Friday, November 26, 2010

355. Between the Buttons. Why?

Between the Buttons
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Year: 1967
Genre: Rock


  1. Yesterday's Paper
  2. My Obsession
  3. Back Street Girl
  4. Connection
  5. She Smiled Sweetly
  6. Cool Calm And Collected
  7. All Sold Out
  8. Please Go Home
  9. Who's Been Sleeping Here
  10. Complicated
  11. Miss Amanda Jones
  12. Something Happened To Me Yesterday

About time! Finally after 144 albums of non-stones music I get to sit back and listen to an album by The Rolling Stones, one of my favourite bands of all time. The guys who reinvented rock and roll as we know it. The creators of some of my favourite albums and performers of magnificent concert events. The glimmer twins. The Stones! Who march triumphantly onto the Top 500 list with.... this crap.

Seriously this is really baffling. I love the Stones but I can't stand Between the Buttons. Nobody likes Between the Buttons. Die-hard fans of Jagger/Richards hate it as do Mick and Keith. Rolling Stones best-of compilations (and there are lots) only ever include one track from this album and that's always the compilation's low point. When the band toured after this album was released they only included one track in their setlists. In the subsequent years when they've mined their back catalogue for surprises to delight the fans in concert they've only dipped into Between the Buttons, presumably because not even they can stand listening to it.

Between the Buttons is the sound of a great band floundering around trying to find a place for themselves in the pop firmament. While the Beatles marched confidently on reinventing themselves, and modern music, with every release, Mick and Keith were trying to work out what they wanted to do. They started doing blues and R&B covers but quickly realized they weren't going to climb the heights as the lads from Liverpool if they didn't write their own songs. While their earlier efforts were fairly transparent rip-offs they quickly started to develop as songwriters. Between the Buttons catches them after their initial spurt of beginner's luck was over but before they became one of the greatest songwriting duos in Rock and Roll.

Selecting a low-point on this release is actually a real challenge. My Obsession is a tuneless wander around the recording studio which stops and starts and falls in a heap at regular intervals, Back Street Girl is a semi-sweet ballad with truly terrible lyrics about a nobleman who has a bit of street-rough on the side, Connection sounds like a drum track with other people interfering in the back-ground, She Smiled Sweetly is crap and Cool, Calm and Collected is even worse with a honky tonk verses and psychedelic chorus prioving they could bugger up multiple genres in the space of one song. The opening tracks on side two (All Sold Out, Please Go Home and Who's been sleeping here) are thankfully not as bad but you wouldn't even include them on a six-disc best of album. Complicated is another shambles and Miss Amanda Jones sounds like an ill advised attempt to be the Monkees. But my award for album nadir must be the staggeringly dire Something Happened to Me which takes five minutes to become my vote for worst Stones track ever. It's supposed to bounce along but it just flops about like a fish in a tuba and if Mick wasn't stoned at the time you can bet he was a few minutes after finishing as he tried to get the memory of the vocals from his head. There's nothing of the grit that they would later produce. It's just badness by the bucketload.

I can only assume Between the Buttons managed to sneak its way onto this chart (although being 144 places from the bottom is a pretty brazen sneak) because the bastardized American version included two sides of a recent single. The US market dropped two songs from the tracklisting and replaced them with Lets Spend the night together and Ruby Tuesday, both stone-cold Stones classics and would lift any album in anyone's estimation. But how it could raise it to 355 in a top 500 countdown is still a bit baffling.

It goes without saying I don't reccomend Between the Buttons. It's not good at all and was followed by the further not-goodness of Satanic Majesties, another misstep the band needed before they became untouchable.

Highlight: All Sold Out (but don't look for it on a Stones best of anytime soon)
Lowlight: Something happened to me yesterday

Influenced by: Career aimlessness.
Influenced: I honestly can see anyone being influenced by this.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this album rules. i mean seriously, it wears a crown and is a monarch and makes laws that govern the land. the land of your head!! or at least mine. "

-that's outstanding. Although if something rules there is always the chance it can be deposed.

So are you a fan of the Stones. And if you are are you a fan of this? Let me know below.

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