Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rolling Stones 5: December’s Children

For all their progress musically, the Rolling Stones were still considered product and nothing more. London Records had to get another LP on the shelves for the Xmas season, and that’s how December’s Children (an enigmatic title made even more obscure with the subtitle “And Everybody’s”) happened.
They started with a pile of tunes up for grabs from the British version of Out Of Our Heads. “She Said Yeah” is a glorious minute and a half of fuzz, from the same guy who wrote “Slow Down” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzie”. “Talkin’ About You” is one of their less obvious Chuck Berry covers, given a more soul-oriented groove. And the slightly psychedelic “I’m Free” would go on to be one of their more unlikely stage favorites, though we wonder why they didn’t bother to redo that out-of-sync tambourine.
Because it was the law, two recent singles, the terrific “Get Off Of My Cloud” and the acquired taste “As Tears Go By”, had to be included on the album. The same went for their respective B-sides: “The Singer Not The Song”, which proves how difficult it is to keep two 12-strings in tune with each other, and “Gotta Get Away”, the inspiration for “Laugh” by the Monkees, as well as their own live arrangement for “Under My Thumb”. But the pickings then grew slim, which is how a demo of “Blue Turns To Grey” ended up there, along with two more songs from that live British EP, Muddy Waters’ “Look What You’ve Done” from Chess the year before, and “You Better Move On”, an Arthur Alexander slow burner that was already two years old at this point.
But even for such a mixed bag, December’s Children does have some decent music, and even more confident songwriting from Mick and Keith, making it a gamble that works. They were a good band that was only getting better.

The Rolling Stones December’s Children (And Everybody’s) (1965)—

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