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Thread: Roundtable Discussion: Were the Rolling Stones Better in the '60s or the '70s?

  1. #26
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    'Hot Stuff' and 'Back To Zero' are more funk-influenced, not reggae really IMHO. Richards was the main reggae fan in the band, I think.

    Emotional Rescue has some good tracks (especially towards the end) but also some poor ones like 'Where The Boys Go'. It's funny, you'd think Emotional Rescue was the leftovers album rather than Tattoo You!

  2. #27
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    OK, insomnia has taken hold so I might as well go for an epic post here. Sit tight, this is going to be worthy of Guitargeek. In fact, I am certain JJ88, Guitargeek, and Adm.Kirk will have much to say on this topic as well. The last several years I have been doing a ridiculous amount of reading on some classic bands and I just finished Keith's book not that long ago (he remembers more than you think he would, he doesn't dodge the drugs issue but he ignores the ramifications of it, and he spends WAY too much time whining about Jagger).

    60s vs 70s is not really where to divide the Stones, because that famed four album peak straddles 68-72. Like any of the bigger acts of the rock era, the Rolling Stones went through several distinct periods. A better way to split them would be by the second guitarist. Then it makes more sense (though making sense of what the Stones went through will give you a contact high).

    Brian Jones (inception up towards Beggars Banquet). This is what many think of as the 60s Stones. First as a tight R&B/blues unit, morphed into a darker sunshine pop band (try Aftermath, the best album of that era, it's brilliant) and then slid into a psychedelic miasma with Their Satanic Majesties Request. Brian was crucial in two ways. First, while he couldn't write a song to save his life but he could add all these instrumental touches that would make a Jagger/Richards single come alive. Like the sitar on Paint it Black. Second, he would weave his lead lines in with Keith's. This is the sound that Keith prefers for the Stones - two guitars going back and forth. There are a ridiculous amount of classic songs that came out of this era. Mick and Keith figured out how to write songs while Andrew Loog Oldham fashioned himself a sort of George Martin (but he wasn't). Brian was falling apart by Satanic and the band had it up to here with his bullshit. Massive amounts of drugs, undependable onstage and in the studio, when he wasn't beating women he was knocking them up, etc. The Glimmer Twins wrote a new single based on a riff Keith recorded on an acoustic guitar into a cassette player and then overdrove the cassette playback. That was "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and it had nothing to do with what came before.

    Mick Taylor (Beggars Banquet through It's Only Rock n Roll). Taylor wasn't on Beggars Banquet but then again, Brian only makes a brief appearance as he staggered into irrelevance. But this is arguably the Stones peak era, beginning with the aforementioned "Jumping Jack Flash" single and then four classic studio albums with Jimmy Miller as producer (heroin took him out of the game - what a shock). This was Richards shutting down the pop and going to his strengths. All those early years of listening and studying American music: blues, R&B, country, gospel, 50s rock got regurgitated into this dark embrace with Jagger's lyrics. Shit got real. Keith also got into heroin which ultimately took that riff factory and killed the flow to a trickle. Taylor didn't get much credit for writing though he certainly should have for "Winter", "Moonlight Mile", "Time Waits for No One", and "Can't You Hear Me Knocking". The fluid melodies of those tunes sure as hell ain't Keith. Taylor could stand toe to toe with the Brit blues guitar gods of that era. Listen to the famed Brussels Affair and you'll hear a guy just throwing down fire and lightning. The other thing about this era is that Taylor and Keith were playing Gibsons, through overdriven amps that resulted in a really thick, almost hard rock sound. These guitars are the hounds of hell, which is perfect for Mick's lyrics of that era. But Keith was using heroic amounts of heroin and coke (though he was very precise about his doses, hence he never died of an OD) and the riff train petered out by Goats Head Soup and It's Only Rock n' Roll (the title track of which was borrowed/stolen from Ronnie Wood). There's some great tunes on those two albums but some absolute shite as well. But that four album run of Beggars through Exile is a singular achievement.

    Ronnie Wood (Black n Blue through present) If the previous era was "shit got real", this was "peaks are intermittent". Woody was not the wunderkind that Taylor was on guitar (but then again, few were). But he was drugged out and happy to be along for the ride, not battling the two big egos in the band (despite his protests, Keith is as much of a pain in the ass as Mick can be). The guitars weave again, but now it's pretty much all Fenders and the ferocious roar that Taylor/Richards had was gone. Instead its this thinner treble melange that is fine for rock n' roll but its a matter of taste. But the highlights are arguable because often it was left to Mick to piece an album together with his guitarists too wasted to really finish the job. Black n Blue was a collection of songs recorded with different guitar players, trying to find the next Taylor. Woody was on three tracks, most notably "Crazy Mama". But like the two albums before it, rife with filler. Some Girls was indeed a return to form. That record is mean. Even the bonus disc that came out a few years ago has some solid, nasty work (it leads with a rocker dedicated to Claudine Longet after she killed Spider Sabich - it's not complementary). It had the big dance single but just lots of nasty rock n' roll (but not RAWK, they got off that wagon). Emotional Rescue is a bit of a come down but some of it works. Tattoo You was the result of Mick deciding to dig up what was laying around from studio outtakes from as far back as Exile and he put it together with Mick Taylor. Damned if it didn't work and the tour was the stuff of legend. But they didn't play that together for quite a number of years after. The Stones are all over the place from then on. Slick studio albums with sometimes Keith participating, sometimes not so much. He and Mick were really hating each other into the early 90s, and he's pretty honest about it in the book. One can argue about all the albums in the Wood era over what's good, great, or just sucks. Everyone's opinion differs. Some die hards insist it was all good, haters say it all sucked. Woody eventually cleaned up his act so the live shit around the end of the 90s until Keith fell out of a tree has some pretty impressive guitar weaving. Blue and Lonesome is just a kickass blues album.
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  3. #28
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    I think Aftermath is the first great album they made and it's often overlooked now. That was the first one which was entirely self-penned and the first example of them stretching out beyond R&B. I would have included a couple of the great songs from the sessions like 'Sitting On A Fence' and 'Ride On Baby' instead of lesser tracks such as 'What To Do'. But it's a classic album to me.

    As for Brian Jones, a great musician who added enormously to their sound in that mid 60s period. But the personal issues became overwhelming...I remember even Charlie Watts saying he 'wasn't very nice'.

    To be honest, I think they'd run their course with Taylor anyway when he left. The lifestyle had taken its toll on him and It's Only Rock N Roll wasn't a great album. So Wood joining made sense, and I believe Some Girls/Tattoo You were two of their biggest selling albums.

    The studio output is undeniably patchier after Tattoo You. The fracture within the band is very evident on Undercover and Dirty Work- arguably their weakest albums IMHO. I like most of Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge.

    I think Wood's solo album I've Got My Own Album To Do is the best solo album by any of them. Even though it's before he actually joined, Jagger and Richards are on it. I love the overall feel of that album.
    Last edited by JJ88; 08-24-2020 at 07:05 AM.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    From 65 (songs like Heart Of Stone, Get Off My Cloud, Paint It Black, Mother's Little Helper, etc...) until 78 (last good album is Some Girls)
    I share exactly the same opinion.
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  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    I think Aftermath is the first great album they made and it's often overlooked now. That was the first one which was entirely self-penned and the first example of them stretching out beyond R&B. I would have included a couple of the great songs from the sessions like 'Sitting On A Fence' and 'Ride On Baby' instead of lesser tracks such as 'What To Do'. But it's a classic album to me.

    As for Brian Jones, a great musician who added enormously to their sound in that mid 60s period. But the personal issues became overwhelming...I remember even Charlie Watts saying he 'wasn't very nice'.

    To be honest, I think they'd run their course with Taylor anyway when he left. The lifestyle had taken its toll on him and It's Only Rock N Roll wasn't a great album. So Wood joining made sense, and I believe Some Girls/Tattoo You were two of their biggest selling albums.

    The studio output is undeniably patchier after Tattoo You. The fracture within the band is very evident on Undercover and Dirty Work- arguably their weakest albums IMHO. I like most of Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge.

    I think Wood's solo album I've Got My Own Album To Do is the best solo album by any of them. Even though it's before he actually joined, Jagger and Richards are on it. I love the overall feel of that album.
    I agree; Aftermath is the first great Stones album (and one of my favorites). I also like the follow up, Between The Buttons. While the production on that LP could be much better, there's a lot of great songs on it (like "Complicated", "Miss Amanda Jones", "Connection" not to mention "Let's Spend The Night Together" & "Ruby Tuesday" on the American version of BTB).

  6. #31
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    Between The Buttons is a weird one for me. I can't think of an album they made which rocked less! It really feels like there's something missing, production-wise- not much grit. 'Yesterday's Papers' and 'Back Street Girl' are classic tracks though, again in that baroque-pop mode, which they were brilliant at.

    I listen to the first three UK albums a fair bit. I don't think any are 'classic' as albums but there's some great covers on them. The UK Out Of Our Heads especially, with the great one-two punch opener, 'She Said Yeah' and 'Mercy Mercy'.
    Last edited by JJ88; 08-24-2020 at 11:19 AM.

  7. #32
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    I agree with rating them by their second guitarist. The Mick Taylor era is it for me. Jerjo's analysis pretty much nails it!

    I always felt sorry for Mick Taylor, getting caught up in the drugs and the Stones' lifestyle. He ended up living over a bar, nearly destitute. Gram Parson's was another one, although he didn't survive his friendship with Richards.

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    Although there was a great musical empathy/chemistry between them, I don't get the sense that there was much personal chemistry between Taylor and Richards. Not any great drama that I'm aware of, just different personalities.

    Didn't Taylor play a cameo role on all their 50th anniversary shows? He more or less rejoined the band then, really. ISTR seeing a video of them playing 'Sway' in one of those shows.

    Wood's a fine guitar player but you don't hear that so much in The Stones. (Same with his old bandmate Kenney Jones in The Who.) On something like The Faces' 'That's All You Need', he's really tearing it up.

  9. #34
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    ^^ Yup. Taylor was invited to play a tune or two on their 50th anniversary shows. It was a small bone to throw to him as he was pretty down on his luck at that point of his life. I don't believe he was a major part of the shows. He just came on as a cameo.

  10. #35
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    I'm glad Rory didn't get the Stones gig, and yes, in a way, it's too bad Taylor didn't really survive the Stones OK.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    Wood's a fine guitar player but you don't hear that so much in The Stones. (Same with his old bandmate Kenney Jones in The Who.) On something like The Faces' 'That's All You Need', he's really tearing it up.

    I heard something that needs confrmation, but Ronnie plays/writes the bass more than guitars in the studio albums??
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  11. #36
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    I think the last big stadium tour when they were doing most of Sticky Fingers, Mick came on for a few songs. They'd definitely need him for "Can't You Hear Me Knocking".

    Regarding the early years, I have a lot of love for Between the Buttons. I have a playlist in my system of all those dark pop songs and it's one of the few Stones things I can play around my wife without getting the SIGH. But ultimately I am always drawn to the Taylor era. This is where their claim to fame lies, in those drugged out takes on classic American forms and the live shows truly had an element of danger. A few months ago I saw on AXSTV the Havana concert from a few years ago. It was a slick and entertaining show. Chuck Leavell has been the de facto musical director for years now and he has this band in tight form (at least in terms of the keys, Darryl, and Charlie). It was fun to watch and the version of "Out of Control" is borderline epic. "Midnight Rambler" was very long but it had all the piss and vinegar polished out of it. The next day i dug out my DVD of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones. I put on "Rambler" and wow, what a difference. That was a performance on the edge. Jagger whipping the stage with his belt under a bank of red lights, the guitars were Les Pauls and they were ANGRY. When Richards and Taylor hit that double-time stomp after the long bridge with the rhythm section locked in behind them it was like a demonic possession. I might have to play that one again. I think that's the live show where Mick yells after "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "ALRIGHT, you lot have sat on your asses long enough", which leads into one of the rockers played just a little too fast for comfort. Good times.
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    Ladies And Gentlemen... is probably the best Stones live release. Watched it quite a few times over the years. 1972/3 is their absolute peak as a live act in my mind. It's compiled from a few shows rather than one continuous one (did they dub on the wrong version of 'Happy'?? The synch is way off). However I'm glad we get a no-frills representation of a typical set-list on that tour.

    The Some Girls/Texas DVD is also a great watch. After the loooong 1975 set-lists, this is very stripped-down and they play most of that then-new album. As such, they still feel like a vital, contemporary band rather than a 'classic rock' touring jukebox.

    As far as the latter-day live shows go, I only take interest when they do lesser-played songs. I don't need to hear rote versions of what Stones fans call 'warhorses'.
    Last edited by JJ88; 08-24-2020 at 06:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I'm glad Rory didn't get the Stones gig, and yes, in a way, it's too bad Taylor didn't really survive the Stones OK.

    I heard something that needs confrmation, but Ronnie plays/writes the bass more than guitars in the studio albums??
    He did both- remember Wood was bass player in The Jeff Beck Group. Richards also played bass on some Stones tracks.

    Despite chops galore, I don't think Rory Gallagher would have fit the band at all. A fairly gentle soul, by all accounts. Plus he was a prolific writer in his own right and Jagger/Richards always dominated that department...much to the chagrin of others.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post

    I heard something that needs confrmation, but Ronnie plays/writes the bass more than guitars in the studio albums??
    Probably. Don't forget that he was the bass player in the Jeff Beck Group.
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  15. #40
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I heard something that needs confrmation, but Ronnie plays/writes the bass more than guitars in the studio albums??
    Ronnie Wood doesn't appear to be credited with bass on any of the post-Wyman albums. I always thought Darryl Jones got a raw deal not being taken on as a full member of the band. He plays all the bass on Blue and Lonesome, and almost all of Voodoo Lounge. A Bigger Bang has Jagger credited with bass on several songs, including one that Jones also plays on, Keef plays on a couple, and Jones on the rest. Bridges to Babylon uses pretty much anyone who happened to be passing by the studio that day; Jones is barely on that one.
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    Apparently it was Wyman and Watts who pushed for Wood to be made a 'proper' member. ISTR that wasn't until somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s!

    I think some of Bridges To Babylon sounds better live- 'Saint Of Me' and 'Out Of Control' especially.

    I liked it when it came out (I hadn't heard all of their albums then anyway) but A Bigger Bang hasn't aged that well for me. 'Rough Justice', 'Let Me Down Slow' and 'Back Of My Hand' are the tracks I like most. There are some really lousy lyrics on certain other songs.

  17. #42
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    I liked it when it came out (I hadn't heard all of their albums then anyway) but A Bigger Bang hasn't aged that well for me. 'Rough Justice', 'Let Me Down Slow' and 'Back Of My Hand' are the tracks I like most. There are some really lousy lyrics on certain other songs.
    I can overlook some lousy lyrics here and there--one of the songs I'm sure you're referring to is my favorite track on the album, "Rain Fall Down." (But yeah, that "bankers are wankers" bridge. Really?) Also especially dig "Rough Justice," "Dangerous Beauty" (some GREAT lyrics on that one), and "Look What the Cat Dragged In."
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    ^None of the above! I was thinking of pearls like 'I'm like Jello staring down your tits' ('Oh No Not You Again') and 'Come on in, bear your breasts and make me feel at home' ('This Place Is Empty'). At their age! The absolute worst was rhyming 'crock of shit' and 'hypocrite' on 'Sweet Neo Con'.

  19. #44
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    ^None of the above!
    I did think you might also have been thinking of "You look like a leper dressed as Sgt Pepper" (which cracks me up).
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  20. #45
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacefreak View Post
    Probably. Don't forget that he was the bass player in the Jeff Beck Group.
    Not forgetting it (how could I?).

    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    Apparently it was Wyman and Watts who pushed for Wood to be made a 'proper' member. ISTR that wasn't until somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s!
    News to me, though, but it's not like it surprises me that much, knowing how much of a twatt Jagger can be. I thought he was in full time as soon as B&B (despite not being on every track), because he had his face on the album cover.

    In French, one would say that he had "la tête de l'emploi" - meaning he just had the face to be one of them.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    ^He hadn't joined the band as such in the Black And Blue sessions. I think him being on the 1975 tour was seen as a temporary solution...I don't think The Faces had split at that point.

    There are other guitarists on the album- Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel. Richards said something like the album was 'auditioning guitar players'.

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