I really enjoy the books in this excellent ongoing and ever expanding series, which analyses a band’s output album by album, song by song. This one covers The Stones from their 1963 debut right up to 1980’s rather disappointing Emotional Rescue set, which marked the start of a pretty average run of albums to come in the eighties and beyond. I think all would agree this seventeen year period encompasses the band’s prime era, their absolute imperial years when their music and indeed their image was right at the very cutting edge. Live albums and compilations from this period are touched upon too, but the emphasis is almost exclusively on the studio albums, and rightly so as what a sequence they produced in their heyday, one that was perhaps only paralleled by The Beatles. It also takes the opportunity to clarify the numerous confusing and irritating differences in content between the UK and US editions of their albums which persisted until 1967.
I was actually quite surprised at just how much of the band’s back catalogue I’ve never even heard, particularly from the Aftermath/Between The Buttons era. In fact, even on the classic run of albums from the late sixties to mid seventies there were a good number of songs I had no memory of whatsoever until Spotify came to the rescue! I was also reminded just how patchy even some of their better albums could be. Having said that, it’s hard to fault Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St really, while there are still flashes of the old magic on the inconsistent Goats Head Soup and It’s Only Rock n Roll. Thereafter it seemed to be a case of diminishing returns as their star began to fade for me, with just the odd exception now and then (Fool To Cry being one). Although all these books are relatively short at around 130 pages, they do always seem to cram in a lot of information, and the author does a good job of piecing together pertinent information and observations for every song, good, bad or indifferent. Perhaps it’s more suited to the casual fan who wants a general overview of each song and the background to the albums, rather than a hardcore follower who might be seeking a more in depth look at the minutiae of the music, lyrics and recording sessions. A good read though, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The music of The Rolling Stones – for a while they were arguably the best of the best.
One thing you’ve learned
This isn’t the first book to take on this subject of course, but it does a decent enough job, while not revealing anything particularly new – I guess this is one of those subjects, like The Beatles, where there’s really not that much left to say, particularly for the years the book covers.