With the recent passing of The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, there is no better time to explore the back catalogue of Stones material than right now. Yes, this album was not very well received upon release, but it is historically important and probably in retrospect just as much a necessary listen as earlier material by The Rolling Stones. Lets take a listen to this album, track by track, and hear if The Rolling Stones still have their mojo musically here.
We kick off with Dancing With Mr. D which has a quirky, but decent guitar led intro that is actually quite memorable. Although this is new territory for The Rolling Stones, it sounds really cool and awesome here. It’s a bluesy, funky listen from these guys that sounds very 1970s, and has aged surprisingly well. A wonderful and eclectic mixture of sounds and excellent song based craftsmanship, this is quite fresh and fun listening. Very good and nicely put together music, this is awesome, lively and wonderful listening that has aged well, just like good wine. A great start to the album, everything sounds really cool here, all the way to the fade out.
Next in line is 100 Years Ago which is a four minute long piece that is a mixture of more laidback instrumentation and a nice 1970s feel to it. Mick Jagger in particular sounds as though he is in charge here, and the whole group creates a sleazy, funky and cool piece of music. Even if it never reaches the heights of Exile On Main Street, this is awesome, with some nice wah-wah guitar solos and a great sense of songcraft here. In the middle, a sudden change of structure and tempo occurs, making this piece sound completely different. A lively, energetic and very retro piece, you can imagine Mike Myers’s Austin Powers digging this sort of music. Good stuff.
Coming Down Again is next and begins with beautiful piano which is really classy. It also has some nice bass guitar playing, wah-wah guitar and some really cool vocals too. It sounds like a piece to get pretty mashed to, and has some interesting singing here as well, with lead vocals by Keith Richards. Excellent sounding music, and just sounds awesome. It is an unusual piece without Mick Jagger on lead vocals, but is nicely sung anyway. This is very Primal Scream styled territory, complete with saxophone here to add colour and direction to the music again. An excellent, if somewhat repetitive listen. Very lush and different sounding.
Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) is next, and is quite different and catchy. It has some great riff based parts, and sounds somewhat like The Doors, which is different. Despite this, this is another quite good listen with wah-wah guitar, horns and some nice backing vocals too. This record should not have received the negativity that it did, it just sounds swell and amazing. Mick Jagger puts in some animated singing as well, proving that he is a very underrated singer. Great stuff, very energetic and different sounding.
Next is the hit single Angie which begins with some nice acoustic guitar playing that is very beautiful. Mick Jagger begins singing away nicely, likely about a lover that he had. This is a gorgeous and dramatic piece of music that is a great ballad here. It has some interesting string sections here as well. Nicely structured and created here, The Rolling Stones put others to shame here, including the haters of the group, and deliver an amazing performance. Nice tune, and very beautiful and excellently structured, a very refreshing listening experience. Good song.
Following is Silver Train which begins with some guitar parts, including some slide guitar, and sounds rather ridiculously humourous in approach. All the same, this is a good song, but probably not a great one. Still, this album does not deserve the negativity that it received at the time, and this piece of music is incredibly good. Great to hear all the same, it is lively and refreshing here and just sounds wonderful. A great song that is a homage to the Country Blues of earlier work by The Rolling Stones, it is a weird, yet grand sounding song. Great stuff to hear regardless, underrated too.
Hide Your Love begins with some loose piano parts, before launching into an old time song that is really quite good. It’s a bit different to other songs on this album, and just sounds really quite good as well. Some really excellent guitar playing is here as well, and although this piece is somewhat weaker in general, it is still a very good listen by The Rolling Stones. An interesting composition, and just sounds different. Excellent music here all the same. Handclaps towards the end make this interesting, before finishing nicely.
Winter comes next and has some broken overdriven guitar parts to begin with, with Mick Jagger sounding a little like Van Morrison here. The piece gets underway here, and does sound really quite nice. It compares the seasons to moods, and the joys and frustrations from them. Interesting music nonetheless, this is a good listen, although perhaps not a great one. Still, very nice and fitting on this album. Even this album is more consistent than Rock groups much later on, which points to the question: Did The Rolling Stones really deserve the criticism on this album? The answer, quite clearly, is no. Decent music all the same, with some gorgeous string parts and some very 1970s guitar solos. Nice tune all the same. Good tune, all the way to the dramatic finish.
Next along is Can You Hear The Music which begins with some chimes and Indian sounding wind instruments, before this piece gets underway. Wah-wah guitars are here again, and this song is really incredibly good listening. It’s not the strongest piece on this album, yet still sounds fresh and consistent, even today. Great and excellent music all the same, this album is really cool. It sounds pretty weird, but is likely intended to be so. Very druggy sounding, too. All in all, better than expected, and really quite cool. The outro is quite good, somewhat Indian sounding. Interesting.
Last here is Star Star which begins with some loud guitar parts, before launching into a more straightforward Rock music piece here. An excellent song to finish off this album with, it just sounds very lively and fresh here, with a subtle repeated profanity in the chorus here. Great stuff, and a nice way to finish off this album. There is a fuzz guitar solo here in the middle, and it just sounds really great. Good to hear and very interesting listening. Mick Jagger puts in a great performance here, especially towards the end. Great stuff.
This is actually nowhere near as bad as critics made of this album back in 1973. Having said that, some listeners may not hear this as an outright classic by The Rolling Stones. It’s not perfect, but is definitely listenable from start to finish. For that reason, if you dig these guys, then this has a decent place in your record collection. Sadly, after the release of this album, The Rolling Stones were yesterday’s men in the eyes of many. Disregard that, this is a really good listen.
R.I.P. Charlie Watts.
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