Posts Tagged Rolling Stone Magazine
Soon after the release of the masterpiece Exile On Main Street in 1972, the Rolling Stones got caught in a fog of self-indulgent superstardom and lost their bearings. The four subsequent albums – Goats Head Soup (1973), It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (1974), Black And Blue (1976) and Love You Live (1977) – were all chart toppers, but, with few exceptions, the material was largely mediocre. Ominously, while the band enjoyed its drug, booze and celebrity lifestyle, disco and punk rock were creeping in from the fringes of the mainstream, threatening to render the Stones superfluous to a new generation of rock and pop music fans.
Some Girls (released June 9, 1978) could aptly be named The Stones Strike Back. With Mick Jagger’s leadership and focus (Keith Richards was distracted by legal trouble from a heroin bust in Toronto in early 1977), the band settled into a five-month recording schedule in Paris that produced dozens of new tracks, many of which ended up on the LP. Some Girls takes direct aim at the mirror ball dance crowd with the thumping disco beat of “Miss You.” The steady roller “Shattered” serves up a 70s New York City street groove with a slice of proto-rap. “Lies” is straight-forward rock ‘n’ roll built on punk influences. “Before They Make Me Run” is Richards’ faux-country answer to the Toronto constabulary. The cover of the Temptations “Just My Imagination” provides a grittier, faster and louder version than the soul classic. “Respectable” and “When The Whip Comes Down” are decent second-tier Stones rockers. “Far Away Eyes,” and the title track add off-center flavor, and a personal favorite, “Beast Of Burden” is one of Jaggers’ best mid-tempo ballads, topping out the whole disc.
Some Girls jumpstarted the Stones’ career and led to three great albums and three major tours (two U.S. and one European) in the five years following its release. It registered #1 on Billboard’s Pop Album chart (#2 in the U.K.) in 1978 and is ranked #269 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time. There are two Stones playlists for review and download (comments welcome!) in the Playlist Vault and Some Girls is on Amazon and iTunes.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (released June 1, 1967) is an album of superlatives. It’s oft-described as the most influential pop album ever released, the first “concept” album, the album that launched FM radio, the best Beatles album of all, and the first by any artist anywhere/anytime to truly combine so many of music’s disparate elements – rock ‘n’ roll, pop, R&B, psychedelia, jazz, orchestra, Big Band, country, Eastern, and so much more.
Hyperbole notwithstanding, I still won’t argue any of those descriptors. Yes, it was all of that, and more. But despite being #1 on so many lists (including Rolling Stones’ Top 500 albums and my Top 25 for 1967), it’s still not the best Beatles album. In my book, The White Album claims that title, but Sgt. Pepper’s … paved the way and deserves a close second. The album completed the bridge between the pop-love fests of Please Please Me and Help! and the exhilarating, experimental sounds the Beatles produced on Revolver and The White Album. No longer a touring act but a cohesive band of mature musicians, composers and lyricists, the Beatles abandoned forever the notion of a carefully rehearsed and recorded, 3 minute and 30 second AM radio song for a free-format assemblage of tracks carefully crafted and spliced together from pieces and sections recorded at different times and (often) different places.
Sgt. Pepper’s… opened an artistic freedom and expression that rock music hadn’t seen, and quickly became the standard against which all future concept albums were judged. Unfortunately, its creators lasted only a short three years following the album’s release. The Beatles split up for good in 1970. There are two Beatles playlists in the Playlist Vault. Sgt. Pepper’s… is for purchase as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon (but not on iTunes).
Aerosmith was rocking the world after their third studio albums, Toys In The Attic reached #11 in 1975 and elevated them well beyond the cult-status they achieved in and around Boston. The follow-up, Rocks was released on May 3, 1976, cementing their position in the hearts, minds and ears of global hard rock and early metal fans and becoming the top-selling Aerosmith album in the 70s. And for good reason. Like its predecessor, it’s unabashed, straight ahead rock with all the raw power and raunchy swagger that gushed from Aerosmith in their first decade.
Faux-cowboy rocker “Back In The Saddle” and the hard funk of “Lost Child” created Top 40 hits (a third single, “Home Tonight” made it to #71) for the album. Along with “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion,” Aerosmith issued four great and lasting rock hits in just over a year, and the four concert staples and catalog standards for the bands in the years since. Of course, two songs don’t make a good album, so you’ll need to listen to the rest, including the Joe Perry-penned, dueling vocals of “Combination,” the metal-influencing, often-covered “Nobody’s Fault,” and the steel guitar of the closing ballad “Home Tonight.”
Rocks is ranked #176 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time. You can download my Aerosmith playlist in Dr. Rock Playlist Vault and Rocks is available on Amazon but not on iTunes. Rock on!
The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers is one of the best rock ‘n’ roll albums of all time. Released on April 23, 1971, it’s a raunchy masterpiece of American roots music – some country, some blues, a dose of Southern soul and heaps of raw rock ‘n’ roll – all packaged in an Andy Warhol-designed, blue jean crotch shot cover with a working metal zipper (at least on my copy of the original LP release).
The Stones were at the top of their game on Sticky Fingers. The album was the first on their own label, Rolling Stones Records, it topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, featured new lead guitarist Mick Taylor, introduced the now iconic lips and tongue logo, and firmly established the Stones as the self-appointed World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. And the music’s great: druggy “Sister Morphine,” extended guitar work on “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’, countrified “Wild Horses” and “Dead Flowers” (with Mick’s twangy vocals), the fine “I Got The Blues” and its bluesy partner “You Gotta Move,” the mid-tempo “Sway” and finally the late night closer “Moonlight Mile.” Capped with the intro hit “Brown Sugar” and the raunch-rockin’ “Bitch” and you couldn’t find a single bad tune on the disc.
Sticky Fingers is among my favorites and is ranked #63 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time. There are two Stones playlists in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault and Sticky Fingers is available on Amazon and iTunes. Enjoy!
Jerry Garcia released his first solo album, Garcia on January 20, 1972, a few months before his Grateful Dead (see my playlist here) bandmates, Bob Weir (Ace) and Mickey Hart (Rolling Thunder) did the same. The three solo LPs provided some needed relief for Dead fans, who endured a three year gap in studio material by the Dead between American Beauty (1970) and Wake Of The Flood (1973).
Garcia is a delightful mix of bluesy rock ‘n roll (“Sugaree”), upbeat country-rock (“Deal”), off-tempo country-rock (“Loser”), full-textured folk (“Bird Song” and “To Lay Me Down”) and late-period psychedelia cum peddle steel twang (“The Wheel”). These six tracks, all co-written by long-time Garcia collaborator and Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, would quickly become staples in the Dead’s legendary on-stage set lists. Garcia is also a testimony to the breadth and depth of his musical prowess and a nearly pure solo effort. He sang vocals and played all of the stringed instruments and keyboards. Dead-partner Billy Kreutzman, who’s credited with co-producing the album and co-writing four of the 10 tracks thereon, handled the percussion. Otherwise, Garcia is all Jerry.
As I said in a previous post, I am not a tie-dyed-in-the-wool Deadhead, but am more than a just a casual Dead fan. For me, Garcia is a standout among the dozens of albums in Garcia’s long list of solo works, his various collaborative efforts, and releases as leader of the Jerry Garcia Band and de facto leader of the Grateful Dead. Incidentally, Jerry is ranked #13 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. And Garcia can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).
Punk was cresting and the New Wave was just beginning to swell when the Pretenders (see my playlist here) floated their eponymous debut on January 19, 1980. Pretenders was one of those bridge-the-gap albums that clearly spanned the divide between the loud, raw energy of 70s British punk and the subtler, synthesized post-punk sounds of the 80s.
Ohio native Chrissie Hynde assembled her band in 1978 in London, where she’d been a music critic and aspiring songwriter. The band released several singles in 1979 and generated enough enthusiasm to produce a full album. The nucleus of Pretenders is several of those early tracks, including the cover of the Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing,” the glorious pop-rocker “Brass In Pocket” (#14 single in 1980) and a re-recorded version of staccato “The Wait” (a Dr. Rock favorite). Seven new songs round out the affair, notably a rolling “Tattooed Love Boys,” a jangly love song in “Kid” and a pop-based but still edgy “Mystery Achievement.” On all tracks, frontwoman Hynde’s beautifully confident, rich voice reaches above but still complements the riffs and solo spurts supplied by guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and the driving rhythm from bassist Peter Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers. (Sadly, Honeyman-Scott and Farndon would die from drug overdoses less than a year apart in 1982 and 1983).
Pretenders reached #1 on the U.K. album charts (#9 in the U.S.). I’ve included it as #10 on Dr. Rock’s Best Debut Albums (click here for the list) and #2 on my Top 25 Albums for 1980 (click here). Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #155 on their Top 500 Albums of All-Time. That should tell you enough about its place is your collection. Pretenders is available for download on iTunes (click here) and can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).
Bob Dylan (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist) wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1964, recorded it in January 1965, and released it on Bringing It All Back Home in March 1965. The Byrds (click here) released their version as a single on April 12, 1965. It quickly shot to #1 on both the U.S. and U.K. singles charts and eventually settled at #79 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs of all-time. Click here for a Vintage Video of the Byrd’s lip-synching and fake-playing their way through “Mr. Tambourine Man” on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.