The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones, Now!

The Rolling Stones, Now! (1965)


1. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 2. Down Home Girl 3. You Can’t Catch Me 4. Heart Of Stone 5. What A Shame 6. Mona (I Need You Baby) 7. Down The Road Apiece 8. Off The Hook 9. Pain In My Heart 10. Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin’) 11. Little Red Rooster 12. Surprise, Surprise


Spending all that time in America, the home of the blues, really did wonders for these pale-faced boys from the other side of the Atlantic. They’re really starting to sound like the streetwise black guys from Chicago they always wanted to be, and really they wouldn’t sound so thoroughly and convincingly African-American as they do on Now! until Exile, seven years later. But no need to get ahead of ourselves. Let’s stay in the here and Now!, where Mick is just beginning to find that menacing edge in his voice. And you know what that means! Sex. Hot, dripping sex, sold straight out to innocent, virginal Catholic schoolgirls across the world. Unbeknownst to their parents, of course, who were too busy reading the Bible and freaking out about the Commies to notice that “Little Red Rooster” is about Howlin’ Wolf’s penis. At least until they were sitting in church one Sunday and heard the preacher say that rock ‘n roll is evil and making their kids turn to the devil. Then you better bet your ass they perked their ears up and were like, “Holy steaming pile of fucking shit! There’s a hit on the radio about a penis? And it’s like the most menacing, authentic sounding blues ever played by white people? And it’s on the motherfucking radio? What in goddamn motherfucking fuck is going on in the goddamn world?” They totally said that. Just, you know, without all the blaspheming and vulgarity. Because that would be indecent. Praise Jesus.

But no, “Little Red Rooster,” is fucking dirty as shit, and so is “Down Home Girl,” a strutting Leiber/Stoller song that I believe was originally intended to serve as comic relief but in Mick’s hands turns into a song about fucking farmers’ daughters in the middle of a cotton field. The boys are growing up before our very eyes – musically too. Their Berry-aping is fuller-sounding and stronger than ever, especially on the red hot “Down The Road Apiece,” which boasts some of Keith’s best early soloing, and gets a little extra oomph from Ian Stewart’s barrelhouse piano. Stu was the unsung hero of the Stones – he was an original member but got booted out on a managerial decree by Andrew Loog Oldham for having a mug that was, shall we say, not Top Of The Pops-friendly. However, he nobly stuck around to be the band’s road manager and session pianist. He was such a purist that he would literally refuse to play minor chords—they had to bring in a ringer, Nicky Hopkins, to do that later on—but he was a great honky tonk player.

They also do Chuck’s “You Can’t Catch Me” and Bo Diddley’s “Mona,” both of which hinge on Brian’s outstanding rhythm guitar tracks. He turns “You Can’t Catch Me” into a chugging rock ‘n roll choo choo train, while his watery groove on “Mona” caused Bo Diddley himself to remark that Brian was the only guy besides him who ever got the Bo Diddley beat right. But this time around, it’s not all blues and Berry. A strong soul influence is starting to enter into the equation. Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Someone To Love” is so much goddamn fun it makes me want to gleefully leap around my filthy, disgusting dorm room full of days old perishable foodstuffs and gigantic piles of papers I should have thrown out two months ago. They also do “Pain In My Heart,” and Mick gets a hell of a lot closer to nailing his favorite soul man, Otis Redding, then he ever got to Marvin Gaye. But he’s still got a ways to go to get there. Not like he ever did get there. Nobody did.

The other major development on Now! is the quality of the songwriting, which is finally showing signs of significant improvement! These songs have hooks! Catchy ones! Like “Off The Hook” (“It’s off the hook! It’s off the hook!”), or “Surprise, Surprise” (“Knew you was telling lies! Knew you was telling lies!”), or especially the soulful “Heart Of Stone” (“Never break never break neeeeever break!”), which is not only the first really good song Mick and Keith had written by this point, but also features Mick’s first blatantly misogynist lyric! But who cares! That’s why we love him, right? That and the lips, I’m pretty sure. Oh, and the scores of classic songs – several of which appear on Now!. Most of them are still covers, of course, but I have a funny feeling that there’s a breakthrough coming up on the horizon.

One Comment

  1. Ben wrote:

    I don’t think Mick doesn’t sounds black at all here. He still sounds like a teenage British kid. Once again, this album is mostly watered down versions of the originals (even the Allman brothers did a better version of “Heart of stone” when I saw them in concert a few years ago)

    You’re right about the originals being better. As annoying as “Off the hook” may be, it is pretty catchy. The album is an improvement over “12 X 5”, which is all I was really looking for. There are songs I really like here, they really rocks their balls of on “Down the road apiece” and “You can’t catch me”, and “Surprise, Surprise” is my favorite of the originals. I also always liked “Oh Baby” for some reason, maybe for the guitar lines.

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