Rolling Stones

ARTICLE ABOUT The Rolling Stones FROM New Musical Express, February 4, 1967

Written when the band had just released their “Between The Buttons” album – curiously enough, this album was released in two different versions – the US edition including “Let`s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday” – two great songs that never appeared on a studio album in the UK, but later was added on a lot of compilation albums. In the UK, singles were often excluded from studio albums.
Read on!


Our fans have moved on with us – Brian Jones

Keith Altham considers the unique phenomenon – the Rolling Stones` image

Let us consider that unique phenomenon – the Rolling Stones` public image! When the Stones began rolling approximately three years ago they founded their personal approach upon a direct appeal to young peoples` impatience with authority and the basic premise that no one likes to be told what to do — especially a teenager. The Stones became “the defiant ones” – representatives of the eternal struggle between youth and the aged; champions of the “it`s my life and I’ll do what I like with it” school.

The parents spotted the declaration of war upon their authority and rejected the Stones — the Stones promptly rejected the parents.
Today there exists a huge social barrier between the older generation and the Stones — a barrier which some critics argue must be broken if the group are to “appeal to a wider market” and make the transition like the Beatles into films.
Since their early days the group has progressed immeasurably both musically and lyrically — take a good listen to “Ruby Tuesday” — and Jagger, with the exception of that recent abortive presentation on the Palladium TV, is without equal on stage as an agitator and interpreter of musical excitement.
Any improvement in the group as entertainers has been largely over-shadowed by the regular bursts of shock publicity and personal life exposés in a National Press apparently as dedicated to a policy of “with the Rolling Stones only bad news is good news” as the group themselves are to their uncompromising attitudes and opinions.

Flicked ash

I took up the subject with Brian Jones in a bar off Kensington High Street last Monday, where he supped a pint of Guinness and flicked fag ash into his untouched oxtail soup at irregular intervals.
“Why should we have to compromise with our image?” posed Brian. “You don’t simply give up all you have ever believed in because you’ve reached a certain age.
“Our generation is growing up with us and they believe in the same things we do — when our fans get older I hope they won’t require a show like the Palladium.
“The recent pictures of me taken in Nazi uniform were a put-down. Really, I mean with all that long hair in a Nazi uniform, couldn’t people see that it was a satirical thing? How can anyone be offended when I’m on their side? I’m not a Nazi sympathiser.
“I noticed that the week after the pictures of me taken in that uniform appeared there were photographs of Peter O’Toole in the same newspaper wearing a German uniform for a film he is making. But no one put him down for wearing that!
“The photographs taken of my flat in a terrible mess recently was another misrepresentation. An Italian film company was filming in the room and we pushed everything into one corner to make room for the camera crew. We were not even aware of the photographs that were being taken were for publication in a paper here.
“You’ve seen my flat — I don’t live in that kind of mess normally. I’ve complained to the Press Council about the whole episode.”
At this point enter Mr. Keith Richard in his maroon leather jacket, University of Hawaii T shirt and orange neckerchief, full of apologies for being late as he had forgotten it was his chauffeur’s day off. How does he see the possibility of coming to terms with the older generation as the Beatles appear to have done?


Not honest

“You can’t suddenly become accepted overnight by cutting your hair, putting on a suit and saying ‘Look, aren’t I nice? ‘—it’s not us—it’s not honest, and why should we?” asked Keith.
“We haven’t got the same PR set up as the Beatles,” added Brian. “Anyway, I think you must realise that certain of the Beatles share a great many of our ideas and opinions.”
We moved on to just who exactly are the Stones fans now. Brian obliged by describing one who had ‘passed on.’
“‘Margaret Stokes’ was a Stones fan three years ago but she ‘copped’ out,” he said. “Now she’s probably married with a kid and another on the way. She and her husband go to the same pubs as her parents and they are both bored with life. If she goes to see a pop group at all she’ll go and see Dave Dozy and Speakeasy!
“Sometimes we get the old characters like the one we met in a country club over the weekend. He came up to us and said he was a fan and that he’d been in the business 40 years and prophesied that we’d be all right ‘as long as you keep yer ‘armonies!’


“Our real followers have moved on with us — some of those we like most are the hippies in New York, but nearly all of them think like us and are questioning some of the basic immoralities which are tolerated in present day society — the war in Vietnam, persecution of homosexuals, illegality of abortion, drug taking. All these things are immoral. We are making our own statement — others are making more intellectual ones.
“Our friends are questioning the wisdom of an almost blind acceptance of religion compared with total disregard for reports related to things like unidentified flying objects which seems more real to me. Conversely I don’t underestimate the power or influence of those, unlike me, who do believe in God.
“We believe there can be no evolutioh without revolution. I realise there are other inequalities — the ratio between affluence and reward for work done is all wrong. I know I earn too much but I’m still young and there’s something spiteful inside me which makes me want to hold on to what I’ve got.
“I believe we are moving toward a new age in ideas and events. Astrologically we are at the end of the age called the Pisces age — at the beginning of which people like Christ were born.
“We are soon to begin the age of Aquarius, in which events as important as those at the beginning of Pisces are likely to occur. There is a young revolution in thought and manner about to take place.”
Returning the conversation to any kind of level related to pop music proved difficult and a chance remark of mine as to Gene Pitney`s marriage brought the retort, from Brian:
“You`ve been trying to reduce the conversation to that level all afternoon!”
However we did manage to ascertain what they thought of Max Bygraves` action on the Palladium last week when he produced a can of areosol and sprayed the stage on mentioning the Rolling Stones by name.
“Brilliant,” said Keith sarcastically, “I mean all that and ‘Tulips From Amsterdam,’ too!”
“Did he do it without wearing a wig,” retorted Brian, “I mean that’s a bit avant garde for Max Bygraves — putting down the Stones without wearing a wig!”


We stepped over Max Bygraves and conversationally circumnavigated the death of President Kennedy — something else that Mr. Jones has very definite opinions about — and cares about almost obsessively. A neat swerve in discussion bought us to what if anything or anyone is following the Rolling Stones.
“I’d like to see the Move,” said Brian. “They are really an extension of our idea of smashing conventions. Those kind of smash ups they have — destroying TV sets, cars, etc., are all a part of dissatisfaction with convention.
“Pete Townshend’s tendency to smash guitars is a physical reproduction of what is going on in his mind — I wish he’d write a book!”
A somewhat disturbing interview was rounded off by Brian insisting that the Muzak version of Ravel’s Bolero was turned up over our heads — ” it builds to a great climax ” — and we finally left the restaurant — Mr. Jones in his Rolls — Mr. Richard in his girl friend’s dirty red sports car, and me by cab.
Nothing it seems is going to change the Rolling Stones — except perhaps old age!


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ARTICLE ABOUT Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones) FROM New Musical Express, January 28, 1967

Some interesting tidbits in this one. Not sure if Mick really listened to the new Beatles single, but still – some great discussion about their own single. This surely were a completely different time than we`re living in now.
Read on!


Jagger scorns critics

By Keith Altham

THOSE naughty Rolling Stones — the ones who write wicked things like “Let’s Spend The Night Together” — wouldn’t go on the nice man’s roundabout last Sunday. If that sounds frivolous considering the recent contention over the group’s refusal to mount the revolving circus-rostrum after their Palladium TV last Sunday, it reflects Mick Jagger’s own views when I spoke to him on Monday.
He had just finished a piano lesson and proved to be in good form.
“Ello Keef — controversial Mick ‘ere,” he rasped in suitably moronic tones. “Straight from my record breaking run at the Palladium!”

Pleased about row

“I thought we’d gone far enough by doing the show,” he said happily. “Anyhow, Andrew and I had a great row about it which made an excellent front page in the ‘Daily Mirror’ which I was very pleased with.
“The only reason we did the show was because it was a good national plug — anyone who thought we were changing our image to suit a family audience was mistaken.
“There was no question of our having to change the lyric of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together.’
“Let’s face it, the BBC are playing it and you can’t get much `Auntier’ than them — we had to change it for America because the Ed Sullivan Show was the one plug we were doing on the record and they wouldn’t let us perform it without changing the lyrics.”

“I only yelled out things like ‘Hello Fruity’ because there were two girls waving a huge poster with ‘Fruity Mick’ written on it.”

“Yes — Paul video-taped it for us on his machine and Keith and I went round to his place to see it.”

“No Paul Asher! I thought it was people making pathetic remarks about pop stars. Dave Allen’s remarks about us weren’t funny – they were pathetic and they all take it so seriously. You should see them practising back stage.
“I thought the sound we got was better than any other group has achieved but the camera angles were terrible. Someone accused us of ruining the show – how can you ruin a show with two camera shots.
“Do you know they had four cameras there — two of them must have been out of action.
“I see someone wrote that Shani Wallis was the star of the show.
“I remember her — she’s in the shampoo ads isn’t she?”


“I think that it’s very important to be able to dance to our singles and `Let’s Spend The Night Together’ is the best dance number.”

“That’s because Charlie can’t play anything else — I think some people have got tin ears that’s what I think!”

“I’m pleased you asked me that — especially as I asked you to. I’m very pleased with it. It’s called ‘My Way Of Giving’ — it’s released next week and Steve Marriott who wrote it needs the money, so I hope it’ll be a big hit.
“We also recorded ‘Yesterday’s Papers’ with Chris off our own LP but Steve’s composition turned out better.”

“Quite soon — what I want to do is have a show for young people which is not just pop stars coming on stage singing their latest recordings. I want it to include all kinds of acts — a stage show — except at the end we’ll go round on a revolving stage, leaping about for an hour to make up for the Palladium.
“Oh, and the ice creams will all have acid in them — that’s my brother’s idea!”

“I suppose we could take an elephant on stage and break that up! Really the Who began all this smashing scene and they are the only group I like to see do it.
“With the others it’s just a case of finding bigger things to smash — someone will take a bus on stage soon and smash that up.
“I went to one of those ‘smashing happenings’ at the London Roundhouse a few weeks back. I thought everyone would be freaking out and wearing weird clothes but they were all wandering around in dirty macs — it was the most boring thing I’ve ever seen.
“Paul McCartney thought everyone would be wearing weird clothes have been very lonely for him, ‘cos and he went as an Arab, which must when I went there wasn’t another Arab in sight.”

“Yes and I can’t say anything about it. I like both sides equally.”

“I dig it — nice atmosphere in the club where I saw him. Most sexual thing I’ve seen for a long time!”


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ARTICLE ABOUT Rolling Stones FROM New Musical Express, December 21, 1968

Here`s some more Stones for you. They have a lot of fanatic fans and their contribution to rock music is nothing less than legendary. Still rocking in 2020, they seem indestructible even if their age is catching up with them in various ways. They will live on in rock`n`roll history, that`s for sure!
Read on!


Keith Altham joins the Stones Rock`n`Roll circus…

The greatest show on earth

The Rolling Stones put in some overtime last Wednesday when they spent 17 hours working on their telethon production of “The Rock and Roll Circus” which is likely to become a pop classic when it is shown. Michael Lyndsay Hogg, who directed some of the more memorable “Ready Steady Go!” sagas, produced this epic with a little help from his illustrious friends, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Marianne Faithfull, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, Jethro Tull, classical pianist Julius Katchen, the Who and “perpetual” violinist lvri Gitlis.
It was, in fact, the most exciting pop show I have ever seen and one in which I was involved with those “maniacs” Keith Moon and Pete Townshend, who organised compulsory audience participation and early morning P.T. until 5 o’clock Thursday morning.
“If you had told me four years ago that we would have been involved in something like this I would never have believed you,” said Brian Jones, “but everyone is really enjoying themselves.”
Someone asked John (Lennon) what kind of amp he wanted and he just said “oh one that plays!” The idea is that if everyone has fun the people who watch will too! ”


When I arrived on set at the Wembley studios around noon I was distressed to find that the boxing kangaroo had been axed. I had also missed Mick wrestling with a live tiger the previous day.
We entered the viewing room in the studios where Michael was waxing enthusiastic over yesterday’s “rushes” of a mysterious American group called the Liquid Wallpaper.
“Oh, great work, Mike – nice shot — that’s the way to shoot rock and roll,” he drawled at a projection apparently taken by the cameraman standing on one leg, shooting under his left armpit through the strings of a guitar.
They were, in fact, very good, but my enthusiasm wained as I arose from my kneeling position in the darkened room and cracked my forehead on the sharp corner of a table.
Dabbing at the wound as the lights went up Michael kindly remarked on his way out, “How are you Keith — just sitting there bleeding — fine!
“The grand parade in the Circus ring was a photographer’s paradise with Yoko dressed as a witch with tall black pointed hat and John as a tumbler. Keith Moon minced up in black tights covered in bright glittering coloured spangles.
“Wait till I change out of my street clothes,” he quipped. Eric Clapton wore a suit of many colours and Mick was dressed as a ringmaster. The photographers were let in and crowded round like a cloud of locusts with Rolliflexes clicking. Ten minutes later Mick curtailed the photo call by announcing: “One more for Andy Gray,” referring to our Editor and the show was almost on.
The usual technical hitches resulted in the entire parade being stuck in the tunnel entrance to the ring from which the sound of Ivri’s interminable violin emerged along with loud rude noises from the Who attempting to play ancient brass instruments. Ivri launched into a Beatles composition.

“Hope you’ve got your performing rights money ready, mate — we’re all composers here,” quipped Townshend.
“Except me — I’m a decomposer!” added Moon. Much laughter from tunnel after 15 minutes of technical hitches.
Meanwhile, back in the sound room Jimmy Miller was semi-hysterical as engineer Glyn Johns raced around checking tapes.
“I haven’t had this much fun with my clothes on for weeks,” declared Jimmy. Jimmy also produced Traffic records and I asked him about the recent break-up of the group.
“It was a complete surprise to me,” he admitted. “I never thought Stevie would leave the group so suddenly. I know he has been very influenced by jazz organist Al Koopers’ recent one-man-work and that he has ideas about playing every instrument on future discs — even drums himself.”
Back in the ring the Parade was on with Cowboy, horse, midgets, clowns, trapeze artists, fire-eater and acrobats supplementing the pop stars.
That being completed, the other acts dispersed around the studios to watch Jethro Tull set up for their contribution, “A Song For Jeffrey.”
Eric Clapton was casting covetous glances at a midget’s huge red-crepe bow tie — “I’d give anything for that,” he whispered.
“Ask him for it,” suggested Keith Richard.
“He won’t part with it,” replied Eric. ” Made it himself.”
” Nick it,” suggested Keith. “You wear his tie and I’ll wear his trousers!”



In spite of all their musical progression it’s most noticeable of late that the Stones are becoming very much interested in blues music again. It was Jagger who expressed admiration of Jethro Tull’s brand of blues and asked them on the show.
Brilliant guitarist that he is, Clapton admitted that his inspirations were really still in his past. “I’m still a rocker,” he grinned, “and there’s nothing I can do about it!”
The event of the afternoon was probably the Super Group composed of Lennon, Clapton, Richard and Mitchell. They played a version of Lennon’s “Yer Blue’s.”
For one or two people it was interesting to note that as a guitarist Lennon, to quote one critic — “is not half bad.”
It was even more noticeable at one or two impromptu jam sessions back stage with the Super stars getting into old rock and rollers like “Hound Dog” and “Peggy Sue.”
Yoko provided a strange diversion to one side with a new dance in which she contrived to wiggle completely inside her voluminous black dress so that neither head or limbs were exposed.
Their second number was an improvisation with Yoko giving us an exhibition of “Japanese throat” which I do not pretend to understand so I will not attempt to criticise.
Sometimes I think she is quietly laughing at our attempts to read meaning into the meaningless.
It really is time that people were kinder towards John and Yoko. As far as I know they have never intentionally hurt or abused anyone and yet they have become the butt for every cheap comic stuck for a joke.
They spent the entire day and next morning along with us, supporting the Stones show from the audience. Photographers returned with smiles and reports of the new “mellow fellow” which is Lennon.
A tea lady brought back excited news after they signed her autograph book and chatted to her: “I was a little frightened of them but they were so nice it made me ashamed!”
Lennon, the millionaire who sat perched about on amplifiers and boxes in his old blue denims — a hole in the elbow and biro marks on the well worn knee — is a man worth watching and listening to and when people like him, Townshend, Burdon, Jagger, Walker, Marriott and Lane quit this business so will I. Talent and guts are rare combinations.


Meanwhile back at the show, Miss Marianne Faithfull in a beautiful aubergine gown sat with regal elegance upon a divan and trilled a Gerry Goffin “Something Better” number quite superbly arranged by one Mick Jagger which may yet see her return to records.
Trapeze artists were suspended above pianist Julius Katchen, who admires present pop groups because so much in the classical world is becoming “machine made,” while he played “The Firebird” and a piece of Brahms.
A nice man, as well as a gifted pianist. Clowns, fire-eater and cowboy on horseback led to the Who.
The Who did their mini opera in which Keith Moon regaled us with his latest impersonation of a human fountain by having beer spilled onto his snare drums while in top gear.
Although he might smile at the thought, Townshend is now almost a piece of pop-folklore with his catherine wheel like arm movements and aggresive leaps. The act must make great TV.
Around about 2 am the Stones were on stage and warming up with “Route 66.”
They got through “Jumping Jack Flash” and “No Expectations” to prove they still have the most exciting group sound in the world and the most interesting visual vocalist in Jagger.
At times he strikes attitudes reminiscent of an obscene Nureyev!
“Sympathy With the Devil” was Mick at his provocative best, in which he whipped off his shirt to reveal a tattooed Devil’s head on his chest.
This resulted in the total collapse of a young lady near the stage. “You Can’t Always Have What You Want” is their new number which may be the next single – and likely their next number one.
By 6.30 am Pete Townshend had donned a red leather seat as a hat which together with his red pancho made him look like a member of the Klu Klux Klan.
We all ended up on the finale — “Salt of the Earth” — and I rather suspect I may be seen in a soppy hat and smock amidst the others in a rousing chorus at the end.
At 6.30 am I was earning my lift home by helping pack the Stones amplifiers.


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ARTICLE ABOUT Rolling Stones FROM New Musical Express, December 14, 1968

Just when you thought that it was safe to assume I had used up all my music magazines from before 1976, I have a little surprise for you – starting with this article from the tail end of 1968. Just half a year after the “summer of love” and with a band clearly at the top of their game with a great album soon to arrive, inspiring a lot of other rock bands that would make their debut in the 70s. Here`s a report from a “wild party” celebrating the occasion!


Stoned at lunch!

With pie-in-the-eye on the menu

By Keith Altham

LAST week the nice Rolling Stones threw a lunch party for all the ladies and gentlemen of the musical Press at the Elizabethan Rooms of the Queensgate Gore Hotel in order to promote their newly escaped album (by kind permission of Decca), called ” Beggars Banquet.”
Unaccustomed as they are to receiving free handouts from the Stones, a most impressive array of editors, reporters and writers arrived for the feast served in ye olde English manner by ye younge English wenches in ye good old low cut blouses!
I noticed quite early on in the proceedings that much of the top brass appeared to be seated exceedingly near mine Rolling hosts, which included those naughty Decca men who would not release the Stones wicked album sleeve. Ye olde Mick scuttled about the tables, referring nobley to Lord Harlech and others as ” our honoured guests,” and when I somewhat ungraciously enquired, with some suspicion, what was afoot he smiled beneath his battered tramp’s hat and quoth ” Don’t worry, I’m saving one for you!” But what was puzzling me was the nature of his game.

Lambs to the slaughter

Like lambs to the slaughter we were fed from wooden platters and the leavings were scraped on to an alms dish for the poor of Kensington, when they find him! Much mead was drunk and our cups overfloweth’d while we sat lulled into a sense of false security. The candles flicker along the dark oak panelled walls and evil waited quivering for sin!
From the head of the table Mick arose to make a speech — a tramp shining, if there ever was one! ” Well, I hope you’ve all had enough to eat and drink (a few drunken lines of ‘For ye’s a jolly good fellow’ from the diners). And I hope you’ve all enjoyed yourselves (reaches for small cardboard boxes which he begins to open). But we didn’t invite you here just to eat and drink and enjoy yourselves, did we?” The last remark was accompanied by a crust pastry pie filled with ” crazy foam ” (not meringue or cream or custard. It all wipes off your suit y’see. Tell that to the dry cleaners).
You meet the strangest people under dining tables! BBC ” Top Gear ” producer Bernie Andrews and I looked out from beneath ours at the ” slap-stick hell ” released by the Stones. Some rejoiced in the revelry and howled with glee as their missiles stuck in the hair and faces of associates, only to be struck themselves. Others took it with good humour — some executives dragged foamy fingers through their hair and assumed cracked grins at the damage done to their Savile Row three-piecers – ” monarchs surly at the wrongs sustained to royal visages — queens gleaming through the splendours last decay ” (borrowed from Bill Wordsworth).
It was a pity that poor old John Peel, at present suffering from jaundice, could not be there to see the ” beautiful and the damned,” but then Bernie Andrews would be able to give him an eye witness account from beneath the table cloth.
The only really sour note to the proceedings seem to come from one aggrieved personage holding his eye, who felt that the least the phantom hurler could have done was to remove the pie from its hard cardboard box before throwing it at him. Thus proving dearly beloved, that he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.


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ARTICLE ABOUT Rolling Stones FROM New Musical Express, April 24, 1976

I don`t think I have posted an article about Rolling Stones before, so here goes. Will be interesting to see if the Stones fans are out there or if they have read all of this before.
As usual, you can count on Mr. Murray to give a proper slagging off when he feel it is deserved. And, as we have learned before, he often feel it is deserved.
Have a good read!


Sometimes You Can`t Even Get What You Need

The New Stones Album

Charles Shaar Murray sets off in search of Ancient Gods, and finds nothing more than four (or five or six as the case may be) Ageing Punks in search of an idea.

“The Rolling Stones are a really good band, but, like, I consider them like a boys` band because they don`t play mens music. They don`t play professional music for men, they play music for young people, and even with their most intelligent material as a stimulant, they play music for the young.”
– Mike Bloomfield, 1968.

“I`ve heard some of the Rolling Stones` new tracks and although I dig them, I don`t think they`re anything more than what they are, which is incredible, delicious and wonderful rock and roll and well overdue from them. The Rolling Stones should always be a non-progressive group.
– Pete Townshend, 1968.

“Quite simply, I personally feel that the Stones are the world`s best rock and roll band – quite unqualifiedly. Not that I think their records are always great… it`s like Glyn Johns says about a Stones session, you can sit and wait for weeks and they`ll just churn out a lot of rubbish.”
– Pete Townshend, 1970.

“That`s what makes the Stones the Stones: they never back down, never lose ground, they plunge ahead as raw as life itself, and even though they made mistakes sometimes they`re not afraid to admit `em, and they`ll take another wilder chance round the very next bend. That`s rock and roll, brother, and so are the Rolling Stones.”
– Lester Bangs, 1973.

The last time the Stones put out an album was nearly two years ago.
That was “It`s Only Rock`n` Roll” and since then they`ve pacified the natives only with a couple of crash-course-for-the-ravers compilations of their Decca and Rolling Stones Records periods (“Rolled Gold” and “Made In The Shade” respectively), Bill Wyman`s “Stone Alone”, assorted cameos on Ron Wood`s solo albums, and the everything – you – always – wanted – to – hear – from – the – Stones – and – then – wished – you – hadn`t – asked “Metamorphosis.”
Mick Taylor blue-jaunted at the tail end of `74, just as the Stones were about to embark on their next bout of recording, and various notables – including Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood (two guys I would deem it inadvisable to invite to the same session), Robert A. Johnson (from John Entwistle`s Ox), Harvey Mandel (late of Canned Heat and John Mayall), and Wayne Perkins (late of Smith, Perkins and Smith) – zoomed in amidst flurries of are – they – or – are – they – not – the – new – Stones to help The Greatest Rock And Roll Band In The World to lay down their weary tracks.
Anyway, Ron Wood won the door prize and gets his pic on the sleeve despite still not being “officially” a full-fledged Stone, and the nationals generally play safe by referring to him as “guitarist with the Rolling Stones and the Faces” even though the Faces are gone-gone.
And guess what? “Black And Blue”, the Stones` new album, released last week, is composed entirely of material recorded between mid-December of 1974 and early April of 1975, featuring Wood, Mandel and Perkins on auxiliary guitars. Relevance, right? Immediacy, right? Fast throughput, right?

In his celebrated Rolling Stone interview, Keith Richard responded to Robert Greenfield`s remark that “Stones albums usually take a long time” as follows: “Which really pisses me off. Because everybody`s laid back a little more and everybody has other things, whereas when it was just a matter of being on the road and recording, that`s all you did… and obviously you could do things much quicker that way, but you can`t have weddings of the year and solo albums…”
So “Black And Blue” comes out nearly a year after it was cut, which would imply (a) that the Stones have been having a more than somewhat turbulent time of it and (b) a fairly low read-out on the prolific-o-meter.
Still, it wouldn`t matter a hoot in hell if the album had proved itself worth the wait, but “Black And Blue” is a let-down of hideous proportions, totally devoid of either the epic sense of sleazy grandeur or the galvanic bejewelled tension which are the Stones` twin ace cards.
From the top, then.
Side one opens up with “Hot Stuff”, with two guitar parts from Keef, lead by Harvey Mandel, and a dollop of piano from Billy Preston. It`s little more than a lengthy (nearly five-and-a-half minutes) workout on a funk riff with Jagger alternately breathing “Hot Stuff, can`t get enough” over the top, and indulging in what sounds like a drunken impression of Captain Beefheart doing an I. Roy talkover. Mandel takes a lengthy psychedelic I-am-backward-tape solo when Jagger pauses for breath, which isn`t nearly often enough. Richard`s rhythm lick is awesomely casual in the time-honoured Keef tradition of playing so loose that it sounds as if he`s going to miss a chop at any moment – except that he invariably holds it down with his patented understatedly deft throwaway precision. Plus Charlie`s good tonight, inne?

Unfortunately, even the sterling efforts of these two stalwarts can`t make “Hot Stuff” anything more than an embarrassment.
“Hand Of Fate” is built around a cluster of supposedly fail-safe Stones devices: a snarling, lurching Keefriff, a spitting, grandstanding Jagger vocal, Watts cymbal smashes to boost the momentum, mixed-down Preston piano, and a hardnosed lead guitar (by Perkins, who sounds uncannily like Mick Taylor, which doesn`t hurt a bit).
Only trouble is it don`t work. It sets itself up as the latest heir to “Brown Sugar” and “Stray Cat Blues,” but winds up as little more than a poor relation.
“Cherry Oh Baby,” the Stones` latest stab at reggae, was written by Eric Donaldson, who recorded the original version which, regrettably I haven`t heard. It features Nicky Hopkins in the unfamiliar role of organist and no less than four guitar parts (three by Keef and one by Honest Ron Wood, putting in the first of his three cameo appearances). Charlie Watts plays delightfully crisp and solid drums – the best white reggae drums I`ve ever heard, in fact – but Bill Wyman`s bass is far too sluggish and the guitars stumble over each other, completely demolishing the feel of the track.
The last time the Stones addressed themselves to the wonders of dat JA beat (“Luxury” on “It`s Only Rock`n` Roll”), they covered their bets both ways by simultaneously stylising reggae to hell `n` gone, and maintaining a basic classic Stones rough-edge drive with a reggae back beat. Here, they attempt a professional-music-for-men straightforward cop of Actual Real JA Licks, and blow it. The vocal is so hammy that any devout Rasta, Muslim or Jew wouldn`t even allow it in the house.
The final track on the side, “Memory Motel”, goes part of the way towards reclaiming the lost ground. Perkins and Mandel play guitars (acoustic and electric respectively), and Jagger and Richard pianos (ditto) while Billy Preston weighs in on string synthesiser (the acceptable face of mellotron). It`s a fair-to-middling example of the Stones Ballad, with just enough roughage from the vocal and drums to satisfactorily complement the pastoral keyboardarama, and extremely winsome melody. It would be a more than adequate Second Division cut on a Grade A Stones album, but on this one it`s the first track that actually achieves what it sets out to do.


In general, things pick up a little on the second side. They don`t pull off any masterstrokes, but on the other hand they don`t fumble the ball.
“Hey Negrita” is the album`s winner dance track, sinuous stomping funk with Richard and Wood on guitars (a commendably restrained one guitar track apiece) and Preston on piano and organ; tailormade accompaniment for stuff-strutting. The song ain`t no Nobel Prizewinner, but it`s just solid enough to give the riff an excuse for living and the chorus vocals (by Jagger, Richard, Preston and Wood) have a nicely sassy urgency.
“Melody”, which follows, is another of the album`s better moments. Cool, slinky, feline and deceptively mellow, it gives Billy Preston a handsdown landslide as its Best Supporting Player for his piano, organ and backup vocals, tho` Bro` Keef comes a respectable second for his snaky blues fills. It also wins Best Lyric and Best Vocal – not that Jagger gives himself too much competition on this album. There`s a beautiful verse which goes sump`n like:
`I took her out eatin` but she
drank up all my pay,
She said, `I`m gon` fix my
face, don`t you go away`,
I was lookin` for her high and
low like a master for a hound,
She was passed out in the
bathroom in the arms of my best
Cute, huh?

Unfortunately, the next cut, “A Fool To Cry”, throws away a very pretty backing track (Richard and Perkins on guitars, Jagger on electric piano, Hopkins on acoustic piano and string synthesiser) and a lovely chorus with a quite unprecedentedly crass vocal and lyric. Maestro?
“I come home baby, after
working all night long,
Put my daughter on my knee,
And she say, `Daddy, what`s
And she whisper in my ear so
You know what she say? She
`Daddy, you`re a fool to cry…”
Look, I know Mick and Keith used to write for Gene Pitney, but this is ridiculous.
For closers, there`s “Crazy Mama”, another entry in the Write – A – Classic – Stones – Rock – Out sweepstakes. The song`s a bit of a 98-pound weakling, but the track has a rolling, methodical, remorseless power with Richard playing both the rhythm and the principal leads, augmented by Mr Jagger himself on Assistant Rhythm and (it says here) Wood and Preston for the gorgeous solo and fade-out lick. I haven`t the faintest idea what Preston`s playing, since it sounds like three guitars to me, but I`m too chicken to argue the toss with an Actual Mock-Up of Actual Engineers` 16-Track Mixing Notes.

Commendations: Keith Richard still plays Keith Richard better than anybody else, though he`s played it considerably better in the past. Charlie Watts is, on the other hand, greater than ever. Mick Jagger`s guitar is improving dramatically, and he`s playing very respectable piano indeed.
The Massed Engineers (played by Glyn Johns, Keith Harwood, Phil McDonald and Len Hahn) have achieved a radically different Stones sound: ultra-crisp, clean and sharp, with an enviable degree of solidity and punch on the bass and drums: as opposed to the tangled, shaggy meatgrinder mixes of yore. It`s a Conventional Good Sound, and I still haven`t made up my mind about it.
Brickbats: the quality of the material and of Jagger`s vocals is at an all-time Stones low. The songs are mostly poor, and Jagger sounds strained and uptight, substituting caricature phrasing and enunciation for the deadly, lynx-like confidence of old. Could be he`s unhappy with the songs and is thus unable to work within them to his customary degree.
All in all, “Black And Blue” comes on like an idea-shaped vacuum. Why it wasn`t released a year ago I haven`t the faintest idea; and I can only presume that it`s surfacing now because they haven`t had the time/energy/inspiration (place a tick under either “true” or “false”) to cut anything better in the meantime.
Perhaps the most upsetting aspect of the album is that parts of it already sound dated. “Hot Stuff”, particularly, reminds one that a year ago, when it was cut, earnest spadophiles in the rockbiz were all enraptured by Thangs Fonky (Kool, Ohio Players, Fatbacks etc.) and the likes of Keith and his pals were probably dying to try their hand at Summa Dat Fonky Stoff. (Ditto reggae, for that matter.) Well, Fonk precision-tooled itself into a blind alley and “Hot Stuff” is still staring blankly at the wall.

It doesn`t sound as if the Stones are too much in touch with what`s actually happening. “Black And Blue” is neither a triumphant return to the forefront to show all the upstart bands of the last two years that the Original Is Still The Greatest nor a work of resolute classicism. Rather, it radiates confusion and aridity; isolation and stalemate.
Unquestionably they`ve still got the chops to play the ass off of their next set of good ideas, but those good ideas are gonna haveta be there if the Rolling Stones intend to be anything more than an oldies band. “Black And Blue” is neither a trailblazing foray off the beaten track, nor a confident lap of honour round the main freeway, but a directionless mooch round the side streets.
Oh well, I suppose it`s rather naive at this point to expect veteran heroes – even colossi like the Stones, The Who and Led Zep – to return messianically toting rock and roll salvation in the form of Tablets from the Mountain. The two first-named bands have by now enjoyed longer periods of genuine creativity than either Elvis or Chuck Berry, and even rock stars (especially rock stars) have to contend with built-in obsolesence.
The hell with it. If they won`t rock us, somebody will. But then you can`t always get what you want.


Impressive ad over two full pages in the NME.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Mick Ronson, British Country Music Festival, Abba, J.J. Cale, Magna Carta, Dr. Alimantado, Steve Harley, Osibisa.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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