Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet…Desert Island Albums

This is my fifth-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.

https://slicethelife.com/2020/08/17/2020-album-draft-round-5-pick-3-badfinger20-selects-the-rolling-stones-beggars-banquet/

“Please allow me to introduce myself”

Beggars Banquet and Between the Buttons were the first two Rolling Stone albums I owned not counting Hot Rocks, the greatest hits collection. I played this album to death. As with most Stones albums you get what you get…rock, blues, and a little country thrown in the mix. I got this album when I was 12 and it opened my eyes wide to the Stones…much more than a collection of their hits would ever do.

This was the first album to start the stretch of 5 albums (Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, and Goats Head Soup) that helped make the Stones what they are today. In 1967 after failing to live up to Sgt Pepper with Their Satanic Majesties Request (although I do like that album) they came back retooled with a new producer Jimmy Miller.

The Stones got back to doing what they do best…playing the blues…although with a different sound than Little Red Rooster. A weary Brian Jones was still in the band at this time and contributed to all but two songs…but it’s mostly Keith on guitar. Brian, because of the state he was in, was used more as a touch-up artist…filling in some holes with sitar, tambura, guitar,  blues harp, and mellotron.

This album is not considered up there with Sticky Fingers or Exile On Main Street but I have the strongest connection to it. I’ve always related Beggars Banquet to the White Album. They were both released in 1968 and both were raw and honest. No studio trickery to either…a big departure from the psychedelic era of 1967.

I don’t think Jimmy Miller gets enough credit for their sound. That is not a knock against the Stones but the Miller produced albums are special.

The Jumping Jack Flash single (also Miller produced) was released in May of 1968 to signal a change was coming and this album followed on December 6, 1968.

Beggars Banquet was delayed for months because of the album cover. The original cover (which is now used) had a dirty toilet covered with graffiti. The photo was taken by Barry Feinstein in a tiny bathroom at a Porsche repair shop above Hollywood Blvd. and Cahuenga Blvd.

Mick and Keith were given crayons to add more graffiti for the back credits. Their record companies for America and the UK would not approve the cover. The Stones finally relented and released a plain  “invitation” white cover…which is the cover I owned.

Now for the songs. Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man are the two most well-known songs off the album. Sympathy for the Devil is perhaps the Stones’ best-written song and with a samba beat that touches on voodoo. Street Fighting Man is maybe the most powerful song they ever wrote. “Well now what can a poor boy do
except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?”

Those two songs are classics but this album is a great collection of 10 songs. Prodigal Son has always been a favorite of mine. They really do the old blues well in this one. It’s a song written by Robert Wilkins, a reverend who recorded Delta Blues in the 1920s and 1930s.

No Expectations…Brian Jones’ slide guitar in this is great…it sets the mood for this song.  Mick has said it was Brian’s last great contribution to the Stones. One of the best album cuts from the Stones.

Stray Cat Blues…Mick sounds so ominous in this track. The guitar is absolutely filthy as well.  I feel the need for a shower after I listen to it. This song would not fly today. It’s raunchy and sleazy…but a great album cut. I hear the click-clack of your feet on the stairs
I know you’re no scare-eyed honey

My other favorite songs are Factory Girl, Salt of the Earth, and Jigsaw Puzzle.

The album peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Charts, #3 in the UK, and #3 in Canada in 1969.

Looks like I have brought the first Stones album to our respective islands. If you get an urge to dance around a fire singing “whoo, whoo… whoo, whoo“…come on over and I’ll drop the needle on the vinyl and shake some maracas.

1. Sympathy for the Devil

2. No Expectations

3. Dear Doctor

4. Parachute Woman

5. Jig-Saw Puzzle

6. Street Fighting Man

7. Prodigal Son

8. Stray Cat Blues

9. Factory Girl

10. Salt of the Earth

 

Rolling Stones – Mother’s Little Helper… Drug Reference Week

What a drag it is getting old
Kids are different today, I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill

This is one of my favorite periods of the Rolling Stones. You don’t hear this song as much.

Stones guitarist Brian Jones played the sitar on this track… it was one of the first pop songs to use the instrument. The Beatles “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” which came out the year before, was the first.

The Stones missed this experimentation when Brian was gone in my opinion. The song is about house wife’s addictions to Miltown or Valium to help them get through the day. Everybody was pointing their fingers at rock stars because of drugs and the Stones threw it back at them.

The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 and  #14 in Canada in 1966. The song was written by Jagger and Richards.

Mick Jagger: “It’s about drug dependence, but in a sort of like spoofy way. As a songwriter, I didn’t really think about addressing things like that. It was just every day stuff that you I’d observe and write about. It’s what writing is for really. There is a sort of naivety, but there’s also a lot of humor in those songs. They’re a lot based on humor. It was almost like a different band, a different world, a different view when we wrote them.”

Mick Jagger: “I get inspiration from things that are happening around me – everyday life as I see it. People say I’m always singing about pills and breakdowns, therefore I must be an addict – this is ridiculous. Some people are so narrow-minded they won’t admit to themselves that this really does happen to other people beside pop stars.” 

Keith Richards: “The strange guitar sound is a 12-string with a slide on it. It’s played slightly Oriental-ish. The track just needed something to make it twang. Otherwise, the song was quite vaudeville in a way. I wanted to add some nice bite to it. And it was just one of those things where someone walked in and, Look, it’s an electric 12-string. It was some gashed-up job. No name on it. God knows where it came from. Or where it went. But I put it together with a bottleneck. Then we had a riff that tied the whole thing together. And I think we overdubbed onto that. Because I played an acoustic guitar as well.”

From Songfacts

This condemns the many women in England who were abusing prescription drugs, even though The Stones were becoming heavy drug users themselves. The band wanted to make the point that housewives popping pills what not that much different than rock stars taking smack, even though drug laws in England strongly favored the housewives.

This was the first track on Aftermath, the first Stones album with all original songs. Their earlier albums were full of Blues covers.

In the UK, this wasn’t released as a single. In America, it was the group’s eighth Top 10 hit.

The Stones recorded this in Los Angeles in a custom built studio. It had no windows, because The Stones did not want to know if it was day or night.

Stones drummer Charlie Watts said of this song in In the 2003 book According to the Rolling Stones: “We’ve often tried to perform ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ and it’s never been any good, never gelled for some reason – it’s either me not playing it right or Keith not wanting to do it like that. It’s never worked. It’s just one of those songs. We used to try it live but it’s a bloody hard record to play.”

 

Mother’s Little Helper

What a drag it is getting old

“Kids are different today”
I hear ev’ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
There’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

“Things are different today”
I hear ev’ry mother say
Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak
And goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day

Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

“Men just aren’t the same today”
I hear ev’ry mother say
They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
They’re so hard to satisfy, You can tranquilize your mind
So go running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight

Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

“Life’s just much too hard today”
I hear ev’ry mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day

Rolling Stones – She’s A Rainbow

Take one listen and suddenly you are walking along Carnaby Street in Swinging London in 1967.

While under the influence of what was going on at the time…The Stones dipped their toe in the wild and colorful Psychedelic water. This was right after Sgt Peppers and experimentation was in the air.

The result was Their Satanic Majesties Request. I know some Stones fans that won’t mention this album but I’ve always liked it. 

It didn’t suit them as well as their earlier pop and later rock and blues style but the album did have some high points.

The string section was arranged by John Paul Jones, who was doing session work two years before he joined Led Zeppelin. Nicky Hopkins also played piano on this song.

This song was written by Jagger and Richards.

She’s A Rainbow peaked at #25 in the Billboard 100 and #9 in Canada.

The song returned to Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart in 2018 as a result of its appearance in a commercial for the all-new Acura RDX.

Mick Jagger: There’s a lot of rubbish on Satanic Majesties. Just too much time on our hands, too many drugs, no producer to tell us, “Enough already, thank you very much, now can we just get on with this song?” Anyone let loose in the studio will produce stuff like that. There was simply too much hanging around. It’s like believing everything you do is great and not having any editing.

She’s A Rainbow

She comes in colors ev’rywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming, colors in the air
Oh, everywhere
She comes in colors

She comes in colors ev’rywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming, colors in the air
Oh, everywhere
She comes in colors

Have you seen her dressed in blue?
See the sky in front of you
And her face is like a sail
Speck of white so fair and pale
Have you seen a lady fairer?

She comes in colors ev’rywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming, colors in the air
Oh, everywhere
She comes in colors

Have you seen her all in gold?
Like a queen in days of old
She shoots colors all around
Like a sunset going down
Have you seen a lady fairer?

She comes in colors ev’rywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming, colors in the air
Oh, everywhere
She comes in colors

She’s like a rainbow
Coming, colors in the air
Oh, everywhere
She comes in colors

Songs That Reference Steve McQueen: Rolling Stones – Star Star

I wanted to think of some theme that would be fun and take us through Thanksgiving. I watched Papillon last week and wondered how many songs reference Steve McQueen…the King of Cool.

Those of you who are sensitive to sexual phrases and words…you should STOP NOW. The song is really GRAPHIC

They mention not only Steve McQueen but also his then-wife Ali McGraw and for good measure…John Wayne also.

It’s catchy but it’s the Stones at their most blatant. The F-Bomb is plentiful in this song.

Atlantic Records who distributed the Stones records were afraid of legal troubles with Steve McQueen. They wanted the Stones to change the lyrics…The Stones would not budge and Ahmet Ertegun said “let’s send a copy to McQueen and if he okays it then the single could be released.” He okayed it and the single was released. What is funny, is why Atlantic would not have insisted that Ali McGraw also okay it, however, no one could hear clearly what was actually said on the record.

To most, it sounds like Jagger speaking to the groupie saying ”yeah I’m really not mad with you for” Jagger did not clarify the matter and it slid past. Same with the John Wayne line. Most think that it says “your man” However when one listens to the live bootlegs, the line is clearly Ali McGraw as well as John Wayne. Steve was amused by the song.

A drummer I played with a band in high school wanted to play this song in a fall talent show at school. He said it would really “shake them up”…uh…yea it would have shaken us out of school for 5 days at least. Cooler heads prevailed and we played Jumping Jack Flash instead.

From Songfacts

This song is about groupies. Songwriters often write about subjects they’re familiar with, and Mick Jagger was an expert in this area.

Originally, this was called “Starf–ker,” which is slang for a groupie. Atlantic Records made them change it, eliminating “f–k” from the title, although the band always refers to it by the original title.

Feminist groups were outraged at the negative portrayal of women. Mick Jagger did not apologize, saying he was just describing what he saw.

This contains the lyric, “She’ll get John Wayne before he dies,” but John Wayne refused permission to use his name. Engineer Andy Johns put some echo over the lyric and convinced the record company that it was unrecognizable, which it wasn’t. When Goats Head Soup came out on CD, the lyric was not distorted.

The Stones blew up a giant, inflatable penis when they performed this on their 1975 tour.

This was banned by the BBC.

In contrast to John Wayne, Steve McQueen was reportedly amused by the reference to him in the lyric. In addition to the John Wayne lyric, references to ‘keeping her pu**y clean’ was also distorted at the original release and subsequently restored in later issues (US only..in Europe they came through unscathed). 

During The Stones 1975 tour, Mick Jagger said: “People always give me this bit about us being a macho band, and I always ask them to give me examples. “Under My Thumb”… Yes, but they always say Starf–ker, and that just happened to be about someone I knew. There’s really no reason to have women on tour unless they’ve got a job to do. The only other reason is to f–k. Otherwise, they get bored, they just sit around and moan. It would be different if they did everything for you, like answer the phones, make breakfast, look after your clothes and your packing, see if the car was ready, and f–k. Sort of a combination of what (road manager) Alan Dunn does and a beautiful chick.” 

Star Star

Baby, baby, I’ve been so sad since you’ve been gone
Way back to New York City
Where you do belong
Honey, I missed your two tongue kisses
Legs wrapped around me tight
If I ever get back to Fun City, girl
I’m gonna make you scream all night

Honey, honey, call me on the telephone
I know you’re movin’ out to Hollywood
With your can of tasty foam
All those beat up friends of mine
Got to get you in their books
And lead guitars and movie stars
Get their toes beneath your hook

Yeah, you’re a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
Yeah, a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
Star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star

Yeah, I heard about you Polaroid’s
Now that’s what I call obscene
Your tricks with fruit was kind a cute
I bet you keep your p**** clean
Honey, I miss your two tone kisses
Legs wrapped around me tight
If I ever get back to New York, girl
Gonna make you scream all night

Yeah, you’re a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
Yeah, a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
Star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker star
Yes you are, yes you are, yes you are

Yeah, Ali McGraw got mad with you
For givin’ h**d to Steve McQueen
Yeah, you and me we made a pretty pair
Fallin’ through the silver screen
Honey, I’m open to anythin’
I don’t know where to draw the line
Yeah, I’m makin’ bets that you gonna get
John Wayne before he dies

Yeah, you’re a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
Yeah, a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
A star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star

Yeah you are, a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
A star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
A star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star

Yeah, a star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star
Star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker
Star f**ker, star f**ker, star f**ker, star, yes you are, yes you are

My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums

I’m more of a studio guy when it comes to listening to bands but there are a few live albums I really like. This is my top 10 and a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Very few artists can improve on the studio version but sometimes some manage to pull it off.

10. Led Zeppelin –  How the West Was Won – After the disappointing live album The Song Remains The Same, this album released in 2003 contained Led Zeppelin live in 1972 from two shows in top form.

How the West Was Won (Live) (3-CD)

9: Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park – This was big for me when it was released. I had by this time worn a groove out in their greatest hits. The band was great and their harmonies were as good as ever.

Image result for Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park

8: George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh – Fun to listen to George freed from the Beatles and he sounds great with Dylan, Billy Preston, Ringo, and other friends.

Image result for George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh

 

7: The Band: The Last Waltz – One of the best live albums ever. The Band’s last concert with Robbie with a host of talented famous friends. I still don’t get the Neil Diamond selection…nothing against Neil…he didn’t fit in with this atmosphere.

Image result for The Band: The Last Waltz album

6: The Allman Brothers Band “At Fillmore East” – This album floats up and down this list depending on my mood. It was at number 2 when I first made this list a couple of weeks ago. This band was probably one of the most talented bands in the seventies. I didn’t start heavily listening to them until around 5-10 years ago. They are better live than in the studio. There was not a weak link in this 6 piece band…especially in the Duane version but later incarnations were almost as strong.

At The Fillmore East (2LPs - 180GV)

5: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ – I listened to this so much in the 80s that I knew the stories Bruce would tell by heart. Later when listening to the studio version of a song I would expect the story that went with it.

Image result for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’

4: Paul McCartney  Wings Over America – This triple album set was a live greatest hits. The songs had some edge to them thanks to Jimmy McCulloch the young prodigy guitar player.  Paul even broke his silence on the Beatles and included five Beatle songs. Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Lady Madonna. Unlike the other 3 albums ahead of this on in the list, Paul didn’t mess with the songs too much from the original studio recordings.

Wings over America

3: The Rolling Stones – ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” – This tour and the 1972  tour were the Stones at their live peak.

Image result for the rolling stones get yer ya-ya's out

2: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – I have seen Dylan 8 times but if I could pick a tour to see him on…I would go back and this would be the one. With The Band backing him up…minus Levon Helm but Mickey Jones on drums is very powerful.

Image result for bob dylan 1966 royal albert hall concert

1: The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’ This album highlights The Who at their best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock band so tight. The power of the performance is huge. Pete Townshend told his soundman Bob Pridden to erase all other shows on this tour at the time…Bob did… much to Pete’s regret later on.

The Who - Live at Leeds By The Who

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Beatles Live At The Star-Club in Hamburg Germany – The quality of the recording is pretty bad but it’s exciting to hear the punkish Beatles before Beatlemania hit.

The Kinks – One For The Road

Neil Young & Crazy Horse –  Live Rust

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Band – Rock of Ages

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Elvis (68 Comeback Special)

 

Rolling Stones – 100 Years Ago

100 Years Ago is a Rolling Stones song off of their 1973 album Goats Head Soup. It’s a song where Jagger is nostalgic which doesn’t happen often…  Some of the lyrics…

Now all my friends are wearing worried smiles
Living out a dream of what they was
Don’t you think it’s sometimes wise not to grow up?

The song has a good melody but it changes it’s focus in the last three-quarters of the way through…a good song with an interesting outro. It’s an album cut and you never hear it much on the radio. It’s a good song and worth a listen. If you see them in concert and want to hear this song…don’t hold your breath.

According to Wiki

“100 Years Ago” was only played on the first two performances of European Tour of 1973, and has not been performed live since.

“100 Years Ago”

Went out walkin’ through the wood the other day
And the world was a carpet laid before me
The buds were bursting and the air smelled sweet and strange
And it seemed about a hundred years ago
Mary and I, we would sit upon a gate
Just gazin’ at some dragon in the sky
What tender days, we had no secrets hid away
Well, it seemed about a hundred years ago
Now all my friends are wearing worried smiles
Living out a dream of what they was
Don’t you think it’s sometimes wise not to grow up?
Wend out walkin’ through the wood the other day
Can’t you see the furrows in my forehead?
What tender days, we had no secrets hid away
Now it seems about a hundred years ago
Now if you see me drinkin’ bad red wine
Don’t worry ’bout this man that you love
Don’t you think it’s sometimes wise not to grow up?
You’re gonna kiss and say good-bye, yeah, I warn you
You’re gonna kiss and say good-bye, yeah, I warn you
You’re gonna kiss and say good-bye, oh Lord, I warn you
And please excuse me while I hide away
Call me lazy bones
Ain’t got no time to waste away
Lazy bones ain’t got no time to waste away
Don’t you think it’s just about time to hide away? Yeah, yeah!