September 27, 2006
Recently, I was e-mailed by my old high school with an interesting fund raising idea - for only $4,000, I could see the Rolling Stones from a private box in Soldier Field.
It's funny, but that frames this month's "Record You Should Own" - initially released in 1971, at the height of their creative powers, Hot Rocks is more than just a glorified greatest hits collection - it shows the precise reasons why the Stones once earned the title "World's Greatest Rock Band"....and how quickly they squandered it.
Never mind the early, blues-y tracks, or even "Satisfaction", "Brown Sugar", "Gimme Shelter" - tracks which any one hit wonder band might have written. Sonically, their mid-60s material zips with an instrumental tone between the pure pop of the Beatles, but without the R & B raucousness of the Who. Yes, Brian Jones may have spent more time playing exotic instruments than the guitar, but let's face facts - he helped shape the band's sound at a critical time. Let's face it - what band could get away with combining a sitar and polka rhythms in the same song? ("Paint it Black"). Gospel, country, blues, even a near psychedlic twang at points - the Stones had to build their reputation on something. These songs are those building blocks.
Plus, Jagger and Richards were (in this blogger's opinion) at their songwriting peak - their songs intricately tackle some then-touchy subjects, including suburban malaise ("Mother's Little Helper"), mental fragility ("19th Nervous Breakdown"), sex ("Under My Thumb", "Let's Spend the Night Together"), and even the urge to get away from it all ("Get Off Of My Cloud", or "the song they played at every high school dance when I was in high school").
So listen to Lefty Brown's # 8 Musical Guru - you can't go wrong with the Stones at the prime. Get this record. Now.