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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rolling Stones...

Alright people, here comes the lowdown on ye olde Rolling Stones, and I do mean olde. I've listened to the all the albums that are supposed to be pivotal and important, and then some 90s stuff just for good measure. I've researched their (long) history and have made my decision.

The Rolling Stones are adequate.

This is the best I can come up with. The best part of any Stones record is the multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones. This is especially apparent on the compilation album Flowers. Jones adds flavor and parts that are actually interesting to listen to on the typical long, static songs of the Stones. Also, whoever does the piano on all those albums (former Stone Ian Stewart I believe) is the only reason they are moderately cool, usually. But for the most part, the main reason my favorite songs of the Rolling Stones are good is because of those two gentlemen.

That said, I believe that Mick Jagger is easily the worst part of the band. His voice is, as we say in the business, not good. I understand that rock vocalists do not have to possess great voice talent to be great, but in this case, he just makes me want to fill my veins with grease until it seaps from my pores and slide my way into a bus. His lyrics are not that good either. I do appreciate the song "Sympathy for the Devil" on Beggars Banquet, but the rest of the songs almost sound like he's trying to make fun of the genre, but clearly isn't. It ain't good, but not terrible.

The production of most of these albums is pretty sloppy. Parts don't line up and tuning is almost always an issue, especially in the vocals. Because of the nature of most of the songs (one riff or hook repeated for 6 minutes,) one would think they would try to build more, adding more parts or making key changes, but they don't. I'll take "Sympathy for the Devil" again. This song could be great, and almost is, but it builds too quickly. The backing "doo dooo"s are cool, but they get old fast. So much more to be done here. It makes me sad. I wonder if the sloppiness of these records made them more accessible? As opposed to the rather polished and neatness of the Beatles and the like.

A detail that has been brought to my attention is the time period in which these albums were made. However, look at their rivals at the same time. In 1967/68 the Beatles were making Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. The Kinks were making some of their most interesting music, not limited to the "Preservation Society." Beach Boys made Pet Sounds. Come on here. I do see that the Rolling Stones progressed, but not the point that their contemporaries did. And I do appreciate how they combine blues with some of their non-traditional stuff, like "Ruby Tuesday." That is cool, but not amazing.

The point I'm trying to make is that nothing they do really thrills me. Aside from the songs I really do enjoy, like "Ruby Tuesday," there is nothing that stands out to me. I will acknowledge that the Rolling Stones do not suck, but it is kind of hard to see how they are so influential. They clearly keep the blues alive during a time when other people were moving away from that genre, and I appreciate that. The fact of the matter is that the Rolling Stones are overrated. Their music is not overtly spectacular, but their dedication to the blues is admirable. So here's my last word on the matter: The Rolling Stones have their right to exist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but are a bit too overpraised. They are on a pedestal and will never be knocked down, saggy under arm flesh and all. I don't mind you, The Rolling Stones, but I don't love you. End of demo.

Next up: Leonard Cohen


  1. You seemingly have to like some of their work based on sheer volume alone.