Tag Archives: Andrew Loog Oldham

Rocks In The Attic #527: The Rolling Stones – ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ (1967)

RITA#527.jpgPoor Brian. I’m just in the middle of Peter Norman’s 1980’s biography The Stones. There’s quite a large portion of the book involved with the mental (and professional) decline of Brian Jones, and it makes for quite upsetting reading.

For some reason, I had always mistakenly thought Jones was still a member of the band when he drowned in his swimming pool late one night after having too much to drink. He’d actually been kicked out of the band a couple of weeks prior to this, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards visited him at his home to do the dirty deed. As Jones had by that time lost any trust in the songwriting pair, they took along the affable Charlie Watts in way of a neutral, calming influence.

Their Satanic Majesties Request is always seen as the black sheep of Stones albums, in much the same way that Brian Jones was the black sheep of the Stones themselves. I admit that it’s not one of their best. Their attempt to emulate the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s leaves them sounding amateurish, most likely because the record was self-produced after Andrew Loog Oldham walked out on them in his capacity as manager and producer. His loss – but their lightning-in-a-bottle four album run, just around the corner, could never have been achieved by Oldham in the producer’s chair.

Satanic Majesties might not be their best album – but it’s a far more enjoyable listen than its predecessor Between The Buttons, which found them completely bereft of ideas. I struggle to listen to Between The Buttons – a huge step down after the peerless Aftermath. At least Satanic Majesties finds them trying to do something different, whereas Between The Buttons was a retread of earlier accomplishments, following a tired formula.

I was pleased to hear the announcement the other day that there’s a new Stones studio album on the way – Blue & Lonesome. A blues album, I don’t expect it will be any better than Aerosmith’s woeful attempt at a blues-only record, but you never know. Somebody had a great idea in that they should have titled it Brian Was A Blues Guy, or something like that, as a nice nod to their former leader.

Hit: She’s A Rainbow


Hidden Gem: 2000 Light Years From Home

Rocks In The Attic #328: The Rolling Stones – ‘Dirty Work’ (1986)

RITA#328If record covers are anything to go by, this should be the worst Rolling Stones record in the world, if not the worst record by any band ever. In a horribly misguided attempt to look relevant in the mid 1980s, the band is photographed on the cover of the album wearing an array of garish pinks and yellows, draped over a disgusting green couch. Charlie Watts – battling heroin and alcohol addiction at the time – is sat on the floor, wearing a similar colour shirt to the floor. The apathy dripping off his face is matched only by his obvious desire to blend into the background. Not surprisingly, this is the last time the Stones would appear on the cover of a studio album until 2005’s A Bigger Bang.

The album finds themselves still attempting to reinvent themselves for a new generation. U2 producer Steve Lillywhite is brought into co-produce alongside Mick and Keith, which at least makes them sound less ‘classic rock’, and they even try their hand at a bit of reggae, a cover of Half Pint’s Too Rude, which sounds very much like something The Clash would do. In the end though, the album seems to replace melody with energy and tempo, and like most of their ‘80s albums they just sound like they’re trying far too hard.

The album is dedicated to long-time pianist and road manager Ian Stewart who had recently died of a heart attack. That’s one of the things in the Stones story that always makes me a little sad – Stewart was one of the founding Stones, but was removed from the official line-up by Andrew Loog Oldham because his square jaw didn’t fit with the band’s image. Great – kicked out of the band because of his looks – and they say bands like One Direction are image-obsessed. People always talk about the 5th Beatle (or the 37th Beatle as Mitch Benn has recently claimed to be), but Ian Stewart probably has more right to claim to be the 6th Stone.

Hit: Harlem Shuffle

Hidden Gem: Key To The Highway

Rocks In The Attic #302: The Rolling Stones – ‘Out Of Our Heads’ (1965)

RITA#302Another early Stones record with very little in the way of Jagger and Richards compositions (they managed three on this one). This is still very much Brian Jones’ band, but this album really only highlights the limitation of doing things Brian’s way – twelve songs appear on the British release of the album, nine of which are covers. Only two months later the Beatles would release Rubber Soul – a collection of songs that really shows how far behind their cotemporaries the Stones were.

Of course, of the three Jagger / Richards songs on Out Of Our Heads, two of them would make the history books. Heart Of Stone went on to become a top-20 single in the US, and the albums closing song I’m Free would earn the band a mini-resurgence when it was covered – re-imagined is probably a better description – by the Soup Dragons in 1991, hitting #5 in the UK charts.

That Soup Dragons song is a little more Soup Dragons than it is the Rolling Stones, but I guess as usual the lyrics carry the legal imprint of a song more than the music does. The Stones taking credit for the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony is another matter though – that song uses only a snippet of an orchestral version of The Last Time (as recorded by their manager’s side-project, the Andrew Oldham Orchestra in 1966). This has to be one of the most tenuous plagiarism cases ever – somehow the Stones managed to lay a 100% claim to a 1997 hit single featuring an orchestral motif recorded by another artist interpreting their work back in 1966.

“Free, any old time, to get what I want,” Jagger would sing in 1965, and he wasn’t joking.

Hit: Heart Of Stone

Hidden Gem: Mercy, Mercy