COLUMN SEVENTY-FIVE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz
THE WORLD'S OLDEST ROCK AND ROLL ACT
What with The World's Oldest
Rock And Roll Act having just put triple-digit-dollar tickets for their latest
global assault on sale, and as over-forty ears everywhere speculate already over
the precise contents of the
band's forthcoming multi-disc career retrospective, I thought it time indeed
to sit right back and remind all those most jadedly detached amongst us of
TEN REASONS WHY THE ROLLING STONES
WERE THE WORLD'S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND
1. BRIAN JONES' HAIR
Not only the longest, and the
blondest, but the most distinctive
coif to come out of the (first) British Invasion... hence his invariably being
positioned as the focal point of the band's publicity photos, not to mention
album covers. "Personally, I
always make a point of cleansing my hair after every meal", a young Brian
would defiantly inform the press when asked if the band, as their promo boasted,
bathed only during months with an "R? in them.
2. ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM
Take equal parts Col. Parker
and Phil Spector, mix with a liberal helping of Laurence Harvey (cf: Expresso
Bongo), garnish with a dash of Anthony Burgess, and you have the wonderlad
who transformed himself from failed pop crooner Sandy Beach to frustrated Brian
Epstein gofer to chart-topping Svengali of the world-famous anti-Beatles
"..all within a mere eighteen months. Needless
to say The Rolling Stones, not to mention Malcolm McLaren, would not ---in fact,
could not---have ever risen to
successfully battle the rock wars without the skilled example of Andrew Loog.
3. THEIR STAGEWEAR
As a young impressionable tyke of nine, I remember how totally dumb-struck I was when chancing upon the Stones on a Red Skelton special in '64. After months spent innocently bopping to squeaky-clean moptops on The Ed Sullivan Show, imagine my stupefaction when Mick Jagger, striped sweatshirt hanging, first suggestively shook his maracas across my parents' living room. Keith hunched menacingly black and pirate-like over his Les Paul. The rhythm section, shaggy and sullen. And, ever the individual, Brian Jones nattily attired in a modish three-piece, every golden lock in place. It must?ve worked: My grades, to say nothing of my supposed standards, started tumbling the very next day.
4. THE "PRODUCTION" ON THEIR RECORDS
The scene is Olympic Sound Studios, London, May 10, 1963 as recording of Come On, the Rolling Stones' first release, has just been completed:
Roger Savage (engineer) : "What about the mixing?"
Andrew Loog Oldham (producer): "What's mixing?"
And thus the stage was shakily
set for decades of recordings which in many ways gave birth to, and in
retrospect certainly define, the very essence of garage (aka grunge, roots,
and/or punk) rock. From their
initial cacophonous Oldham-by-the-seat-of-his-Levis sessions straight on up to
their current multi-million-dollar-yet-still-somehow-Portastudioesque-sounding
productions, Rolling Stones records are best-selling examples of the fine are of
Feeling over Finesse; of Emotion over Edification. And the ultimate
irony? Come O" is now
available on CD.
5. CHARLIE WATTS' DRUMMING
on Paint It, Black!
6. THEIR ALBUM COVERS
December's Children to (the untruncated original issue of) Some Girls,
without forgetting Through The Past Darkly, Sticky Fingers"(particularly
the Spanish edition!) and the
until-recently-banned Beggars Banquet, Stones songs have always come both
lovingly and luridly packaged inside the most quintessential photos, graphics
and liner notes this side of The Who Sell Out.
Grand Prize Winner? Without
a doubt the bloody-morning-after portrait adorning the superb Between The
Buttons, again starring Brian "Miss Amanda? Jones. (Runner-up: the
infamous she-male sleeve on the Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In
The Shadow single).
7. "CHARLIE IS MY DARLING"
A Hard Day's Night, Eat The Document and even Gimme Shelter:
for a true docu-style glimpse
of those once-swinging Sixties, Charlie Is My Darling, produced, of
course, by Andrew Oldham, boldly treads where no Arriflex had been before
(ie: into an Irish hotel ballroom circa 3 A.M., where them shit-faced
Glimmer Twits butcher Return To Sender whilst sliding tumblers full of
champagne back and forth across a grand piano top).
Also watch the band being savagely attacked on
stage, and hear Brian describe what "surrealism" means to him.
I wonder why this has still never been screened in America?
8. THEIR INSPIRED CHOICE OF SONG MATERIAL
a Stones album or concert has existed solely on the works of Jagger/Richard(s)...
some dusty old (rhythm'n') blues tune has been given the nod, and been performed
in testament to, the moss upon which the band has always rolled (excepting
during that Satanic Majesties debacle).
Hands-down Number One fave cover-tune Of All Time, however, has to be
their little-heard manic mangling of I Wanna Be Your Man which, with all
due respects to Ringo, absolutely shreds
the Fabs' version. And howzabout
that Dylan cover on Stripped, huh?!!
9. THEIR IMPECCABLE FLAIR FOR SELF-PROMOTION
From the early daze of urinating on gas stations ("we piss anywhere, maaann...") in 1965 to their jet-setting, trend-setting string of designer drug busts in the Seventies, the Stones have always been their own best press agents. Not surprisingly either, having graduated with day-glo colours from the Andrew Oldham "As Long As They Spell The Name Right" school of PR. And long after most of his bass-playing contemporaries had retired to Britain's loftier cricket estates and dry-out clinics, the oldest Stone was still taunting ires by marrying every schoolgirl-slash-model within reach. Dammit, I miss Bill Wyman, don't you?
10. LEWIS BRIAN HOPKIN JONES, 1942 - 1969
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