- 09 Jul 20
A Fresh Taste From An Old Recipe
What do you do when you’ve made the greatest run of records in the history of everything? Where can you go, but down? Jamaica sounds like a better option. The Rolling Stones arrived in Kingston, JA(H) in November 1972 – one of the only countries that would let them in, according to Mr Keith Richards but, as always when Keef starts telling stories, it’s best to have a good pinch of salt nearby, or at least some class of salt-like powder.
Still, he does weave a good yarn, so let’s open his celebrated ‘auto’ biography Life, and see what he has to say.
“The town was rife with an exotic form of energy, a very hot feeling, much of which was coming from the infamous Byron Lee’s Dynamic Sounds.”
Keith first experienced this exotic energy when he visited the island in 1969, falling in love with the stop-start, rolling rhythm of Jamaican music, which wasn’t a million miles away from the way he played the guitar anyway. Added to that, the soundtrack to The Harder They Come – a Kingston based crime caper, starring Jimmy Cliff – had been released that July. Keith, apparently, took it everywhere, and played it constantly. He would go on to include a raggedy version of the title track on his first solo single in 1978.
Despite all that, there’s no reggae on Goats Head Soup, the album that emerged, partly at least, from their Jamaica sessions, to be released in August of 1973. That would come later – ‘Luxury’ on It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (’74) could, maybe, be accused of it, and their run at Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’ on Black And Blue (’76) isn’t exactly their finest four minutes either, so for an example of The Stones getting it right, try ‘You Don’t Have To Mean It’ on Bridges to Babylon (’97).
Instead, there’s rockers like ‘Star Star’ - its original title was a tad more direct - which might have had John Wayne and Steve McQueen’s lawyers jumping up and down, “tricks with fruit are kinda cute” indeed, ‘Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)’ and the brilliant ‘Dancing With Mr. D’ as well as the gorgeous ballad ‘Winter’ for which Mick Taylor is still awaiting a deserved cheque. Add to that the one everyone knows, the big hit ballad ‘Angie’, Keith’s likably downbeat ‘Coming Down Again’, and the howl and squeal of ‘100 Years Ago’. It’s long been considered The Stones first step down after Exile on Main St. and Lester Bangs thought it sad shite, but what the hell did he know? Never mind the fact that showing up with The Sistine Chapel would have been a step down after Exile, Soup still stands up, ok, not quite up there with Exile, Fingers, Banquet, Let It Bleed, or Some Girls, but it knocks the tar out of Emotional Rescue, to name but one.
The reason for all this rambling is that a deluxe serving of Soup has long been rumoured among the obsessed, and it has finally been confirmed by emails from Stones HQ with original Jimmy Page-baiting promo material included. This is what we call good news. Previous deluxe Stones releases might have suffered slightly from “post production” – Jagger adding vocals decades later - but there’s no arguing with uncovered material like ‘Plundered My Soul’ and ‘Following The River’ which were added to the expanded Exile, and ‘Claudine’ and ‘So Young’ on the deluxe Some Girls. The live material stitched onto Sticky Fingers was pretty handy n’ all.
There were plenty of offcuts from the Goats Head Soup sessions – ‘Waiting On A Friend’ and ‘Tops’ would sit on the shelf until Tattoo You (’81), ‘Through The Lonely Nights’ would form the B-Side of ‘It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (But I Like It)’, and, perhaps, the likes of ‘You Should Have Seen Her Ass’ should stay where they are, but ‘Criss Cross’ was always one of those “why didn’t they finish that?” kind of numbers. Well, rejoice rock n’ rollers everywhere, because now they have. I, as you may know, cannot be trusted when it comes to critiquing The Stones, obsessed as I have been for about the last thirty-five years, so you'd make up your own mind, but let me say this...
Never mind the regulation, far-too-beautiful-to-be-living-on-the-street, street urchin in the video, bask instead in Keef’s chords – oft imitated, NEVER equalled - as they, in conjunction with a filthily squelching electric piano and CHARLIE GODDAMN WATTS and A.N. Other on percussion, time travel the boogie all the way from the early seventies to right now. The late, and very great, Bobby Keys is parping away in the background too and if Jagger’s vocals - pleading for a blood TRANSFUSHAAN to save him from some young one who's walking around with a razor and messing with his melon - have been tampered with or added to, then it’s hard to see a join that’s not worth looking for in the first place. Yeah, they repurposed a bit of it for the bridge in 'It's Only Rock N' Roll', so what? Here. Get Down.
If that wasn’t enough, here’s the track listing for the super Deluxe, Etc. Etc. vinyl box, which includes the greatest live record never released properly, until now, The Brussels Affair. No sign of ‘You Should Have Seen Her Ass’, mind. 'Scarlet' features Jimmy Page on the guitar - rock n' roll historians will already perhaps be able to guess who that song might be about - and 'All The Rage' has, apparently, a "wild, post 'Brown Sugar' strut". Well, that's alright then. Out in September. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord.
1. Dancing With Mr D
2. 100 Years Ago
3. Coming Down Again
4. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
6. Silver Train
7. Hide Your Love
9. Can You Hear The Music
10. Star Star
SIDE C - Rarities & Alternative Mixes
2. All The Rage
3. Criss Cross
4. 100 Years Ago (Piano Demo)
5. Dancing With Mr D (Instrumental)
6. Heartbreaker (Instrumental)
7. Hide Your Love (Alternative Mix)
8. Dancing With Mr D (Glyn Johns 1973 Mix)
9. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) – (Glyn Johns 1973 Mix)
10. Silver Train (Glyn Johns 1973 Mix)
SIDE E – ‘Brussels Affair – Live 1973’
1. Brown Sugar
2. Gimme Shelter
4. Tumbling Dice
SIDE F – ‘Brussels Affair – Live 1973’
5. Star Star
6. Dancing With Mr D
7. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
SIDE G – ‘Brussels Affair – Live 1973’
9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
10. Midnight Rambler
SIDE H – ‘Brussels Affair – Live 1973’
11. Honky Tonk Women
12. All Down The Line
13. Rip This Joint
14. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
15. Street Fighting Man