Friday, June 4, 2010

Rolling Stones 21: It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll

If there was any doubt that the Stones (or at the very least, Mick) had begun to overestimate their importance in the grand scheme of things, a glance at the cover of It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll should dispel that. Here are the conquering heroes greeted by a bevy of young lovelies throwing flowers at them (or at the very least, Mick).
The record itself intends to deliver good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll, and for the most part, it does. The opening “If You Can’t Rock Me” is all guitars, with a nasty bass solo (!) and near-disco drumming. “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” is a rarity in itself, a cover of a Motown song that betters the original. The title track is probably playing on the radio somewhere, and portends the imminent arrival of Ron Wood, as the song grew out of a jam at his house. (Nonetheless, the band mimed to the recording in a promotional video, which is notable for the hideous sailor suits, Mick Taylor smiling for the last time in his life and Charlie nearly being asphyxiated by soap bubbles.) Things slow down for “Till The Next Goodbye”, a mildly forgettable ballad with forced country vocals on the way to the side’s finale. “Time Waits For No One” is an absolute tour de force for Mick Taylor, who plays the solo of his life after each chorus and over the last half of the song, under Nicky’s swirling piano and Charlie’s steady beat. The lyrics ain’t bad either.
That track notwithstanding, side two is even weaker. “Luxury” finally includes some of the reggae influences they might have picked up on the previous album. “Dance Little Sister” provides the album’s requisite Chuck Berry pastiche, before the attempted centerpiece of “If You Really Want To Be My Friend”, which offers a nasty Leslied guitar and soulful backing vocals, but doesn’t really go anywhere. Likewise, the intended punchline in “Short And Curlies” misses widely. The album ends with another experiment in “Fingerprint File”, touching on more disco, with synthesizers and inscrutable lyrics about the FBI.
The band was coasting, and the self-review in the title It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll proves it. But they didn’t care. They were the best band in the world, their records sold and their concerts sold out, no matter what the critics said.

The Rolling Stones It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (1974)—3

1 comment:

  1. I always thought the cover was meant to be cheeky. Perhaps not, but that is almost too frightening a thought for me to entertain.