The Rolling Stones = Rock & Roll. It doesn’t get any cooler than Mick Jagger strutting around while Keith Richards—cigarette hanging from his mouth—nonchalantly riffs like a king. The Stones always had the attitude, but were firmly in the Beatles’ wake for the early portion of their career. It took bucking psychedelic trends and embracing the sleazy British white boy country/blues/R&B they perfected for the band to find its footing. Who would have known back when they started out as practically a covers band that Jagger/Richards would become such a force? While unquestionably the leaders of the band, each era of Jagger and Richards’ band can be defined by the second guitarist. Brian Jones’ versatile experimentation, Mick Taylor’s heavy Gibson virtuosity, and Ron Wood’s second-rate Keith Richards impersonation break up the Stones career in three distinct chapters. With 15 years separating their first and last classic album, Jagger, Richards, drummer Charlie Watts, and bassist Bill Wyman (plus one) were the rock and roll institution of the 20th century. The Rolling Stones bill themselves as “the greatest rock & roll band in the world,” and well, it doesn’t get any more rock & roll than that. Below are my top 10 Stones studio albums.
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“Night Flight” is perhaps the scariest and most effectively ambient of the thirteen tracks offered by Ennio Morricone on the soundtrack to Exorcist II: The Heretic. It moves slowly, echoing beautifully thin strings and pads beneath an atmosphere that evolves into full-on soundscape, incorporating the various “post-exotica” elements with which many of the album’s other songs are befit: There comes the whip cracks and babbling, the moans, chanting, and simple skin-drum sequences. It builds over five long minutes into an orgiastic climax, finally including hints of the film’s coda, sounding much at its denouement like the filmic satanic cult of Rosemary’s Baby (1968), preparing to defile and ravage. This track is interrupted in its playlist sequence by “Interrupted Melody”, a tune elsewhere examined in this series, followed by the closing song, “Exorcism”, a 58-second queue in which George Crumb’s threnody “Night of the Electric Insects” is channeled for the last time on the soundtrack. There is a flute sequence, a woman’s aria, bells do chime. It concludes The Heretic and tells us something: This is not over.
Mendelsohn: Klinger, I’m about to commit blasphemy. I like Dylan. But I don’t love Dylan. When it comes to Dylan, given my druthers, I’d rather listen to Highway 61 Revisited. When it comes to music in general, given my druthers, I’d probably choose to listen to something other than Dylan. Is there something wrong with me? Did I just cash a one-way ticket to music critic hell?
Klinger: I’m glad you said that, Mendelsohn. It’s true that your abject blasphemy has most certainly earned you a place in critic’s hell—move over, guy from Entertainment Weekly! And while I’m sorry about that, I must thank you for blunting the force of my own transgression: although I really like Blonde on Blonde, I don’t think it’s anywhere near Dylan’s best album, and I kind of wish the criticerati would take a breath from their incessant fawning over it.
Mendelsohn: I have to tell you, that’s a huge load off my shoulders. I thought there was something wrong with me—like I had gone insane but I was the only one who knew I was insane and if I opened my mouth everyone would realize I was insane and I would be institutionalized. Please, don’t have me put away, I just don’t get it. I don’t get Zimmy in general but the position of Blonde on Blonde on the list befuddles me.
In an effort to understand this album I went out and read reviews on it until my eyes started to bleed. To keep a long, boring and bloody story very short—I came away with the impression that everybody was reading a little too far into this record. Which leads me to ask, is everybody reading into Dylan a little too far as well?
No matter how pure the intentions, the soul revivalist movement, like any hip musical trend, falls prey to dilution, pale imitators and overplay. For every Sharon Jones and Black Joe Lewis, there is a pop construct ready to be molded into a “soul singer” to capitalize on the movement. The tricky thing about soul is that, for better or worse, you either feel it or you don’t. A performer could be onstage sweating, writhing, and dancing their ass off, but if the heart isn’t there, it’s merely a gimmick. Enter J.C. Brooks. Mr. Brooks and his merry band of noisemakers the Uptown Sound are the real deal, ladies and gentlemen. Hailing from Chicago, Brooks and the Uptown Sound have slowly been winning over fans through word of mouth and the undeniable electricity of their live performances. With his swagger, velvet croon, and sex-on-a-platter dance moves, Brooks is a tad Otis Redding, a dash of Clarence Carter, and the epitome of true American soul.
Halloween is less than a week away, and that means you need to start thinking about your party soundtrack for the night. Never mind the hackneyed, overripe “Monster Mash”—what you need is some goth. Defined by grim-faced performers sporting pallid complexions, an overabundance of black lace and leather, a fascination with all things olde and macabre, and vocal stylings that more often than not evoke an undead Ian Curtis, no other genre of music is better suited to score the spookiest day of the year.
So what is the most essential goth anthem to blast out of the speakers on Halloween? Popular wisdom would suggest Bauhaus’ debut single ”Bela Lugosi’s Dead” since it’s the song that kicked off the whole gloom-laden trip over 30 years ago in the first place. Sure, the nearly-ten-minute-long song has a fantastic eerie vibe and (just as importantly) conjures up visions of the funeral of Hollywood’s most famous silver screen vampire. But it suffers from one major flaw: you can’t dance to it. Anyone who’s ever been to a goth club night can tell you that whatever is playing at any sort of mass gathering of scary-vibe aficionados has to get your feet moving. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” doesn’t do that, but luckily there’s always the Sisters of Mercy’s pummeling seven-minute-plus goth dancefloor anthem “Temple of Love”, a track that’s not as well-known outside of goth circles but stands toe-to-toe with its spectral predecessor.