Here’s The Best Rolling Stones Song You Have Never Heard..
Or, part four of a quest to discover whether it’s worth buying those early Stones albums on vinyl… (Here’s Part one, which should explain what’s going on…)
Out of Our Heads
With two parts of the quest complete, my friend Chris was on the warpath, one eye no doubt fixed on avoiding having to write a grovelling letter of apology (and I’d make it pretty grovelling) to Mick and Keith.
“So I was right about the Chuck Berry covers” he maintained.
I countered, “You have to admit the first two albums are pretty good. And if I hadn’t bought them on vinyl, we probably wouldn’t have bothered listening to them.”
Chris still looked fairly confident. It was a slightly unsettling feeling.
“This is all very well, but we both know that you don’t have a copy of “Satanic Majesties” – which costs a fortune – and even if you did, which looks unlikely, it’s well known as being a dodgy album. Even if it is free of Chuck Berry covers” he added, somewhat needlessly.
“Oh, and I listened to “Between The Buttons” on Spotify for the first time this morning.” added Chris, rolling his eyes, then mock-whispering in a conspiratorial manner, “It’s a bit of a stinker. Good luck with that one…”
He was right about Satanic Majesties’ reputation of course. But that was for another time. First, there was the Stones’ third UK album, “Out Of Our Heads”…
Remember, the challenge was to find the albums, listen to them, and then explain why they aren’t just full of rubbish Chuck Berry covers….
Five Reasons Why “Out Of Our Heads” Is Worth A Listen…
1. The Best Rolling Stones Song You’ve Never Heard.
With “Satisfaction” being played – by law, it seems – at every school disco I ever went to, it is hard to conjure up the feeling of how new and exciting The Stones must have been to the teenagers of the sixties. How can we get that surge of fresh excitement now music has moved on and every song The Rolling Stones ever recorded can be downloaded or streamed in an instant?
“Out Of Our Heads”, with its blistering opening track, a cover of Larry William’s’ “She Said Yeah” gives us the chance to hear The Stones with fresh ears. It’s sufficiently obscure to fit the bill (at least it was to me) and certainly hasn’t been overplayed on radio. What a track this is! Richards and Jones wrestling with feedback (in 1965!), Jagger the gleeful rock star and perhaps the world’s first proto-punk tune.
2. It’s Two Albums In One!
The only one of the Stones’ first five U.S. albums to share a title with its UK counterpart, you can find both UK and U.S. versions on vinyl, with the U.S. Version having a different cover and only six shared songs, adding “Satisfaction” (but losing “She Said Yeah” and “I’m Free”).
Not only that, for the final time on a Rolling Stones LP, there’s still a great bunch of R&B classics to re-discover, or discover in their original form for the first time. The Stones doing “Hitch Hike” sounds great, until you hear Marvin Gaye singing it. Never mind “Heard It On The Grapevine”, here’s a side to Gaye that doesn’t get played on the radio, and is all the more refreshing for it.
3. Jagger / Richards songwriting starts to gain momentum.
Another less-often-heard track, “The Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man” is a genuine highlight, with its catchy-as-heck riff played on guitar and harmonica. The song itself satirised the band’s actual West Coast promotional man, George Sherlock, described fondly by Andrew Loog Oldham as “all tan, B-movie houndstooth suits, Dane-Clark-meets-Kramer in Seinfeld.”
As for other Jagger/ Richards songs, on the U.S. Version of the album we hear “The Last Time”, which has a great lick / riff, (and was released as a single) and – of course – “Satisfaction” itself.
4. The Baggy Scene of the nineties gets it’s first anthem.
Twenty five years later, The Soup Dragons will take a (ahem) souped-up version of another Jagger/ Richards composition “I’m Free” into the Top Five.
5. The Stones begin to re-interpret the R&B songs rather than simply cover them.
This is the last Stones album to contain a majority of R&B cover songs, and rather than simply copy them, the Stones are, in the parlance of Simon Cowell “owning the songs” and “making the songs their own”. Thankfully, Cowell isn’t there telling Jagger he has a great “recording voice”, telling him he sounds “really current” or getting him to ditch the piano player.* “She Said Yeah” is the best example of this development, being better than the original – but listen also to the much-changed Chuck Berry cover “Talkin’ About You” which is slowed right down, and is all the better for it. Whilst Jagger is no match for Solomon Burke’s imperial vocal on “Cry To Me”, he still sounds authentic rather than a mimic.
Here’s a playlist on Spotify of all the original songs:
Released in the UK on 24 September 1965, and the U.S. a few months earlier on 30th July, “Out of Our Heads” became the Rolling Stones’ first number one U.S. album. It entered the U.K charts at number three and stayed in the top ten for eighteen weeks, peaking at number two.
The photo for the English cover was shot by Gered Mankowitz. According to Oldham, Mankowitz got the gig because of “some nice snaps of Marianne Faithfull, being a nice guy, and being the son of Wolf Mankowitz. David Bailey was globetrotting for Vogue and Gered became our man.”
The cover was used in the U.S. on the next release over there, “December’s Children” which also used songs omitted from the U.S. Release including “She Said Yeah”, “I’m Free” and “Talkin’ About You”.
So far, as good, with “Aftermath” to come next. But with Chris’ warning about the quality of “Between The Buttons”, not to mention not being able to find a copy of Satanic Majesties Request”, I was a little thoughtful about my prospects…
*Loog Oldham did that anyway, right?
- Andrew Loog Oldham: Stoned