Album Review – Rolling Stones (re-issue)

Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request (ABKCO)

Their Satanic Majesties Request has long suffered in terms of the public perception of it as a Stones album. There’s probably two factors at play here. Firstly, that 1967 was such a strong year for music with releases from The Beatles, Kinks, Hendrix, Love etc.. that made such a deep impression they’re still being analysed and eologised half a century later. (I have no doubt that there are records from 2017 that will be examined in 2067 but that’s a discussion for another time). Then there’s the fact that it followed on from two high points in the Stones catalogue, Aftermath and Between The Buttons and over the next five years it would be directly followed by Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St. In lesser hands each one of those albums are strong enough to be a career highpoint.

Leaving aside the turbulence in their lives that year, which has been written about enough (look it up if you have to), what is the legacy of Their Satanic Majesties Request fifty years on? 

First of all, it continues to take a more experimental approach to music as evidenced on the previous two albums, which would be jettisoned in favour of a return to their blues(ier) roots by the next album. To put it on is to feel and hear a band who are pushing the boundaries, albeit not in an altogether focused way. It was the first album that the band produced themselves, after producer and manager Andrew Loog Oldham had quit earlier that year. Mick Jagger would later give his opinion that this hadn’t been for the best and that the sessions would have benefited from someone telling them to get on with it. Of course, the other side of that argument is that once Jimmy Miller came on board (up to and including 1973’s Goat’s Head Soup), the Stones were never as adventurous over the course of an album again. 

‘She’s A Rainbow’ is a case in point. Probably the best known song on the album; it is a beautiful psychedelic song, which is almost like a nursery rhyme. However, some of the instrumentation is excessive, detracting a little from the charm. ‘Gomper’ sees the band in fully-fledged explorative mode without overstaying its welcome. While making nine other carbon copies of this track would have made for a tiring album, it is an example of how it could all work. Somehow it comes together here.

Bill Wyman has often been seen as the quiet one in the Stones, and this album features  ‘In Another Land;’ it’s the only song in the Rolling Stones canon both written and sung by him.  He took advantage of the fact that he was the lone member who showed up to the studio one day. The Small Faces happened to be recording next door, so Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane were invited to contribute backing vocals, with Marriott also providing 12-string acoustic guitar. This was turned into a full Rolling Stones affarir with the addition of  Brian Jones on mellotron, Stones cohort Nicky Hopkins on harpsichord and finally by adding Charlie Watts on drums, and Mick and Keith adding backing vocals. It is one of the better tracks on here.

This is not an awful Rolling Stones album, but all these years later, it feels like their attempt to cash-in on psychedelia without really pulling it off. There’s plenty to investigate, but aside from a few tracks, not a huge amount that really captures the Stones at their best. Some of their efforts from Goat’s Head Soup onwards would be patchy affairs – but like this, all with at least one or two tracks to recommend them. There’s fun to be add – but even with the addition of both mono and stereo mixes here, it’s probably not an album that’ll end up being played particularly often.


Their Satanic Majesties Request is out now

EP feature – Ummagma

One of the fortunate things about writing a blog is that I get sent a *LOT* of new music – much more than I can possibly review. Once in a while something catches my attention, and is actually so good that I feel obliged to buy the thing myself to support the cause, rather than just simply adding it to the pile of review CDs.

So is the case with the LCD EP from Ummagma. I featured the Robin Guthrie remix of ‘Lama’ on the blog a couple of months ago but the whole EP is now available and it’s fantastic. Canadian singer Shauna McLarnan and multi-instrumentalist Alexander Kretov have produced an EP that stands as a body of work in itself, with two of their heroes, Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and Curve’s Dean Garcia. It’s twenty-two minutes of prime shoegaze that’s worthy of your listening time. Hell, 2016 was the year of grime’s resurgence – but with this and new albums from the likes of Ride, Slowdive and the Jesus & Mary Chain, perhaps 2017 will go down as the year of shoegaze.

Check it out below…


And as a wee bonus…


What I’ve been up to elsewhere…part 1: Gary Numan

As many of you will know, I also write regularly for God Is In The TV. I’m one of many contributors, and I’ve been quite busy over there of late. It’s a site that’s well worth reading if yu don’t do so already.

One of the reviews I’ve just had published over there is Gary Numan’s latest album Savage: Songs From A Broken World. You can read the review on the site …and why not whet your appetite before you do?





Album Review – Miles Hunt & Erica Nockells

We Came Here To Work is Hunt and Nockalls’ third album together. The frontman of The Wonder Stuff and his partner, Stuffies violinist Nockalls have previously released two studio albums together, 2007’s Not An Exit and 2009’s Catching More Than We Miss. In the press release accompanying the new album, Hunt explains that “The music that The Wonder Stuff make is for nights out with your friends, what Erica and I have hopefully done with ‘We Came Here To Work’ is make music for nights spent at home in more genteel company.

Take it from me, Messrs Hunt and Nockalls have certainly succeeded. The album opens with the gorgeous and wistful reflection on getting older that is ‘When The Currency Was Youth.’ It sets the tone for the album with Hunt’s lyricism mixing with Nockalls’ harmonies and string arrangements. ‘When the currency was youth/our pockets were so much deeper‘, he reflects. True, dat. You can trace a direct line between a song like this and earlier Wonder Stuff songs like ‘Caught In My Shadow’ and ‘Sleep Alone.’

This is very much an album built on a partnership; Nockalls’ arrangements aren’t just a backing for Hunt’s songs – they’re something special in and of themselves. The solo on ‘Waste Some Time With Me’ in itself is enough to make your heart flutter. Sure The Wonder Stuff may be best remembered for ‘The Size Of A Cow’ – but this album reminds us just how strong a singer-songwriter Miles Hunt really is. Often acerbic, but frequently able to stop you in your tracks with a single couplet. Joined together, it’s clear that this is not simply a stopgap or side project; rather it’s two very talented musicians producing an album that is the sum of both their parts and that they are worthy as an act in and of themselves.

Other highlights of the album include the stark ‘If I Were You’ which lambasts how a partner left a relationship, ‘Waste Some Time With Me’ and ‘A Matter Of Circumstance.’ Sometimes, lesser singer-songwriter records simply fade into the background, and repeated listens show up the serious shortcomings of the material therein. What listeners get with this album is a partnership which has gifted the world a strong collection of songs that in delivery provide a joy to listen to, and successive listening reveals the deeper strands making up the work.

A night at home in genteel company with this album seems like a fantastic way to spend an evening as autumn approaches!

We Came Here To Work is released on 8th September through Good Deeds Records.