Friday, November 20, 2009

Rolling Stones 7: Aftermath

Aftermath is the first “real” Stones album, the one that showcases the band as we would come to accept them. All the songs are credited to Jagger-Richards (whether or not they were the actual writers). Brian Jones, having lost his power to keep them strictly a blues band, stretches out on several exotic instruments. And Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts keep everything tied down in the back.
Of course, the misogyny is out in full force; Mick did have an image to keep, after all. The opening notes of “Paint It, Black” hint at the current Indian influence before giving way to the blatant nastiness of “Stupid Girl”. Brian shines again on “Lady Jane”, contributing the dulcimer and probably the harpsichord. It’s a very gentle song, until you pay attention to the lyrics. Brian’s marimbas drive “Under My Thumb”, another cruel song still played by the band today. “Doncha Bother Me” is a successful marriage of Chicago blues and swinging London. “Think” features several guitar parts, from the strummed acoustic to the “Satisfaction” fuzz tone; an underrated track.
“Flight 505” starts the second side with a boogie piano solo from sixth Stone Ian Stewart before turning into an otherwise ordinary song with a trick ending worthy of Pete Townshend. “High And Dry” is a country blues that sounds like it was written five minutes before it was recorded. They would do this style better in the future. “It’s Not Easy” isn’t much, but “I Am Waiting” is the hidden gem here, a fine example of mid-‘60s British chamber pop and a killer bridge. The mood turns completely with “Goin’ Home”, a track notorious for being rock ‘n roll’s first lengthy album track. Unfortunately, Mick can’t sustain us over the eleven-plus minutes here; he’d learn the secret of dynamics soon enough.
Aftermath is the Stones learning how to compete on the album charts in an era when fans wanted more substance for their dollar. The British version, which came out a couple of months earlier with a different cover and different tracks (naturally), offered even more value, clocking 53 minutes against the 42 on the American. Somebody at ABKCO understood this album’s importance, as both the US and UK versions are available today on CD, should you wish to compare them.

The Rolling Stones Aftermath (1966)—3

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