Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fact sheet: The Rolling Stones No.2

January 1965 the Rolling Stones released their second album, "The Rolling Stones No.2". Author James Hector puts the album in some fine perspective: American material once again formed the basis of a Stones album, though with one difference. Most of the songs they chose were recent hits. With dozens of home-grown R&B acts sifting through the Chess archive for potential songs, and Jagger and Richards still in the formative stages of their songwriting, the band inevitably turned to the Billboard R&B charts for inspiration. There they found contemporary songs by Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, The Drifters and Irma Thomas, all crying out to be covered.

The début album was completed during a couple of intensive bouts of recording at Regent Sound Studios. No.2 reflected the band's new-found worldliness, drawing from sessions taped in London (Regent), Chicago (Chess) and Hollywood (RCA). While the first album had been a set of contrasts - fast-paced rock 'n' roll and unhurried blues or ballads - No.2 was more a measured affair, lacking the exhilirating moments of raw energy of its predecessor.

The album contains 12 tracks. Ian Stewart plays organ on "Time Is On My Side", and piano on three tracks: "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", "What A Shame" and, last but not least, "Down The Road Apiece", recorded during the famous 1964 Chess sessions. Hector again: Something of a standard during the Forties, this number probably swung best when in the hands of pianist Merrill Moore, who covered it in 1955. The Stones based their version on Chuck Berry's 1960 recording, and had been playing it ever since their live début in 1962.

They rarely did Berry a disservice when covering his songs, or even his interpretations of others' material, and "Down The Road Apiece" is mighty impressive. The rhythm section, with Ian Stewart in tow, swung effectively, but it's Keith Richards - who gets more fired-up with each guitar break - who shines most. Both Stu and Keith swing and boogie in unique style!

Source: James Hector, The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Rolling Stones, Omnibus Press, 1995.

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