Deep Cuts: Rolling Stones

Growing up in the ‘80s, I was always familiar with the Rolling Stones, especially their numerous radio hits, many of which have had a great impact on the world of music. In college, I went through a Stones phase that consisted of two purchases: 1) 1989’s three disc Singles Collection: The London Years, and 2) 1984’s one-disc Rewind. Both sets are good – Collection obviously covers more ground from the early years while Rewind focuses on the bigger hits from 1971-1984. Combined, these two collections gave me, the casual Stones fan, an adequate overview of their commercial successes from these years.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I began my second Stones phase. It started at The Black Watch, a dive bar in Huntington Beach where my rec league basketball team would go to down a few pitchers every Sunday. The jukebox there is fairly eclectic, but focuses mostly on classic rock. Just about every Sunday, I’d hear this Stones song that I had never heard before – and, like a nasty fungus, it grew on me. The song turned out to be “Jigsaw Puzzle,” six minutes of heaven off the 1968 album Beggars Banquet. Soon, it became one of my favorites and it made me wonder, how many other great Stones songs haven’t I heard?

This question prompted me to listen to just about every album cut I could get my hands on and resulted in the creation of an 80-minute CD playlist entitled Deep Cuts. While compiling, my main criteria were that 1) the song was not an established “hit,” and 2) the song had to kick ass. I concentrated mostly on the work done in the ‘60s and the ‘70s as this is widely considered to be the era in which the Stones put out their best stuff.

So, without further adieu, I submit Deep Cuts:

1) “Jigsaw Puzzle” – This beauty is sung from the point of view of a guy working on a jigsaw puzzle in the midst of chaos. A number of different characters wander in and out of the song and it gives the opportunity for lead singer Mick Jagger to comment on the times. I dig the country-blues slide guitar and Jagger’s vocals. It’s a great song to hear after a couple of beers.

2) “Salt of the Earth” – Also off Beggars Banquet, this country-blues track focuses on the everyday man – a rarity for a Stones’ tune from this era. It also features the first vocals (on a Stones album) from guitarist Keith Richards. This underlines the predominate theme of the unassuming common man being thrust into the spotlight.

3) “You Got the Silver” – Found on 1969’s Let It Bleed, this is another of the rare tracks where Richards took over the singing duties. His vocals – and the song – are rough, raw and sincere. “Silver” also features some fine slide guitar.

4) “Midnight Rambler” – Also from Let It Bleed, this song captures the Stones in full-on blues mode. I actually heard this song for the first time when they performed it live at a concert I attended in Memphis, TN. The guitar riff is simple yet infectious. The tempo changes a few times throughout the song, creating a rugged, sexy vibe. For brevity purposes, I had to use the studio version, but the longer live version rocks a bit harder and is worth checking out.

5) “Dead Flowers” – From the 1971 album Sticky Fingers, this is one of the Stones’ few straight-up country songs. In his version of a Southern accent, Jagger moves through lyrics that are both witty and catchy – it won’t be long before you’ll be singing along with this one.
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Find out what other Rolling Stones songs I included on my Deep Cuts playlist here, then be sure to check out my Stones Essentials and Stones profile.

  

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