Tag Archives: Exile On Main St.

Rocks In The Attic #791: Aretha Franklin – ‘Rarities From The ‘60s’ (2018)

RITA#791The Amazing Grace film has been lost in development hell since it was shot in 1972. A problem with syncing the audio to the picture meant that it was shelved in the Warner Bros. vault for decades. There were attempts to release it in 2011 and 2015, prevented both time by Franklin suing the producer, Alan Elliot, for using her likeness without her permission. Franklin’s family arranged for the film to be completed and released after her death in 2018. I guess her family were less principled about the whole affair.

The film opens with the general pre-show hubbub of Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church. The Queen of Soul is coming to record a live gospel record, over two nights, with the Southern Californian Community Choir. Director Sydney Pollack can be glimpsed talking to the crew, while the Reverend Dr. James Cleveland reminds everybody that they’re taking part in a religious service, before introducing Aretha up on stage. She floats down the aisle onto the stage and sits down at the piano. The second she starts singing, eyes closed, belting out her magical voice, it’s clear that this is something special.

RITA#791aMick Jagger and Charlie Watts, in L.A. to finish the recording of Exile On Main St, can be seen hanging out at the back of the hall. It’s not hard to imagine that they’re probably just as happy to see the duo of Bernie Purdie on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass as they are to see Aretha.

I’ve been looking for a copy of the album itself for as long as I’ve been collecting records, and have only ever come across scratched, beat-up copies. Considering it’s the best-selling gospel record of all time, I’m sure I’ll find a nice copy one day, and there’s always the Complete Recordings 4xLP box set if the hunt proves elusive.

This LP is a collection of demos and outtakes, presented as a bonus disc in Aretha’s Atlantic Records 1960s Collection box set from 2018. As always, it’s gold.

Hit: I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) (Demo)

Hidden Gem: The Fool On The Hill (Outtake)


Gathering No Moss…In Auckland

Saw the Stones in Auckland last night. My first time, and possibly my last chance. It was the last night of the 2014 tour to mark the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Here are my top 10 moments:

1. The triumvirate of Honky Tonk Women, Jumping Jack Flash and Brown Sugar. Boom. Good night!

2. After Start Me Up, the band did seem to go into a six-song lull (excluding  Tumbling Dice which, like anything off Exile On Main St., is fantastic; and It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll is really only a load of waffle built around a catchy chorus). They then came back with Honky Tonk Women. Then, after that song ended, the guy behind shouted ‘Play something we know!’. After Honky Tonk Women! What a buffoon!

3. Over the whole tour, you got a chance to vote online for the audience choice. Instead of the untouchable Street Fighting Man, which I voted for (many, many times), the stupid idiots – like the Honky Tonk Women heckler – chose Like A Rolling Stone. Don’t get me wrong, I love the song – when Dylan does it – but the Stones’ version is so dull. Why oh why couldn’t they have chosen Street Fighting Man???

4. The moment Keith first spoke to the crowd. “Hello Auckland…they nearly buried me here…” (Richards had to have emergency brain surgery in Auckland after falling out of a coconut tree in 2006).

5. You know you’re at a Stones gig when the old guy in front of you crouches down, takes off his leg, gives his knee a bit of a rub, and clamps his leg back on.

6. The moment ex-guitarist (and the Stones guitarist) Mick Taylor came on mid set, for a long rambling version of Midnight Rambler. I lean over to Willow and shout “Whoo hoo! It’s Mick Taylor!” Willow looks confused: “Who? The fat guy? Wasn’t he there before?”

7. Charlie Watts’ mis-start to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Don’t worry Charlie, you’ve only been playing the song for 49 years. You’ll get the hang of it one day.

8. Mick Taylor’s pointless second appearance of the night on Satisfaction – the last song of the encore – on an acoustic guitar. If there’s one song in the world that does not need an acoustic guitar part, it’s Satisfaction (although admittedly there is one – barely audible – on the original recording).  What a wasted opportunity. Give the guy a Les Paul!

9. The well appreciated fact that I could move around at will – especially during the big late ‘60s singles – as the show didn’t sell out. Really? Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift can sell out 3 or 4 nights in a row, but we can’t fill a stadium with Stones fans? Tut tut Auckland. ‘New’ doesn’t always mean ‘good’, you know.

10. Sympathy For The Devil and Gimme Shelter. No comment required.


Rocks In The Attic #344: The Rolling Stones – ‘Let It Bleed’ (1969)

RITA#344Rape…murder…it’s just a shot away. Nice lyrics there. This is a pretty bleak album, and those backing lyrics really set the scene. This was the first album to feature ex-Bluesbreaker Mick Taylor on guitar, and the last album to feature Brian Jones, who only plays on two songs.  By the time the album was released, Jones had been fired from the band he put together.

Of the ‘Big Four’ Stones albums, this is the one I got around to last. I inherited Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St. from my Dad, both on vinyl, but he only had Let It Bleed on CD, so I left it. I then went back to the beginning and listened to the rest chronologically, meaning that I got to Beggar’s Banquet first, and this – it’s follow up – last.

It’s probably the one I listen to the most though. The sense of doom and gloom that seems to be hidden in the grooves – along with the music – is a big attraction – like the ending of The Empire Strikes Back, or the second half of Nabakov’s Lolita. It’s a downer, but it’s beautiful.

You can say what you want about the Stones – that they’re a devastatingly average rock ‘n roll band who have ridden on a wave of mediocrity for the last 50 years –  and you’d be more or less right; but you can’t take those four albums away from them. I’d say they’re all perfect, but it’s the imperfections that make them what they are.

Hit: Gimme Shelter

Hidden Gem: Live With Me

Rocks In The Attic #314: The Rolling Stones – ‘Metamorphosis’ (1975)

RITA#314Metamorphosis is the Stones’ third post-Decca compilation (after the two Hot Rocks releases in ’71 and ’72 respectively). It’s hardly their best forty eight minutes committed to vinyl, but I guess by this stage the barrel was being well and truly scraped.

A hotchpotch of demos, outtakes and alternate versions, the album has little in the way of hits – although Out Of Time is a well known pop hit of the ‘60s. The album was released on the same day as the first Atlantic Records compilation of the band’s material, Made In The Shade, and any cursory glance over that album’s tracklisting – pulling together material from Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St., Goats Head Soup and It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll – suggests a much better way to spend an hour of your time.

The album’s one saving grace is its cover – a trippy Kafkaesque illustration of the band as various man-size bugs, clothed in late ‘60s garb, holding masks of their human form: the Stones as we know them. Both Brian Jones and Mick Taylor are present, making the band an odd-looking sextet. And speaking of guitarists, most of the tracks on the first side were recorded with session musicians – namely Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan.

I have tickets to see the Stones very soon, in Auckland, and I can’t wait. They’ve always eluded me in the past – I’ve been busy doing other things, or tickets have been too expensive – but I just had to get tickets this time. Time is running out and all that. I remember hearing about a few European gigs they did back in 2003, supported by AC/DC. Man, that would have been a great show.

We have tickets in the cheap seats; well, standing actually, and they weren’t cheap either! But it’s okay – I’m not sure I want to be that close to a rapidly aging Mick and Keef. The word on the street is that Mick Taylor may be making an appearance, and that would just make my night, but I’ll be happy just to see the band before they pack it in for good.

Hit: Out Of Time

Hidden Gem: I Don’t Know Why

Rocks In The Attic #244: The Rolling Stones – ‘Goats Head Soup’ (1973)

RITA#244This album gets a lot of stick, mainly because it has the nerve to the be the record that followed Exile On Main St. Well, one record had to be, didn’t it?

The highlight on this album – aside from the oft overlooked Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) – is the piano playing by Nicky Hopkins and Ian Stewart, on most of the tracks, but also some really nice clavinet parts by Billy Preston. Keyboards usually have to struggle for space with the ever-present guitars on a Rolling Stones record, but on Goats Head Soup, a lot of the tracks are full of piano. Is this is a sign that Keith Richards and Mick Taylor outdid themselves on Exile, and were taking a well-earned rest?

Angie definitely points to a more delicate change in direction, a natural progression from Wild Horses from Sticky Fingers, and basically the template for every future Stones ballad. It’s the perfect representation of the album as a whole – laid back, low-key and a sign that the band was starting to wind down after three or four intense years spent changing the musical landscape.

Hit: Angie

Hidden Gem: Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

Rocks In The Attic #163: The Rolling Stones – ‘Sticky Fingers’ (1971)

The album cover to destroy all other album covers, I learnt very quickly to put this in a very thick plastic sleeve. When I first owned this (well, when I first “borrowed” it from my Dad’s record collection), I only had this and Exile On Main Street (again, my Dad’s copy). That particular record has a couple of now-permanent grooves in the rear of its sleeve from the pesky zip on the front of Sticky Fingers.

I now have all of the Stones albums on vinyl (in a fit of pique I bought both of the 2010 vinyl box sets – 1964:1969 and 1971:2005), so I have Sticky Fingers twice now – but only one of them carries the pesky zip (they thought better of including the actual zip on the version included in the 2010 box set).

Sticky Fingers has always been, and I think will always be, my favourite Stones record. It’s damn-near perfect – and the one record in their back-catalogue that almost acts as a line in the sand. Prior to this, they were a Beatle-esque beat combo with a growing tendency towards a heavier sound. From this point on however, they were a rock band, no questions asked.

My favourite Stones period by far is the Mick Taylor years – Sticky Fingers was his first full record with them – and although he looked slightly out of place playing with them live – like a sixth former who’s just won a scholarship to tour with a rock band – his playing really wakes the band up and turns them into something far superior to their years prior to him. The extended jam that forms part of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking would never have happened with Brian Jones in the band – unless the jam consisted of glockenspiel, harp, kazoo, marimbas, etc.

Exile is always considered to be their hour in the sun, and although I love that record too, I have a special place in my heart for Sticky Fingers because I found this one first.

Hit: Brown Sugar

Hidden Gem: Can’t You Hear Me Knocking