The Rolling Stones – Out Of Our Heads

Out Of Our Heads (1965)


1. Mercy Mercy 2. Hitch Hike 3. The Last Time 4. That’s How Strong My Love Is 5. Good Times 6. I’m Alright 7. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction 8. Cry To Me 9. The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man 10. The Spider And The Fly 11. Play With Fire 12. One More Try


The one with “Satisfaction” and “The Last Time” on it, so its qualities as an album proper aren’t really the most its significant attributes… but rest assured, the development continues. The soul trappings that began to creep in on Now! have grown more extensive and become the main influence for the band. They still feign to play a bit of blues every once in a while (the original “The Spider And The Fly,” which pairs a delightfully sleezy Jimmy Reed-esque backing track with quite likely true to life lyrics about infidelity on the road), but they’ve ditched the Muddy and Berry covers and instead tackle the likes of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Don Covay, Marvin Gaye and Solomon Burke. Geez, that’s sort of like a who’s who of (male) soul greats of the mid-60s… fortunately Mick can pull them off a lot better than he could even the year before. He sounds positively anguished playing off Keith’s braying lead licks on Burke’s “Cry To Me,” and musters a warm, impassioned performance of Otis’ classic “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” See, soul music is way more dependent on the singer than it is on the guitar player—unlike, say, oftentimes, the blues—so the Stones’ ability to sell this material hinges mostly on Mick. And, fortunately, he’s starting to grow into his frontman extraordinaire shoes… he’s obviously learned a lot about selling a song from getting into the soul singers they cover here. On the other hand, Don Covay’s “Mercy Mercy” is all about Keef’s stomping fuzz riff, which is worthy of, well… Keef.

And speaking of whom, in case you’re wondering, Out Of Our Heads marks the end of Keith Richard (no “s” until 1978 because Andrew Oldham made him drop it for some reason), the horsey faced Chuck Berry acolyte, and the birth of Keef Riffhard, the rock ‘n toll deity. More specifically, track 7, Satisfaction, comma, parenthesis, I Can’t Get No, close parenthesis. The great Immaculate Conception of rock ‘n roll, written by Keith in his sleep and played for the first time into a tape recorder in the middle of the night before its composer quickly dozed off again. The distinctive fuzz box effect on the guitar riff—check that, The Riff—is what makes it so memorable for most people, but did you know they didn’t even want to release it that way? They wanted to keep working on it and put horns on it and turn it into an Otis Redding-type song! Fortunately for them, Otis Redding soon turned it into an Otis Redding-type song himself and saved them the trouble. So everybody wins, and the Stones had their career-making hit. Mick’s lyrics have always bothered me a little – I don’t know why he decided to write a bourgeois, snotty teenager-level anti-commercialism rant when the song is clearly just supposed to be about trying to get some poon. But it’s got the “girl reaction/girly action” line for that, I suppose. And it’s also got The Riff. So there’s that. There’s another pretty fucking awesome riff here, too – check out the album’s other big hit, the sneering rocker “The Last Time.” Its originality, compared to “Satisfaction,” is dubious, being obviously inspired by the Staple Singers’ “This May Be The Last Time.” But the Staples Singers tune didn’t have the stinging, leering riff played by Brian that is every bit as good as that of “Satisfaction.” Both “The Last Time” and “Satisfaction” mark the birth of Jagger/Richards as we know them. You know, the greatest songwriting team of rock ‘n roll songs ever. No more settling for fey pop ballads or bluesy throwaways; these two songs decisively foisted Mick and Keith into the big leagues forever.

It really is amazing to think that it took the soon-to-be world’s greatest rock ‘n roll songwriters two years to finally come up with two real rock songs. Or come up with a decent ballad for that matter, which they do here – “Play With Fire,” later covered by Lil Wayne, if you can believe that, is the quietest song the band had done to this point, but, with put down lyrics about a rich girl, maintains as much sneering menace as any of their rockers. There are still a couple of throwaways, of course – the haphazard country-ish shuffle “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” is entertaining thanks to its sarcastic character portrait of a wannabe hotshot band promoter of the sort the Stones were obviously sick of dealing with by this point. But I can do without the live cut “It’s Alright,” a sloppy call and response riff rocker where the most prominent element of the song are screaming girls. So now that they’d proven they could write with the best of them when lightning struck, consistency was the next step for Mick and Keith. It was on the way. But I’m betting they wouldn’t trade “Satisfaction” for 100 other songs – without it, the Stones just wouldn’t be the Stones.

One Comment

  1. Ben wrote:

    This was a pleasant surprise. Sure I had to sit through some really bad covers of “Hitch hike” and “That’s how strong my love is” (the originals are much better), but I really like this album. “Mercy Mercy” starts the album off on a great riff (played by Jimi Hendrix on the original), and their take on “Good Times” is better than Sam Cooke’s (I’m a little biased because I don’t really like Sam Cooke).
    Though the Beatles are still miles ahead of them (they had just come out with “Help!” for fucks sake), the Stones are kind of on the same level as the Animals now. Songs like “Satisfaction”, “The Last Time”, “One More Try” and “Play with Fire” (with murderous afro Spector on bass) prove that they had the benefit of writing quality original material.

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