Posts Tagged ‘Mick Jagger’

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How to stay relevant. It’s a question we all face at some point in life. Mick Jagger was thinking about staying relevant. It was 1983. Punk had come and gone. New Wave was still a thing. Electronica and the New Romantics were still fashionable. Where did a rock ‘n’ roll band like the Stones fit into the mix? Jagger was going through what Keith Richards called “Lead Vocalist Syndrome.” The point where a band’s singer thinks he/she is bigger, better, and more important than the rest of the group.

Richards had quit heroin. He was clean. After years of fucking around, Richards was back and wanted to take up his fair share of the burden  After being busted in Toronto for heroin possession, the Stones guitarist luckily avoided jail time and cleaned himself up (for the most part). With his cookies relatively un-fazed, Richards soon realized the amount of control that Mick Jagger now had over the band. But Jagger had control of the Rolling Stones and wasn’t going to give Keith an inch. A great deal of the tension during the recording of the album stemmed from the fact that Richards had emerged (to an extent) from his destructive lifestyle of the previous decade, and thus sought a more active role in the creative direction of the band.

To keep relevant, Jagger was checking out the competition. He wanted to know what Bowie was doing, what Rod Stewart was doing, what was the latest tune played on the dancefloor at Studio 54, and which bands were snapping at their heels.  Jagger and Richards had written their first song on a kitchen table. They didn’t care what other people thought or who they sounded like, it was their song—that was all that mattered. Now, the relationship between Jagger and Richards was fractious. It was falling apart. Jagger had control and he was taking the Stones where he wanted.

Yet, checking out the opposition, chasing the trends meant sometimes Jagger got it right. He was and still is a shrewd businessman—let’s not forget, he had been a student at the London School of Economics. He had also been very successful in taking the Stones in unlikely directions, like that time he pulled them into disco music with “Miss You.” But sometimes his ideas were not as popular, Jagger was always open to suggestions, always looking for something new, always wanting to be at the front of the crowd.

Undercover is the 17th British and 19th American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released in 1983. After their preceding studio album, Tattoo You (1981), which was mostly patched together from a selection of outtakes, Undercover was their first release of all new recordings in the 1980s. The making of Undercover was an arduous process, largely because Jagger and Richards’ famous mid-1980s row began during these sessions.

The lyrics on Undercover are among Jagger’s with much grisly imagery to be found in the lead single and top 10 hit “Undercover of the Night”, a rare political track about Central America, as well as “Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)” Though it’s meant as a critique of ‘80s culture, “Too Much Blood” contains the most convulsive imagery on the entire record; it’s also its highlight. Featuring another mutant disco beat from Watts and Dunbar, alongside a bed of rhythm guitars, Mick delivers a half-rap that references The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and details the horrifying true story of Issei Sagawa, a Japanese man who murdered his date, then devoured her body piece by piece. Over the oddly alluring horns and slick, reverb-ed overproduction, he yelps, “I can feel it in the air, feel it up above/Feel the tension everywhere, there’s too much blood!” (The single also featured a disturbing video, as Richards and Wood chase after Jagger with chainsaws.) It’s undoubtedly one of the strangest songs in the Stones’ catalouge, a warped look at a pop-culture landscape that’s only gotten more perverse as time drags on.

With Jagger’s attempt to incorporate contemporary trends in dance music. Musically, Undercover appears to duel between hard rock, reggae and new wave, reflecting the leadership tug of war between Jagger and Richards at the time. “Pretty Beat Up” is largely a Ronnie Wood composition, and Jagger and Richards were both reportedly reluctant to include it on the album.

Undercover continues to divide . Although it was largely praised on release, many fans came to regard it as among the Rolling Stones‘ weaker releases, a view echoed by Jagger himself in later interviews. While some critics tend to blame the then-contemporary production and eclecticism, a large part of the album was done in a hard-rock style (“She Was Hot”, “Too Tough”, “All The Way Down”, and “It Must Be Hell”), leading many to fault the generally inconsistent material.

Written and sung by Keith, “Wanna Hold You” the song takes the standard pop conceit of a poor man who can only promise his woman love, and creates a dazzling positivity, It’s a simple pop song, but it inverts the dour, blood-and-guts feeling that pervades the record, giving it a much-needed break.

Jagger had read William Burroughs’ book Cities of the Red Night. It was the book everyone was supposed to be reading. It had received, at that point, the best reviews of Burroughs’ career. Which shows weird only lasts as long as it’s something new.

Burroughs was the starting point for Jagger writing the song “Undercover of the Night” in Paris around late 1982. As he later explained in the liner notes for The Stones’ compilation Jump Back, “Undercover of the Night” was “heavily influenced by William Burroughs’ Cities Of The Red Night, a free-wheeling novel about political and sexual repression. It combines a number of different references to what was going down in Argentina and Chile.”

“Undercover of the Night” is a classic Stones’ track. A brilliant vocal, a great guitar riff, and a memorable hook. It was Jagger’s song, as Richards later recalled: “Mick had this one all mapped out, I just played on it. There were a lot more overlays on the track because there was a lot more separation in the way we were recording at the time.”

“Undercover Of The Night” was the album’s opener and first single. Listening to the fiery funk beat, it’s clear that this is mostly Jagger’s composition. Though the lyrics deal with the political corruption of South America, an important element from Jamaica drives the song: the rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie ShakespeareShakespeare replaces Bill Wyman here on bass, but his sporadic playing suits the paranoid feel. Among other percussionists, Watts’ driving backbeat is mixed with the dub-echo of Dunbar’s electronic drums, giving the track an interesting, though very period, soundscape.
When it came to making the promo for the song, the Stones approached Julien Temple who was the hip, young director with a fine resume of work with the Sex Pistols, the UK Subs (Punk Can Take It) and the promo for “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. He had also famously directed the Pistols big screen adventure The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Temple soon discovered how difficult the relationship between Jagger and Richards had become:
“I wrote an extreme treatment about being in the middle of an urban revolution and dramatized the notion of Keith and Mick really not liking each other by having Keith kill Mick in the video. I never thought they would do it. Of course, they loved it. I went to Paris to meet with the band. Keith was looking particularly unhappy. He was glowering with menace and eventually said, ‘Come downstairs with me.’ My producer and I went down to the men’s room. Keith had a walking stick and suddenly he pulled it apart. The next thing I know he’s holding a swordstick to my throat. He said, ‘I want to be in the video more than I am.’ So we wrote up his part a bit more. That was Keith’s idea of collaboration!”

The promo opens on a hotel complex. American tourists are having a good time grooving to the Stones’ music while militiamen patrol the rooftops and streets. Jagger as the journalist (white knight in a Panama hat and very bad stick-on mustache) watches as Keith and his gang of masked vigilantes or maybe revolutionaries or maybe death squad or maybe just a rock ‘n’ roll group on the spur of some internal wranglings (take your pick) sneak into the hotel and kidnap one of the hotel guests or rather kidnap Mick Jagger watching Mick Jagger on TV. Journo Mick watches kidnapped Mick being spirited away by Keith and co. who all drive off in what looks like a military vehicle straight past a bunch of soldiers kicking the shit out of people down on their luck.

Journo Mick makes his way to kidnapped Mick’s hotel room where he finds a woman hiding under the bed covers (ya see what they did there?). Anyway, one thing leads to another, and journo Mick and his girl under the covers watch an execution and then go off (via the police department) to rescue kidnapped Mick. A shoot-out ensues in a candle-lit church—nothing worse than what any five-year-old could see on The A-Team—and kidnapped Mick is saved. Poor old journo Mick dies from a bullet wound.

What it’s saying, what it’s actually about, is none too clear. It’s a dilettante’s take on Burroughs and the criminal activities of government’s and hoodlums in South America. At worst, it might make a viewer go, “Wow, South America looks a fun place to have a party.” At best, it would get the kids talking about politics and shit.

Jagger has sometimes been accused of being a dilettante. Maybe. To be fair, he’s more, as Richards said in his autobiography, “a sponge” who soaks up whatever’s going on and filters it through his music. Just what every good artist does.

The subject matter of the song and its accompanying promo was a rare outing into politics for the Stones. It was over fifteen years since “Street Fighting Man” but “Undercover of the Night” chimed neatly with the edgy political songs released by bands like The Jam or specifically the Clash and their album Sandinista! from 1980, which similarly dealt with the political turmoil in Chile and Nicaragua. The promo was banned by the BBC or rather the Corporation said they weren’t going to screen it, while the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) were nervous over its perceived violence. MTV was also angsty. It’s difficult to see why the sequences of so-called “violence” caused such concern, as both the BBC and the Independent Television Channels in the UK screened far worse with war films and westerns and TV detective series at peak times. It was more likely the political content—the suggestion that America was in some way sponsoring murderous dictatorships in South America—rather than any bang-bang, shoot-shoot, made “Undercover of the Night” unpalatable. But getting “banned” kept the Stones relevant in a wholly different way.

In 1983 Mick Jagger and director Julien Temple appeared via TV link-up on The Tube to promote the single and defend the video’s politics and violence. They were interviewed by a young presenter called Muriel Gray.

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In 1972 The Rolling Stones  With Stevie Wonder at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY July 26th

On JULY 26, 1972, Mick Jagger celebrated his 29th birthday on stage at Madison Square Garden as The Rolling Stones brought down the curtain on what was arguably the most chaotic tour of their career.

Promoting their Exile On Main St album, musically speaking The Stones were in ferocious form, as this rough-edged soundboard recording of Jumping Jack Flash taken from the soundboard at their NY show proves.

1972 was the year that the Rolling Stones became, as they loudly proclaimed on tour, the “Greatest Rock ’N’ Roll Band in the World!” Following the violent disaster of their Hell’s Angels–policed Altamont mega-festival outside of San Francisco on December 6th, 1969—where three people were killed in accidents and another, Meredith Hunter, was murdered—the Stones disappeared for a while. They went into exile, both real and imagined. Exile from the tax man in England that gazed hungrily on their collected bank accounts and exile as culture warriors—street fighting men—dedicated to the fanciful belief that they could change the world.

The Stones didn’t sit idle in their time out of from the spotlight. They locked themselves away in the sweaty, dank basement of Keith Richards’s mansion in Nellcôte, France, for months on end and came out with their magnum opus: Exile on Main Street. It was a double-album, 18 tracks total, that recounted the near-entire history of blues, country, soul and rock ’n’ roll in the grittiest, most exhilarating way imaginable. Released on May 12th, 1972, it sold nearly a million copies in its first week alone.

When plotting their upcoming tour of the United States, the band was intent on making a different impression than they had on their previous jaunt. These shows were going to produce some of the most in-demand tickets of all time, and the Stones and their handlers wanted to be professionals about it. They would do their best to mitigate the violence and mania that seemed to follow their every stop on their last tour, while moving through the country with a degree of style and class that rivaled any visiting foreign dignitary that the U.S. had ever hosted.

Everything about the outing was over the top. The Stones surrounded themselves with the beautiful and the important—Truman Capote, Hugh Hefner, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Woody Allen and Bob Dylan. They heavily courted the press. They blew their minds out with weed, cocaine and tequila, all while staging some of the most incredible sets of live rock music ever seen. Music was just part of what informed The Stones’ touring cavalcade. By this point in their career, the band had managed to bisect the worlds of music and celebrity, creating their own social enclaves, and enjoying what Keith Richards described as a piratical lifestyle.

Said the band’s tour manager of the time, Pete Rudge: “With the Stones you’ll meet Mick’s little gang – the Truman Capotes and the Princess Lee Radziwills. Then on the other hand you’ll meet Keith’s little gang – the Kenneth Angers and William Burroughs. You can be exposed to every aspect. You can meet anybody, and that tends to rub off.

Keith Richards Mick Jagger 1972

Over 500,000 people mailed in postcards for the mere chance to buy a pass to one of the four shows at Madison Square Garden. Purchases were limited to two per customer at a sticker price of $6.50, but the market was soon flooded with scalped passes that were being hawked at $50 or more.

After months of anticipation, the S.T.P. tour—which, depending on who you asked, either stood for the synthetic hallucinogenic of the same name or simply the Stones Tour Party—kicked off in Vancouver on June 3rd, 1972. The band and its managers picked this far-flung locale to start their summer swing so that they could knock off the rust before taking their show to more media-saturated markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The gig went well. The stop in Seattle went better, and by the time they made it to the Winterland Ballroom in the “City by the Bay,” they were cooking.

Over the next two months, the Rolling Stones and their coterie of crew members and hangers-on crisscrossed North America. At each stop along the way, the local citizenry paused their lives long enough to gawk at, rejoice in or denounce the “event of the year.” In Chicago, the band stayed at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion when they couldn’t get secure enough hotel rooms elsewhere. In Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, they brought out a Hollywood film crew to capture the show for posterity. Eventually, that footage would get chopped up and released as Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones.

A separate, more illicit documentary was also in the works that captured the band’s candid offstage exploits. That film, titled Cocksucker Blues, was produced by Stones manager Marshall Chess and directed by Robert Frank. Though it would never receive an official release, if you search down some of the darker corners of the Internet, it’s not too hard to find. Viewer discretion is advised.

“New York is New York is New York,” famed concert promoter Bill Graham explained to author Robert Greenfield, who tagged along for most of the tour and penned the book A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones. “’Til you do it there, it hasn’t happened. They could have sold the Garden out for a year. They are the biggest draw in the history of mankind. Only one other guy ever came close—Gandhi.”

New York was ready for the Stones, and the Stones were more than ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple. The band’s four shows spread over three nights at Madison Square Garden were the unquestioned highlights of the tour, with the final night pegged as the can’t-miss gig. Everyone wanted in on the action.

The scene backstage before the last show is a madhouse. Television host Dick Cavett is on hand to interview Mick Jagger and the rest of the band for an hour-long special. This famous face and that famous face drift in and out of view hoping to get a coveted moment of personal time with someone in the band before they make their way out in front of the masses. Few are successful. Makeup is applied, last-minute documents are signed and the tequila sunrises flow like water.

Before the Stones can take the stage at MSG, the audience is treated to a searing set of music from the opening act, Stevie Wonder, who is just then promoting his latest album, Music of My Mind while on the verge of putting out an even greater work, Talking Book. It was a huge coup for the headliners to get the Motown piano virtuoso at this precise moment. His single “Superstition” is one of the biggest songs of 1972, well on its way to claiming the top spot on the charts a few months down the road.

Stevie Wonder is the perfect foil for the Rolling Stones. He isn’t going to compete with them on their terms like another white blues-based rock band like Humble Pie or the Allman Brothers might. He’s a different thing entirely. His stage show, while rapturous, is centered on his superb musicianship, his incredible songwriting and his own joyful persona.

A little under an hour after Wonder leaves, the Stones make their grand entrance and launch into “Brown Sugar.” Jagger appears dazzling in his sleeveless white jumpsuit, dotted with big sparkling sequins, and a long red sash tethered at the waist. A single, large aquamarine jewel is glued to the center of his forehead. His main foil and “Glimmer Twin” Keith Richards, ever the rock ’n’ roll pirate, is decked out in black leather pants and a flowing, white blouse, which is left unbuttoned to reveal his gleaming white, sweat-glazed chest.

Jagger eats up most of the attention, hopping across the stage, preening like a prized turkey. His arms flail all around, pointing in multiple directions one moment and enticing the crowd to clap along in the next. “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in the market down in New Orleans.” The subject matter is chilling, but the thousands singing along sound positively ebullient shouting back each word at their puffy-lipped Messiah.

The pace picks up even more on the next song, “Bitch,” which is played at a far faster clip than the recorded version. By the time they get to “Gimme Shelter” they’re locked in. The shot of adrenaline that comes from getting smacked in the face by 18,000 people simultaneously has worn off, and the Stones settle into their regular groove.

“They had a unique lighting system that they invented,” photographer Bob Gruen told me. The rig was designed by Woodstock MC Chip Monck, who installed a 40-foot by 8-foot array of mirrors near the top of the front of the stage. It was set at a 45-degree angle and had lights shined into it and reflected back onto the band.

Gruen explained, “Up until then in arenas, you had a large spotlight called a Super Trooper, this big carbon arc light up around the rafters in the arena shining down on the stage. They had eight Super Troopers at the back of the stage shining into this Mylar mirror, shining back onto the band. It was the brightest show I’ve ever seen.”

The Stones hit their marks with precision. Keith sounds appropriately cheery during his turn on the microphone for “Happy.” Charlie Watts keeps the party chugging along, crashing cymbals and kicking the hell out of his bass drum on “Bye Bye Johnny.” Mick Taylor sounds like a man possessed during his regular extended solo on “Midnight Rambler,” proving that he is the best pure musician in the band.

Still, it’s Jagger that the fans have come to see, and he doesn’t disappoint. The singer remains the ultimate icon of style and panache. Even with all the obvious effort and energy he expends on stage, he does so in a way that screams cool. When they reach the final song of the main set, “Street Fighting Man,” he’s flinging blood red rose petals over the heads of those screaming their vocal cords to shreds in the front row.

The night isn’t quite over yet. A few moments pass and the band reemerges for a rare encore with Stevie Wonder in tow to perform the latter’s hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).” As that song comes to an end, Richards kicks into the instantly recognizable riff to “Satisfaction,” and he and the rest of the band take flight.

The performance is breathtaking. Bobby Keys’s sax mingles with Wonder’s backing band, transforming the straight-ahead rocker into a full, swinging soul sensation. Jagger is giving everything he’s got left in the tank, pushing his voice harder and harder, straining to be heard above the cacophony.

As the last notes of their biggest hit ping across the cavernous walls of the basketball arena, a giant, burning cake is brought onto the stage to commemorate Jagger’s 29th birthday. The crowd is enticed to sing “Happy Birthday.” Somewhere, someone picks up a pie and a full-on food fight takes place in front of thousands of fans. Only Watts seems to be off-limits from the chaos. Once the supply of pies runs out, Mick jumps forward to give the crowd a salute and then he and the rest of the band depart for the last time.

A few hours later, the Stones and their crew, along with a host of the well-to-do, find themselves at the St. Regis Hotel to take part in a final party hosted by Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegun. In jarring contrast to the friendly atmosphere inside the Garden, the mood here is almost somber. Everyone in the band are all physically and emotionally spent. The party wraps sometime around dawn and they all scatter to the wind.

Set List

Brown Sugar
Bitch
Rocks Off
Gimme Shelter
Happy
Tumbling Dice
Love in Vain
Sweet Virginia
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
All Down the Line
Midnight Rambler
Bye Bye Johnny
Rip This Joint
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Street Fighting Man
Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Musicians:

Mick Jagger: Vocals
Keith Richards: Guitar
Mick Taylor: Guitar
Charlie Watts: Drums
Bill Wyman: Bass
Bobby Keys: Saxophone

chek out Corbin Reiff who will release his first-ever book, Lighters in the Sky: The All-Time Greatest Concerts, 1960-2016. 

The Rolling Stones ‘On Air’, a selection of BBC recordings from the 1960’s which offer a unique insight into the formative days of the band.
This is the Stones where it all started, playing the music they loved so much – Blues, R&B and even Country. These four years of radio studio recordings mirror The Rolling Stones live shows across the UK and the world, and mark the band’s rise to global stardom. On Air features recordings of the band on a number of BBC radio programs including Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show
Every track has gone through an extensive process called ‘Audio Source Separation’ at Abbey Road. This is a revolutionary approach to restoring older recordings and you will be able to hear the remarkable difference this makes to each song, whilst keeping the authenticity of the time.

One of the highlights of the album, titled On Air, is a version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” that the band recorded on September 18th, 1965, for the program Saturday Club – mere months after the single came out.

The track kicks off with Keith Richards‘ iconic fuzzy guitar riff and showcases a looser groove than the studio version, as Mick Jagger plays around with crooning and shouting the song’s verses. The song also ends abruptly – the way the band would have to have done it live – rather than fading out as it does on the studio recording.

Elsewhere on the compilation, which features recordings the band made between 1963 and 1965, the band performs many more of their early singles, including “Come On,” “The Last Time” and the Lennon and McCartney–penned “I Wanna Be Your Man,” as well as a spate of Chuck Berry covers. Among the selections are eight songs the group never released commercially, and several of the tracks were debuts – performances before the official studio versions came out.

‘Come On’ is taken from The Rolling Stones forthcoming album ‘On Air’ – a collection of classics, covers and previously unreleased recordings from the bands formative years – all recorded live from the BBC. ‘On Air’ is due for release on December 1st, early copies on Yellow Vinyl.

The Bridges to Babylon Tour

According to Mick Jagger, “The title came from looking at the stage. Because it was going to be the name of the tour as well as the record—it all had to fit together. We were looking at the stage one day and trying to find where we were with it. What does this design say to us? I came up with the ‘Bridges’ idea and a friend of mine came up with the Babylon thing. The bridge to the B-stage worked perfectly most nights, except when it was too cold or too hot, and then it had to be sort of manually got together. It was always my worry that it wasn’t gonna actually open.”

The Bridges To Babylon tour was announced in a press conference held underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and began on 9th September 1997 with a warm up show in Toronto, Canada, followed by another at The Double Door In Chicago. It officially began on 23rd September at Chicago’s Soldier Field followed by 55 more shows in North America, nine shows in South America, six shows in Japan and thirty-seven shows in Europe.

The production was designed by Mark Fisher, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Patrick Woodroffe and opened with a circular central screen exploding with fireworks, from which guitarist Keith Richards emerged playing the riff to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

This was the first tour on which the B-stage featured at almost every gig; the stage design included a 46 m (150 ft) long telescoping cantilever bridge that extended from the main stage to a ‘B’ stage in the centre of the stadiums. The only issue according to Keith was the fact that out door shows had the unpredictability of the weather to contend with.

“There’s another guy that joins the band on outdoor stages: God. Either he’s benign or he can come at you with wind from the wrong direction and the sound is swept out of the park. The weather normally comes good around show time… but not always.’ Keith

Keith also pointed out that, “The bigger shows are harder to play, even though that’s what we do most of the time, because we are so locked into lighting systems and computers: the more constructed you have to be, because of the size of the operation. When we play on the B-stage or at a club venue, for us it’s just like coming back home—sweating it up a bit.”

Babylon oslo

All in all this was another massive step forward in terms of the number of people who came watched The Stones perform: 4.8 million at 108 shows in 25 countries.

It concluded on 19th September 1998 in Istanbul, Turkey. Five shows were cancelled (in Marseilles, Paris, Lyon, Bilbao and Gijón), and five more were postponed (in Italy, Ireland and Great Britain).

As the ’90s wore on, Jagger became concerned with keeping the Rolling Stones fresh. That led directly to some of the dated experimentation on Bridges to Babylon, released on September. 23rd, 1997.

“There is a great danger when you’ve done all these albums … that you think you know how to make a record,” Jagger said in 1997. “Someone writes a song and there is something in the song that you recognize: ‘Oh, I know what that is. I’ll get my slide guitar.’ I don’t want to do that first thing that comes to mind.”

Over-worried about sounding too much like themselves after succumbing to a kind of easy classicism on 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, the Rolling Stones ended up going too far the other way. That meant bringing in then-hip producers John King and Mike Simpson. Known professionally as the Dust Brothers, they’d most recently been working with Beck.

“Anybody Seen My Baby,” the lead-off single, was doomed to parody by their decision to include a sample of Biz Markie‘s 1986 track “One Two.” Deep cuts like “Might as Well Get Juiced” suffered too, as its generically electronic backing track felt somehow both relentless and largely without detail. Hiding somewhere within this tune is something that could have harkened back to the edgy smack-laced danger of 1972’s Exile on Main St. The loop-driven “Saint of Me,” written in tribute to their late long-time sideman Billy Preston, suffers a similar fate. It’s a pretty good Stones song lost in a maze of studio tricks.

Jagger even brought in the sleek R&B producer Babyface to work on “Already Over Me” at one point, before discarding the tapes. “It’s full of fance – that’s funk and dance put together,” guitarist Ron Wood enthused in a 1997 . Fans were less enthusiastic, as the album became the Rolling Stones’ first ever – including 1986’s lightly regarded Dirty Work – to finish outside the U.K. Top 5. Bridges to Babylon ended up selling a million copies, but that was far less than the multi-platinum sales of their two most recent studio projects.

You could hardly blame Keith Richards. Favoring an abandoned back-to-basics approach, he ended up contributing some of his strongest material, and simply stayed well away from the more modernized stuff. Waddy Wachtel, the ace Los Angeles session guitarist, sat in on “Anybody Seen My Baby,” which was rumored to have been about actress Mary Badham of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. Richards doesn’t even appear on “Saint of Me.”

He claimed there were no hard feelings, despite early reports of tensions in the studio. “You always have to deal with other people’s preconceptions of what their version of the Stones is – and we can’t be everything to everybody,” said Richards “All we can do is be true to ourselves as much as possible, and say, ‘This is us now, take it or leave it.’”

Richards collaborated exclusively with stalwart Stones producer Don Was on the reggae-inflected “You Don’t Have to Mean It,” the soul-drenched “Thief in the Night” and his devastatingly sad album-closing “How Can I Stop.” All of them would have sounded more at home on one of Richard’s then-recent solo projects, For his part, Richards argued that while Bridges to Babylon may not have always worked, it had at least been interesting.

Their Satanic Majesties Request

The Rolling Stones would not be the first band one might think of in connection with the Summer of Love and the blossoming sound of psychedelia.  Yet the Stones spent much of 1967, on and off, recording the album that became “Their Satanic Majesties Request”.  Wholly unique in the band’s catalogue, it fused the band’s gritty sensibility with psychedelic effects, more lavish instrumentation, and experimental sounds.  Underscoring its nature as a conceptual work, it was also the first album by the Rolling Stones to feature identical track listings on both sides of the Atlantic.  The album is receiving a 50th anniversary box set from ABKCO.  On September 22nd, the label will reissue the album as a 2-LP/2-hybrid SACD collection featuring both the stereo and mono versions of every song, as newly remastered by Bob Ludwig. Their Satanic Majesties Request – 50th Anniversary Special Edition is appropriately decked out with Michael Cooper’s original 3-D lenticular cover photograph.

Following the departure of Andrew Loog Oldham midway through recording, after numerous clashes with the band, Their Satanic Majesties Request became the first self-produced album from the Stones.  Released in December 1967 as the band’s sixth British and eighth American studio album, it arrived on the Decca label in the United Kingdom and London Records in the United States.   Though critics were initially lukewarm, it’s risen in stature over the years, and has attracted cover versions from artists ranging from KISS to The Damned and Arcade Fire.  During its recording, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts were joined by guests including a pre-Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones providing string arrangements, plus pianist Nicky Hopkins, and background vocalists Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces.

Historian Rob Bowman provides the box set’s new liner notes, placing the album into context of one of the band’s wildest periods and making the case for it as a benchmark release as the group transitioned from edgy R&B to pure rock.  “She’s a Rainbow” (a minor hit in the U.S.) and “2,000 Light Years from Home” capture the band at their most potently psychedelic, while “Citadel” anticipated the harder-rocking direction that would soon be embraced.  “Sing All This Together,” “Gomper,” and “On with the Show” showcase a looser, more freeform style of songwriting and playing.  “In Another Land” has landmark status, too, as the only Rolling Stones track both written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman.  He was joined on the song by Marriott and Lane (recording next door) on vocals, Marriott on guitar, Hopkins on harpsichord, Watts on drums, and Mick and Keith on vocals.

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Their Satanic Majesties Request – 50th Anniversary Special Edition restores Michael Cooper’s original lenticular cover artwork, and the discs are housed in a fold-out album-style numbered package with a 20-page book including more of Cooper’s photos from the original session. As the album was originally issued in both stereo and mono, the upcoming edition will include the entire remastered album on 180-gram vinyl in stereo, another 180-gram vinyl record in mono, and two hybrid Super Audio CDs (one in stereo and one in mono).  Hybrid SACDs are playable in all CD players.  No additional outtakes or session material has been added to this collection.

Look for the special edition box on September 22 from ABKCO!  Pre-order links are live, below!

The Rolling Stones, Their Satanic Majesties Request – 50th Anniversary Special Edition

50 years after its release, The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request receives a deluxe 2LP and 2CD reissue, newly remastered and featuring replica ground-breaking 3D artwork plus book. Limited numbers available with free psychedelic slipmat!

1973 European tour poster

During the Rolling Stones’ 1973 tour of Europe, the band would usually end the show with their 1968 single (and Beggars Banquet album track), “Street Fighting Man.” On occasion, the Stones’ performance of the tune on the ‘73 jaunt could be magical. One such version was professionally recorded—and bootlegged—eventually seeing official release in 2011, before fading back into obscurity.

“Street Fighting Man,” like most of the Rolling Stones’ best stuff from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, is not only a fucking great song, but the studio version sounds cool.
Believe it or not, what you’re hearing during the opening moments of is Keith Richards’ acoustic guitar, which was recorded using a cheap cassette deck, giving it an overloaded, electric character. Charlie Watts used a 1930s practice drum kit on the intro, also captured with the tape recorder, the thin tone of the kit adding to the lo-fi effect. As the song progresses, Indian instruments are heard, giving the track a psychedelic quality. One of those instruments, the shehnai (essentially an Indian oboe) produces the wailing sound heard towards the end of the song. Mick Jagger’s lyrics—is he calling for revolution?—are open to interpretation. Jagger’s words, and the fact that his vocals are partially buried in the mix, contribute to the mysterious nature of “Street Fighting Man.”

Street Fighting Man - French picture sleeve

In support of their new record, Goat’s Head Soup, the Stones launched the 1973 European trek on September 1st in Vienna. Though significantly less dramatic than their infamous 1972 U.S. tour, the outing still had its moments. Take this one, in which saxophonist Bobby Keys quits the band right before the first of two scheduled performances that were to take place in Brussels, Belgium, on October 17th. In his autobiography, Life, Richards describes the scene:

No sign of Bobby at the band assembly that day, and finally I was asked if I knew where my buddy was—there had been no reply from his hotel room. So I went to his room and said, Bob, we gotta go, we gotta go right now. He’s got a cigar, bathtub full of champagne and this French chick in [the tub] with him. And he said, fuck off. So be it.

The Rolling Stones had booked the shows in Brussels due to its proximity to France, as they were banned from entering the country after behaving badly while recording Exile on Main St. in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The Brussels gigs took place at the Forest National Arena.

Ticket stub

With a live album in mind, the Rolling Stones recorded both Brussels performances. Though the live LP idea was eventually scrapped, the public did eventually get to hear portions of the Belgian recordings via the syndicated radio program, The King Biscuit Flower Hour in both stereo and FM quadraphonic 4-track. Naturally, the KBFH broadcast was subsequently bootlegged.

Brussels Affair bootleg cover

On the Brussels recordings, the Stones—augmented by keyboardist Billy Preston, as well a horn section—are in fine form, for sure, but the absolute highlight of the tapes is the version of “Street Fighting Man,” the final song played during each of their sets that day. From the get-go, the energy of the band is palpable. Keith, especially, stands out, as he doesn’t seem to be playing his guitar as much as stabbing the thing, but it’s when Mick Taylor steps on his wah-wah pedal (in place of the shehnai) that this rendition starts to become spectacular. As the number continues, Bill Wyman’s bass swoops, the horns squeak and squawk, and the tempo increases and increases until the music ceases to be just that, morphing into a riotous, stunning wave of sound.

In 2011, after decades of praise from fans who heard the Brussels tapes, the Stones finally granted the release of a selection of the recordings. Nicking the title from one of the bootlegs of the Belgium gigs, Brussels Affair (Live 1973) was made available as a download via Google Play and the Rolling Stones’ website, as well as a limited edition box Set . But the box is now out-of-print, and, for some reason, you can’t even buy the download anymore. Currently, the only way you can pick up the release (through official channels, that is) is if you splurge for the japanese set.  I bought the download when it came out, and can say that the recordings, given a fresh remix by Bob Clearmountain, sound stellar (much better than what’s heard above, which is from the bootleg version).

The live footage of “Street Fighting Man” is from the second of two shows the Stones played in Frankfurt on September 30th, 1973. Per usual, it was the closing song of their set.

 

 

Image result for MICK JAGGER

If the process of recording blues classics with the Rolling Stones for their upcoming Blue & Lonesome LP felt familiar for Mick Jagger, it wasn’t just because he knew all the songs by heart — he’d also done this kind of thing before.
Jagger’s previous attempt with an album of blues standards took place in 1992, while he was working with producer Rick Rubin on a solo LP that ultimately morphed into Wandering Spirit the following year. Rubin was also working with a Los Angeles band called the Red Devils, who he’d signed to his Def American imprint .

Tipped off to the band, Jagger turned up at the King King in May 1992 and sat in for a performance that included Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” and Little Walter’s take on “Blues With a Feeling.”
For Jagger, who’d been toying with the idea of a blues record since the Stones had finished their Steel Wheels tour, the show was just the spark he needed to actually get down to work. Using Rick Rubin as a middleman, he bought the band to Hollywood’s Ocean Way Recording studios in June, A day of running through some of the singer’s favorite numbers. the Red Devils were paid a flat fee of $750 for the session, which Jagger called to order by plunking down a pile of records.

What they got was a 13-hour blues marathon that produced more than a dozen songs — most of which were tracked in a few takes. Rubin publicly predicted the Red Devils sessions would be released “someday” — though in the meantime, the Devils were left without any real assurances, or even a copy of the tapes.
Even though the Red Devils sessions remain officially unreleased  with the exception of the track “Checkin’ Up on My Baby,” which worked its way onto 2007’s The Very Best of Mick Jagger compilation — tapes eventually found their way into circulation.

1) 00:00 Blues With A Feeling
2) 03:17 I Got My Eyes On You
3) 06:24 Still A Fool
4) 10:02 Checkin’ Up On My Baby
5) 13:22 One Way Out
6) 15:34 Talk To Me Baby
7) 18:12 Evil
8) 21:03 Ain’t Your Business
9) 23:14 Shake ‘m On Down
10) 28:46 Somebody Loves Me
11) 31:37 Dream Girl Blues
12) 37:18 40 Days, 40 Nights

Vocals: Mick Jagger
Harp: Lester Butler
Guitar: Paul Size
Bass: Jonny Ray Bartel
Drums: Bill Bateman

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The Rolling Stones are working on a blues-themed studio album, and we know for sure that Eric Clapton will be making a guest appearance on the disc.

Clapton “dropped by for a couple of numbers,” Richards told BBC 6 Music, adding that the recording sessions were lke “like old times down in Richmond.”No, he’s not talking about Richmond, Virginia; he means the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, Surrey, England, where the Stones and Clapton’s old band, the Yardbirds, used to perform in the early to mid-Sixties.

The Rolling Stones confirmed that they were working on a new album at the launch of Exhibitionism, a career retrospective at London’s Saatchi Gallery, earlier this year. The sessions have included new material and several blues covers, including tunes by Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter. Richards said the album would include “lots of Chicago blues” and would be released sometime “in the autumn.”

The Stones have circled back to the blues, with “Blue & Lonesome”, a (mostly) live-in-the-studio collection of 12 songs originally performed by the likes of Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and, again, Howlin’ Wolf. It’s the first Rolling Stones album to have zero Jagger-Richards originals; even their debut had a couple of attempts at songwriting. Recording Blue & Lonesome was easy – it took all of three days. “It made itself,” says Richards. As Ronnie Wood points out, however, it’s also the product of “a lifetime’s research, really.”

The freakiest thing about “Blue & Lonesome” is the extent to which Jagger and Richards agree on it. both are genuinely excited about the roots revival. The project might, from the outside, seem more like a Richards thing, the kind of retro move he’d favor, while Jagger The frontman says the stereotype isn’t all wrong, but that in this case, “we were all equally into it. I was as into it as anyone.”

“This is the best record Mick Jagger has ever made,” says Richards, always a fan of Jagger’s emotive harmonica playing, which flourishes on the new LP. “It was just watching the guy enjoying doing what he really can do better than anybody else.” He pauses. “And also, the band ain’t too shabby.”

Even after their early flurry of covers subsided, the Stones have never stopped playing old blues tunes, both onstage and, especially, in rehearsals. The 200 hours of Exile on Main Street sessions, for instance, were punctuated by repeated attempts at covers, meant to clear the air between the midwifing of new songs. Two of them  Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” – made the 1972 album.

Jagger is finally ready to concede that the Rolling Stones have something to add to this music. “The thing about the blues,” he says, “is it changes in very small increments. People reinterpret what they know – Elmore James reinterpreted Robert Johnson licks, as did Muddy Waters. So I’m not saying we’re making the jumps that they made, but we can’t help but reinterpret these songs.

This past December, the Rolling Stones gathered in Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios in West London to begin work on a batch of original songs. Jagger is deliberately vague on the nature of those tunes. “I hope it’s gonna be a very eclectic album,” he says. “I hope some of it’s gonna be recognizable Stones and some of it’s gonna be some Stones you never heard before, maybe.”

Knopfler’s studio is gorgeous, equipped with an ideal mix of vintage and modern equipment, with high ceilings and gleaming blond-wood floors. It was also a totally alien environment for the Stones. says Richards. “I know that recording new music in a room they’re not familiar with, there’s sometimes going to be weeks before the room breaks in.” So Richards told fellow Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood to learn Little Walter’s apocalyptically mournful 1965 B side “Blue and Lonesome” as a potential icebreaker (Wood remembers this suggestion coming in by fax, well before the sessions).

By the second day at British Grove, Richards felt his prediction coming true. “The room is fighting me,” he recalls thinking. “It’s fighting the band. The sound is not coming.” He suggested “Blue and Lonesome,” Jagger dug up a harmonica in the right key, and the band barreled through two quick takes. “Suddenly,” says Richards, “the room is obeying and there’s something happening – a sound is happening and it was so good.”

One of those two takes ended up on the album, and it’s extraordinary, with Wood playing frantic lead; Richards hitting huge, doom-y chords; Watts nailing the original track’s regally restrained drum part; and Jagger digging deep on his harp when he’s not delivering one of the least-mannered vocals of his career. “Baby, please, come back to me,” he pleads. Afterwards, Jagger – who says he had already been pondering a Stones blues album – surprised everyone by calling for more covers. That night, he went to his MP3 collection, returning the next day with more song ideas.

And in keeping with the serendipity of the endeavor, a special guest showed up. On the first day, Eric Clapton happened to be mixing an album of his own at British Grove when he poked his head into the Stones‘ live room. The guitarist, who had seen the Rolling Stones playing blues gigs when he was still in his teens, was taken aback. “Eric walked in, and he had the same reaction that any fan would have,” says Was. “He was just gobsmacked at being that close to something that iconic and powerful. There was this great look on his face.” They asked Clapton to jam on two songs, and he ended up picking up one of Richards‘ guitars, a semihollow Gibson, instead of the Strats he’s mostly played post-1970 – which helped him reclaim the fat tone of his Bluesbreakers days: You can hear the band applauding him at the end of “I Can’t Quit You Baby.”

It all happened so quickly and naturally that the band never really discussed what it was doing, or even acknowledged it was making an album. “I didn’t even have time to change my guitar,” says Wood. “They were coming so thick and fast. It was like, ‘OK, let’s do it – this one, that one.’ Some of the harder riffs were making my fingers bleed, and Mick was going, ‘Come, let’s do it again, then!’ And we’ll go, ‘Hang on! My fingers!’ It was real hard work, but I love it.”

For Jagger, it was a chance to indulge his blues-harp habit, a subject that arouses an incongruously geeky enthusiasm in him. “If I had known I was gonna have to do this,” he says, “I would have spent a few days practicing, because sometimes I do that, sit at home and play. It’s quite easy, really; I mean, you just put on whatever, a whole bunch of Muddy Waters records.” (Muddy “Mississippi” Waters – Live, a 1979 LP featuring Johnny Winter, is one of Jagger’s favorites for this purpose.)

Jagger’s vocals are also striking in their authority. The camp he once brought to the genre is gone, replaced by something darker and deeper, perhaps reflecting the weight of real-life losses. “You can put yourselves inside the songs as a 70-year-old,” says Was, “in a way that you couldn’t when you were 21, because you hadn’t experienced the stuff.”

“On some of these, I sound quite old,” Jagger counters, “and on some of them, I don’t. Some of it sounds like when I was in my twenties doing this stuff. I didn’t really mean it to sound like that. I was supposed to be more mature!”

In October, as the Stones stepped onto the Desert Trip stage in Indio, California, some thoughts crossed Mick Jagger’s mind. “It was 30 meters wider than our normal stage,” says Jagger, “which is quite wide, by the way, which I usually run. And I heard that nobody else went out there, apart from me.

Though Jagger blames the dusty field for a recent bout of laryngitis – and he originally questioned the idea of a festival of “old, over-70 white English people playing all the same music” – the band had a good time at Desert Trip, treating it as a sort of boomer-rock class reunion.

The Stones are discussing more shows next year, and they really do intend to work on that album of originals. “There’s about 10 or 12 new songs that Mick actually has been cooking up,” says Wood, “and Keith’s got the odd one, too.” Richards suggests that at least some of the songs might be unfinished compositions that date back 15 years or more. Keith Richards is trying to persuade them to do some recording, which may be a stretch. Jagger is positive they’ll finish that album, “but I don’t know when, because you want it to be really good and everything.”

At 75, Watts is the oldest band member, and also happens to have the most physically demanding job. Understandably, he struggles with back pain, according to Wood. It’s unclear what the Rolling Stones would do without him, and that’s a prospect Richards refuses to contemplate. “Charlie Watts will never die or retire,” Richards says. “I forbid him to.” Richards knows exactly how he’d like to go, and he’s sure that doctors will want to have “a good look at the liver” when he does. “I’d like to croak magnificently,” he says, savoring the prospect. “Onstage.”

Blue & Lonesome sees the Rolling Stones tipping their hats to their early days as a blues band when they played the music of Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf – artists whose songs are featured on this album.

The tracks are – ‘Just Your Fool’, ‘Commit A Crime’, ‘Blue And Lonesome’, ‘All Of Your Love’, ‘I Gotta Go’, ‘Everybody Knows About My Good Thing’, ‘Ride ‘Em On Down’, ‘Hate To See You Go’, ‘Hoo Doo Blues’, ‘Little Rain’, ‘Just Like I Treat You’, ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’.

thanks to Rolling Stone magazine.

gimmeshelter

Written by Keef as he brooded over Anita’s dalliance with Mick, “Gimme Shelter” represented something darker and more universal: rape, murder and the death of the 1960s spirit.
“You get lucky sometimes,” Keith Richards says of “Gimme Shelter”, the greatest song he ever wrote. “It was a shitty day. I had nothing better to do.”

The tone is lightweight, almost laughable. Yet the song was wrought from the heaviest of materials. The Rolling Stones were still trying to climb out of the career-grave that their critically derided 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request had left them in, their plans persistently thwarted by the rapidly disintegrating physical and emotional state of their other founder-member guitarist, Brian Jones.

Their 1968 follow-up, Beggars Banquet, recorded largely with just Keith on guitar, had been a classic, but their final hit with Jones, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, had been their only chart single in the UK for 18 months. Now with Keith’s old lady – Anita Pallenberg, stolen from Jones the year before – filming sex scenes with Mick Jagger for his movie debut in Performance, Keith’s mind was all doom and gloom as he sat snorting coke and heroin at gallery owner Robert Fraser’s Mayfair apartment one stormy day that autumn.

Lounging with his guitar in a room decorated with Tibetan skulls, tantric art and Moroccan tapestries, chain-smoking and depressed at the thought of Anita being with Mick, Keith began to strum as lightning flashed across the London sky.

“It was just a terrible fucking day,” he recalls in his memoir, Life, “this incredible storm over London. So I got into that mode – looking at all these people… running like hell.”

Leaning on the same open chords that had become his signature, he crooned, ‘Oh, a storm is threatening, my very life today.’ Sounded good. He continued to strum, added another line: ‘If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away…’

Six months later, when the Stones reconvened to begin work on their next album, Let It Bleed, the song of ultimate doom Keith had begun that stormy day, now titled Gimme Shelter, was among the first he and Jagger began working on with producer Jimmy Miller.

There were other monumental moments on the album to come, not least Jagger’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want. But everything the Stones would become, everything they would be glorified as – the greatest, most legendary, most daring and sophisticated and dark and evil and sexy and cool rock’n’roll band in the world – would be summed up by the apocalyptic Gimme Shelter, the album’s opening track.

It would be another six months, though, before they’d finished with it. In the meantime the Rolling Stones went through the most turbulent period – artistically, personally, commercially – of their career.

After Jones, who had officially been ousted from the group in June ’69, was found dead in his swimming pool just three weeks later, the Stones went ahead with their planned free concert in Hyde Park, with new guitarist Mick Taylor.

They also announced their first US tour for three years, due to start in November. First though, they had to complete the album. Miller argued there was something missing from Gimme Shelter, something that would turn good into great. They found what they were looking for in 20-year-old Merry Clayton. Suggested by producer and long-time Stones acolyte Jack Nitzsche, Clayton had made her name through duets and backing vocals for Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Presley, among many others.

She laughingly recalls how she was about to go to bed when she got Nitzsche’s call: “It was almost midnight. I was pregnant at the time and I thought, there’s no way in the world I’m getting out of bed to go down to some studio in the middle of the night.”

But her husband, jazz saxophonist Curtis Amy, talked her into it.

“I’m wearing these beautiful pink pyjamas, my hair was up in rollers. But I took this Chanel scarf, wrapped it round the rollers so it looked really cute, went to the bathroom and put on a little lip blush – ’cos there’s no way I’m going to the studio other than beautiful!” Throwing a fur coat around her shoulders, she turned up at the studio “ready to work”. She admits to being somewhat nonplussed when she read the lyrics Jagger handed to her.

“I’m like, ‘Rape, murder…’? You sure that’s what you want me to sing, honey? He’s just laughing. Him and Keith.”

They began the session, and the effect was instant. “You listen to the original tape you can hear Mick whooping and hollering in the background,” Merry says.

Of course, there would be a grim postscript to the story of Gimme Shelter. While it became the most praised album-only track in the Stones canon – “The cleverest amalgam of powerful sounds the Stones have yet created,” reckoned International Times; “Ecstatic, ironic, all-powerful, an erotic exorcism for a doomed decade,” claimed Newsweek – it also became the emblem of the moment when the 60s dream flared into the 70s nightmare.

Released on the same day in December 1969 as the Stones’ ill-starred, bad-acid-and-cheap-wine appearance at Altamont Speedway in northern California, at which teenager Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hells Angels, Gimme Shelter would also become the all-too appropriate title of the Maysles brothers’ documentary film of that debacle: the moment when the Stones’ music seemed to become a mythic force unto itself. Or as Albert Goldman put it: “An obsessively lovely specimen of tribal rock… rainmaking music [repeating] over an endless drone until it has soaked its way through your soul.”

“They hand me the lyrics, and I’m looking, thinking, ‘Rape? Murder? I’m working with a bunch of fools!’”

Less a backing singer on Gimme Shelter, she was virtually a co-singer with Jagger.

“I remember saying to the boys [Jagger and Richards]: ‘I hope this don’t take all night, ’cos I gotta get my beauty sleep,’” she chuckles now. “But that song became the start of a whole new thing for me.”

Indeed, the 70s found Merry supplying vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd (Sweet Home Alabama), The Who (as the Acid Queen in the original 1972 stage production of Tommy), Neil Young and countless others. But Gimme Shelter became Merry’s signature tune and the title of her 1970 debut solo album.

Currently, Merry Clayton can be seen telling – and singing – her story in the documentary movie 20 Feet From Stardom, in which she and several other noted backing singers reveal the stories behind a lifetime of classic songs. “Honey, we saw it all,” she purrs. “Only we were never supposed to tell about it – until now!”

Release Date,December 6th, 1969, on the album Let It Bleed

PERSONNEL

Mick Jagger Vocals, harmonica

Keith Richards Guitars, backing vocals

Bill Wyman Bass

Charlie Watts Drums

Nicky Hopkins Piano

Jimmy Miller Percussion

Merry Clayton Vocals

WRITTEN BY

Mick Jagger/Keith Richards

PRODUCER

Jimmy Miller

 

On the 29th May 1971, The Rolling Stones started a two week run at No.1 on the singles chart with ‘Brown Sugar’, from the album Sticky Fingers. It was also the first single released on Rolling Stones Records, it was the bands sixth US No.1, and a No.2 hit in the UK. The songs lyrics, which are essentially a pastiche of a number of taboo subjects, include: interracial sex, cunnilingus, slave rape, and less distinctly, sadomasochism, lost virginity, and heroin.

Though credited, like most of their compositions, to the singer/guitarist pair of Jagger/Richards, the song was primarily the work of Jagger, who wrote it sometime during the filming of the movie Ned Kelly in 1969. Originally recorded over a three-day period at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in  Muscle Shoals Alabama from 2nd–4th December 1969, the song was not released until over a year later due to legal wranglings with the band’s former label, though at the request of guitarist Mick Taylor , they debuted the number live during the infamous concert at  Altamont on 6th December.

The song was written by Jagger with Marsha Hunt in mind; Hunt was Jagger’s secret girlfriend and mother of his first child Karis. It is also claimed it was written with Claudia Lennear in mind. Lennear saying that it was written with her in mind because at the time when it was written, Mick Jagger used to hang around with her. The Rolling Stones performing “Brown Sugar” live in Texas, 1972.