Well this post may be my magnum opus because to call me a Stones fan doesn’t really do my love for them justice. I’m more of a Stones Fanatic. If I ever had the crazy idea to get a tattoo, it’d probably be the lips/tongue Stones logo, but hey, if Jagger doesn’t have tattoo I don’t need one. I’ve got the whole aging hipster thing down without a tat. Anyway, I’ve seen the Stones on every tour of the United States they’ve done since Tattoo You. Frankly, most tours I’ve seen them twice or three times. I’ve travelled as far and wide as New York (for their 50th Anniversary show, a personal highlight in a lifetime of concerts), Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas, Texas to see them. I stood in the rain in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin for the Steel Wheels tour, so, yeah, I’m in the fan club.
On B&V, I try to focus on older bands, the ones I grew up listening to, who continue put out new music. Alas in the short time I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve only had the opportunity to write about the Stones twice. They put out the superb blues album, Blue And Lonesome LP Review: The Rolling Stones, The Superb “Blue And Lonesome” – They Come Full Circle which I absolutely loved. And they went back into the archives for On Air, a compilation of their early performances on the BBC, LP Review: The Rolling Stones, ‘On Air’ – An Exciting Look Back To The Early BBC Performances. It’s a shame they’ve only put out one album of all new original material in the last 25 years, the superb A Bigger Bang. I saw recently Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac said, in essence, why record a new album? No one buys them, anyway. Which is a damn shame. Maybe that’s why the Stones stopped recording regularly. As Elton said once, “would anybody have the balls to have walked up to an older Muddy Waters and told him to stop recording?” I think not.
What they seem to be content with these days is just repackaging up the old greatest hits. There was Forty Licks, which at least had four new songs on it. That was followed by GRRR! which had two new tracks. Recently, in advance of the latest leg of the never ending ‘No Filter’ tour (which, yes I saw), they put out Honk. There were no new studio tracks on that one, but they included some interesting live duets they’d done whilst on tour. Beyond that, the Stones release a live album after every tour or significant show (like the one in Havana or the one at Hyde Park). I hear they’re working on a new album, but it wasn’t up to their usual high standards so they’ve gone back into the studio to tidy it up… Keith Richards described it as “being more like carpentry now, than anything.”
A few weeks ago, in honor of Elton John’s Retirement Tour, I did a playlist of some of my favorite deep tracks of his, Playlist: B&V’s Favorite 20 Elton John Deep/Album Tracks. I was pleased at how well received the playlist was by people. It garnered a number of comments which are always welcome down here at B&V. One of my favorite rock and roll people, Dr. Rock commented, “I was hoping you’d do one of these deep track lists for the Stones.” Eureka, I thought… why haven’t I done one for the Stones? They’re my Alpha and Omega… and with all these Greatest Hits packages they’ve flooded the market with, people may have lost touch with their brilliant back catalog and the very deep tracks that I love. This task, I knew, was going to take some time…time and bourbon.
I was in junior high school when the Stones’ classic Some Girls came out and changed my life. It kicked off my life-long addiction to rock and roll. I loved the way Keith and Ronnie’s guitar played off each other. Keith calls it “the ancient art of weaving,” which is an accurate description, they would literally weave their guitar parts around each other. They really are the most symbiotic guitar duo out there… with only Angus and Malcolm Young even close. I’ve always been a huge fan of all the music that the Ronnie Wood-era Stones did. I love the dirty 70s and the 80s.
I had taped my brother’s copy of Hot Rocks, that I eventually wore out so I didn’t really buy the Mick Taylor (Ronnie’s predecessor on guitar) era Stones stuff, known as their “golden period” until I got to college. There was so much to love there. Mick was a virtuoso soloist and it allowed Keith to become the riff-meister we all know and love. And while this period of the Stones produced their most well known songs, if you dig a little deeper on albums like Exile On Main Street or It’s Only Rock And Roll and you’ll find rock and roll gold.
As I dug deeper, and moved backward in time, through the Stones catalog, inexplicably I stopped at Their Satanic Majesties Request. I didn’t go back to the early stuff, with Brian Jones on the lead guitar. He was a tortured soul, but goddammit he could play the slide guitar. I had always thought of the Stones in the early days as a blues covers band, the anti-Beatles. I was, as usual, wrong. All of those early Stones albums, which did begin as being heavy on blues and Chuck Berry covers, are essential listening. Buying all those albums, from England’s Newest Hitmakers, 12×5 to Between The Buttons and immersing myself in that music was one of the most satisfying musical experiences of my life. I urge you all to do the same, it’s worth it.
I started compiling this list over a tumbler of dark and murky fluid. It was truly a labor of love. When I was done I had close to 150 songs. I knew that wasn’t going to fly. I have edited the list down quite a bit. I’m sad to say, that 5 of the songs on the list are not on Spotify. I will highlight them in my comments below. You can find the playlist on Spotify under ‘BourbonAndVinyl.net Favorite Rolling Stones Deep Tracks.’ You can also search under ‘recorsini.’ This list isn’t, as always, meant to be definitive. These are just songs that I love. They may be familiar to you. You may think when you hear these, “Oh, yeah I forgot about that track.” I hope you discover something you’ve either not heard or had forgotten about. If you have a favorite that you’d like to highlight, please do so in the comments section. Here’s the list with my thoughts on each track below.
- “Little By Little” – An early track from their debut album. A perfect way to start this party.
- “Around And Around” – The Stones do Chuck Berry almost better than Chuck does…almost. This is one of my favorites of their many covers by him.
- “What A Shame” – One of the earlier Jagger/Richards penned tunes that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
- “I Can’t Be Satisfied” – The Stones doing Muddy Waters. This track is sublime.
- “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” – The Stones taking the piss out of a record company dork.
- “The Spider And the Fly” – “My, my said the spider to the fly…”
- “I’m Free” – A track that found new life after the Stripped acoustic live record. I think it’s sadly on a credit card commercial… sigh. Everything is for sale.
- “Gotta Get Away” – Jagger/Richards continue to develop as songwriters.
- “Out of Time” – Great deep track from Aftermath, the first album they did with no cover tunes.
- “Back Street Girl” – Love this song, and the cover Social Distortion did too.
- “2000 Light Years From Home” – A track I was unaware of until I saw them do it live on the Steel Wheels tour. I wish they’d do more deep tracks like this one on tour.
- “No Expectations” – Brian Jones’ slide guitar on this album is absolutely sublime. It’s perfect. Alas, it was to be his last significant contribution to a Stones tune.
- “Stray Cat Blues” – An utterly inappropriate blues track about the charms of young girls.
- “You Got the Silver” – One of my favorite tracks with Keith on lead vocal. Although I’ve always been partial to Keith’s songs. It’s great live.
- “Monkey Man” – This track is a bit more well known, but it’s one of the Rock Chick’s favorite Stones tracks. Saw them play this live in Chicago with her and she fell in love with it.
- “Jiving Sister Fanny” – From the odds and sods album Metamorphosis. I’m not even sure if all the Stones are on this album.
- “I’m Going Down” – Not the Freddie King classic, but a dirty little seventies Stones track.
- “Moonlight Mile” – The most beautiful ballad on Sticky Fingers.
- “All Down The Line” – One of my all time favorites.
- “Ventilator Blues” – Epic blues track.
- “Plundered My Soul” – A bonus track from the superb “deluxe” edition of Exile.
- “Coming Down Again” – A beautiful junkie lament from Keith.
- “Winter” – An epic ballad. I love this song, always have.
- “If You Can’t Rock Me” – “Somebody will…” Love me or leave baby, kind of track.
- “Crazy Mama” – An overlooked gem of a rocker from Black And Blue, Ronnie’s debut with the band.
- “Memory Motel” – My favorite ballad in their entire catalog. Keith has a nice, small vocal part. “She drove a pickup truck, painted green and blue…” Lost love in the Memory Motel… we’ve all stayed there.
- “So Young” – From the deluxe edition of Some Girls. Keith had been busted in Canada for heroin possession and intent to distribute. Serious jail time loomed. They holed up in a Paris studio and recorded the bulk of what would become their next three albums. I love this randy little tune.
- “Keep Up Blues” – They rock, they do reggae, they disco, but they always come home to the blues.
- “Summer Romance” – Another great rock song that the Stones make look so easy. One of all time favorites.
- “Down In The Hole” – Another great blues tune. Blues is in these guys’ pores.
- “Indian Girl” – “Little Indian girl, where is your father?” A country song about Castro, Che Guevara and their African military adventures.
- “If I Was A Dancer (Dance Pt. 2)” – Sequel to a disco song on Emotional Rescue. Yeah, yeah, I know, “Death Before Disco,” but I dig the Stones when Mick gets his groove on. I couldn’t find this one on Spotify. It’s on Sucking In the 70s if you’re interested.
- “Neighbors” – A rocker with some truth.
- “Black Limousine” – Bluesy rocker, “we used to ride, ride, ride around in black limousines.”
- “It Must Be Hell” – This overlooked rock song has a monster riff from Keith.
- “One Hit To The Body” – Great opening track to the overlooked Dirty Work, which happens to be a great album.
- “Had It With You” – I love Ronnie’s guitar on this track.
- “Winning Ugly” – Another great Dirty Work track.
- “Continental Drift” – Brian Jones got the Stones interested in the music of Morocco. On their return album, after a short break-up, Steel Wheels, they returned to Morocco to record this track… the circle of life.
- “Hearts On Fire” – Great bluesy rocker.
- “Terrifying” – I have never understood why this wasn’t a hit.
- “Highwire” – The Stones get a little political on this studio rock track, tacked onto the end of the live, Flashpoint.
- “Sparks Will Fly” – “When I get myself back on you baby.” Another randy, little track.
- “Brand New Car” – Voodoo Lounge was such a great fucking album.
- “Out of Control” – Another great track that is even better live. They still dust this one off every now and again in concert.
- “Don’t Stop” – A classic Stones track that will never get its due. It’s a perfect Stones song.
- “Fancy Man Blues” – From an album I bought in a Starbucks, sigh, Rarities. I couldn’t find this song on Spotify, nor could I find the next two, from the same album, but they’re all tracks worth checking out if you can find them.
- “Let It Rock” – A live take on Chuck Berry’s classic.
- “Wish I’d Never Met You” – More blues from Rarities.
- “Rain Fall Down” – A great track from A Bigger Bang, an album that proved the Stones still had it. They could still deliver. I wish they’d kept recording.
- “Under The Radar” – Another track I couldn’t find on Spotify. Its only available on the deluxe version of Bigger Bang. It’s actually on the bonus material on the Blu-ray. I can not fathom why this hasn’t been released to the general public.
- “Infamy” – Keith’s great track from Bigger Bang. A play on words, “You’ve got it in for me” (in for me – slurred to infamy).
- “Doom And Gloom” – A great “state of the union” track from GRRR!
- “One More Shot” – The last studio track these guys released. Let’s hope they correct that soon.
Pour something strong and enjoy an afternoon of blues-rock by the men who invented and perfected the form.