Saturday, November 7, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: The Rolling Stones, Aftermath (1966)

By Nathan Stallings

After five studio albums (three in the U.K.), with Aftermath the Rolling Stones finally delivered a set of all original material, with every track written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The album opens with the ominous classic "Paint It, Black" with its signature sitar riff courtesy of Brian Jones.

What is quite noticeable about this album is the level of blatant sexism in several tracks: "Stupid Girl," which paints the perfect portrait of the golddigger; "Under My Thumb" with its catch melody which is further enhanced by the use of Marimbas courtesy of, once again, Brian Jones; "Doncha Bother Me" which sounds like an old blues track with a few modernistic touches; and "Think," the ultimate in your face, who's lying now pop song. "Lady Jane" is a beautiful Elizabethian track with a killer Dulcimer courtesy of ... Brian Jones, and is one their best tracks, while "I Am Waiting" is a beautiful hidden gem with its brooding atmosphere and mildly ominous tone.

"High And Dry" is a solid blues track while "Flight 505" and "It's Not Easy" are a good pieces of blues-rock. The problem with this album is one track, the eleven minute long "Going Home," which took up over a quarter of album. Were the band to have removed or shortened "Going Home", this album would have been even easier to admire as it appeared as if Jagger, Richards and the rest of the band didn't exactly now where they were "going." Ample credit must be given to Brian Jones for this album as his stylistic touches helped the group build upon their rock 'n' roll meets blues foundation. That said, Aftermath is one of the best albums of the 1960s.

The British version of Aftermath, which was actually released earlier than the American version, trades in "Paint It Black" for the prescription drug ode (and American Top Ten hit) "Mother's Little Helper." It was common place in Britain before Sgt. Pepper's to not include major singles on an album.

In addition to the swap, the album adds three tracks to the mix: another blatantly sexist, sneering number "Out Of Time," with an excellent intro courtesy of Brian Jones and his Marimbas; the beautiful and soulful "Take It Or Leave It"; and the country-ish "What To Do." All three are worthy additions and the absence of "Paint It Black" does not diminish the quality of the album.

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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