Sunday, November 13, 2011

Under My Thumb

Right after recordings for the Ed Sullivan TV show, the Rolling Stones flew to Australia and commenced an Australia/New Zealand tour (February 18 - March 2, 1966). The return trip went via Fiji and then back to Los Angeles. This gave the band the opportunity to once again enter RCA Studios, Hollywood (March 6-8) to record some ten new songs for their upcoming fourth studio album, Aftermath. As usual, Dave Hassinger and Jack Nitzsche assisted with production.

Nitzsche contributes piano on "Out Of Time", supporting Ian Stewart, who is on organ. Brian Jones was featured on yet another newly acquired instrument, the marimba, which was first played by Stu on a cover of Sam Cooke's "Good Times". The African instrument, translated as 'the voice of wood' is played like a xylophone. Its resonance is unique due to the wooden keys mounted above resonators.

The Stones' association with the female 'put down' theme is much debated. It may have been derived from insecurity or simply the boredom of impersonal hotel groupies, who knows? At least "Under My Thumb", another lyrically revelistic and chauvinistic song, is inspired by late-night groupie encounters. The song has a strong rhythmic base, with almost African connotations. This primeval feel is enhanced by the marimba, which is again played by Brian Jones.

It provides the song's unique riff against Bill Wyman's tight bass sound. Keith Richards plucks the guitar on the rhythm breaks and there is a de-tuned groan chorus riff, in the style of the previous year's Spencer Davis Group's  "Keep On Runnin'". The song speeds up at the end as Mick Jagger jives 'take it easy babe', with Ian Stewart keeping pace on piano.

Adapted from the following source: Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002, Cherry Red Books, 2002.

1 comment:

  1. March 6-9, 1966: RCA Studios, Los Angeles, USA.
    The Rolling Stones: High And Dry (Jagger-Richards) (3:10)
    The Rolling Stones: I Am Waiting (Jagger-Richards) (3:13)
    The Rolling Stones: Out Of Time (Jagger-Richards) (5:42)
    The Rolling Stones: Long Long While (Jagger-Richards) (3:02)
    The Rolling Stones: Lady Jane (Jagger-Richards) (3:10)
    Keith Richards: "Lady Jane"
    Brian was getting into dulcimer then. Because he dug Richard Farina. We were also listening to a lot of Appalachian music then too. To me, Lady Jane is very Elizabethan. There are a few places in England where people still speak that way, Chaucer English.

    The Rolling Stones: Stupid Girl (Jagger/Richards) (2:55)
    Keith Richards: The girl put-down songs
    Songs like Under My Thumb and Stupid Girl were all a spin-off from our environment: hotels, and too many dumb chicks. Not all dumb, not by any means, but that's how one got.

    The Rolling Stones: It's Not Easy (Jagger-Richards) (2:55)
    The Rolling Stones: Under My Thumb (Jagger-Richards) (3:41)
    Keith Richards and Mick Jagger: "Under My Thumb"
    Keith: Brian was still fantastic making records, because he was so versatile. I mean, he'd have marimbas - which is why you have marimbas on Under My Thumb - or dulcimer, sitar. He kind of lost interest in guitar, in a way. But at the same time he added all of that other color, those other instruments and other ideas. He was an incredibly inventive musician.
    Mick: There was one song that was particularly chosen as an anti-women thing, which was Under My Thumb. And actually Under My Thumb - how does it go... (sings) “Under my thumb, there's a girl who once had me down”. So the whole idea was that she - that I was under her, she was kicking me around. So the whole idea is absurd, all I did was turn the tables around. So women took that to be against femininity, where in reality it was trying to "get back", you know, against being a "repressed male". This was a long time ago (laughs).

    The Rolling Stones: Flight 505 (Jagger-Richards) (3:29)
    The Rolling Stones: What To Do (Jagger-Richards) (2:30)

    660306A 6th - 9th March: Los Angeles, RCA Studios, Hollywood. Producer: Andrew Oldham. Sound engineer: Dave Hassinger.
    - High And Dry (Jagger-Richards)
    - I Am Waiting (Jagger-Richards)
    - Out Of Time (Jagger-Richards)
    - Long Long While (Jagger-Richards)
    - Lady Jane (Jagger-Richards)
    - Stupid Girl (Jagger-Richards)
    - It's Not Easy (Jagger-Richards)
    - Under My Thumb (Jagger-Richards)
    - Flight 505 (Jagger-Richards)
    - Paint It, Black (Jagger-Richards)
    - Tracks Of My Tears (Robinson) - unverified
    - What To Do (Jagger-Richards).

    Note: All in all about 20 new songs were recorded during these sessions.

    Line-up: Mick Jagger (voc, harm, perc)/Keith Richards (gtr, bass, bvoc)/Brian Jones (gtr, harm, sitar, harpsichord, dulcimer, marimbas, perc)/Ian Stewart (p, org)/Bill Wyman (bass, org)/Charlie Watts (dr, perc).
    Additional musician: Jack Nitzsche (piano on Out Of Time, Long Long While, and Paint It, Black; harpsichord on Lady Jane and Stupid Girl; perc).