Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Rolling Stones - Aftermath (1966)

Under my thumb is a Siamese cat of a girl....


Released March 1966

Recorded at RCA Studios,  Hollywood

Running time 53.20


1. Mother's Little Helper
2. Stupid Girl
3. Lady Jane
4. Under My Thumb
5. Doncha Bother Me
6. Goin' Home
7. Flight 505
8. High And Dry
9. Out Of Time
10. It's Not Easy
11. I Am Waiting
12. Take It Or leave It
13. Think
14. What To Do                                    

Aftermath, released in early 1966, and recorded, for the first time, in the USA, was something of a turning point in The Rolling Stones’ career. After several albums that featured quite a few r’n’b the and blues covers, this was the first album to feature only Jagger and Richards songs. Granted, there were a few throwaway songs, a little bit of “filler”, included among the album’s fourteen songs. But, make no mistake, this was seen as a “serious” album. It also included an eleven minute blues jam in Goin' Home, a highly unusual thing among popular music albums of the day. The album is clocked in at fifty minutes in length, another notable thing. Most contemporary albums were around thirty minutes in length. The album also saw Brian Jones’ skill as a multi-instrumentalist feature heavily. He played, among other things, marimba, sitar and organ. The song writing of Jagger and Richards was also developing at quite a pace, however, some puerility still existed in their schoolboyishly sexist lyrics at times, notably in Stupid Girl and Under My Thumb, with its pompous put-downs. The album’s lively opener, Mother's Little Helper sung in Jagger’s affected “mockney” voice, was patronising, lyrically, to say the least. No matter, really, though. They were still comparatively young.

Both Stupid Girl and Under My Thumb, though, have great riffs and hooks, as does the soulful Out Of Time, a huge hit for Chris Farlowe, and the catchy Flight 505. The lively blues rock of It's Not Easy and the thumping, bassy, folky blues of High And Dry are also both upbeat, appealing numbers as indeed, is the unique, Elizabethan-influenced Lady Jane, with Brian Jones on medieval dulcimer. A similar instrumental vibe exists in I Am Waiting before it bursts in to a slightly overloud chorus. The track reminds me of something else but I can’t put my finger on what. Something by The Kinks or Cream, maybe?

Dontcha Bother Me has a great slide blues guitar riff, but it is a bit “blues by numbers”. Enjoyable enough though. Sounds great in mono. What To Do is a bit like The Beatles country rock outings, and has some poor Beach Boys “mba-ba-ba” backing vocals, which were unnecessary. Think has some interesting instrumentation, but is unremarkable otherwise. Standard mid-60s pop. Take It Or Leave It is a melodic, emotive and catchy ballad with a sad, mournful chorus. A nice song.

The sound in both stereo and mono is impressive. The mono is much more powerful and bassy than the follow up, Between The Buttons.  Returning to this album, I realise I should do so more often. It is not at all bad. It must be tempered, though, with the realisation that Beggars’ Banquet was only two years away. Maybe it wasn’t quite so good...


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