Stones kick continues in Alcott household.

I know that Shine a Light is good because my wife came up to me the other day and asked, apropos of nothing, “So, like, are people as interested in the Rolling Stones as they are in the Beatles?” This is my wife who, generally, would rather gouge out her own eyes than talk about musicology. The question was so out of the blue that I thought for a moment she was talking about eBay sales. To which she said “No, I mean, do people, you know, talk about them the way they talk about the Beatles?” I said “You mean, do people generally recognize the scope of their musical statement the way they do with the Beatles?” To which she replied “Yeah, I guess.” Anyway, she was really impressed with Shine a Light, although she wanted Scorsese to pull back a little every once in a while to see the whole stage picture. And it’s true, the sheer relentlessness of the movie tends to make it an exhilarating and exhausting experience. Watching Mick Jagger leap and dance about for two hours feels like a workout.

My wife’s question got me curious, so I started surfing around the ‘net to see if there were any more-or-less serious musicological analyses of Stones music out there beyond, you know, “man, they’re awesome.” This seems to be a fairly typical site — highly opinionated, musicology-free, utterly enthusiastic. Keno’s list of Stones albums in order of preference, however, made me just about fall down and twitch on the floor. How could someone with such an obvious ardor for the band list Exile on Main St. at #10? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyway, his list got me thinking about my list. And so, at the request of absolutely no one, here is my list of Rolling Stones albums in order of preference. And, as I am not a musicologist, this list is analytically useless.

Making matters worse, I have no opinion regarding all their early work from England’s Newest Hitmakers to Between the Buttons — I have all the records and enjoy them when they turn up on iTunes, but I honestly couldn’t tell you if “Little Red Rooster” is on 12×5 or Now! or if “Route 66” is on December’s Children or Out of Our Heads. This should probably disqualify me from making a list like thisat all.

1. Exile on Main St. — The high-water mark of their mature style and still their most complex, intriguing artistic statement.

2. Sticky Fingers — Almost as good as Exile on Main St.

3. Some Girls — Not as good as the first two, but twice as much fun as either.

4. Emotional Rescue — Almost as good as Some Girls — a hugely underrated album. Including the ridiculous title song.

5. A Bigger BangKind of a cross between Exile and Some Girls — as considered as the former and as fun as the latter.

6. Black and Blue — The Stones most underrated album. I like everything on it except “Fool to Cry.”

7. Beggar’s Banquet — A great album, but I can’t stand “Jigsaw Puzzle.”

8. Let it Bleed — another great album, but I can’t stand “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which is twice as long as “Jigsaw Puzzle.”

9. Dirty Work — No wait, this is the most underrated Stones album.

10. Tattoo You — Side 1 is absolutely killer. Side 2 tends to bore me.

11. Undercover — A perfectly decent Stones record, but I can’t stand “Too Much Blood.”

12. Steel Wheels — While there’s nothing I can’t stand on this record, there’s only a handful of songs I’m completely nuts for.

13. Goats Head Soup — Better than people give it credit for, but I can’t stand “Winter” and “Can You Hear the Music.”

14. It’s Only Rock n Roll — Not as good as Goats Head Soup. I can’t stand “Till the Next Time We Say Goodbye” and “Time Waits for No One.” Or “If You Really Want to Be My Friend.”  What is it with the long titles on this album?

15. Aftermath — a perfectly decent album I can think of nothing in particular to say about.

16. Voodoo Lounge — Wow, out of 15 songs, I only really like 5 of them, and there are a stunning 5 I absolutely can’t stand.

17. Bridges to Babylon — Not as good as Voodoo Lounge. Wow, did I just say that?

18. Their Satanic Majesties Request — Well, what did you expect?




18 Responses to “Stones kick continues in Alcott household.”
  1. vinic says:

    The Stones are essentially the most influential band that everyone forgets to mention.

    A girlfriend once told me she’s not a fan of them, doesn’t know (or want to know) their music, and will never understand why I considered them not only one of the bands but a major musical influence, if not then definitely a major influence on musical culture. I immediately drove her to the nearest store chain I could find, bought her Forty Licks (I’m not a fan of “Greatest Hits” albums — but desperate times call for desperate measures), and then spent two spinning discs listening to her say “holy shit, they did this song? I love this song!” for nearly 40 tracks.

    And this was just Stones 101. There were still the lessons on their lyrics, attitude, and general mythos.

    Begin tangent: my personal theory as to why many in this generation do not consider the Rolling Stones to be as huge and essential as they are is because they, really, are not very attractive human beings. Aesthetics in this day and age of America are much more important than talent, drive, and (the worst of all) purpose. To see Jack White’s The White Stripes and The Raconteurs do as well as they are is a good sign (and notice, they’re an attractive bunch).

    I like to do what I call the “guitar solo test”. If a band can pull off a solid, decent-length guitar solo sprinkled throughout their tracks that aren’t merely the vocal notes with some vibrato, then it’s a band I should at least look into. I find that great guitar solos died with the great bands of the generation that preceded me.

    • Todd says:

      I personally have always found the Stones spectacularly unattractive — except for Charlie Watts, that is — but every woman I’ve ever dated has held the opposite opinion. IN THE EXTREME.

  2. chronoso says:

    i’ve always held Stripped in a very high regard.

    • Todd says:

      The live albums are a category unto themselves — I own them all and enjoy them all to varying degrees, but would probably fail a blindfolded taste test.

  3. jbacardi says:

    I think it’s because the Stones are still with us that people tend to, well, “overlook” them- sounds like an exaggeration but I can’t think of a better word. The Beatles as a group have been defunct for over 30 years now, and that’s a long time for a potent mythology to build up. Plus, the Stones, with only a couple of divergences, have always been consistent in their blues/r&b/folk/country sound- if you will, less stylistic colors in their palette when compared to the ever-dabbling Fabs.

    I was gonna comment on your list “all down the line”, but I think I’ll just do blog post on it (I’ve never really blogged about the Stones, come to think of it) instead. I will say that you like Emotional Rescue a lot more than I, and I’ve always liked “Winter”, “Fool to Cry” , “Time Waits for No One” (nice Mich Taylor imitation Santana solo at the end), and “Jigsaw Puzzle” a lot…

    • vinic says:

      I like the idea that they’re still around, so ironically we “care” less, that’s definitely part of it. Add to the Beatles list your Cobains and your Buckleys.

    • Todd says:

      I think the Stones, now that they’ve released a decent record and have this movie out, are coming into a whole new phase of their career. One tends to forget that Dylan was also regarded as a washed-up shadow of himself (by idiots, anyway) before the startling return-to-form of Time Out of Mind. I hope the Stones continue mining whatever sense of purpose they’ve recently rediscovered.

      • jbacardi says:

        Oh, and I forgot to mention that you and I are completely opposite on Tattoo You– I’ve always found side one’s rockers to be competent but bland, but side two is one brilliant, clever R&B take after another. That side has such a flow.

  4. actionchrist says:

    I’m really surprised at how low you put Their Satanic Majesties Request. Maybe I missed something in terms of “Well, what did you expect” but I would put that record firmly between Sticky Fingers and Some Girls. I think maybe it’s just because I love “2000 Man” so much.

    • Anonymous says:

      Satanic Majesties does indeed have its moments, but with regards to the totality of the Stones’ artistic statement, it’s anomalous and a dead-end, the Ladykillers of their career.

      I myself am fond of “2000 Light Years From Home,” and “She’s a Rainbow” is always welcome on my iTunes, but otherwise I find the album a stone (sorry) drag.

  5. dougo says:

    I’m a reformed Stones hater, so I only have three albums. But I like Their Satanic Majesties Request and Goat’s Head Soup much more than Exile on Main St.. For some reason I just cannot get into that album.

    The next album I’d probably get is Flowers. “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadow” is awesome!

  6. urbaniak says:

    I like everything on it except “Fool to Cry.”

    Oh come on. That’s a perfect song to come on when driving east on Santa Monica Boulevard. Or is it just me?

  7. actionchrist says:

    While I agree that it is an anomaly, I disagree that it is analogous to Ladykillers. I see Satanic Majesties as an experiment in arrangements, instrumentation, and production, that granted, didn’t end up having a lasting place in the total Stones package, but I think this comes across as playful and interesting rather than “mailed in”.

  8. naltrexone says:

    Thank you for posting the list– perfect timing!

    My Stones collection has always been spotty, and I’ve always felt bad about that and intended to remedy the situation. A few days ago, eMusic sent me an e-mail saying they just put the whole Stones back catalog online, so I’ve been mulling over which albums to pull down.

  9. I love their really old stuff blended in with my favourite albums, which is why I recommend the compilation Big Hits and Fazed Cookies.

    I am big on Beggar’s Banquet, Let it Bleed (incuding Jigsaw Puzzle), Sticky Fingers, Exile, Some Girls and come to a complete stop at Tattoo You.

    Nothing against the later stuff, but I am caught in a time warp and dont really want to go past 1980 for this band.

    As far as live albums go, you would have to say that Get Your Ya Ya’s out is the one.

    I always wonder what would have happened if Roy Buchanan had joined their group.

    They have been showing The Stones in the Park here on the tele, which takes place in Hyde Park, I think, a couple of days after Brian Jones died.

    Can’t wait to see Scorcese’s film! Thanks for the insights.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sooo…. Kubrick wanted to choke a bitch after watching that awful episode?

    …makes sense.