#468: Some Girls, The Rolling Stones
I’ll miss the Rolling Stones, but they’ll never really leave us. In fact, they released another freaking album since we saw them last, Hackney Diamonds. I haven’t listened to it, but it’s weirdly comforting to me that it exists at all. There are only three constants in life: death, taxes, and the Rolling Stones. Though I have to be honest, I really am not impressed by this latest album cover.
Then again, maybe they were scarred from all the controversy THIS album cover dredged up. See those blank faces? They were originally done up with likenesses of Lucille Ball, Farrah Fawcett, Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe, among others. And they were not super happy about it! In fact, a bunch of them sued, leading to the cut-and-paste job you see here. Guess they didn’t want to be reduced to just “some girls.” After all, Keith Richards did say the title was Some Girls “Because we couldn’t remember their fucking names.”
Oh, Keith. Did you know Keith has arthritis? :( It’s pretty impressive that he still plays well enough to record an entire album. Also, it’s pretty impressive that he’s still alive at all, considering he was on a mission to do as much drugs as possible for most of his life. In fact, shortly before the recording of this record, Keith was on trial in Canada for heroin possession. There was a real question of whether or not he would go to prison. The one song he sings on this record, “Before They Make Me Run,” deals with this tenuous time in his life, where he manages to sound both defiant and a little sad to be saying another goodbye to another good friend. I know Mick’s vocals are full of personality, and his stage presence is very sexy and hippy, but I just love Keith’s voice.
The cover art wasn’t the only controversy that this album stirred up: title track “Some Girls” is great bouncy fun, and features some of the Stones’ best harmonies, but man, does it get weirdly, unnecessarily racial. They comment on French girls, Italian girls, American girls, English girls, and white girls — but the line about how Black girls just wanna get f***ed all night raised some hackles. Obviously, because it was the Seventies, the Stones weren’t really taken to task for it. Ahmet Ertugun, chairman of the board of Atlantic Records, assured Jesse Jackson, “Mick … owes his whole being, his whole musical career, to black people,” and the Stones themselves added, “It never occurred to us that our parody of certain stereotypical attitudes would be taken seriously by anyone who heard the entire lyric of the song in question.” Honestly, whatever, Rolling Stones. I’m sure they were somewhat sincere, because the Stones have always acknowledged Black music’s influence on their own career. They even cover the Temptations on this record, with a badass bluesy take on “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” But I’m just so sick of hearing “It was a joooooke.” Some jokes aren’t funny.
This record is a little different from the earlier Stones’ records we’ve reviewed, because by 1978, their brand of bluesy rock no longer reigned supreme. It was disco and punk that captured the spirit of the people. And so the Stones did something really smart and tried to meld their own personal style with these other popular genres. “Miss You” has a disco beat, but also a sassy harmonica part from Sugar Blue, whom was picked up after Mick found him busking in Paris. But the genre they borrow the most from is NYC punk. See “Shattered,” a power chord driven number where Mick invites you to Bite the Big Apple/ Don’t mind the maggots, “Respectable,” which legitimately sounds like a Ramones song, and “Lies.” And “When The Whip Comes Down” is the punkest of them all, written from the perspective of a gay man pimping himself out on the streets of New York. But of course, this wouldn’t be a Stones record if there wasn’t a country song sticking out like a sore thumb. In this case it’s “Far Away Eyes,” where Mick puts on a bizarre Southern accent. Love them or hate them, they really could do anything.
The highlight, of course, is “Beast of Burden,” which is one of the slowest songs on the album. They’re not pretending to be punk, or disco, or country — it’s just a straight rock song, where no one plays lead and no one stands out too much. There’s even some lovely falsetto: Pretty, pretty, such a pretty, pretty, pretty girl. It’s cryptic, it’s tender, it’s catchy. This is why I’ll miss the Rolling Stones: even when they’re being infuriating, they’re churning out masterpieces.
Fun Tidbit: If you like “Beast of Burden,” you’ll love Casina777’s cover “i don’t want my pizza burning.” Well, you might not love it, but you won’t be able to look away.