The Rolling Stones- The Rolling Stones, Now (1965)
The Rolling Stones, Now! (London Records)
Recorded January 3-8, 1964
Released February 13, 1965
The Rolling Stones, Now! is the band's third US release, mainly consisting of tracks previously issued in the UK. In 1965 the Stones were working hard to catch up with the Beatles and releasing lots of material. Meanwhile, the Beatles started to shift into a period in which they began to self-edit more carefully, adding to more limited releases than the year before. Comparisons between the groups will always conjure up debate. During this period, The Stones’ appeal was that their music sounded less polished and had more grit than the Beatles. While Jagger and Richards have always been the group's most recognizable and celebrated members, not enough is made between the hookup between drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman. They developed a specific groove that was laid back and somewhat behind the beat. That connection is displayed throughout this record. Also attention should be paid to the way the guitar work of Keith Richards and Brian Jones and the occasional inclusion of ousted pianist Ian Stewart's work with that rhythmic foundation. The feel of the rhythm section gave the Stones a certain uniqueness and group sound that kept them rolling. The album was a hit and reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Charts. Rolling Stone Magazine gave the album its highest rating calling it the group's “first consistently great LP.” The magazine has ranked it 180 on their top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
(+ means "recommended track" and * means released as a single)
Track 1- “Everybody Needs Someone to Love.” The track initially appeared on the album UK record The Rolling Stones No. 2. The song was written by Soloman Burke, Bert Berns, and Jerry Wexler in 1964. Burke originally recorded it, and his version peaked at #58. Although not a top 40 release, the song is a soul classic. Wilson Picket recorded the most popular version in 1967. His attempt peaked at #29. Other groups that recorded the song included the Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, The 13th Floor Elevators, and The Blues Brothers. Early on, like many British invasion bands, the Stones were often glorified cover bands. The band did covers pretty well, but the originals were usually better; as with Burke's version, Rolling Stone's recording is hard driving. The amateurish background vocals on this one distract from the overall presentation.
A fun fact about love: Love often leads to marriage, and most people do marry, but less so in recent years. Over recent decades, the proportion of adults who have never been married or in a civil partnership has risen steadily. In 2021, 37.9% of adults (18.4 million) had never been married or in a civil partnership. (BBC)
Track 2- “Down Home Girl” was written by Jerry Lieber and Artie Butler. The track was also released on The Rolling Stones No. 2. “Down Home Girl” was first recorded by the New Orleans-based Alvin “Shine” Robinson on Red Bird Records in 1964. Later in ’65, the Astronauts, a Colorado-based surf band, recorded it. The Coasters and Taj Mahal have also recorded the tune. I love the opening lyrics “Lord, I swear the perfume you wear was made out of turnip greens, and every time I kiss you girl, it tastes like pork and beans.” I'm not sure I could be with a woman who tastes like pork and beans. The Stones capture the tune's essence and prove once again why they are considered one of the best early interpreters of American electric blues and soul (+).
Track 3- “You Can’t Catch Me” was written by one of the Stone’s biggest influences, Chuck Berry. The song lyrics talk about driving quickly down the New Jersey Turnpike, something I often do. Berry’s version was featured in the 1956 film Rock, Rock, Rock. The song's music publisher, Morris Levy, sued John Lennon for copyright infringement because of the melodic similarity between "You Can't Catch Me" and The Beatles’ 1969 song “Come Together,” written by Lennon. Both tunes use the lyric "Here come old flat-top." The Stones groove on this one and take notice of Jagger's modulated vocals and the hookup between Watts and Wyman, who are never flashy but always seem to connect.
Track 4- “Heart of Stone” is one of four tracks written by Jagger and Richards. It is the only US single released from the record and was critical to the album's success. "Heart of Stone" was initially released in December 1964 as a single in the US, and it became their second top 20 US hit, reaching number 19. Take notice of the deeper tones of Brian Jones's baritone guitar, which sits tonally between the bass and traditional six-string guitar. The music borrows from American country and soul. Richards plays a pretty clever guitar solo on this one. The lyrics have a masculine overtone and speak of how the narrator, who comes off as an angry misogynist, can’t be broken or made soft. Here are some examples: “There've been so many girls that I've known, I've made so many cry, and still I wonder why….”No matter how I try, I just can't make her cry.”...If you try acting sad, you'll only make me glad.” (+*)
Track 5- “What A Shame” was written by Jagger and Richards and was the B side to “Heart of Stone.” The tune sounds like Muddy Waters or some other Chicago blues artists could have written it. The track captures the Stones’ fascination and skills to reproduce the American blues feel. It would be a shame not to enjoy this track. (+)
Track 6- “Mona (I Need You Baby)” is an often-covered song by Bo Diddley from 1957. The track was initially released on the group's UK debut record, The Rolling Stones. The tune is repetitive and centered around the famed “Bo Diddley” beat that has been included in many hit songs. Here is a list of several famous songs that use that same Bo Diddley beat:
1- “Not Fade Away”- Buddy Holly and the Crickets
2-” I Want Candy” The Strangegloves
3- “Faith” George Michaels
4- “Magic Bus” The Who
5- American Girl” Tom Petty
6- “Desire “ U2
7-” Black Horse and Cherry Tree” KT Tunstall
Track 1- “Down The Road Apiece” is an old down-home boogie woogie tune written by Don Raye and recorded by the Will Bradly Trio in 1940. Take notice of Ian Stewart on the piano playing in the boogie-woogie style. The highlight of the track is Keith Richards' solo guitar work. There is an excellent video of the band performing the track in 1965 on YouTube.
Track 2- “Off the Hook” is another Jagger/Richards vehicle that served as a B side for their UK single “Little Red Rooster.” The song is a shuffle blues. The lyrics discuss how the narrator's girlfriend’s phone is “off the hook,” which he’s kind of pissed about, so he takes his phone off the hook in response. Now no one can talk with anyone. It's another early Stones track showcasing the group's affection and interest in trying to reproduce American blues. (+)
Track 3- “Pain In My Heart” is a song included in and the name of Otis Redding's 1964 debut Pain In My Heart. New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint wrote the song. It's a good attempt by the Stones, but Redding’s version is the gold standard. According to the CDC, 1 in 20 adults age 20 and older have Coronary disease (about 5%). A heart attack generally causes chest pain for more than 15 minutes. The pain may be mild or severe. Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs hours or days in advance.
Track 4- “Oh Baby, (We Got A Good Thing Goin’)” is one of only two tracks that appeared for the first time on the Rolling Stones, Now. The rest were retreads. The song was written by Barbara Lynn Ozen, an American R&B and electric blues guitarist best known for her 1962 hit “You’ll Lose A Good Thing.” She is one of several impactful early women who rocked out on the electric guitar. The two most notable are Memphis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. If you are unfamiliar with them, you must check them out. In 1965, the Stones certainly had a good thing going. They released five albums between the UK and US during the year, with one going Platinum in Out Of Our Heads, and two Gold in The Rolling Stones, Now! and December’s Children (And Everybody’s).
Track 5- “Little Red Rooster” is a blues classic from bassist Willie Dixon. The song was first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961. The Stones loved his music! In 1963 Sam Cooke adapted the piece giving it more of an R&B edge, and then the Stones took a crack at it; in 1964. It became a number-one record for the group in the UK and remains the only blues song to reach the top of the British charts. The theme reflects early 20th century folk beliefs that a rooster contributes to peace in the barnyard. “Little Red Rooster” is one of the Rolling Stones' finest blues covers and an early essential track for the band. (+*)
Track 6- “Surprise, Surprise” is the second track that makes its first appearance on The Rolling Stones, Now! Written by Jagger and Richards, the song is hard driving and an excellent early example of their earlier work together as writers. “Suprise, Surprise” is a great album closer. The song is about a girlfriend who was “telling lies.” This one could have been a single (+).
About Surprises- According to the Journal of Neuroscience. Even if you think you don't like surprises, your brain does. Scientists from Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine set out to identify the biological reasons why some people enjoy the unexpected. They used a machine to squirt either fruit juice or water into the mouths of test subjects-sometimes predictably, sometimes unpredictably-and recorded the participants' reactions. An (MRI) recorded changes in the subject's brain activity as the subject was surprised. The subjects' brains were more active when exposed to the unanticipated. The results find that so-called pleasure centers in the brain do not react equally to any pleasurable substance but react more strongly when the pleasures are unexpected."
In conclusion - While most of the record includes earlier UK releases, it is still a solid album, especially for those who favor the Rolling Stones’ more bluesy period. The album reached Gold status, peaked at #5 in the US, and was their best release to date.