Thursday, July 14, 2011

Very first recordings

Late August 1962, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones moved into a flat at 102 Edith Grove, Chelsea (more on that later on). In August-September the Rolling Stones played only a couple of gigs, but somehow they managed to pay for an hour's studio time at Curly Clayton's Sound Studio near Arsenal football ground, in Highbury, north London. Jazz guitarist Curly Clayton produced the demo sessions, held on October 27, 1962. Three tracks were recorded: Muddy Waters' "Soon Forgotten" (written by James Oden), Jimmy Reed's "Close Together", and "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover", a Willie Dixon song made into a hit by Bo Diddley.

The tracks were recorded by a Stones line-up which included Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Ian Stewart and Tony Chapman. No bass guitar, because Dick Taylor (who formed the Pretty Things later on) had had enough, and went back to college. The spartan studio facilities (remember, it was only 1962!) provided just one microphone in the middle of a small room; the band had to balance the sound by moving the instruments around. Mick Jagger asked for the piano to be 'turned up', but it could not be moved; it was nailed to the wall, and Stu's playing could hardly be heard.

A snippet of "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover" was broadcast on Simon Bates' BBC Radio One programme when he interviewed an enthusiast who in April 1988 had purchased an acetate of these three historic recordings. Mick Jagger's enunciation was distinctly non-British and leered in true Willie Dixon style. His vocals were the most distinctive instrument on the tape.

The recordings were sent to Neville Skrimshire, a jazz guitarist who also worked at EMI Records, who rejected them. Tony Chapman then sent the tape to someone he knew at Decca, who responded: "It's a great band, but you'll never get anywhere with that singer".

Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Red Cherry Books, 2002.
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.

1 comment:

  1. October 27, 1962: Curly Clayton Sound Studio, London, England.
    The Rolling Stones: You Can't Judge A Book (Dixon) (0:49)

    621027A 27th October: London, Curly Clayton Sound Studio. Producer/sound engineer: Curly Clayton.
    - Soon Forgotten (Oden)
    - Close Together (Reed)
    - You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover (Dixon).
    Line-up: Mick Jagger (voc)/Keith Richards (gtr)/Brian Jones (gtr)/Ian Stewart (p)/Tony Chapman (dr).