1001 Albums: Beggars Banquet

#107

Album_107_Original

Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: Beggars Banquet

Year: 1968

Length: 39:44

Genre: Roots Rock / Country Blues

“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game”

Ever have one of those times in your life where you feel like you’re suffering Murphy’s Law? Anything that can go bad will go bad? Isn’t it funny how everything bad that can happen always seems to happen all at once, at the same time, rather than separated. That’s basically what’s been happening to me these past few weeks. Starting with a big change in my life that left me emotionally and mentally sick, it seems life has a way of beating down on you even more after it’s already pushed you in the mud. I’ll save you from the details because I promised in my last post I’d be more positive this time around (but I’ll be honest that an incredibly difficult task for me). I’m not even in a negative state, it’s like the pendulum has swung. I feel so beaten down I’m basically laughing at it. What else can go wrong? What else will happen??? I don’t know but it’s exciting anticipating it!!! I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me next. OH BOY!

On a positive note I am grateful for a lot of things. Sure a lot of people don’t care about me anymore and think of me in a negative way for their own judgemental reasons but fuck them, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. I have amazing parents who would honestly do anything for me. They taught me the virtues of Honesty and Trust, which I think a lot of people need to learn a lesson in, they taught me about preparing for your future and standing up for yourself and never tolerating bullshit. Also, if there was anyone to talk to, unlike some parents, they actually have opinions on things and are willing to give their perspective on things. Crazy I know. I have fantastic friends that I met in Toronto who are a million times better than the ones I ever had in Montreal (actually thanks to my new friends I realised those guys were not friends at all, ever, period. Sad it took me so long to realise). These new guys have had my back since I first met them a few months ago. They actually care about me and my well-being and actually encourage me to follow my goals (unlike some of my old friends who would either put me down or give me false compliments (because they want to look like their “nice guys”, the assholes). These new guys really are a treat and I’m grateful to have them in my life.

Ok, I know I come across as bitter and that’s because I am. These days (and my whole life really) I’ve been a really bitter 25 year old and it probably won’t stop there. I’ll be a curmudgeon old man, but I will learn to look past it. I’m already self aware enough to know all that, so admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Oh, yes, I also listened to Beggars Banquet sometime in the past week. Was glad to see The Rolling Stones return at the top of their game. Hadn’t heard from them since Aftermath (which was slightly disappointing as a whole) and boy did they ever come back. They broke down the door of this list and just waltzed in with this fantastic album. It’s the first time in my life where I heard country stylings and was like yup this is great. No doubts or questions. They used it perfectly here and fused it with rock so well that I didn’t give a shit that there was a country twang to it. Here we also find The Rolling Stones distancing themselves from their younger heyday and growing up into full-fledged cynical adults. This would be the beginning of an era of masterful proportions for The Rolling Stones and even though this is the album that opened that door, it is in no way just a gateway album. It’s much more.

The maturity of the album is definitely a huge plus and The Rolling Stones tackle more difficult subjects, putting their own frustrations and disdain for society into their music and creating a layered and adult record that stands above everything that came before it easily. It’s nice to see The Rolling Stones really coming to form finally and showing off what they really could do. It’s clear Jagger and Richards worked their ass off with this album and put all their soul and energy into creating something meaningful to them. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Brian Jones, who’d stumble into the studio randomly and unexpectedly and just suddenly want to play sitar, even if the track they were recording had none. they would just let him do his thing in the studio and they wouldn’t even record it. That’s funny. Sad but funny.

This is also one of those albums that had a famously banned cover. They had to change it from the graffitied toilet to a boring blank background with the title in cursive (yawn). I guess the population really hated toilets or at least were so beyond offended with them they wouldn’t dare ever look at a picture of one. How they went to the bathroom everyday without being so offended is beyond me. The original cover is obviously much better and more eye-catching, but hey the public has spoken and when they speak, by god you better listen or god help you.

I was going to listen to this album a second time so I could really go more in depth. But then I have to remind myself, I’m not doing retrospectives or analysis or reviews (even if that does happen occasionally) I’m here to talk about my experience behind it. It’s a hefty album and I will definitely need more listens to truly grasp it all, but upon first listen (or second I first listened to this two years ago but don’t remember) you definitely feel the difference immediately from their previous efforts and there’s no denying this was a newly emerging Rolling Stones taking their place as a powerhouse of a band. I’m glad the Stones took the time to do this because without this feat we wouldn’t have what’s to come, and believe me what’s to come is not only great but the anticipation to listen to them is both torturing and exciting. Here’s to possibly five more years of The Stones on this list! (possibly… I don’t know exactly).

Song of Choice: Street Fighting Man

-Bosco

 

p.s. I’ll do my best to really pay attention with every album I listen to. My mind has just been unfocused hence the difficulty to go in depth for each album, but remember this is more about the experience of going through the list and first impressions. so whatever you know.

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1001 Albums: Aftermath

#70

Album_70_Original

Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: Aftermath

Year: 1966

Length: 53:20

Genre: Rock, Pop

“Spendin’ too much time away
I can’t stand another day
Maybe you think I’ve seen the world
But I’d rather see my girl”

I’m glad I’m slowly getting back into the routine of writing these posts. When I listened to Freak Out I had also listened to both Aftermath and half of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I realised my intentions to get through the list more efficiently also put me way behind in cranking out these posts, especially since it took me almost two full weeks before I would actually write them. Like I said, a lot of things sort of happened at once, end of semester at school is hitting, so all my assignments are piling up, personal issues (something really big happened that really affected me), and just general occurrences (travelling back to Montreal, to Ottawa and visiting friends and family) have all taken up a lot of my time and these posts were put to the side.

I couldn’t leave it that way. I said I’d do this and I will. Even if it is just a personal project, it’s the principle of finishing what you started. And even though I’m only 70 albums in, which is only 7 % of the list (…jesus), I will not give up. That’s a promise.

This particular post might feel incredibly underwhelming compared to my last one. As much as I love The Rolling Stones and they’ve definitely left an impact on musical history, Aftermath just doesn’t really leave much to be talked about. I hate to say this but I can see why The Beatles were much bigger than The Rolling Stones. I didn’t want to believe it, I always felt The Rolling Stones were a much stronger band. But, seeing the timeline clearly now, The Beatles at this point had made efforts to evolve their sound, push boundaries and do something new with every album. At this point I feel The Stones should have been doing the same, but they sound almost the same as they did in their first album. I mean sure they’re getting better at songwriting and playing, but aren’t really breaking barriers here.

When it first came out this album was seen as a big deal. This was the first time The Rolling Stones produced an album that was pure Stones. Every other album featured a cover or two on it, but here it was 100% original material from the minds of Richards and Jagger. By now, The Stones had already made Satisfaction and were a hot item, so to hear that they were releasing an album of just original songs was definitely an exciting thing… at the time. In retrospect… I actually find myself a little disappointed. I think that’s due in part to the fact I’ve been listening to this list and seeing what was being released around the same time which does make this album slightly underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid album that still holds their blues-based influences and there’s no denying they’re still as cool as they were. Anyone could put this album on and enjoy it the whole way through.

But looking back, it seems the only reason this album was included on this list was because it was The Stones first album of only original material. OK? I hardly see why that should be criteria for it appearing on the list. Is it because The Stones were just that big, so an album like this was an important milestone that needs to be shared with everyone. I mean, it’s also one of the first pop rock albums to reach the 50 minute mark and they were one of the first rock bands to create a rock song that was longer than 10 minutes. Brian Jones would also experiment with new instruments like the sitar, Appalachian dulcimer, marimbas and Japanese koto. ┬áThat’s pretty cool that the Stones were trying new things but… it kind of had been done before and The Stones weren’t really doing anything special with this. Goin’ Home was hailed as a feat in rock music, but looking back at it, it seems this is purely to it’s length, since it’s lyrics and instrumentation are pretty straight-forward. It seems my general conclusion is that… it’s an ok album.

I did something a little different this time around with the albums. The Rolling Stones have a very confusing discography between 1964 and 1967. At the time they were releasing their albums in the UK first and in the US a little later. This caused the albums to either have a different title, different album cover and even a different set list. The US would even release an album that wasn’t connected to a UK one that was basically a compilation of songs from their UK albums that didn’t make it onto their US versions… jesus. So, in honour of this confusion, I listened to both the UK and US version of Aftermath.

You would hope there wouldn’t be major changes between each, but it’s almost like fraternal twins. Kinda the same but not really. The US version clocks in at 42:31, which is almost ten minutes shorter than the UK version. Songs like “Out of Time”, “Take it or Leave it”, “What to Do” and “Mother’s Little Helper” were removed, with the last one being replaced with their single “Paint it Black”. That’s right, “Paint it Black” was not on the UK release, only the US. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve said this, but I actually liked the US version better. It feels like they made more efforts to have an album that flows very nicely, opening with “Paint it Black”, which is an amazing way to open an album, and having it all culminate to “Goin’ Home”, which was found smack-dab in the middle of the UK version, which I thought was a really odd choice for the ten minute song. And maybe you’re asking, maybe the list meant to have the US version and it isn’t the UK one. Well, I finally bought the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and it is indeed the UK version that is on the list and not the US, which I find really odd as you would think they would include the version that has “Paint It Black”, the first rock song to hit number that had the Sitar. It would have made more sense, not only because “Paint it Black” is just an amazing song, but it actually did something pretty impactful.

But nope. They went for the slightly weaker UK version, which is a shame because I do find the revamped US version to be the stronger one. If you had to pick one of the two to listen to, I would say pick the US one. You won’t regret it.

Song of Choice: Mother’s Little Helper (UK), Paint it Black (US)

-Bosco