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Zharth's Music Log

Week 27: Early Stones

Preface: Everyone knows The Rolling Stones as The Greatest Rock & Roll Band In The World - and if you don't, then get studyin' - but it seems that these days the Stones' early days are largely forgotten. I'm talking even before the singles that made them as big (if not bigger) than The Beatles. I'm talking about just when they first started recording, when they were pushing rhythm and blues music, before Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started writing songs, and most of their material was covers of the music that inspired them - including lots of Chuck Berry songs and various blues. So this week we're gonna celebrate the early Stones, with some of my favorite tracks from their first few albums.

Monday (1/21/08): Route 66 [The Rolling Stones - England's Newest Hitmakers, 1964]
Comments: This song, previously covered by Chuck Berry, introduces us to Berry's clear influence on the band, and in particular, Keith Richards' playing style. Furthermore, this track, which celebrates the American countryside, makes clear the ironic fact that one of the greatest British rock bands of all time got their start in the business by pushing American music.

Tuesday (1/22/08): Now I've Got A Witness [The Rolling Stones - England's Newest Hitmakers, 1964]
Comments: The Stones didn't *just* play covers in the early days - they spent some time jamming in the studio on some instrumental tracks, like this one. It starts out with a bit of an uppity beat, accompanied by harmonica, and then kicks into a short, but sweet, guitar solo before fading out all too soon.

Wednesday (1/23/08): Around And Around [12 x 5, 1964]
Comments: Here we have yet another Chuck Berry song. The band may have evolved into doing more original compositions later on, but the 'Chuck Berry sound' has always been a part of Keith's playing repertoire, showing up again and again over the years.

Thursday (1/24/08): 2120 South Michigan Avenue [12 x 5, 1964]
Comments: During one of their early tours of America, the Stones got a chance to record a few tracks at legendary Chess Studios in Chicago - where many of the blues artists who influenced the band had recorded in the past. This instrumental jam, named after the studio's address, is just bursting with energy and excitement, as you can imagine the Stones must have been, getting a chance to record there.

Friday (1/25/08): Susie Q [12 x 5, 1964]
Comments: The Stones take a hand at this rock classic, originally by American artist Dale Hawkins, and later popularly covered by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. Hear the raw and earthy musical approach the Stones used to grab the attention of the public, who, at the time, were used to the prim and proper Beatles.

Saturday (1/26/08): Mona (I Need You Baby) [The Rolling Stones, Now!, 1965]
Comments: Bo Diddley's influence is clear on this cover. In fact, Diddley was known to have been impressed by this recording, even saying that Brian Jones was the only person he had known to have worked out the secret to the rhythm.

Sunday (1/27/08): Little Red Rooster [The Rolling Stones, Now!, 1965]
Comments: The Rolling Stones took a chance on this recording, by releasing a straight blues (composed by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin' Wolf) as a single. Before becoming recording artists, the Stones were huge on the blues scene, so I like to think of this track as their homage to that side of the band, which seemed to be squeezed out in favor of more upbeat numbers on their records. Brian Jones plays slide on this groovy track.