miercuri, 11 iunie 2008

The Rolling Stones - 1974 to 1982

In order to look for replacements for Taylor, The Rolling Stones used the Munich recording sessions to hold auditions. A lot of well known guitarists including Peter Frampton, Rory Gallagher, Shuggie Otis and Jeff Beck were auditioned. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger really wanted the band to stay a British one and this is how we got to Ron Wood. He jammed with the Stones and everybody immediately realized that he is the one that will replace Taylor. Till then Wood played live with Richards and contributed to the recording of "It's Only Rock 'n Roll". In 1976 Black and Blue was released, an album that featured the contributions of every single person that auditioned, willingly or not. At the beginning Ron Wood declined the offer to join The Rolling Stones because of already being a member of The Faces but this changed and he committed to the band for their Tour of the Americas in 1975. The official joining happened in 1976 when the Faces dissolved. What is interesting is that Wood stayed on salary till Wyman left around 20 years later. That is when he started having a full partnership with the band and became a full member.

In 1977 The Rolling Stones launched a live album called Love You Live (which reached UK number 3 and US number 5), the first live album since 1970. Once again Keith Richards caused some problems as he was arrested as he was found with possessing hash residue and a burnt spoon when arriving in Canada. It was Anita Pallenberg that pleaded guilty and was eventually fined for this incident. The problem was that at the moment of arresting Pallenberg the police also found 22 grams of heroin in Richards' room so he was charged with importing narcotics in the country. The official outcome was that Keith Richards got the drugs after entering Canada and this did not stop the band from partying and keeping on doing shows. The entire case with the drugs went on for a year and the result was Richards receiving a suspended sentence and forced to play 2 concerts for free.

The Rolling Stones were popular in the first half of the seventies but record sales failed to meet expectations and critics were not happy in their reviews. The late seventies showed an age that was influenced by punk music and the band started to be considered as aging with a music that was irrelevant and stagnant. Eventually The Stones launched Some Girls (which reached UK number 2 and US number 1). This album included hits like "Miss You", "Far Away Eyes", "Shattered" and "Beast of Burden". The recordings were fast, simple and basically rock and roll, an answer to punk. This made it possible for the band to re-gain popularity among teenagers and this turned into an invitation at Saturday Night Live.

After the US Tour 1978, the group did not tour Europe the following year, breaking the routine of touring Europe every three years that the band had followed since 1967. The eighties marked a new commercial high and the release of Emotional Rescue (which reached number 1 in UK and US). The problem with the album is that Richards was more sober than ever and started wanting more control in the studio. This created conflicts with Mick Jagger.

1981 saw The Rolling Stones deciding to tour the US. This meant that there was not a lot of time to record and write a new album. On the other hand, the result was Tattoo You (which reached US number 1 and UK number 2). The album had some outtakes, like "Start Me Up". On the other hand the American Tour in 1981 was the biggest of the Stones and most colorful as it saw them playing from September 25 to December 19 and being the best grossing tour of the year. Part of the shows were recorded. This led to the live album Still Life, released in 1982. It only reached number 4 in the UK and 5 in US but was still successful among fans.

The middle of 1982 marked the 20th anniversary of The Rolling Stones and as celebration they went to Europe in the European Tour 1982, the first one in 6 years. It was basiclly a copy of the 1981 American Tour but they were joined by Chuck Leavell and the end of the year marked the signing of a 28 million dollar 4-album contract with CBS Records.

miercuri, 28 mai 2008

The Rolling Stones - 1969 to 1974

Two days after the death of Brian Jones, The Rolling Stones were planned to play a free concert in Hyde Park, London. They did the gig as a tribute to Jones and the first ever concert with Mick Taylor happened in front of around 250 thousand fans. All was filmed by a production team of Granada Television and was shown on TV as Stones in the Park. This show featured the debut of "Honky Tonk Women", recently released by the band. Stage Manager Sam Cutler introduced the Rolling Stones then as "the greatest rock & roll band in the world" and this label kept getting repeated in the entire 1969 tour and is even used today.

In December of the same year the band released "Let it Bleed", which reached number 1 in the UK and 3 in US. This was the last album of the sixties and featured tracks like "Midnight Rambler" and "Gimme Shelter". After the tour was over the band staged the Altamont Free Concert where the biker gang Hells Angels were used as security. The problem then was that a fan, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed and beaten to death by the Angels and the band was considered responsible although video footage released proved that Mick Jagger and the rest of the band tried to stop everything. In 1970 the next album, "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!" was released and reached number 6 in US and 1 in UK. Critic Lester Bangs declared that album to be the best live album ever.

1970 saw the contracts with Decca Records and Allen Klein come to an end and the result was the band forming their own record company called Rolling Stones Records. March 1971 saw the release of "Sticky Fingers", an album that reached number one both in UK and US and marked the first ever album by the band under their own label. The album was highly successful and features two of the most well known tracks by The Rolling Stones: "Wild Horses" and "Brown Sugar". This album marked the band's entrance into a more blues influenced style and was actually the first band that featured a full release of Mick Taylor with the band.

After the album was released the Rolling Stones moved to the South of France at the advice of financial advisors. They used the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio in order to hold recording sessions in the basement of the Villa Nellcote, rented by Keith Richards. Everything was completed later on and combined with previous unrecorded tracks the result was "Exile on Main St.", released in May of 1972, an album that also reached number one in both US and UK. Critic Robert Christgau gave the album an A+ rating and at the moment "Exile on Main St." is considered to be one of the best ever albums by the Stones.

November 1972 saw the start for the recordings of the follow up album, "Goats Head Soup", another number one hit in US and UK, which was released in 1973. The album features worldwide hit "Angie" and "Waiting for a Friend", although the second one was only released later on, on the album "Tattoo You", eight years later. While making the record another legal battle started, one linked with drugs and dating to the band's stay in France. Jagger was convicted on drug charges in 1967 and 1970 and this made it hard for the band to fulfill their plans for the Pacific Tour in the early 1973 period. They were not allowed to play in Japan and were almost banned in Australia. The result was a European tour that avoided France in the months of September and October of 1973.

The following album was recorded in Musicland studios in Germany and was called "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll", an album that reached number 2 in UK and 1 in US. The album was not produced by Jimmy Miller due to drug abuse problems so the album was produced by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Near the end of 1974 the band was facing difficult times as band members lived in various countries and there were some legal problems that made it hard to choose the tour locations. At the moment, Keith Richards did do drug abuse and this was affecting both productivity and creativity. Mick Taylor had some problems because he thought some of his contributions were not recognized and at the end of 1974 Taylor left the Rolling Stones. He stated in 1980:
"I was getting a bit fed up. I wanted to broaden my scope as a guitarist and do something else... I wasn't really composing songs or writing at that time. I was just beginning to write, and that influenced my decision... There are some people who can just ride along from crest to crest; they can ride along somebody else's success. And there are some people for whom that's not enough. It really wasn't enough for me."

vineri, 7 martie 2008

The Rolling Stones - I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Released in 1965 on the “Out of Our Heads” album, “I can’t get No satisfaction” is a product of Keith Richards’ dreams while staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. He woke up with the guitar riff and the name of the song on his mind, he recorded them and then went back to sleep – it seems that besides the riff and the lyric, on the tape there was recorded also his snoring.

Richards was worried that the song resembled Martha and The Vandellas “Dancing in the street” and that the band could be sued. Fortunately this didn’t happen and the song became one of the most famous of all times, ranked for several times #1.

The Stones wanted to release the song first in the US and then, after 3 months in the UK only they could be there to support it. They left their British fans to grow on them more and more in that time so that when they come in the UK, they would receive it strongly.

Richards (1992): "It was the first (fuzztone box) Gibson made. I was screaming for more distortion: This riff's really gotta hang hard and long, and we burnt the amps up and turned the s--t up, and it still wasn't right. And then Ian Stewart went around the corner to Eli Wallach's Music City or something and came around with a distortion box. Try this. It was as off-hand as that. It was just from nowhere. I never got into the thing after that, either. It had a very limited use, but it was just the right time for that song."

Mick Jagger (1995): "People get very blase about their big hit. It was the song that really made the Rolling Stones, changed us from just another band into a huge, monster band. You always need one song. We weren't American, and America was a big thing and we always wanted to make it here. It was very impressive the way that song and the popularity of the band became a worldwide thing. It's a signature tune, really, rather than a great, classic painting, 'cause it's only like one thing - a kind of signature that everyone knows. It has a very catchy title. It has a very catchy guitar riff. It has a great guitar sound, which was original at that time. And it captures a spirit of the times, which is very important in those kinds of songs... Which was alienation. Or it's a bit more than that, maybe, but a kind of sexual alienation. Alienation's not quite the right word, but it's one word that would do."

sâmbătă, 23 februarie 2008

Anybody Seen My Baby?

"Anybody Seen My Baby?" is one of the songs on the Bridges to Babylon album by the Rolling Stones, one of most famous Rock bands of all times. It was evolved in copyright scandal because of its similarity to Lang’s hit "Constant Craving" forcing Jagger and Richards to give him credit for the song. This seemed at the time the easiest way out of a lawsuit.

The stones used different musical influences to create this “Bridges to Babylon” song, such as hip-hop from Biz Markie. The band didn’t really cared for sampling so they didn’t do it a lot; actually “Anybody Seen My Baby” is one of few such song and the album that included it is the one of this kind. You can feel some R&B in the song made by Muhoberac’s bass but still remains a rock song - the electric guitars performed by Jagger, Richards and Wachtel are a statement cu that fact!

Anybody Seen My Baby?" took a world tour in 2007 being sung by millions of people that considered it worthy to be #3 in European charts on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks. America was of course dazzled with it! If you already didn’t know, the character in the video is played by Angelina Jolie! She was supposed to be a stripper that leaves mid-performance to wander around in New York.

"Anybody Seen My Baby?" is the only song from the Babylonian album to get a place on the Rolling Stones’ 2002 career retrospective - Forty Liks. It is another statement of the Stones greatness to concur the world with their tones and riffs. They really succeeded to get the world wrapped around their finger and become its musical god for more than two decades!

And just because this is one of my favorite Rolling Stones track, here is the video of it:

vineri, 15 februarie 2008

The Rolling Stones - 40 Licks Album

At the 40th Anniversary of the band, the Rolling Stones released a double compilation album to commemorate their career and give their fans a look back towards their greatest hits since the beginning. Forty Licks is remarkable for being the first retrospective of the 60’s in formative Decca/London. This compilation is nowadays licensed by ABKCO Records and the one with 1970 added material – distributed by Virgin records.

Don’t think that the Stones woke one night and thought of this retrospective! They had to react after the huge success The Beatles had that time. The two bands were on a constant rivalry for the rock fans and always were trying to beat each other to get to the top of the charts. This was a good thing for the music industry because it had the opportunity to grow and expand as influences. It is considered that the two bans represented the rivalry between the UK and the US and the intention of each of them to concur the other’s music land.

Forty Licks became #2 in the UK and US charts in September 2000, leaving the lead to Elvis Presley’s 30#1 Hits package. It still managed to sell millions of copies all over the world – including the US, where they were awarded with platinum four times in row. The Stones still had the world in their palms and they enjoyed it! This was followed by some tours around the world to bring some good times to their fans and relive the glory of the Rolling Stones.

The international tour resulted in a glorious and full of behind the curtains details video – Live Licks released in 2004.

There were four new songs on the second disc, but only one was chosen to be promoted as a single – Don’t Stop. The US and the UK embraced it, but it was taken as small hit, more for admiration and respect for the band than the affiliation towards the song.

Disc one

1. "Street Fighting Man"
2. "Gimme Shelter"
3. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
4. "The Last Time"
5. "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
6. "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
7. "19th Nervous Breakdown"
8. "Under My Thumb"
9. "Not Fade Away" (Charles Hardin/Norman Petty)
10. "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby?"
11. "Sympathy for the Devil"
12. "Mother's Little Helper"
13. "She's a Rainbow"
14. "Get Off of My Cloud"
15. "Wild Horses"
16. "Ruby Tuesday"
17. "Paint It, Black"
18. "Honky Tonk Women"
19. "It's All Over Now"
20. "Let's Spend the Night Together"

Disc two

1. "Start Me Up"
2. "Brown Sugar"
3. "Miss You"
4. "Beast of Burden"
5. "Don't Stop"
6. "Happy"
7. "Angie"
8. "You Got Me Rocking"
9. "Shattered"
10. "Fool to Cry"
11. "Love Is Strong"
12. "Mixed Emotions"
13. "Keys to Your Love"
14. "Anybody Seen My Baby?"
15. "Stealing My Heart"
16. "Tumbling Dice"
17. "Undercover of the Night"
18. "Emotional Rescue"
19. "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)"
20. "Losing My Touch"

luni, 28 ianuarie 2008

The Rolling Stones - Between The Buttons

Released in 1967, Between the Buttons is the fifth UK and seventh US studio album by The Rolling Stones, following the great “Aftermath” album. it was a time of need for change when the Stones created this album: they were getting rid of R&B influences and other bands were releasing competitive albums that could minimize their success. They had to come up with something to keep their fans and gather more.

The Beetles come up with the “Revolver”, The Beach Boys had their “Pet Sounds” and Bob Dylan was singing “Blonde and Blonde”. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had to catch their fans from leaving them for other bands and also come up with something to overtake the “Aftermath”. They inspired from a British pop band “The Kinks” and so “Between the Buttons” was born. Although after some time Jagger denounced the album, critics over time still considered it a valuable album for the Stones career and also a “curio”.

Reaching the top #3 in UK, “Between the Buttons” had some different versions for UK and US, just like “Aftermath”. The album was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham and issued on Decca Records, nowadays along with the “Let’s Spend the Night Toghether” and “Ruby Tuesday”. The fans and critics took the songs on the album quite well. In the US, things were better than in the UK, “Ruby Tuesday” going to #1 and pushing the whole album as #2 – a gold position.

Regarding the instruments used to create this album, Brian Jones used exotic instruments along the guitar: harmonica, trumpet, the banjo-ukulele. Another fact about the “Between the Buttons” is that it was the last produced by Andrew Loog Oldham because of some supposed arguments he had with the band members.

Although after its release it wasn’t all that astonishing, “Between the Buttons” is looked now as very valuable to the music industry and the band’s style. In 2003, it was ranked #355 in the Rolling Stones magazine in a top 500 greatest albums of all times.

sâmbătă, 26 ianuarie 2008

The Rolling Stones Between 1965 and 1969

The first ever composition by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that reached number one in UK was "The Last Time", recorded in early 1965. Then came the US version of the "Out of Our Heads" LP, which contained 7 original songs including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", which became the first ever number one hit in US. It stayed on the top spot for 4 weeks while making the Rolling Stones known across the world. After a short time the Rolling Stones released another number one, "Get Off of My Cloud".

The first ever album that was composed by Richards and Jagger was Aftermath and it appeared in the late spring of 1966, reaching number 1 in UK and 2 in US. This album also marked the change in leadership of the band from Brian Jones to the songwriting duo. The version of the LP that was launched in US also included huge song "Paint it Black", "Going Home" and "Lady Jane".

This is where problems started to appear for the Rolling Stones as Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger started to be attacked by authorities in linking with illegal drug use. In 1967 police raided a party that was held at Keith RIchards' house. Both Richards and Jagger were charged with drug offences. COncerning the incident Richards declared in 2003:
"When we got busted at Redlands, it suddenly made us realize that this was a whole different ball game and that was when the fun stopped. Up until then it had been as though London existed in a beautiful space where you could do anything you wanted."
The Rolling Stones continued to grow though and the next album was Between the Buttons (number 3 in UK and 2 in US). Once again we had a special US version that included two huge Rolling Stones singles in "Let's Spend the Night Together" and one of my favorites, "Ruby Tuesday". One interesting moment was when the Stones performed on The Ed Sullivan Show but were forced to change the chorus to "Let's Spend Some Time Together" because of fear of censorship. This album was the last one that saw Oldham as manager of The Stones and in his biography he stated that he left the band because of shortage of money, forcing him to give his management contract to others. Mick Jagger said in 2003 about this moment:
"The reason Andrew left was because he thought that we weren't concentrating and that we were being childish. It was not a great moment really - and I would have thought it wasn't a great moment for Andrew either. There were a lot of distractions and you always need someone to focus you at that point, that was Andrew's job."

May 1967 saw Brian Jones arrested for possession of cannabis. He got off with just a fine but he needed to seek professional help. June 27 of the same year saw Richards and Jagger convicted and then jailed. After an editorial critical on the convictions in The Times, titled "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?", Richards got off on an appeal and Jagger had a conditional discharge. When they were released the band recorded "We love You", as a thank you addressed to the fans that have shown their loyalty during the trials.

In December of 1967 The Rolling Stones released "Their Satanic Majesties Request" (which reached number 3 in UK and 2 in US), being released shortly after The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". The album was hard to record as Jones, Richards and Jagger kept getting in and out of jail. Mick Jagger really loved the psychedelic sound of the album but few of the tracks on it have been played live. It was also the first album that was produced by the band.

The early 1968 period saw The Rolling Stones with a new manager in Allen Klein. The first months of the year were spent recording for the next album and the result was "Jumpin' Jack Flash", which was released in May 1968. This song lead to the launch of the next album, "Beggars Banquet" (which reached number 5 in US and 3 in UK). This album was a return to the blues roots of the band with the help of producer Jimmy Miller. Two songs from the album really stand out in "Street Fighting Man" and controversial "Sympathy for the Devil". Talking about the difference between the two albums, Keith Richards declared:
"There is a change between material on Satanic Majesties and Beggars Banquet. I'd grown sick to death of the whole Maharishi guru shit and the beads and bells. Who knows where these things come from, but I guess [the music] was a reaction to what we'd done in our time off and also that severe dose of reality. A spell in prison... will certainly give you room for thought... I was fucking pissed with being busted. So it was, 'Right we'll go and strip this thing down.' There's a lot of anger in the music from that period."
This time frame marked Richards starting to use open tunings, especially 5-string open-G tuning, as you can hear on popular songs like "Tumbling Dice", "Happy", "Start Me Up", "Brown Sugar" and a whole lot more.

A meeting that was held in June saw an important moment in The Rolling Stones' history. In a meeting at Jones' house with Jagger, Watts and Richards. This is when Brian Jones admitted that he will not be able to go on the road again and he was dealing with serious drug problems. He left the band and was replaced with 20 year old Mick Taylor, known as a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. On July 3rd of 1969 Brian Jones drowned in his pool at Cotchford Farm in SUssex. This marked the end of this period of the Rolling Stones' history!