971 in the album title. This song dates from Goats Head Soup era, which was in 1973, so I know that there's going to be at least one more song from the '70s on this album! Even though it was recorded in 1973, it wasn't released until 1974 as the B-side to “It's Only Rock 'N Roll, But I Like It,” and I haven't heard it before. So count that as another good reason for this album to exist! And, wow, this is a nice little country ballad! I get the idea why it wasn't featured on one of those albums—it isn't too unlike their other country ballads from the era. But considering those ballads were so great, listening to this sweet little thing is nothing less than a pure treat. I'd especially recommend seeking this one out, if you're a Rolling Stones fan! (Oh, and you can hear Mick Taylor noodling around with his echoey guitar! Do you remember that guy?)

Live With Me A-

This live version of the great Rolling Stones song is from the Unplugged era, although it's 100 percent electric! I've heard quite a few versions of this song on live Rolling Stones albums, and I've got to say this is one of the better ones. We have a really menacing drum rhythm, and an undoubtedly cool saxophone noodle. I don't know how much you're up to hearing the eight billionth live version of this that you have in your collection, but I'd imagine you'll be pleased with this.

Let it Rock A

Ah, here's the song that comes from 1971. It seems like I've been waiting forever for it to come, but now that it's here, I'm as happy as a clam. If there was any doubt that the band was in top form in the early '70s, then all you need to do is listen to Rarities, where their instrumental performance on “Let it Rock” greatly outshines everything else. Keith Richards plays that Chuck Berry riff with as much exuberance as he ever did, and there's Ian Stewart giving us some of the most delightful Jerry-Lee-Lewis-isms that I've ever heard! You can't hear Mick's singing exceptionally well, which is a bit of a problem for me, but I suppose that's just a nitpick. What a blast!

Harlem Shuffle B+

Oooof! Here's a selection from Dirty Work, the worst Rolling Stones album of all time! ...Luckily, this was one of the few good songs from that album, and it was a cover. Oh man, it's really awful hearing that electro-bass line right after coming from listening to something like “Let it Rock.” But anyway, after that initial shock wears off, I'm able to get caught up in its swinging rhythm. (.....But seriously, why did they have to remind us of Dirty Work? If I were The Rolling Stones, I'd be trying to forget that little episode.)

Mannish Boy A-

Hey, wait a bloody minute! I reviewed this already! This is from Love You Live! Just like the last “rarity” on here, you guys are making my job pretty easy! I'm just going to copy and paste the track review of this I already wrote. Except forget the part about this being the second half of the album. That doesn't apply anymore. “Alright, this is the official beginning of the second half of the album, and according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, this was recorded in a nightclub. The next few tracks are similarly well-established blues songs where The Stones wanted to get back to their roots a little bit! Well, Mick Jagger at least sounded much more engaged singing this POWERFUL blues song. Those blues licks from the band are heart-pounding and terrific to hear. This riff is obviously one of the most overused of the genre, but when these guys do it this well, I could listen to it forever. Brilliant stuff, this.”

Thru and Thru C

Bah... Am I nuts for thinking that the Keith-led songs aren't that great? Or am I just thinking what everybody thinks? Yeah, probably the latter. People who like Keith's vocals are pretty weird. Yeah, I'm referring to you, if that's what you think..... You can also find this song on the DVD of Four Licks, a collection that I do not possess. (It'll be awhile before I get to looking at videos. It'll be something for me to look forward to as soon as I get a TV set!) Anyway, this is boring. A snooze-fest ballad. It wasn't even any good on Voodoo Lounge. Just a nothing song. This rarities album sucks. Goodbye.


Shine a Light (2008)

Read the full review:
Shine a Light (2008)

Jumpin' Jack Flash A

Announcer! And then a familiar riff begins to play!! Oh man, no matter how many hours I have spent my life reviewing different versions of “Jumpin' Jack Flash,” it's somehow never going to be enough. Since I have reviewed it so many times over the years, I'm not sure what I can actually say about it. I mean there's the usual comment I could give—these guys were in their mid-'60s and yet they still seemed to embody everything that was rock 'n' roll. The guitarists are all in top-form, and Mick Jagger ain't bad either. (Even though I've gotta say that he probably shouldn't have been muting his voice so dang much!) ...In the end, all I can really say is what you'd expect me to say: This is a solid version of a Rolling Stones classic. It's a nice, explosive way to begin the show!

Shattered A-

An inspired follow-up to “Jumpin' Jack Flash!” It wasn't a big hit at all, but it was the rabble-rousing closing song to Some Girls, and these guys were still able to give it a lot of energy. They could still play that tight riff well, and hearing Jagger sing along those maniacal vocals still manages to be a hit. I'm also thrilled over that brief guitar solo that Keith and Ronnie play in the middle there! It's very tight and complicated. Man! Were they trying, or something? (Oh, they probably wanted to do a good job for Scorsese!)

She Was Hot A

Another inspired choice! Better than the original, even? I wanna give this an A, so it must be! I wonder if Scorsese helped them pick out these songs? If he is able to make so many good movies, then he must know a good song when he hears one! Plus, he was a Rolling Stones fan, so he probably knew their albums much better than I do! (That's my theory anyway!) This is a little-heard punk song from Emotional Rescue. One of the few great songs from that album. Once again, I've gotta compliment Keith and Ronnie, again, for delivering some truly rabble rousing Chuck-Berry-isms throughout the performance. Mick gives a pretty flashy performance here, and one of the finer of the album.

All Down the Line A-

A cool pick from Exile on Main St! It's not among my favorite songs from that album, but listening to this performance only goes to show how generally awesome that album was. Man, and these guys once again are in top form, giving us some freaking enjoyable and tight Chuck-Berry-isms all throughout. Man... I'm not gonna right anything else. I'm just going to bask in its rockingness!

Loving Cup B+

Mick announces that he is going to bring the first of his guests appearances to do a duet with him! Why, it's Jack White III from The White Stripes! ...Wait, why are you bringing him on here? I don't care about him!! But I like this song, which is also from Exile, and for some reason I'm compelled to give this a higher rating than I did the original. It's gotta be the instrumentation, which seems bolder and crunchier. But I continue believing that this is fairly dull as far as their classic rockers go. The melody is nice, but relatively plain.

As Tears Go By A-

Ah, here's another song that I hadn't heard them do in awhile! This might just have been the first great Rolling Stones ballad, the one that they had written for Marianne Faithful. The melody is beautiful, and the acoustic-led instrumentation is sweet and classy although they seem to fumble a bit in the middle. Eh... excusable, I guess! Nicely enough, old dependable Charlie Watts comes in with some drumming midway through, which makes some nice magic. Jagger gives a pretty nice vocal performance, although I wish he would stop trying to be fancy!

Some Girls A-

Yay! I must say, I like the diversity! This was never my favorite song from the title-album, but you've gotta admit it's pretty cool to hear this song come right after “As Tears Go By.” ...And even though this was never my favorite song from the title-album, I've once again got to credit these guitarists for sounding tight and bold, as well as Charlie Watts for giving an awesomely thunderous drumbeat. I think this riff sounds a little better here than it did on the original album, which is really a surprise. (I gave the original song a B.) And, wow, Keith's screechy guitar solos!!! Also, I think Jagger gives a pretty fun vocal performance. He speaks the lyrics, and goes a little bit nuts with it. Somehow, that's awesome.

Just My Imagination B+

Another song from Some Girls? What are you guys trying to do, take back my earlier compliment about the diversity! Anyway, I still say it's pretty cool they're doing so many songs from that album. Although, this was never my favorite. Once again, they're able to rustle up some rabble-rousing goodness with this, and Keith puts in a very nice solo in here. So, nice work. (Mick says “Whatcha doin' with that straange instrument!” at the end. Somebody should tell me why I find that guy so hilarious.)

Faraway Eyes B+

Another another song from Some Girls! They still get points for diversity, because Some Girls was such a diverse album. See? I can be fair! Also, it's really weird that they would even pull this song out. If you remember, this was the ridiculous country music parody. Mick's probably the star of the show, spouting off his little speech with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. He's just playing for the camera, I bet!! But, then you also can't help but be drawn to Ronnie's slide guitar fireworks lightly in the background. (I think that's Ronnie. Because I can hear Ugly McRichards' background vocals on the other speaker. .....Seriously, what's that dude doing singing these weird back-up vocals?

Champagne & Reefer B

They do a Muddy Waters blues cover with the help of a feller named “Buddy Guy.” Somehow I've never heard of this guy before, and I just assumed they made him up. Until he started singing. He has a very loud and guttural voice! They get a pounding and powerful blues rhythm going, and Mick does a nice job with the lyrics as well as the harmonica. ......But what the hell does Keith think he's doing? Seriously! What's with all those weird stabs? That almost ruins it...

Tumbling Dice B+

Alright! After all those Some Girls extracts and the blues cover, here's a song that everybody in the audience probably knew by heart! They do a solid rendition of it, although the rhythm isn't as stop-in-your-tracks awesome as it could have been. The band seems a little looser, and Mick's lead singing is marginal at best. ...But anyway, this is a great Rolling Stones song, of course, and they do a fitfully good job with it.

Band Introductions

Mick Jagger spends a minute half introducing the band! There were a lot of people there! ...He gets pretty dang goofy by the end. “Mr. Wang Dang Doodle Charlie Watts?” Oh, and listen to Keith Richards say “It's good to see you—It's good to see anybody!” Yeah, I guess we're not the only ones who are surprised that he's still alive!

You Got the Silver A-

Hey, as long as you had to have a Keith-Richards-led song on here, then I'm glad that they at least made it THE GOOD ONE from Let it Bleed. The best thing about the original was that it was a gruffy blues song that were perfectly suited for his lazing-by-the-porch-and-grumbling style of singing. Ronnie provides the bluesy licks with a stringy guitar, and he does a nice job with it.

Connection B-

Keith Richards takes lead vocals again....... And, wow, he sounds awful here. I mean, he can't even hit the notes. This one sounds like it was designed for Jagger's more boisterous singing chops! ...But I've gotta say that I appreciate them digging this song out from way back in Between the Buttons. That was a fun crunchy song in its original incarnation, and I still enjoy listening to it. Sorta.

Sympathy For the Devil A+

This seems to always be the highlight of Rolling Stones concerts. I say that knowing that this song always seems to stand out in the live albums, but I also saw them do this live, and this song was the highlight! I would think these guys would get a little bit tired of playing this all the time, but they seem more engaged playing this than most of the other songs. Keith and Ronnie both come in with some inspired solos. And Mick's not half bad on the lead vocals even though he's probably jumping around the stage like a lunatic!

Live With Me A

Oh no........ I know that you have 'sympathy for the devil,' but you're not supposed to invite the devil to sing co-lead vocals on your next track. By the devil, I'm of course referring to Christina Aguilera. ...Look. I like everything about The Rolling Stones, but I just gotta scratch my head sometimes over their choice of guest stars. (In earlier albums we had Sheryl Crow and Dave Matthews. And they sound like overwhelmingly good choices next to Aguilera!) But to be fair, she gets a rough snarl going and ends up sounding better than Sheryl Crow did at least. (But that doesn't mean I don't hate her!!!!!) ...Anyway, this is a really good rendition of the song from Let it Bleed, because they get that dark, pounding and menacing beat JUST RIGHT. And Mr. Saxophone player gives us a juicy solo in the middle. Mmmm!

Start Me Up A-

Bill Gates is here to do a guest spot on guitar! (...Oh no, now I have an image of Bill Gates axing the riff...) Even though The Stones had performed this song a billion times, they still do a mightily solid job of it. Perhaps its not as thunderous and rabble-rousing as their earlier rendition of “Sympathy For the Devil,” but that was probably a better song to begin with! I like the guitars, but they don't seem quite as together and tight as they probably could have. Keith comes up with a nice solo, though.

Brown Sugar A-

Here is yet another obligatory song they do for every concert. Like Live Licks, why did they have to lump them all together? Eh, I don't care. This is a great song, of course, and they haven't lost their knack performing these solidly. The guitars sound wonderful, of course, but nothing over-the-top special. Jagger's lead vocals start to veer toward hiccups, though, which I do wish he would stop doing!! Again, whoever plays that juicy saxophone deserves a cookie! It's cool!

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction A

Ha! Well, give them props for bringing out that gruff electric guitar to play the famous riff! It's not quite like the one they had on the original version, but I like it better when it sounds very dark and dirty. The rhythm section pounds away most convincingly, and I'm sure everybody in the audience was going nuts dancing around like mad to this. I know I would! They tack on a bizarrely long coda... It's weird, I guess, and I don't know why they did it. But whatever. This is cool.

Paint it, Black A-

After all these years, and we still don't know what that comma was for! And why was there an apostrophe in Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, but not an apostrophe in Beggars Banquet? All I can say is thank GOD these guys weren't English teachers. ...Although that would have been pretty awesome come to think of it! ...They also did a version of “Paint it, Black” on Live Licks, but I remember that version being more thunderous and defining. But they recreate much of the same thunderous glory. ...It doesn't seem to get me in the center of my heart, though.......

Little T&A B+

Old man Keith was pretty proud of this song was he? God know why. But it's a pretty good song, anyway. It has a solid enough of a hook that he can repeat it forever and ever and ever without it completely running out of steam. Of course, the rhythm is pounding and wonderful of course, but I especially like that Chuck-Berry-like electric guitar solo. Funny how I always like hearing that stuff from these guys! On the downside, I don't understand the point of stripping it down to the bare bass-part in the middle of it. ...Just seems to needlessly extend this.

I'm Free B

I remember The Stones performing this in a recent live album, and I was sort of delightfully surprised to hear it. But now, I guess, this song is a part of their regular line-up! ...It's gotta be the commercial. This song was on a commercial somewhere. Anyway, I like this song, and I'll gladly listen to them perform a hundred versions of it. But I've gotta say, they could have done better with it. The jangly guitar in the background was a nice idea, but they didn't go far enough with it... It just seems sloppy this way.

Shine a Light A-

I made it to the end!!! Finally! Technically, I should be sick to death of The Rolling Stones right now, because I just reviewed a bunch of their live albums in the last week or so, but amazingly, I'm sitting here itching for more! That probably goes to show you how freaking nuts I am, but it also goes to show you the power of a great rock 'n' roll band! Of course, it's appropriate that they close the live album with the title song, which I guess Martin Scorsese had it in him to name the documentary whether they did this song or not. And well. What can I possibly say about this that I didn't say about any of these songs? THIS IS A SOLID RENDITION OF A GREAT SONG? ...Really, I've repeated myself so much through all these Rolling Stones reviews that it's a wonder I haven't gone insane yet. ...Well, at least I think I haven't gone insane. ...Am I still writing words?


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