And that’s the way they became the broody bunch: (from left) guitarists Brian Jones and Keith Richards, bass player Bill Wyman, drummer Charlie Watts and singer Mick Jagger.
1. Route 66
2. I Just Want to Make Love to You
3. Honest I Do
4. I Need You Baby (Mona)
5. Now I’ve Got A Witness (Like Uncle
Phil and Uncle Gene)
6. Little By Little
7. I’m a King Bee
9. Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)
10. Can I Get a Witness
11. You Can Make it if You Try
12. Walking the Dog
Wham-bam, stick this lot up ya, you stuffed English hams. Youthful British exuberance channels Chicago for a shot of rhythm of blues. It’s their first album and they didn’t even bother to put their name on the cover.
- January, 1964
- Rock On Rock Recommends:
The whole album. It can sound a bit dated, best to try before you buy. Original British vinyl version much sough-after by Stones fans.
FROM the back bars of Richmond > that’s Richmond, London, not Richmond, West Virginia > comes the most brooding bunch of cotton pickers this side of the Thames.
The Stones debut album pays homage to their driving force: the rhythm and blues sound of African Americans with its origins in the slave trade.
It was a music largely unknown in Donald Where’s Your Trousers Britain, but soon this raw, exciting sound was taken up by a plethora of pimple-faced English lads who felt compelled to form bands.
The Rolling Stones’ first album is driven by unbridled enthusiasm. Jagger was only 19, his voice brittle but already protruding sexual menace as the band belt out passionate versions of their favourite blues and rhythm and blues tracks, adding their own rock edge.
“I know this wont’t last long. I give the Stones another two years”
> Mick Jagger in 1964.
“These performers are a menace to law and order, and a result of their formula of vocal laryngitis, cranial fur and sex is the police are diverted from bank robberies, murders and other forms of mayhem – to quell the mob violence that they generate.”
> as told to London’s Daily Mirror newspaper (August, 1964)
The album kick-starts with a rocking ride down Route 66, the US highway “from Chicago to LA’’ with stops along the way > such as Flagstaff, Arizona > that most people in England wouldn’t have the foggiest about. That didn’t stop the Stones taking a trip down America’s most famous road with group founder Brian Jones and Keith Richards blazing away on guitar.
The album’s other main rockers are a guitar-injected Speedy Gonzales version of Chuck Berry rock and roll classic Carol and a less frantic Little By Little, with its blues-rock rhythm, flushes of harmonica and Richards guitar solo.
Jagger’s sexual intent rears its head on the lyrically nursery rhyme-driven Rufus Thomas song Walking The Dog, featuring hand-clapping and wolf whistles [ah, those were the days, you chicks, nothing like a good wolf whistle from a building site to cheer a young lass up who’s just going about her business, hey what].
Now I’ve got a Witness, with a short but searing lead guitar break, harmonica and “sixth Stone” Ian Stewart on organ, is an instrumental version of the Marvin Gaye hit Can I Can I Get a Witness, which is also on this album. Jagger hardly has time to take a breath as he tries to keep up with the beat.
He does a better job on I Just Wanna Make Love to You, also fast-paced as the Stones pay tribute to Willie Dixon, known as the Poet Laureate of the blues.
Bo Didley’s I Need You Baby (Mona) has a less frenetic rhythm as the band deliver a faithful rendition of the blues sound with soulful vocal.
Ballad Tell Me is the first Stones song written by Jagger-Richards, with the latter on 12-string guitar. Quite a catchy song but there would be much better ballads to come.
Ballad Honest I Do >original by electric blues pioneer Jimmy Reed > sets a melancholy mood with Brian Jones wailing away on harmonica, which features heavily on this album. It was an instrument that the musically gifted Jones taught himself in less than a week.
I’M A KING BEE
Well I’m a king bee baby,
Buzzing round your hive,
Yeah I can make honey baby,
Let me come inside
Well, I’m a king bee, baby
Can buzz all night long
> James Moore (aka Slim Harpo)
While the production might sound a bit dated now, this is a great debut album from a band that would soon shake up British society and be targeted by its law enforcers.
Legendary music producer and murderer Phil Spector is credited with playing maracas on the album track Little by Little. Spector > more a spectator than participant at the recording sessions for the Stones first album > is infamous for the murder about 40 years later, in 1993, of much younger actress Lana Clarkson at his home in California from a gunshot wound through the mouth. Spector was in 2009 during a second trial found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 19 years in prison.
THERE’S NO FLEAS ON MICK JAGGER > COURT IS TOLD
That was the message from a solicitor defending the Rolling Stones’ lead singer on driving offences. “Put out of your mind this nonsense talked about these young men. They are not long-haired idiots but highly intelligent university men … the Duke of Marlborough had much longer hair than my client and he won some famous battles. His hair was powdered, I think because of fleas. My client has no fleas.” Jagger was fined 16 British pounds. (November, 1964)
STONED – AND THEY MISSED IT > CENSORS DOPEY ON DRUG LINGO
How’d they get away with it! The B-side to the Rolling Stones second single I Wanna Be Your Man was titled Stoned > and yes it is about the effect of dope. “Stoned, outta my mind,” Jagger warbles over strong bass and pounding piano. Maybe England’s censors in 1963 were unaware what it meant. Marijuana uses then was barely common among the musicians, let alone the youth of the day, and such inhaling considered a serious offence.
The band would later create a fury over other songs. Forced to change the lyrics of Let’s Spend The Night Together to “let’s spend some time together” when appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US; Street Fighting Man banned on many radio stations in the US during the turbulent protest era of the late Sixties for fear it would incite more trouble; in the Seventies song title Starfucker had to be changed to Star Star in some countries and Some Girls created a furore with lines such as “black girls just wanna get fucked all night, and I don’t have that much jam”.
Both I Wanna be Your Man and Stoned were not on the first album, despite being released five months earlier. The single is king in this era and many were not put on albums because most fans already had the songs. I Wanna be Your Man was written for the Stones by the Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney and features slide guitar from Brian Jones. Both songs are on the excellent Decca Records 3CD compilation Singles Collection: The London Years.
HARDLY A REASON TO LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS > THE SIXTH STONE
Boogie-woogie pianist Ian Stewart was an original Rolling Stones member but deemed unsuitable for the Stones rebel image by group manager Andrew Loog Oldham and shunted to the background. [What! Too ugly even by Stones standards?] He continued to play with the Stones and was their road manager in the early years. Stewart was with them right up to his death from a heart attack in December, 1985. As road manager he was reknown for affectations such as when they are due to go on stage: “Come on, you’re on, my little sacks of shit”.
> WRITTEN by MALCOLM LIVERMORE