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Thread: When did the Rolling Stones stop writing songs?

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    When did the Rolling Stones stop writing songs?

    "Beast of Burden" just played on Pandora, and I was struck again that this song, and everything the Stones did afterward (and for a while beforehand?) is just a simple single vamp played continuously, while Mick sings a modal melody over the top, which was undoubtedly initially improvised then words were put to it.

    What was the last Stones song with a real song structure? An instrumental melody, words that are crafted to fit into the instrumental structure, and a chorus-verse-chorus construction? Was "Beast of Burden" the turning point?
    Last edited by rcarlberg; 08-02-2015 at 03:21 PM.

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    I'm not sure they wrote that much in the way you're talking about after the 1960s. There are exceptions like 'Angie', which has a clearer 'pop' melodic structure.

    Some of their 80s albums do particularly suffer from this- 'Undercover' and 'Dirty Work' in particular are light on tunes, the latter has Jagger growling and snarling all over the place.

  3. #3
    I think there are some things on Voodoo Lounge from 1994 that would qualify. But the Stones were never the song writers that the Beatles were. Then again, that's really not what the Stones are after. I think they excel at things like the groove of Beast of Burden and the way the guitars dance around one another. That being said, I think all of the albums have some songs that would qualify into a structured form.

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    ^'Out Of Tears' is a good song on there. 'Slipping Away' on 'Steel Wheels' too.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Well, I don't even think Beast of Burden was written by the Stones. Wasn't it a cover of a Motown tune?

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    Member Joe F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    Well, I don't even think Beast of Burden was written by the Stones. Wasn't it a cover of a Motown tune?
    No. Beast of Burden is a Jagger/Richard(s) composition.

    They covered Just My Imagination on Some Girls.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    ^^ Right you are!

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Their early songs were not vamp based. Maybe Brian was the song writer in the band.

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    Member Mythos's Avatar
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    Good songs?

    1969

  10. #10
    Beast of Burden would be as guilty as the others but apparently they forgot to get high that day and wrote a bridge.

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Their early songs were not vamp based. Maybe Brian was the song writer in the band.
    By all accounts Brian couldn't string three notes together, let alone three chords. Sonovabitch could play any instrument you handed to him but songwriting wasn't in him.
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    Member WytchCrypt's Avatar
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    While I really love many of the simpler "vamp" songs they created from the late 70's on and think they're loads of fun (Shattered, Some Girls, She's So Cold, Send it to Me, Too Much Blood, etc) I think the last time they really finely crafted a song with a strong melody, compelling lyrics, and a meaningful message was, "Time Waits For No One" from 1974. In their defense, I've read comments from Mick that after "Exile on Main Street" Keith was virtually non-functional from an ideas standpoint due to his serious chemical amusement lifestyle, which left Mick as the primary songwriter. Perhaps that's why the "vamp with amusing lyrics" style became the norm.

    "Hours are like diamonds, don't let them waste"
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  13. #13
    Yeah I think the Mick Taylor years saw the best songwriting, which started to crumble on Exile. The lyrics on Goat's Head Soup are SO lazy ("Heartbreaker" "Dancing With Mr. D")....

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    The biggest problem with Goats' Head Soup for me is the track order. 'Dancing With Mr D' is a very poor choice for opening track. I'd have gone for 'Heartbreaker'.

    IMHO the laziest album of that period is It's Only Rock N Roll. Lots of grooves-in-search-of-songs on that.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    What was the last Stones song with a real song structure?
    "Doom and Gloom."

    There are also more than a few verses and choruses on A Bigger Bang, ditto the new-at-the-time tracks on Forty Licks. Leaving aside any comparisons with what they'd done 30-40 years previously (which is pointless anyway), they've all got lyrics with some solid rhythm that fits the music too.

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    My scorn for most of the later Rolling Stones' output is well known, but I don't think it's fair to claim they don't write songs with "real song structure". If you are going to require a certain structure, you are going to have to reject a lot of progressive music, as well as songs by people such as Roy Orbison whose songs were often quite unorthodox in structure.

    I think the Stones record real songs all right, it's just that most of them are fucking boring songs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiral View Post
    "Doom and Gloom."

    There are also more than a few verses and choruses on A Bigger Bang, ditto the new-at-the-time tracks on Forty Licks. Leaving aside any comparisons with what they'd done 30-40 years previously (which is pointless anyway), they've all got lyrics with some solid rhythm that fits the music too.
    I did like 'Let Me Down Slow' on A Bigger Bang. There are others like 'New Faces' and 'Sweethearts Together' (on Voodoo Lounge) which to me hark back to their 60s work in some way.

    I don't think they've ever put out a flat-out dud album, though.

  18. #18
    Thus, I'll never understand why Rolling Stones usually win in Beatles vs Stones face-offs.
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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strawberrybrick View Post
    Thus, I'll never understand why Rolling Stones usually win in Beatles vs Stones face-offs.
    Longevity?

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    Quote Originally Posted by strawberrybrick View Post
    Thus, I'll never understand why Rolling Stones usually win in Beatles vs Stones face-offs.
    They do? What kind of "face-offs" are we talking about?

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    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mythos View Post
    Good songs?

    1969

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by bob_32_116 View Post
    They do? What kind of "face-offs" are we talking about?
    I'm guessing the one about pure "rock and roll bands," which is what The Stones always were ... and only ever were. But, those who criticize The Beatles on that front clearly never heard their early BBC recordings. They could rock as well as anyone at the time. They simply moved onto different things.
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  23. #23
    I think the reason the Stones usually win those faceoffs is because there is the whole outlaw image they had and that they could "rock out" more. I don't know that I agree with that, but I think that's the perception. The Beatles could be a bit ornate at times. You'd never catch The Rolling Stones doing something like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". Only the Beatles could pull off a song like that and make it work. The Beatles were better songwriters, but I think the Stones were a better live act. Of course, that's a bit unfair to the Beatles since they quit the road in 1966. I would have loved to see them tour with the modern PA systems we have today. One can only imagine what they would have sounded like.

    Bill
    She'll be standing on the bar soon
    With a fish head and a harpoon
    and a fake beard plastered on her brow.

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    Based on things like Brussels Affair, I don't think there are many rock bands in history who could touch The Stones live. 'Midnight Rambler' on that is about as thrilling as rock and roll gets IMHO.

    I've really gotten heavily into them again over recent years, probably starting around the time of their 50th anniversary.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    Well, I don't even think Beast of Burden was written by the Stones. Wasn't it a cover of a Motown tune?
    Phil Collins would kill for such a misunderstanding.

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