Agony Shorthand

Monday, March 17, 2003
TOP 5 STONES LPs….Mojo recently weighed in on this pressing topic, slamming one of the better Rolling Stones LPs (Metamorphosis) and needlessly elevating some of the lesser ones (“Tattoo You”?!?). For the record, here’s the real top five:

1. EXILE ON MAIN STREET – Yeah, I know, DUH. Start to finish, with almost no exceptions, a near-perfect album, and the template for boozy, high-energy barroom rock (certainly horrifying in theory, but a style later picked up & done tribute to by Green On Red, Medicine Show-era Dream Syndicate and the Divine Horsemen). They were also aiming for a distinctly Southern R&B feel here and it’s so good, it’s easy to forget the whole thing was created by five English fops faking American accents. I’ll take “Torn and Frayed” as top Stones song ever, too. Or maybe “Loving Cup”.
2. BEGGARS’ BANQUET – Another masterpiece. Contains three of their least heralded classics, “Stray Cat Blues”, “Jigsaw Puzzle” and “Salt of the Earth”, all easily as good as any of the big hits.
3. LET IT BLEED – A fantastic record, but despite coming in 1969 after Beggars’, a steep drop-off from #2. Can you believe that a track as life-affirming as “Gimme Shelter” could actually have once been a massive hit? Different times! UPDATE: Turns out "Gimme Shelter" was never a 45, and therefore not a massive hit. An FM hit, maybe, but no Top Of the Pops for this one. My bad -- just an assumption based on its ubiquity.
4. AFTERMATH – This 1966 LP is the R&B/blues-based record that gave us “Under My Thumb”, “Paint It Black” and “Stupid Girl”. Widely considered to be the record where the band had fully grown out of really competent "cover band" mode, most likely because it was the first in which Mick and Keith actually wrote all the songs.
5. THE ROLLING STONES. NOW! – You know, the Stones records’ came out in so many different formats and editions in the early days, that I’m not really sure just what their first official album is. I suppose I could look it up on the “World Wide Web”. It’s great – straight-up British Invasion R&B, including “Heart of Stone” and “Off The Hook”. Basically a pack of killer covers, as reverentially blues-soaked as white British boys could be.