Friday, November 02, 2007
ROLLING STONES - Their Satanic Majesties Request LP (ABKCO/1967)
Up until I was in my mid 20s, I loathed the Rolling Stones, and I'm talking about the kind of loathing one usually reserves for something one actually might have the faintest idea about. To me they encapsulated all that sucked about mainstream rock 'n' roll. In essence, they were rock music which didn't "rock" made by a bunch of spoilt, rich obnoxious a-holes who lost all inspiration soon after making their first million dollars. My conversion to them as a "rock" band didn't really come 'til I nearly hit 30, when I finally and belatedly purchased Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed and realised they did in fact release some really fine records at some point in their career, though my attraction to this album was spurred on by two very different reasons. Firstly, since it was considered the 'Stones album which all boring, stodgy old 'Stones fans hated, it must have some peculiar attraction (much like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or George Harrison's Electronic Sound), and secondly, I have none other than Glenn Jones from Cul de Sac to thank, a good sort and unmitigated music geek who turned me onto all kinds of cool music when I used to correspond w/ him back in the early/mid '90s. Sincerely, I can thank the man for switching me onto an eclectic brew of artists, from the Ventures to John Fahey to Blind Willie Johnson to Frank Sinatra to Sol Hoopii and right on through to Harry Partch and rough 'n' ready Rembetika cuts from the '30s. But really, all that isn't relevant right now; what is relevant is that ten years ago he placed this very album in his "Top 20 LPs of All Time" list which he pained over for days on end (I asked for a top 10, and he said he simply couldn't do it - he'd have to give me 20 and I'd do the cutting). Since everything in that list sounded pretty damn enticing, I figured it was my duty to purchase every single one of them. I started my 'Stones collection with this, the band's "failed" attempt at jangly peace-and-love psychedelia. Many folks say the band were never cut out for this schtick. After all, they were rock's "bad boys". Well, big fuggin' deal on a popsicle stick, I'll take this faux-avant psych-pop nonsense over their bad-boy "get ya rocks off" baloney any day of the week. The 'Stones made for a damn fine twee-pop outfit in their day, and despite the fact that both Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed are still streets ahead for me as records, outside of that glorious twofer canon of song, I'll take my Satanic Majesties Request over anything the group released after the 1960s, and that includes Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street (both of which I "like", but not nearly as much as others do). Song for song, this is a vastly under-rated psychedelic album, for sheer weirdness, songcraft and willingness to experiment, I'm placing it up there w/ the likes of Love's Forever Changes, Easter Everywhere and After Bathing At Baxter's. Outside of a few tunes which ramble on needlessly, such as "Sing This All Together" (an "experimental" track someone should've had the good sense to edit down to a few minutes at most), this one runs a tight ship: "Citadel" (gloriously covered many moons ago by Redd Kross, as you know), "2000 Man" (as covered by, uh, Ace Frehley on his first solo album, the first cassette I ever bought), "She's A Rainbow" (now used on an ad for Kodak, I think) and "2000 Light Years From Home" (covered by F/i, don'tchya know). In short, to anyone who thinks this album is horse manure, I say compare it to: A) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (in the 'Stones Vs. Beatles debate, I am a Beatles man, though I like this a whole lot more than Sgt. Pepper's; not because I'm contrary, but because it has better songs); and B) anything the band have released for the last 35 years. If I was in the band, I know what areas of my back catalogue I'd be most embarrassed of, and it wouldn't be this!