When a band has nearly 50 years of history behind them it’s really impossible (or foolish) to claim which of their albums is the “best”. But when The Rolling Stones are concerned, I know which is my favourite…1978’s Some Girls. The reasons are a combination of musical and personal ones. And I’m happy to say that after listening to this most recent reissue of the album, it holds up very well.
The Stones were under attack from several fronts when they recorded Some Girls. Punk had just reared its ugly head and declared them dinosaurs, along with contemporaries like The Who and Led Zeppelin. Plus, Keith Richards, nursing a heroin addiction, had been arrested in Toronto for possession and trafficking, and was facing the possibility of a stiff prison term. With Keith’s attentions diverted, it was up to Mick Jagger to come up with the goods. Mick was having troubles of his own, thanks to his impending divorce from Bianca, but Jagger put that situation to creative use on Some Girls in songs like Respectable and Lies.
Mick was spending a lot of time socialising in New York Cityand the Big Apple’s influences are all over this record. The city was teaming with punk, disco, r&b, salsa and country sounds and they all find their way into the record. Most notable was the irresistible dance groove of the first single Miss You. While other rockers (Rod Stewart, The Kinks) alienated their fans by slapping a disco beat on to their music, Mick and the boys seamlessly combine the beat into The Stones’ already potent mix of sounds. Bill Wyman’s bass line is particularly effective.
On the other end of the musical spectrum is Far Away Eyes, a piano-driven country ballad with an over-the-top country drawl from Jagger. Ron Wood’s pedal steel set the mood perfectly. In between are straight-up rockers like When The Whip Comes Down, the other hit single, Beast Of Burden, Richards’ Before They Make Me Run, a cover of The Temptations’ (Just My) Imagination and the very Manhattan-influence dance/rap Shattered. Every song on the album is a classic.
To drive the point home, this new Deluxe Edition comes with a second disc of outtakes. Put simply, if these dozen tracks were released as the next new Stones’ album, critics would be claiming it’s their best since Some Girls. The tracks include two covers…Hank Williams’ You Win Again and Freddie Cannon’s Tallahassee Lassie and another Richards vocal turn on We Had It All. There’s a fine blues (Keep Up Blues) and a bit of controversy…Claudine is about Claudine Longet, the ex-wife of singer Andy Williams who shot her lover, a former Olympic skier.
Click here to listen to Claudine from Some Girls Deluxe Edition:
Jagger and producer Don Was have added a few overdubs…percussion, handclaps and backing vocals…on these unfinished tracks and they sound as good as anything The Stones have recorded.
To sweeten the pot even further, a DVD has just been released of a show from The Stones’ 1978 tour that followed Some Girls’ release. Recorded on July18th inFort Worth,Texas, the Stones are a lean, mean rockin’ machine here…no horns, no backing singers, just the five band members and Ians Stewart and McLagan on keyboards.
The band is obviously proud of their new album, playing seven songs from Some Girls in a row, smack dab in the middle of the set. The rest of the setlist consists of rockers like All Down The Line, Brown Sugar, Let It Rock and Tumblin’ Dice. Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little 16 gets an airing as does Robert Johnson’s Love In Vain.
Click here to listen to The Rolling Stones perform Sweet Little 16:
With Jagger dousing the crowd with buckets of water, the band closes the set with a vicious Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Richards plays as if his life depends on it. Other highlights include Beast Of Burden and Far Away Eyes, with Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw joining in for the latter.
This is a set based around songs…no long, extended jams a-la Midnight Rambler. Jagger is in great voice and the production is state of the art (for 1978). Bonus features include The Stones’ appearance on Saturday Night Live later that year. Unfortunately, Jagger’s voice was shot by then and the three songs are excruciating to listen to. Better is the 2011 interview with Jagger and a brief (and unintentionally funny) 1978 interview with Geraldo Rivera.
Stones fans will be pleased to read the liner notes for the DVD that allude to more archives from the vaults to be released. In fact, a previously unreleased 1973 concert is now available for purchase and download at The Stones’ website here: www.stonesarchive.com.
Next year is the band’s 50th anniversary. I’m sure there will be much more on offer to help celebrate. With reissues like this, The Rolling Stones are poised to reclaim their title as “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band”.