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Maybe Time Is On Their Side after all
Singles Collection: The London Years - The Rolling Stones
Member Name: JOHNDMR
Singles Collection: The London Years - The Rolling Stones
Date: 17/08/04, updated on 17/08/04 (201 review reads)
Advantages: Comprehensive selection, Authoritative track listing notes
Disadvantages: Some tracks rather dated
As the group had less control over which album tracks were released as singles in America (the Beatles had a similar problem), they had far more hits there than in the UK. Go to http://www.rollingstones.cwc.net/stones.htm for a discography of UK and US vinyl singles, though there are some omissions and errors, particularly on some of the ?highest position reached? figures. Or else grab a copy of this.
All the tracks come in chronological order of release. ?Come On?, a Chuck Berry number which provided their first hit in the summer of 1963, starts it all off. Listening to the early stuff again, it all sounds quite primitive, but in those days when most of their contemporaries were trying to sound family-friendly and somewhat sanitised, Mick, Keith and the lads were aiming for a raw sound which often marked them out from the rest. Compare their version of ?I Wanna Be Your Man? with that by the Beatles, who ?gave? them the song for their second single. Not that they couldn?t be as cuddly and poppy as anyone else when they tried ? a listen to ?Congratulations?, a US-only single from 1964 (long before Cliff Richard?s 1968 Eurovision entry laid claim to the title).
Just one year into making records, they were topping the charts with ease ? ?It?s All Over Now? being
the first of five consecutive chart-toppers, a run which included ?The Last Time?, ??(I Can?t Get No) Satisfaction? and in my opinion the best of the early hits, ?Get Off Of My Cloud?. These will be pretty familiar to anyone who grew up with the Stones (yes, some of us are still around), but not so the more bluesy, less poppy stuff like ?I Just Want To Make Love To You?, a Muddy Waters standard recorded by many others, and which had a new lease of life when Etta James? version was reissued and became a hit in 1996, or ?Time Is On My Side? which gave the group their first US Top 10 single, though it was one of several songs which was only an album track in the UK.
For a while the Rolling Stones could do no wrong, combining social comment with interesting new musical experimentation. Remember ?19th Nervous Breakdown?, with that clever cynical storyline in the lyric, and that juddering bass run at the end of the song? Remember ?Paint It Black?, probably the first major hit single to use a sitar prominently (admittedly they copied the Beatles? ?Norwegian Wood?)? Remember ?Mother?s Little Helper?, one of the US-only singles, which took a potshot at the hypocrisy of pill-popping housewives?
Like almost everyone else, the Stones went softer, even prettier, during the summer of love in 1967 ? though there had been signs of it the previous year, in the haunting dulcimer-led ballad ?Lady Jane?. ?Dandelion?, ?We Love You? (featuring Lennon and McCartney, uncredited, plus a cast of dozens on backing vocals), and no less than two singles, four tracks, off the much-argued about psychedelic album ?Their Satanic Majesties Request?. ?2000 Light Years From Home? is weird,
trippy, spacey fare, aeons away from their typical sound, while ?She?s A Rainbow? cleverly combines drive and a pretty tune, and ?In Another Land? ? the one and only song Bill Wyman ever wrote and sang on a Stones album ? is eccentric but likeable.
It?s arguable that the years 1968-71 produced the real killer Stones oldies. Nothing can be said about the immortal trilogy of ?Jumpin? Jack Flash?, ?Honky Tonk Women? and ?Brown Sugar?, the rabble-rousing ode to student and civil unrest in ?Street Fighting Man? or the wonderfully chilling ?Sympathy For The Devil? that hasn?t been written already.
Tucked in between those are a handful of lesser-known gems and curios. Best of all has to be ?You Can?t Always Get What You Want?, which unfortunately appears here only in the 5-minute edit, pared down as it was to a B-side ? you?ll have to look elsewhere for the full 7-minutes-plus epic. (As it appears on CD 3 in this collection, which has a total playing time of 49 minutes, while the other two clock in at nearly 70 minutes each, this seems a tad niggardly). ?Memo From Turner? is a strange off-the-wall item from the controversial movie ?Performance?, with Ry Cooder on slide guitar, was first issued as a solo single by Mick Jagger in 1970. ?Out Of Time?, released for the first time in 1975 ? nine years after it was recorded ? is in effect another solo outing by Mick, with session musicians. Oddly it was released to compete with a reissue of Chris Farlowe's version (a No. 1 in 1966) in 1975, and even more oddly features Mick singing to the same backing track that was recorded for Chris. (They both made the charts simultaneously ? Chris reached No. 44, the Stones No. 45).
You?ll also find some othe
r songs which had lain in the vaults for several years, like the lightweight ?Try A Little Harder? (fairly standard pop fare, recorded in 1964 and sounding rather dated), ?I Don?t Know Why?, a cover of a Stevie Wonder oldie, and ?Jiving Sister Fanny?, which sounds like the kind of boogie Status Quo were shortly to develop into their trademark sound. There?s also the mock-country weepie ?Wild Horses?, which for some reason seems to be cropping up on Radio 2 a good deal these days.
Some of the tracks are better than others (well, the same can be said about any album), hence only four stars, but when considered as a whole, this package really is the goods. The accompanying booklet gives details of when and where each track was recorded, plus a note of any guest or session musicians involved. At full retail price (that quoted below is from Amazon) it?s not cheap, but look around the usual outlets in the high street or online for a better price.
Capital letters courtesy of Charlie Chucklewatts: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php - and our thoughts are with Charlie Watts during his present illness