- 12 Jul 19
57 years ago today, The Rolling Stones made their live debut at the Marquee Jazz Club in London. Billed as "The Rollin' Stones", the band featured Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones, as well as Dick Taylor on bass and Mick Avory (later of The Kinks) on drums. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting Pat Carty's reflections on the iconic band, originally published in 2018.
We can argue this, and we can argue that, but, like Tony Hadley of old, I know this much is true – The Rolling Stones are the greatest rock n’ roll band of all time.
No, they’re not? I’ll prove it to you.
Ignore the fact that Jagger practically invented the notion of the frontman as we know it, ignore the fact that if you look up ‘rock star’ in a dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Keith Richards smoking a fag - that’s right, a picture, in a dictionary, that’s how cool the bastard is. Ignore Charlie Watts and the elemental racket he gets out of a drum kit the size of most tub thumper’s stick bags. Ignore the singles of their first three or four years, where they provided a dark, bluesy counterpart to The Beatles. Ignore record breaking tour after record breaking tour. Ignore the fact that even shite albums like Dirty Work or Steel Wheels still have a couple of tracks worth hearing.
Ignore all that, and consider the four years from 1968 to 1972, the greatest artistic purple patch ever. In four years, the time it takes most bands nowadays to get a drum sound, The Stones released Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and, Lord God Jesus Almighty, Exile On Main St. Feel free to demolish the Sistine Chapel, burn all Picassos, and put the collected works of Shakespeare in the shredder, for Exile is the pinnacle of all human artistic achievement. And that’s not to ignore stand-alone, monumental singles ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’, and the live album Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out!, as well as retrospective live releases The Brussels Affair and Get Your Leeds Lungs Out!, which are ball-kickingly great.
In this short four years they combined their love of the blues and R&B with soul and country influences to craft the greatest records ever made. Fact. And that’s not to mention that they would soon be the first white act to successfully incorporate reggae into their paint box. Hell, they would even manage a fair go at disco and punk, but that’s another story.
I’ve seen The Stones live many times – Slane, Wembley Stadium, Giant’s Stadium, even Hamburg – and they’ve always been fucking fantastic. I’ve been lucky enough to see them under a roof too, twice at the old Point Depot in 2003. To be right down the front when they launched into ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ was something special. Jagger brought Andrea Corr out for ‘Wild Horses’ only for a bloke near me to roar “Get that diddley-eye young one off the stage!”, and Marianne Faithful waved “Hello, Boys!” to myself and The Coff – my groin still tingles at the memory. Let me tell you that the last time I saw them, in Germany this past September, they had moved back from the slightly showbandy concern they had become to a more down and dirty sound, most likely a result of the success of 2016’s bag of blues covers, Blue & Lonesome. This wasn’t the sound of dinosaurs, this was the sound of the big fiery rock that killed them off.
All that, and I haven’t even mentioned my New York encounter with Jagger which resulted in a bizarre phone sex-line incident that must never, ever be put into print.
Just to prove my point, if proof were needed, here’s not one, but two playlists to get you ready for Croker. One offers a look at some lesser known songs - will we hear much of this up on Jones’ Road? Will we balls. The other is ’68 – ’72 as complete as Spotify will allow. If, for some reason, this is new to you, that I am extremely envious.
Best played loud, with a glass in your hand.