Posts Tagged ‘Ian Stewart’

The Rolling Stones Between The Buttons album cover 820

1967 was a highly successful year for The Rolling Stones. It started with the release of “Between The Buttons” and ended with the stylistic about-turn of “Their Satanic Majesties Request”. Released on Decca RecordsBetween The Buttons came out first in the UK, on 20th January 1967, with a revised US edition following on 11th February.

Between The Buttons’ title came about by chance, following an off-the-cuff remark made by producer Andrew Loog Oldham to drummer Charlie Watts, who was doing some sketches for the artwork. Watts asked what they were going to call the album and Oldham used a euphemism for “undecided”. “Andrew told me to do the drawings for the LP and he told me the title was ‘between the buttons’,” Watts told Melody Maker “I thought he meant the title was Between The Buttons, so it stayed with it.”

Some of the album was recorded in August 1966 with Dave Hassinger at RCA Studios in Hollywood – the last session to be recorded in what had been the band’s “hit factory” – before being completed in London at the newly-opened Olympic Sound Studios in November that year. Some of the tracks were started in America and finished in England’s capitol. The Stones were fresher by the time they were recording back home, having taken a break from touring. “Between The Buttons” was the first time we took a breath and distanced ourselves a little from the madness of touring and all,” recalled guitarist Keith Richards. “So in a way, to us it felt like a bit of a new beginning… plus, everyone was stoned out of their brains.”

“Between the Buttons” was The Rolling Stones’ first album since April 1966’s Aftermath and it became their fifth UK studio album. It remains one of the Stones’ less well-known records, however, which is a pity as it contains some strong songs.

Besides the five band members – Mick Jagger, who took lead vocals on all tracks and also played the tambourine and harmonica, was joined by RichardsBrian Jones, Bill Wyman and Watts – there were several guest musicians. Ian Stewart plays piano and organ, and Nicky Hopkins plays piano, as does Jack Nitzsche. The track ‘Connection’ was performed live at the London Palladium the week after the album came out and was featured in the Martin Scorsese documentary Shine A Light, in 2008.

By late 1966, recording technology was allowing for greater experimentation, and though every track on Between The Buttons is credited to Jagger and Richards, there are certainly very different styles of music and song writing to be heard on the album. ‘Yesterday’s Papers’ has the distinction of being the first song to be written solely by Jagger and features Nitzsche on harpsichord. On ‘Something Happened to Me Yesterday’, the multi-talented Jones plays saxophone, trombone and clarinet.

Two tracks were exclusive to the UK album version. The first was the gentle waltz ‘Back Street Girl’, written by Richards and Jagger. In an interview with Jagger in Rolling Stone magazine, in 1968, the singer said it was his favourite song on the album. Jones showed some of his jazz leanings on this track: the musician, who was such an admirer of the jazz saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley that he named his son after him, demonstrated that he had imbued some of the influences of Milt Jackson in his vibraphone playing. The accordion playing was by Nick De Caro.

The second UK-only song on the album was ‘Please Go Home’, which was based on a Bo Diddley-style beat. It was later released in America on the compilation album Flowers.

“Trouble In Mind (Brian Jones)” A fun outtake from the “Between the Buttons” sessions (November 8th – 26th 1966: London, Olympic Sound Studios.). Great piano work from Ian Stewart and a multi-instrument player Brian Jones playing the kazoo’s.

The US version of “Between The Buttons” was the band’s seventh studio release stateside, and it stamped its own individuality with the choice of a new opening song. The album started with ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, a song co-written by Jagger and Richards, and which became a favourite of David Bowie’s. It had been released as a double-A-side single in the UK in January 1967, paired with ‘Ruby Tuesday’, which was also added to the US track list.

The UK and US versions of “Between The Buttons” shared the songs ‘Yesterday’s Papers’, ‘Connection’, ‘She Smiled Sweetly’, ‘Cool, Calm And Collected’, ‘My Obsession’, ‘All Sold Out’, ‘Who’s Been Sleeping Here’, ‘Complicated’, ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ and ‘Something Happened To Me Yesterday’.

Billboard reviewed the US album favourably in February 1967. “Every LP by the Stones has been a hot chart item, and this latest collection will be no exception,” they wrote. “Their hard-driving beat is evident throughout, and their singles hits ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ are included adding immediate sales appeal. ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ and ‘Cool, Calm And Collected’ are outstanding in this winning package.” Between The Buttons reached No.2 in the album charts in the US, one place higher than in the UK.

The album artwork features cartoons and drawings by Charlie Watts, and the cover features a photograph taken by Gered Mankowitz in mid-November 1966, following an all-night recording session at Olympic Sound Studios. The band went to Primrose Hill park, in north London, just after dawn, arriving in a Rolls Royce. Mankowitz said the photograph, which he made deliberately bleary by spreading Vaseline on his lens, captured “the ethereal, druggy feel of the time”, adding, “There was this well-known London character called Maxie – a sort of prototype hippie – just standing on his own playing the flute. Mick walked up to him and offered him a joint and his only response was, ‘Ah, breakfast!’”

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The Rolling Stones – Goat’s Head Soup & It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll Outtakes ft. Mick Taylor Rare Solo Tracks Full Album (2019) In November 1972 The Rolling Stones relocated to Kingston, Jamaica’s Dynamic Sound Studios. Keith Richards said in year 2002: “Jamaica was one of the few places that would let us all in! By that time about the only country that I was allowed to exist in was Switzerland, which was damn boring for me, at least for the first year, because I didn’t like to ski… Nine countries kicked me out, thank you very much, so it was a matter of how to keep this thing together..

Of the recording process, Marshall Chess, the president of Rolling Stones Records at the time, said in 2002, “We used to book studios for a month, 24 hours a day, so that the band could keep the same set-up and develop their songs in their free-form way, starting with a few lyrics and rhythms, jamming and rehearsing while we fixed the sound. It amazed me, as an old-time record guy, that the Stones might not have played together for six or eight months, but within an hour of jamming, the synergy that is their strength would come into play and they would lock it together as one…”
Jagger said of their approach to recording at the time, “Song-writing and playing is a mood. Like the last album we did (Exile on Main St.) was basically recorded in short concentrated periods. Two weeks here, two weeks there – then another two weeks. And, similarly, all the writing was concentrated so that you get the feel of one particular period of time. Three months later it’s all very different and we won’t be writing the same kind of material as Goats Head Soup.”

On the sessions and influence of the island, Richards said, “The album itself didn’t take that long, but we recorded an awful lot of tracks. There were not only Jamaicans involved, but also percussion players who came from places like Guyana, a travelling pool of guys who worked in the studios. It was interesting to be playing in this totally different atmosphere. Mikey Chung, the engineer at Dynamic, for example, was a Chinese man — you realise how much Jamaica is a multi-ethnic environment.”

The first track for Goat’s Head Soup that was recorded at Dynamic called “Winter”, which Mick Taylor said started with “just Mick (Jagger) strumming on a guitar in the studio, and everything falling together from there.” The album’s lead single, called “Angie”, was an unpopular choice as lead single with Atlantic Records which, according to Chess, “wanted another ‘Brown Sugar’ rather than a ballad.” Although the song was rumoured to be about David Bowie’s first wife Angela, both Jagger and Richards have consistently denied this.

In 1993, Richards, in the liner notes to the compilation album Jump Back: The Best of The Rolling Stones, said that the title was inspired by his baby daughter, Dandelion Angela.  However, in his 2010 memoir Life, Richards denied this, saying that he had chosen the name for the song before he knew the sex of his expected baby: “I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ‘ohhh, Diana.’ I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote ‘Angie’. In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out. In fact, Anita named her Dandelion. She was only given the added name Angela because she was born in a Catholic hospital where they insisted that a ‘proper’ name be added.” According to NME, the lyrics written by Jagger were inspired by Jagger’s breakup with Marianne Faithfull. This was the last Rolling Stones album produced by Jimmy Miller, who’d worked with the band since 1968’s Beggars Banquet sessions. Unfortunately, Miller had developed a debilitating drug habit during the course of his years spent with the Stones.

Aside from the official band members, other musicians appearing on Goats Head Soup include keyboard players Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, and Ian Stewart. Recording was completed in January 1973 in Los Angeles and May 1973 at London’s Island Recording Studios. The song “Silver Train” was a leftover from 1970s recordings at Olympic Sound. Goats Head Soup was also the band’s first album without any cover songs since Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967.

The album It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll was at first developed as a half-live, half-studio production with one side of the album featuring live performances from the Stones‘ European tour while the other side was to be composed of newly recorded cover versions of the band’s favourite R&B songs. Covers recorded included a take of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away”, Jimmy Reed’s “Shame Shame Shame,” and The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” Soon the band began working off riffs by Richards and new ideas by Mick Jagger and the original concept was scrapped in favour of an album with all-new material. The cover of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was the only recording to make the cut, while the “Drift Away” cover is a popular bootleg. It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll marked the Stones‘ first effort in the producer’s chair since Their Satanic Majesties Request, and the first for Jagger and Richards under their pseudonym “The Glimmer Twins.”

On the choice to produce, Richards said at the time: “I think we’d come to a point with Jimmy (Miller) where the contribution level had dropped because it’d got to be a habit, a way of life, for Jimmy to do one Stones album a year. He’d got over the initial sort of excitement which you can feel on Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed. Also, Mick and I felt that we wanted to try and do it ourselves because we really felt we knew much more about techniques and recording and had our own ideas of how we wanted things to go. Goats Head Soup hadn’t turned out as we wanted to – not blaming Jimmy or anything like that… But it was obvious that it was time for a change in that particular part of the process of making records.”

Starting with this release, all future Rolling Stones albums would either be produced by themselves or in collaboration with an outside producer. Most of the album’s backing tracks were recorded first at Musicland; solo vocals were recorded later by Jagger, about whom Richards would say, “he often comes up with his best stuff alone in the studio with just an engineer.” The song “Luxury” showed the band’s growing interest in reggae music, while “Till the Next Goodbye” and “If You Really Want to Be My Friend” continued their immersion in ballads.

Seven of the album’s 10 songs crack the four-minute mark, a feature that would come to be disparaged during the rising punk rock scene of the late 1970s. Ronnie Wood, a long-time acquaintance of the band, began to get closer to the Rolling Stones during these sessions after he invited Mick Taylor to play on his debut album, I’ve Got My Own Album to Do. Taylor spent some time recording and hanging out at Wood’s house The Wick. By chance, Richards was asked one night by Wood’s wife at the time, Krissy, to join them at the guitarist’s home. While there, Richards recorded some tracks with Wood and quickly developed a close friendship, with Richards going as far as moving into Wood’s guest room. Jagger soon entered the mix and it was here that the album’s lead single and title track, “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)”, was first recorded. Wood worked closely on the track with Jagger, who subsequently took the song and title for their album.

The released version of this song features Wood on 12-string acoustic guitar. It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll was Mick Taylor’s last album with the Rolling Stones, and he played on just seven of the 10 tracks (he did not play on tracks 2, 3 or 6). Due to Taylor’s absence, Richards is responsible for the brief lead guitar break on “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” the distorted electric guitar on the title track (which includes the solo), and played both rhythm and lead guitar tracks on “Luxury.” However, on the occasional live performances of “Luxury” during the Tour of the Americas 1975, lead guitar was provided by Ron Wood. Even though Taylor is present on “Short and Curlies,” his slide guitar playing panned onto the right channel/speaker is mostly buried underneath Richards’ own lead guitar throughout most of the track, which is panned to the left channel/speaker. Similar to receiving no writing credits on the Stones‘ previous album, Goats Head Soup, Taylor reportedly had made song writing contributions to “Till the Next Goodbye” and “Time Waits for No One,” but on the album jacket, all original songs were credited to Jagger/Richards. Taylor said in 1997: “I did have a falling out with Mick Jagger over some songs I felt I should have been credited with co-writing on It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll. We were quite close friends and co-operated quite closely on getting that album made. By that time Mick and Keith weren’t really working together as a team so I’d spend a lot of time in the studio.” Taylor’s statement contradicts Jagger’s earlier comment concerning the album. Jagger stated in a 1995 Rolling Stone interview about “Time Waits for No One” that Taylor “maybe threw in a couple of chords.” Alongside the usual outside contributors, namely Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins and unofficial member Ian Stewart, Elton John sideman Ray Cooper acted as percussionist for the album. Several songs were finished songs and overdubs and mixing were performed at Jagger’s home, Stargroves, in the early summer of 1974.