Saturday, October 3, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: The Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (1974)

By Nathan Stallings

What a dark album. From the get-go, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll shows its true colors with the first track "If You Can't Rock Me" and its lyric "if you can't rock with me, somebody will." It's Only Rock 'n' Roll is somewhat of a parody of the Rolling Stones and their so-called "rock n' roll lifestyle" by the band themselves.

The cynical title track exemplifies this with the lyrics "if I could stick a knife in my heart and spill it all over the stage, would it satisfy you, would it slide on by you, would you think the boy's insane, he's insa-a-a-ane." The reggae-influenced "Luxury" deals with the struggle to keep satisfied those that feed off of the band's rock n' roll lifestyle (namely significant others and groupies) while "Short And Curlies" boldly proclaims "she's got you by the balls," and "Dance Little Sister" drives home this point home with its incessant chorus.

This underlying cynicism is even present in the album's two so-called ballads, "If You Really Want To Be My Friend" and "Till The Next Goodbye," as the titles somewhat suggest. The haunting "Time Waits For No One" drives these points home most effectively with lyrics such as "as we're sated in leisure, we watch it (time) fly," as the rock n' roll lifestyle, which at the time was Mick Jagger's growing A-list celebrity status and Keith Richard's growing junkie status, is consuming their lives.

Then there's the final track "Fingerprint File" with its worn backing vocals by Richards and it's paranoid lyrics about "some little girl at the FBI keeping papers on me six feet high." On the bright side there is a reprieve from all the paranoid cynicism with the band's cover of the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," which also became a Top 20 hit. This is the sound of a band where a decade of fame has finally caught up with them and they are just sick of everything and everyone.

My name is Nathan Stallings and my interests are both popular music and music history. Some of my favorite artists are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, The Smiths, David Bowie, The Kinks, Depeche Mode, Bob Dylan, Morrissey, Chuck Berry, Bob Marley, R.E.M., Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Muddy Waters, The Cars, Miles Davis, Smashing Pumpkins, Merle Haggard and The Cure too name a few. You can visit my Rolling Stones website at:

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