For me, this is the first real duffer by the Stones. I like Goats Head Soup before this, and I like Black And Blue which followed this, but It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll has never really done it for me. It’s a weird transition record – the first one without Jimmy Miller in the producer’s chair, and the last to be recorded with Mick Taylor. Taylor’s playing had really energised the band a couple of years prior, taking them to another level entirely; but here it sounds like his heart’s just not it – bullied out of the band just as Brian Jones was before him.
One of the big problems I have with this album is the title track. Viewed as one of the Stones’ most well known singles – a song that seems to define them as a band – it’s probably one of the laziest singles they released. Essentially, it’s a catchy chorus with no real substance behind it. There’s little in the way of melody in the verses, and when I hear things like that godawful charity single put together a few years ago, it really makes me wonder who thinks of these things.
Not long before this, the UK was similarly blighted by a similar charity single with various artists “interpreting” Lou Reed’s Perfect Day – a love letter to his own heroin addiction. Alongside All Saints’ cover of Under The Bridge – also an ode to heroin addiction – this really is something that you just have to stare in wonder at the BBC for, an institution that once banned I Am The Walrus simply because it mentioned the word ‘knickers’ in the lyrics.
Hit: It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)
Hidden Gem: Time Waits For No One