Friday, December 2, 2011

Their Satanic Majesties Request (1)

Perhaps more than any other record in rock history, the Rolling Stones' sixth studio album, "Their Satanic Majesties Request", was shaped by non-musical events. To understand the album necessitates a detailed trawl through 1967, a year that started in unpromising fashion for the band, and rapidly got a whole lot worse. The preceding album "Between The Buttons" became the Stones' least succesfull record to date. Meanwhile the Beatles were in the midst of working on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", and Mick Jagger was an interested observer at several sessions.

In February both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were charged for the possession of illegal drugs. Recording sessions at Olympic Sound Studios, London (Februay 9-24) were rudely interrupted. A European tour (March-April) proved a further strength-sapping distraction. Because of the court appearance of Mick and Keith in May and June the sessions for the forthcoming album had slipped low down on everyone's list of priorities. And with the release of "Sgt. Pepper" on June 1, it was clear that the Stones had lost the race to set the tone for the Summer Of Love.

At the end of the month Jagger and Richards were sentenced, but with the appeal pending the band reconvened at Olympic to work on the proposed album. Much of "Satanic" was completed in July (7-22) with sound engineers Glyn Johns and Eddie Kramer, but without producer Andrew Oldham, whom the band ditched earlier in the year. The album was completed in October, and finally released in December. But it wasn't very well received. More than forty years later, many of the accusations aimed at "Satanic" seem unnecessarily harsh, and the album's got an enhanced posthumous status.

Adapted from the following source: David Wells, The British Psychedelic Trip (Part 12: The Rolling Stones), Record Collector, 1999.

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