Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I’ve got a couple of crates full of old vinyl albums that I haven’t listened to in years due to lack of equipment to play them. Over a period of about a year and a half I revisited each album on the internet or bought the CD and ranked the songs. I also recorded some brief thoughts, rated the album, and posted the results on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists comment section. I’m recycling and categorizing/grouping the posts on this website.

Early Rolling Stones. Mostly R&B covers. I remember Bill Wyman during an interview (I’m paraphrasing): “All we did was bring America the music they already had in their own backyard.” Then with a wry smile: “But they couldn’t listen to that, could they?” Haven’t yet revisited them all, but this used to be one of my favorite “pre-Beggars” albums. Released in the 60s, but has kind of an American graffiti/ late 50s sound.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

1- It’s All Over Now
2- 2120 South Michigan Avenue
3- Empty Heart
4- Confessing the Blues
5- Around and Around
6- Susie Q
7- Under the Boardwalk
8- Time is on My Side
9- Good Times, Bad Times
10- If You Need Me
11- Congratulations
12- Grown Up Wrong

The Rolling Stones Now
To me, there isn’t much difference among the pre- “Beggars Banquet” Rolling Stones albums. It was about the time when “Beggars” was released that technology made arguably its biggest leap in music history and consequently the music itself changed. That’s not to say there aren’t some great Stones songs from the early days; it’s just that I don’t consciously attach them to any one album. “Down Home Girl” is my favorite from the pre-“Beggars” era.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

1- Down Home Girl
2- Down the Road Apiece
3- Off the Hook
4- Little Red Rooster
5- What a Shame
6- Heart of Stone
7- You Can’t Catch Me
8- Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
9- Pain in My Heart
10- Surprise, Surprise
11- Oh Baby
12- Mona (I Need You Baby)

England’s Newest Hit Makers
The American version of the first Rolling Stones album.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

1- Little by Little
2- Now I’ve got a Witness
3- Walking the Dog
4- Route 66
5- Carol
6- I’m a King Bee
7- I Just Want to Make Love to You
8- Not Fade Away
9- Can I get a Witness
10- Honest I Do
11- You Can Make it if You Try
12- Tell Me

Out of Our Heads
The first five songs on my list are pretty good. The Rolling Stones seem to understand the “first impression” concept as they always kick off an album side with one of the better songs. This is another early album; their fourth (1965). “Satisfaction” ranks high enough among this group of songs, but in the big picture I consider it to be easily the most overrated Stones song. I couldn’t find “Cry to Me” on U-tube so it’s not included in my rankings.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C+

1- The Last Time
2- The Spider and the Fly
3- I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)
4- Mercy Mercy
5- Hitch Hike
6- Good Times
7- Play With Fire
8- The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man
9- That’s How Strong My Love Is
10- I’m All Right
11- One More Try
UR- Cry to Me

The first Rolling Stones album written entirely by the Glimmer Twins. A couple of good but not great songs, a few that are ok, and a handful that I don’t much care for.
Scale of 1 to 10:  D+

1- Under My Thumb
2- Paint It Black
3- It’s Not Easy
4- High and Dry
5- Flight 505
6- Doncha Bother Me
7- Goin’ Home
8- Lady Jane
9- Think
10- I Am Waiting
11- Stupid Girl

Between the Buttons
Gone are the R&B covers as Jagger and Richards are now doing the songwriting for the Rolling Stones. Still in the pupa stages, but noticeably progressing toward the new sound that would produce their best music; known as “The Golden Era”. And considering the era would begin in less than two years, it’s amazing how much the songwriting, technology, and creativity evolves from the date of this album’s release.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C –

1- Let’s Spend the Night Together
2- Ruby Tuesday
3- Miss Amanda Jones
4- Who’s Been Sleeping Here?
5- Cool, Calm, & Collected
6- All Sold Out
7- Something Happened to Me Yesterday
8- Connection
9- She Smiled Sweetly
10- Complicated
11- My Obsession
12- Yesterday’s Papers

December’s Children (And Everybody’s)
Another early Rolling Stones album. As I’ve said before, I think there’s a distinct separation between the pre and post “Beggar’s Banquet” albums. Both in style and recording quality. Many of the early albums are good, but most don’t compare to the “Beggars” thru 70s era, IMO. Although I will say that their early R&B stuff did have an edge to it that stands out among most mid-sixties music. This album fits right in with the pre-“Beggars” grouping. It’s a bit transitional in that it contains a fairly even mix of the R&B sound that was dominant on the first few Stones albums, and the typical mid-sixties “working its way towards psychedelia” sound that the Stones adopted when they started writing their own songs. “Route 66” is my favorite song on this album but I don’t rank it first because this version is a live recording that lacks in recording quality and is drenched in the sound of teenage girls screaming.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C

1- I’m Free
2- Route 66
3- Get Off of My Cloud
4- As Tears Go By
5- Look What You’ve Done
6- The Singer, Not the Song
7- Talkin’ About You
8- She Said Yeah
9- I’m Moving On
10- Blue Turns to Grey
11- You Better Move On
12- Gotta Get Away

Their Satanic Majesties Request
I don’t know if it was for fear of being left behind; a conscious effort to be hip; or a genuine interest, but throughout their career, the Rolling Stones always seemed to adopt the current trend in most of their music. And exploring the limits of psychedelic acid rock was at its peak in ’67 & ’68 (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, baby). Fortunately, with albums like this one, the limits were revealed and the Stones - and most other bands- learned not to cross those boundaries again. Back in the early vinyl days I considered this album to be garbage except for “2000 Light Years”, which is a good song. Since those days, I’ve tried trips a few times and endured several Grateful Dead “Drumz/Space” jams, so I can appreciate that this album isn’t all that bad in spots when I consider the space it’s trying to tap into. But still, it’s not an album that I’ll choose to listen to again any time soon.
Scale of 1 to 10:  D +

1- 2000 Light Years from Home
2- She’s a Rainbow
3- Citadel
4- In Another Land
5- The Lantern
6- 2000 Man
7- Sing This All Together
8- Sing This All Together (See What Happens)
9- On With the Show
10- Gomper

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