Sunday, April 7, 2013

108 Aftermath- further US silliness



Album: Aftermath
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Genre: Rock
Year: 1966

Tracks


1. Paint It, Black
2. Stupid Girl
3. Lady Jane
4. Under My Thumb
5. Doncha Bother Me
6. Think
7. Flight 505
8. High and Dry
9. It's Not Easy
10. I Am Waiting
11. Goin' Home


Sorry to do this to you again so soon after the last time we had to have this discussion, but once again I'm not sure what I'm reviewing. A few shorts weeks ago at number 114 I reviewed a Stones album which was released in both the US and the UK but with different tracklistings: the same title but different songs. Once again I've come across a release by Jagger and Co which is two separate albums sharing the same name.

Aftermath was released in England by the Rolling Stones who went into the studio with the intention of recording their fourth album. They launched it on the English public who lapped it up. Then their US label removed four songs, added a current single and released it in America with the same name. So there are two versions of Aftermath kicking around, the original and the doctored US version which should really have been called AfterAftermath but wasn't.

To be honest the English version of the album doesn't deserve to be this high up the charts. Aftermath was the Stones attempt to replicate A Hard Days Night by the Beatles and to write an entire album of original compositions without any covers. It was a bold move but at that stage of their career they didn't have the songwriting ability to make it worthwhile  When they eventually found their groove they could produce double albums of originals without a weak moment but in 1966 they were still learning how songwriting works and the results are decidedly mixed. Pretty much the entire of side two (with the exception of Out of Time) is made up of songs that are instantly forgettable. The good songs on side one are recognisably Stones songs but none of them would make most fans top twenty Stones tracks. Mother's little helper, Lady Jane, Under my thumb and Out of Time are all good but no Jumping Jack Flash.

Taken on it's own, the English version would never make this list but the modification made to the US version is why it's here. The American label dropped four tracks but added Paint It Black, their current single. Paint it Black (or Paint it, Black if you want to include the typo) is a magnificent Stones song that is unlike any other rock track dong the round at the time. It's dark. Rock didn't really do dark before Paint it Black. Rock was light and breezy and fun it wasn't menacing. The Stones were the first band to realise that foreboding could be good. When people are discussing who deserves the credit (or blame) for inventing metal the Stones should be mentioned for their part in showing rock could have a darker side.

The other song that has to be mentioned is the 11 minute blues odyssey that is Goin Home. The tune itself is fairly forgettable and nothing worth writing home about but what makes it interesting is the band's decision to keep the tape rolling after they finished playing the song and record their jamming and Mick's scat singing for a full 11 minutes. As an experiment at the time it's every bit as daring as The Beatles experiments with soundscapes. Trusting that their audience was prepared to listen to something that was free forming and structure-less was a bold move. It might have been daring, courageous and paved the way for opening up the album track from its confined limits but as a piece of music it's about as successful as Revolution 9. An interesting idea but not worth actually listening to more than once.

Aftermath has two different versions but you don't really need any of them. Any of the multiple Stones compilations has the best moments without the filler tracks and less successful songwriting efforts.

Highlight: Paint it Black
Lowlight: Goin Home

Influenced by: A Hard Day's Night
Influenced: Future Stonage.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This was the release of Satisfaction, however sit back and let this entire CD staisfy you."

-No it wasn't. Satisfaction wasn't on Aftermath.

So do you like the American Aftermath, or the English Version (which should probably be called Aftermaths) or neither? Let me know below.

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