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Rolling Stones

Related: rock music - popular music

Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards
Rolling Stones in drag (cover of "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?", photo by Jerry Schatzberg)
image sourced here.

Performance - William Hughes, from the screenplay by Donald Cammell
image sourced here.

The Rolling Stones' "Tongue and Lip Design" logo; mistakenly believed by many to have been designed by Andy Warhol; actually designed by John Pasche.

Profile

The Rolling Stones are a British rock group who rose to prominence during the 1960s. Like most early British rock groups, they were influenced by a variety of American musical forms, especially electric blues and early rock 'n' roll. By the mid 1960s, the Stones had fused these influences into a signature, guitar-based sound that established a prototype for hard rock. Second in popularity only to the Beatles, the Stones affected a rebellious, bad-boy image that helped propel their rise from an energetic modern blues outfit to one of the world's biggest and most influential bands. By the end of the Sixties, the Stones had racked up a great number of hit records, each single displaying an alarming rate of musical growth. Their music never strayed far from the blues, however, and by 1969, they returned triumphantly to blues-based hard-rock, embarking on the now infamous U.S. tour that saw them billed as "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_Stones [Jan 2006]

From singles to albums

In the Sixties, rock became the dominant musical form in America. And with the shift from singles to albums, which al- lowed for the marketing of personalities, it also became big business. The gilded formula froze into place. Today, scouts beat the bushes for young talent, squeeze a quick album out of the band, and put them on the road. "New" material is stressed. Albums featuring cover tunes of classics, as in the early Rolling Stones records, are discouraged. --CamillePaglia, 1992

Wolfman

The Stones can get away with whatever they want. They're universals. They're Gods, they ain't even mortals anymore. They're whites makin' black music. Everybody black digs the Stones. Everybody white. And they even got the Chinese and the Mexicans, too. Do ya understand what I'm talkin' about? - Wolfman Jack, American DJ / personality, 1972

Disco

Disparaging the Stones has been a habit of some rock critics (but most often not the most sophisticated and knowledgeable) and a fair share of rock fans since maybe the early 1970s. I laugh (and cringe) whenever I hear some guy (for some reason, they're usually guys!) say, "The Stones should have stopped in 1974" or something of that sort - meaning that after they that they "went disco" and stopped making "classic rock". While I don't have anything as such against white rock (Led Zeppelin, the Doors, etc. etc.), I find that these so-called rock fans, on top of expressing some sort of strange prejudice against black music, miss the entire point about the Stones' music.

When the Stones started adding styles such as funk, disco and reggae into their music in the mid-1970s (people usually think straight away of songs like Hot Stuff, Miss You, Emotional Rescue, but there are less obvious examples also), they were not changing in any fundamental way - they were only doing what they had always done. Their music has always been steeped into black musical culture, starting from classic blues and R&B from the 1950s, but then always also exploring the music of their black contemporaries - starting in 1964-65 with Motown and soul music (Redding, Covay, Burke, etc.). And Stones music - UNLIKE a lot of white rock - has almost always been DANCEABLE - even at its raunchiest, from Around and Around to Street Fighting Man to Brown Sugar.

Race records

(Jagger's stage movements') roots, of course, are in the music of the black South - and, with the exception of Elvis Presley, he has done more than anyone else to liberate it from the "race record" category of limited pressings on obscure labels distributed solely in the black ghettos of America... Keith creates the music to which Mick moves, and while the heaviest impact of the group is undeniably audiovisual, the sound alone has made the Stones the only white band played in a number of otherwise exclusively "black music" disc-jockey programs around the country. - Terry Southerner, writer, 1972

White Rock

I don't consider myself the best rock star and I never have. There are a lot of people who are good, and since I'm not really interested in white rock and roll I never go and see them. - Mick Jagger, 1975

Black music

I only really listen to black music these days. I ain't too interested in white bands who rip off white bands who ripped off black bands. - Keith Richards, 1976, asked if he listens to Jeff Beck

Punk rock

I mean, I've never really liked what goes for white rock and roll, you know. Never ever, come to that. Speaking as one white person to another (smirk)... no, I just can't dance to it. I find it very, very difficult to dance to white people playing 'cause they get all the, uh, accents wrong. It's not even that it's too fast, it's just that all the accents are in the wrong places, you know. I mean, I've really ALWAYS felt like that about white rock - from Elvis to the Sex Pistols - and I'm not going to stop thinking that way because of any new band, you know. - Mick Jagger, 1977, asked about punk rock

Elvis

Go fuck all that lot. Silly. I hate their music. I much prefer classical music to some of that shit. Barry Manilow, Andy Gibb. I'm not interested in that. I mean, I don't even really like white music anyway, you know what I mean, I don't want to split hairs. Never been my inspiration. Not even Elvis, you know, was particularly inspirational. I know he wasn't really white, but even Elvis was not an inspiration to me. - Mick Jagger, 1977, asked if he finds that people like Andy Gibb and Barry Manilow are doing anything that he finds new

Black And Blue (1976) - Rolling Stones

Black And Blue (1976) - Rolling Stones [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Black And Blue is an album by The Rolling Stones and was released in 1976. Although the album would meet with commercial success, most contemporary critics still consider Black and Blue a part of The Rolling Stones' artistically-lean period, starting with 1973's Goats Head Soup.

Stylistically, Black and Blue - so named for its black music influences - embraces funk with "Hot Stuff", reggae with their cover of "Cherry Oh Baby" and jazz with "Melody", featuring the talents of Billy Preston - a heavy contributor to the album. Musical and thematic styles were merged on the seven-minute epic "Memory Motel", with both Jagger and Richard contributing lead vocals to a love song embedded within a life-on-the-road tale.

Released in April 1976 - with "Fool To Cry", a worldwide Top 10 hit, as its lead single - Black and Blue reached #2 in the UK and spent an interrupted four week spell at #1 in the US, going platinum there. Critical view was polarized, with some finding its emphasis on jamming a reflection of the perceived weak songwriting, while others consider it an undervalued gem. Nonetheless, Black and Blue - which was supported in the summer of 1976 with a European tour - remains one of The Rolling Stones most overlooked albums.

The album was promoted with a controversial billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood that depicted a bruised, bound woman under the phrase "I'm Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones and I love it!" The billboard was removed after mass protests, although it earned the band widespread press coverage. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_and_Blue [Dec 2005]


Final ad for the album Black 'n Blue, after the first one, which had the text on top that read: "I Got Black And Blue From The Rolling Stones And I Love It!" was banned.
Image sourced here.

See also: British music - rock - black music - Rolling Stones - 1976

More CDs

  • Emotional Rescue (1980) - The Rolling Stones [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Emotional Rescue really divides fans of the Rolling Stones into two basic groups - those who absolutely depise it and those who think it's pretty good (but not great). I fall into the second group and it is pretty easy to figure out which group you fall in to as well. Do you like Black & Blue, Some Girls and Tattoo You? If you like all three, then there is a good chance you will enjoy Emotional Rescue. These happen to be my favorite Stones albums, but I understand that they can be an aquired taste. I enjoy Mick's aging voice, the sometimes lame experiments into reggae and disco and the stones-by-numbers ballads that often grace these four releases. Many fans don't enjoy any of that - which is totally understandable.

    One small piece of history regarding "Emotional Rescue" is that a track called "Claudine" was written to be the album's opener. Because of the song's questionable content, the Stones' legal advisors suggested omitting the song from the album to avoid any lawsuits from Claudine Longet. Although this was definately a smart move from Mick and the boys, the album certainly suffers from the loss of this track. It would be very worthwhile to find an "import" release or MP3 of this missing number. "Claudine" could have made a huge difference in how fans received the overall album.

    The rest of the songs on Emotional Rescue offer the listener a variety of styles, from a Village People-esq "Dance" to the bizarre title track (featuring Mick doing an Albert Einstein impersonation). The real winner on this album is "She's So Cold" (which really sounds like a Some Girls outtake and probably was). This is a fun album, but not a masterpiece. --A music fan from Vermont for amazon.com

  • Exile on Main Street (1972) - The Rolling Stones [1 CD, Amazon US]
    From the swaggering frustration in the first song ("I only get my rocks off while I'm sleeping," Mick Jagger sings in the hyper "Rocks Off"), the Stones speed through familiar neighborhoods of country, blues, and R&B on Exile. They never even bother to stop when they've crashed into something. They don't leap into new worlds so much as master the old ones, turning Slim Harpo's blues obscurity "Hip Shake" into a harp-and-piano steamroller and setting spines a-cracking in "Ventilator Blues." Both "Tumbling Dice" and Keith Richards's "Happy" have become hits, but the 1972 album is most notable for its overall murky adrenaline. --Steve Knopper for amazon.com [...]
  • Mick Jagger - She's The Boss [Amazon US]
    Album was co-produced by Nile Rodgers of Chic fame and Bill Laswell. Twelve Inch of Lucky In Love (co-produced by Francois K) is highly sought after. It also features the rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare

    Gimme Shelter (1970)

    This [1970] was at a point when the hippie ideal of peace and love lay shattered in the aftermath of Altamont and the Manson murders. --Greg Wilson

    Altamont is a speedway in Northern California, near Livermore, that hosted a rock music festival in December 1969 which was marred by violence, including one murder.

    The festival included the Rolling Stones and other bands (including the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane). About 300,000 people attended the festival, and the hope was that it would be "Woodstock West." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont [May 2005]


    The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter (1970) - Albert Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin [Amazon.com]

    To cite Gimme Shelter as the greatest rock documentary ever filmed is to damn it with faint praise. This 1970 release benefits from a horrifying serendipity in the timing of the shoot, which brought filmmakers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin aboard as the Rolling Stones' tumultuous 1969 American tour neared its end. By following the band to the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco for a fatally mismanaged free concert, the Maysles and Zwerin wound up shooting what's been accurately dubbed rock's equivalent to the Zapruder film. The cameras caught the ominous undercurrents of violence palpable even before the first chords were strummed, and were still rolling when a concertgoer was stabbed to death by the Hell's Angels that served as the festival's pool cue-wielding security force.

    By the time Gimme Shelter reached theater screens, Altamont was a fixed symbol for the death of the 1960s' spirit of optimism. The Maysles and Zwerin used that knowledge to shape their film: their chronicle begins in the editing room as they cut footage of the Stones' Madison Square Garden performance of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and from there moves toward Altamont with a kind of dreadful grace. The songs become prophecies and laments for broken faith ("Wild Horses"), misplaced devotion ("Love in Vain"), and social collapse ("Street Fighting Man" and, of course, "Sympathy for the Devil"). Along the way, we glimpse the folly of the machinations behind the festival, the insularity of life on the concert trail, and the superstars' own shell-shocked loss of innocence.

    Gimme Shelter looks into an abyss, partly self-created, from which the Rolling Stones would retreat--but unlike its subject, the filmmakers don't blink. --Sam Sutherland, Amazon.com

    Gimme Shelter is the name of a documentary film directed by Albert Maysles and David Maysles, chronicling the Rolling Stones' 1969 U.S. tour, culminating in the disastrous concert at Altamont in which the Hells Angels provided security and a fan was murdered on film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimme_Shelter [May 2005]

    To cite Gimme Shelter as the greatest rock documentary ever filmed is to damn it with faint praise. This 1970 release benefits from a horrifying serendipity in the timing of the shoot, which brought filmmakers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin aboard as the Rolling Stones' tumultuous 1969 American tour neared its end. By following the band to the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco for a fatally mismanaged free concert, the Maysles and Zwerin wound up shooting what's been accurately dubbed rock's equivalent to the Zapruder film. The cameras caught the ominous undercurrents of violence palpable even before the first chords were strummed, and were still rolling when a concertgoer was stabbed to death by the Hell's Angels that served as the festival's pool cue-wielding security force.

    By the time Gimme Shelter reached theater screens, Altamont was a fixed symbol for the death of the 1960s' spirit of optimism. The Maysles and Zwerin used that knowledge to shape their film: their chronicle begins in the editing room as they cut footage of the Stones' Madison Square Garden performance of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and from there moves toward Altamont with a kind of dreadful grace. The songs become prophecies and laments for broken faith ("Wild Horses"), misplaced devotion ("Love in Vain"), and social collapse ("Street Fighting Man" and, of course, "Sympathy for the Devil"). Along the way, we glimpse the folly of the machinations behind the festival, the insularity of life on the concert trail, and the superstars' own shell-shocked loss of innocence.

    Gimme Shelter looks into an abyss, partly self-created, from which the Rolling Stones would retreat--but unlike its subject, the filmmakers don't blink. --Sam Sutherland

    Myth and Misquotation
    It is an often repeated misconception that Meredith Hunter's murder at Altamont took place during "Sympathy For The Devil". This was originally reported in Rolling Stone magazine, considered by some to be the "journal of record" for 1960s music. The aptness of this legend has ensured that no amount of subsequent corrections (in that publication and elsewhere) has been able to correct this impression. See Greil Marcus's essay "Myth and Misquotation", collected in "The Dustbin Of History". --wikipedia, Oct 2003

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