Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Rolling Stones - Some Girls (1978)

We're gonna bring a case of wine....

  

Released June 1978

Recorded at Pathe Marconi Studios, Paris

Running time 40.45

In 1978, the disco boom had taken over the charts, thanks to the previous year’s Saturday Night Fever and everyone, it seemed, from Abba to Roxy Music were encouraged to put out a disco influenced single. Why, even The Stones got in on the act. The result was the extremely impressive bassy disco/funk groove of Miss You which showed people that they were able to diversify. It was also the first album to feature Ronnie Wood as an official full band member.

Overall, Some Girls is considered to be the band’s best offering for six years, since 1972’s Exile On Main Street. It taps into the contemporary disco vibe, but also features keyboards prominently and also exploits a bit of punk's attitude and energy. 

It is very much a New York album, with Big Apple references prevalent throughout. Indeed, Mick Jagger said of it - 

“The inspiration for the record was really based in New York and the ways of the town. I think that gave it an extra spur and hardness. And then, of course, there was the punk thing that had started in 1976. Punk and disco were going on at the same time, so it was quite an interesting period”. 

TRACK LISTING

1. Miss You
2. When The Whip Comes Down
3. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
4. Some Girls
5. Lies
6. Far Away Eyes
7. Respectable
8. Before They Make Me Run
9. Beast Of Burden
10. Shattered                                                                   

It also has a decadent seediness to it in songs like the upbeat, rocky When The Whip Comes Down, the saucy Some Girls and the invigorating, soulful Beast Of Burden. The latter is a really good song, one of The Stones' best from the period. The title track has a slow, sensually chugging beat to it that always drags you in to it. Jagger's vocal is delightfully louche

Mick Jagger is in full leery mode on the catchy and commercial cod-funk rock of Shattered and  Respectable and reprises his Dead Flowers from Sticky Fingers country-hick voice on the oddly appealing Far Away EyesLies is a frantic, almost punky rocker which sort of acknowledges the contemporary taste for fast guitar-driven rock.

There is a strong case towards the fact that Jagger wrote a lot of this material on his own, with possible help from Wood, as Keith Richards was pretty drugged-up and embroiled in court cases at the time. It does seem very much like a Jagger album (Richards’ archetypal piece of "Keith rock", Before They Make Me Run  excepted).

Their cover of The Temptations' Imagination is more than  acceptable too. Nowhere near the original, but they certainly put their own stamp on it.

Despite the album coming out at the height of punk, the music cognoscenti respected it, so too did the punks. So much for “No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones..”. It seemed to go down well with everyone. 

The album has always had something of a tinny sound to it, however, and no amount of remastering seems to be able to correct that. The current (2009) remaster is the best to date, but it still comes off worse in comparison to other Stones albums either side of it. It was probably recorded like that and that is that, like Goats Head Soup, just not a great one, sonically. I just wish it could up the bass and lower the treble a bit within the recording. This can be remedied slightly by turning up the bass of my thumping sub-woofer. The tinny treble is still present though. Maybe The Stones were simply looking for that harsh, punky sound when the album was recorded.

B-

SOME GIRLS DELUXE EDITION 2011

  

Released in 2011

The extra tracks released on the “deluxe edition” of Some Girls were controversial for being enhanced versions of original out-takes and demos from the original sessions given a contemporary makeover by the Stones in 2010. Personally, I don’t mind this at all, it has allowed some previously unheard material to be given new life - fair enough.

What is also notable is that the sound quality on these new tracks is far superior to the tinny sound of the original album. It is like having a new Stones album and doesn’t detract from the original Some Girls at all.

TRACK LISTING 


1. Claudine
2. So Young
3. Do You think I Really Care?
4. When You’re Gone
5. No Spare Parts
6. Don’t Be A Stranger
7. We Had It All
8. Tallahassee Lassie
9. I Love You Too Much
10. Keep Us Blues
11. You Win Again
12. Petrol Blues                                                                                        


Claudine is a rollicking piece of piano-driven bar-room blues and is a great start to this collection of songs.

So Young is a solid piece of Stones rock, apparently it had been around on bootlegs for years and this latest recording doesn’t sound much different. It has a loose, rocking, Exile On Main Street feel to it. In fact, it rocks harder and more urgently than anything on the original Some Girls.

Do You Really Think I Care? has the country rock vibe of Faraway Eyes but it is faster in a sort of Shattered way. Jagger sings in that silly country voice again, something we have all just got used to and happily accept. Nobody else would get away with it would they? But it’s Mick Jagger, so we’ll forgive him most things. It is actually a really appealing track, so there you go. When You're Gone has something Some Girls lacks - some copper-bottomed Stones blues. It is a bit like Back Of My Hand from A Bigger Bang but faster. No Spare Parts is a country style slow number sung in the same style as Do You Think That I Really Care? but it is another strong song. There is a real vibrancy to some of this material, you have to say.

Don't Be A Stranger is a vaguely reggae-sounding upbeat number with a summery breeziness to it. Time for a Keith song - We Had It All is typical Richards, being a slow, sleepy romantic ballad. Tallahassee Lassie is a very lively, southern bluesy cover of the old Freddy Cannon number. The Stones do it really well, full of vigour and enthusiasm with a hint of Creedence Clearwater Revival about their guitar sound. I Love You Too Much is a riffy, sensual Stones rocker in their late seventies/early eighties style.

Keep Up Blues is a more than welcome delicious helping of grinding, bassy blues. This is The Stones at their best and it is as good as anything they recorded in this period, to be honest. It has a great full sound to it too. You Win Again sees the group go back to that good ol’ country bar. It is like the sort of song that Elvis Costello did on Almost Blue. It is an old Hank Williams song and was also covered by Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis on their album of the same name.

No Petrol is a throwaway bit of piano and vocal blues that sounds like one of those early Dylan songs. I’m sure that is what Jagger is trying to sound like, in a very tongue-in-cheek way.

*

I have to say that listening to this side by side with Some Girls, this is by far the better collection of songs. It has far less of that 1978 cod-disco synthesiser-style backing and far more of a rootsy Stones sound. I guess the former was thought to be more popular in 1978, hence the make-up of the eventual album. Give me these other songs any day, though, and their warmer, fuller, bassier sound.

B+

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